When in Rome...
... make garganelli ~
Our recent trip to Italy would not have been complete without enrolling in a quintessential cooking class one hears so much about. After doing a bit of research to find a class, they all seemed quite expensive and would have been all-day affairs. I was looking for something that would be just a few hours, as each day in Rome was so precious to my husband and me and neither of us were interested in spending a full day in a kitchen.
Through Katie, I found Carla Tomasi, cooking instructor, gardener, preserver and storyteller, who offered pasta workshops held in a food styling studio (Latteria) in the "medieval bohemian" neighborhood of Rome called Trastevere. It was here that I was able to meet my fear of dough head-on in the land of focaccia, pizza and pasta, under the focused tutelage of Carla.
We arrived via taxi for our 10 am class. The studio was a brightly lit and well equipped kitchen with floor to ceiling shelves filled with dishes and platters for photo shoots. In the center was a wooden table with 4 bowls, a bottle of olive oil and a jar of flour. We were to be a class of three students.
As we entered the studio, I was immediately drawn to a rustic table by the window where bowls of perfect vegetables - pods of fava beans, English peas, dusky purple artichokes, and arugula - were waiting. Carla proudly told us they were all picked from her garden that morning.
Together we learned to make focaccia dough and garnished our little portions with squash blossoms, or sea salt and rosemary. While they were set to rise we made our pasta dough and took turns kneading the dough to it's desired thickness for both ravioli, garganelli and parsley pasta.
We learned how to make a side dish of English peas, artichokes and fava beans that we were to eat in many restaurants in Rome, which I've now managed to replicate quite well here at home.
We spent some time getting to know each other while working, tasting and sipping. I learned we share a passion for progressive politics and unadorned food. I discovered that Patricia Curtan, the illustrator and printmaker, who has a long association with Chez Panisse (and with whom I worked with while there) had been to Carla's class a week or two before. Carla asked me, "So, do you think Chez Panisse is that good?" to which i replied, "You would love it." I hope someday to take her there and share a table with Pat and of course, my husband, Kevin Barnett.
Recipes courtesy of Carla Tomasi
How to make pasta
"Pasta divides and unites, shall we make a long or short shape?.. al dente or not ?...but all agree on how easy it is to make and the first taste of homemade is a turning point. Shop bought will never again be good enough.
The taste and texture of fresh homemade pasta is an unsurpassed joy for the palate and the marvel of what two simple ingredients can produce.
After a little know-how is acquired, the time lapse from thinking about and eating it could be just half an hour, with enough time the make a quick sauce, too."
How to make focaccia
"There are endless recipes for focaccia out there in the wild so mine is not the definitive article, but this makes me happy and ticks all the right boxes. Light/airy/bouncy/soft crumb/keeps and freezes well. So here it is."
How to make fresh egg pasta (pasta all-uovo)
"I would say that 1 egg per person of pasta is fine, but then 2 eggs worth would feed 3. For every 107 gr of shell-off egg you need 200 gr of 00-plain flour. Maybe you will need to add a little cold water to achieve the correct consistency. It is not worth it to prepare less than 2 eggs of pasta because it would be difficult to knead a very small amount of dough."
How to make garganelli
"Such an easy and fun pasta shape to make by hand, and if you look closely you can see where penne comes from. The width of a strip of pasta (rolled out to your desired thickness) is just perfect for making garganelli. Leave the sheet of pasta to dry out for a while but not till brittle."
Visit Carla's blog here: https://cookingwithcarlablog.wordpress.com/pasta/
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