A few weeks ago we booked a half-day cooking class and a market visit with Maribel of Taste of Italy. http://www.taste-of-italy.com/
As arranged, we met up at a café near the market area. After a fast espresso, we headed out. She ushered us into several shops, discussing each's specialties, and what particulars of type or variety to look for. We saw what looked most appealing in the vegetable shops, and discussed what we'd make today. Because of the heat (what, you think I can get through a blog entry without telling you how hot it is here?) we wanted to keep things on the light side. I asked her about what the Bolognese make at home, since the restaurant cuisine is so heavy. She said they typically use a lot more vegetables at home, and serve cool meals in Summer.
We bought some bread,visited the basement enoteca at Gilberti and got recommendations of their wines, bottled condiments and sauces, and got a lesson in cured meats at Simoni. We also went to the butcher's and learned about Italian cuts, and two different cheese shops. We then took a short taxi ride to Maribel's home.
The traditional method of pasta making is to mix right on your board, gradually incorporating flour into the eggs. Nothing more is added to Bolognese pasta. Stir, stir, stir. Gently press and turn until you have a smooth ball, and let the pasta briefly rest.
Then comes the fun part--roll, turn. Roll, turn. Keep at it until you have a large sheet. Then things get even more interesting, as you drape some of the pasta over the edge of the board, roll out in a spreading motion, carefully roll the sheet onto your pin, turn, and lay back out. Repeat, until the pasta is thin--ideally, so thin you can begin to see the board through the pasta. As we were beginners, and with the heat, we did not get that thin before the pasta began to lose its suppleness.
Then roll the pasta, and cut with a big sharp knife. We made tagliatelle, long noodles; and farfalle, butterfly-shapes. Ours were mutant butterflies for sure. Leftover edge scraps got cut for soups.
For our sauces, we made a fresh ricotta-arugula-tomato sauce for the farfalle; and a lemon rind-speck-shallot sauce for the tagliatelle. We also made zucchini blossoms, stuffed with ricotta and parsley. They were briefly sautéed in a bit of butter, instead of being fried. Can I just say how wonderfully delicious everything was when we sat down to eat lunch with some cool dry white wine? Amazing texture of the pasta, and the wonderful freshness of the sauces. I loved the fiore, where you could appreciate the delicacy of the flowers and cheese without a heavy breading. Maribel is fun to talk with and a great teacher; and we greatly enjoyed the morning.
Later that afternoon we visited the churches of San Stefano, beautifully evocative old places. You can almost feel the ghosts here in the ancient center, where a Temple to Isis once stood that gave the place its circular shape.
Salumi and salad for dinner.