The warm scent of yeast from a fresh risen loaf of bread wafts through the air from the corner of Fremont and El Centro. Last Tuesday evening, Fiore Market Café, owned by Bill and Anne Disselhorst, had their 2nd bread making class for a quaint group of 5 students. The week before, they had their first pizza making class with 10 budding amateur chefs, including myself.
Though I absolutely melt before fresh baked breads, what truly drew me to the classes was Fiore’s consistently delicious menu. I have tried a variety of fare issuing from their kitchen. I am pleasantly surprised with new favorites each time (like the short rib sandwich, roast chicken sandwich, or the vegetarian chopped salad). From their salad dressings, soups, and breads to their sandwiches, desserts, and drinks – all are fresh, homemade, creative, and simply delicious.
The inspiration for Fiore’s American-European, edible delights stem from Bill and Anne’s many cooking adventures while living in Italy. Their newfound friends taught them a new way of enjoying food, utilizing their hands to prepare homemade dishes while using fresh local ingredients. Bill beams and his smile widens when reminiscing about their experience there, “They have a craftsman-like attitude about cooking.”
Another inspiration (for the tasty cinnamon raisin bread, in particular, which is only sold on Friday and Saturday) finds it’s roots in Bill’s grandmother, Nana Gallagher, as he sidled up to her while she regularly cooked for a group of “orphans or truant boys.”
Fast forward to August 23, 2011, at Fiore’s bread making class, it was mostly about the dough: what to mix, how to briefly kneed and shape, how long to rise and rest, and bake in a typical stainless steel pan with lid on in the oven, a unique and effective method. Even for me, a self-declared “non-cook,” this bread was surprisingly simple to make!
After shaping the prepared dough, and during the second rising, with the help of Bill’s son, Patrick, we made pesto from the basil in their garden. We grinded it with olive oil the old fashioned way, with mortar and pestle (instead of a blender), brushed it on a sheet of dough, which was prepared earlier. Then we added course kosher salt and a fresh roasted tomato mixture, also prepared earlier. Baked it. Ate it. Yummmmm!
In between the rising and baking, we snacked on roasted figs, toasted walnuts and Danish blue cheese (a heavenly combination for my palate). We also munched on fruit and other cheeses, then washed it all down with some homemade lemonade and fresh brewed ice tea. This was a meal in and of itself! Then we practiced combining ingredients to help make bread for the next day.
Not only did I learn about an easy, homemade, tastier way to eat, but I had the privilege of getting to know my neighbors, Michelle, Chi-Ling, Nathaniel and Laura, in a relaxed atmosphere, where good food is not eaten fast, but savored and enjoyed with new friends.
After the bread flour flew and the yeast worked its magic in the oven, we all left with a fresh loaf of bread that I couldn’t resist biting into immediately. Before my head hit the pillow that night, half was gone and my tummy was delighted.
In addition to the bread and pizza making classes, future classes may include making Fiore’s popular cinnamon raisin bread or a scone version. I am quietly campaigning for a soup making class, as well, maybe learning one of Bill’s inspired concoctions served during the lunch hour.
Fiore Market Café is located at 1000 Fremont Ave. in South Pasadena. They are open Monday-Thursday 11 AM – 6 PM, Friday-Saturday 11 AM – 8 PM, and Sunday 12-4 PM. For more information on classes ($25), their menu, etc… go to fioremarketcafe.com or contact them at 626.441.2280.