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Cook, Dine and Drink Wine: A Pasta Making Class in Rome

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

I didn’t have much say with what I was going to be doing in Italy. As part of a friends surprise birthday trip that I planned, the agreement was that he was in charge of planning out our stops in Rome and Venice. Thankfully I’d left it in good hands as he announced over the breakfast table what we’d be doing for the day.

Guess what we’re doing this afternoon?

I don’t know, eating Italian food?

Even better. We’re making the Italian food and then eating it.

I squeeled with excitement. He knew I wanted to learn how to cook pasta al dente and discover the Italian secrets about how to make the perfect pasta sauce after my not so successful attempts back home in Australia, so I was delighted with the choice.

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

Climbing the last flight of stairs to the roof terrace cooking studio I was buzzed in by a guy who, in true Italian fashion, greeted with me with a large and overly friendly, “Ciao, ciao! Welcome! My name is David, and you are Nicole?” I barely had the chance to squeeze in a “” before Chef David was planting a kiss on each cheek and off to the kitchen to get a glass of prosecco to sip.

As I sat with the group, which soon expanded to 11, and made my introductions, David welcomed up to his home among the terracotta tiled rooves of Rome and welcomed us to snack on the selection of apertivo – that’s Italian for ‘tapas’ – on the table to tide our hunger over before the hard work began.

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

Stuffed full of cheese, puff pastry and mini croissant-type pastries, which I think were country confused, David introduced us to his immaculately planned kitchen and begun getting down into the secrets of Italian cooking.

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

A thick slab of guanciale – an Italian cured meat prepared from pork jowl – was produced and slapped on the bench.
Carving the fatty pillow of meat into thick slices, David explains how Guanciale, while found across Italy, is a particular delicacy in the regions of Umbria and Lazio (Rome is the Capital of Lazio) and a simple addition to many pasta dishes including favourites Carbonara or Amatriciana.

That night we were focusing on sugo all’amatriciana – Amatriciana suace – based on three ingredients: guanciale, pecorino cheese and a generous amount of tomato.
Taking turns to carve the slab of guanciale, the fatty meat sliced easily when cut through the tougher cured exterior, and was cubed before thrown into a pan to render the fat.

Walks-of-Italy-Rome-Pasta-Class-6

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

The recipe to make your own pasta is a deceptively simple – plain flour and water. It’s not simply the ingredients the determine a good pasta over a great pasta it’s the long line of processes it takes from there.

Carefully whisking the flour, water combination together before beginning the specialised kneading process – pushing the dough down and away from you with the heel of your palm before turning the dough ninety degrees, folding the dough over itself and starting the process again until the dough is smooth, before letting it rest.

Half an hour later, you process the dough in a pasta machine. I found seven to me the magic number; rolling the dough out with a rolling-pin on the board it was seven times I put the dough through the machine, gradually decreasing the space between the rollers til a long velvety train of dough flowed through the machine.

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

We were making sagne ‘ncannulate, a popular pasta in Puglia.
Cutting the thin pasta into strips about 1/4-inch wide, you held the pasta strand at one end before rolling down the strand with the other hand, as you did this the pasta curled up looking a similar shape to the curled ribbons on presents. The process was not over though, as you placed the bottom part of your palm on a pinched end of the dough and folded the dough into a U-shape before placing it on a board. It is harder than it sounds!

Half the group rolled the dough through the pasta maker, the other half of us rolled the pasta. Quickly the wooden board began filling up with pasta shapes that vaguely replicated the expertly made pieces by the Chef. “Practice,” Chef David said as he showed me for the umpteenth time how to precisely roll the pasta, “they’re better than your first!

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

As the last pieces of dough were being rolled, David began cooking the pasta piece by piece in a pan of boiling water that was heavily salted. He explained that the simplest way to know when pasta was cooked al dente was when the pasta floated to the top.
To me, if felt more like the texture of a fresh stick of gum – malleable but still stiff.

Walks of Italy - A Cooking Day in Rome Pasta Making Class

Stirring the cooked pasta through the pan of Amatriciana sauce which has been quietly simmering on another cook top, fresh bottles of Italian wine were opened and bowls were filled, and a dessert of limoncello and traditional Italian biscuits were shared around.

It was a nice way to end the evening as we all sat around the dining table chatting about how we’d found ourselves on a rooftop in Rome.  Good company, great food and plenty of new Italian words – now this is something I could get used to!

Now it’s over to you:
Have you ever taken a cooking class on while travelling?
What’s your favourite Italian dish?

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Details

Cook, Dine & Drink Wine – Pasta Making Class with Chef Walks of Italy

Duration: 3+ hours

Price includes: Aperitivo, drinks (soft drink, prosecco or wine), Rome pasta making class, dinner, limoncello and cookies.

Cost:
Adult –  €59.00 (AUD$87/GBP£49)
Senior (65+) / Student (15-25) – €54.00 (AUD$80/GBP£45)
Child (6-14) – €44.00 (AUD$65/GBP£37)
Infant (5 and under) – Free

Private tours are available at an additional cost.

Website: www.walksofitaly.com/romecookingclass

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Many thanks to Walks of Italy for providing me with a complimentary tour.
They did not request a favourable review, and all opinions here are, as always, my own.

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Adam Burton
    December 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Oh my, I was salivating while looking at the finish product after reading this post. I have never taken a cooking class while traveling but would love to do so if ever I have a chance.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      December 12, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      Do give a cooking class a shot, Adam! They’re a great way to sample a few dishes – or one regional speciality like I did in Rome – that you might otherwise skip.

      If you visit Italy soon do check out Walks of Italy. They have a few cooking classes around the country. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lindsay
    December 4, 2013 at 1:33 am

    oh man, i want pasta now

    • Reply
      Nicole
      December 12, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      Editing those photos I did as well, Lindsay!

  • Reply
    Mica
    December 19, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Love. We’ve done cooking classes in Turkey so far this year and it was fab.

    I love pesto. Fav Italian dish. I also love lasagna! Ok time for lunch now!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      January 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Sounds like you made yourself hungry with all that Italian food talk, Mica!

      Lasagna is one of my favourites as well 😉

      What did you cook in Turkey? I really know nothing about Turkish food!

  • Reply
    Tim
    January 16, 2014 at 9:25 am

    This pasta looks stunning! Bravo!

  • Reply
    Pasta Making Class in Bologna at Le Sfogline
    January 22, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    […] Thinking it looked easy I grabbed a piece and followed her instructions – fold, pinch, squeeze, roll. I looked at my creation, the mixture oozing out from the cracks in the lining, the dough overstretched and the shape, something more resembling a folded crepe, looked nothing like Monica’s appetising tortelloni. I sighed. This was going to be harder than the sange ‘ncannulate that I learnt at my pasta making class in Rome. […]

  • Reply
    Fabs
    February 2, 2014 at 2:59 am

    I love your report, just simply would like to remark that very few kind of pasta are ready when floating. For instance, no spaghetti, maccheroni, penne, tagliatelle, linguine can float, and absolutely no dry pasta. I personally wait the floating only for fresh gnocchi.

    Cheers!

  • Reply
    Milena Yordanova
    April 1, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    This cooking class looks so much fun and the pasta is simply mouth-watering. 🙂

  • Reply
    mikko
    May 21, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Hi,

    Where this cooking course locates in Rome?

    Looks superb.

    Mikko
    Finland

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 21, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      They may have moved it, but it is not far from Central Rome. When I took part in the class it was about 5 minutes walk away from the The Altare della Patria.

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