Some ravioli (or more specifically, agnolotti as they call them up here in Piemonte) stuffed with potato and herbs from the garden. No meat. Too hot for that. Way too hot.
I’m in the home stretch. Two days left of Master’s classes before I head out into the big wide world to continue my training as a gastronome on my own terms. This weekend, a few of my classmates and I discovered some places in this region that have been under our noses the whole time but impossible to get to without a car. If only Zipcar were here… (PS that would never happen, the paperwork would take decades.)
On Sunday morning we partook in a pasta making workshop with the lovely Alessandra Buglioni di Monale, a guest chef at the UNISG Canteen a few weeks ago and a soul sister of Good Food Awards Founder Sarah Weiner in terms of her demeanor and body language.
Alessandra walked us through the egg to flour to water ratios in three kinds of pasta: tagliatelle (more specifically, tajarin as they call it in Piemonte, a very thin pasta which is usually served either with a beef ragu or just with butter and sage), maccheroni (which I referred to as “elbow pasta” in my youth) and also ravioli.
Under the shade of a gorgeous tree at Castello di Verduno, the former digs of King Carlo Alberto, we rolled, rolled, cut, rolled, cut and then rolled more pasta. There were no Italian nonnas around, but these two women were great teachers, and we seemed to pick things up quite fast (although we sat down for lunch around 2 PM).
One of the beautiful (though maybe frustrating to some OCD types) things about handmade pasta versus industrial pasta is that no two pieces are alike! Here we have some maccheroni that we shaped using bits of wire from a trellis. Yes, like the things on a vineyard that keep the vines going along. Traditionally, the little bits of dough were shaped around knitting needles, but Alessandra only had a few pair, so she just scooted out to the vineyard and voilá.
The tajarin required several (three I think, to be precise) roll-outs on the pasta machine before they were rolled into themselves and then cut into super fine little pieces. I was scared I was going to cut my knuckle off with these sharp sharp sharp knives so my job was quality control–shaking out pieces that weren’t quite straight so they wouldn’t bunch when they were cooking in the boiling water.
And last but not least, the ravioli. It truly took a team (and quite a few iPhones snapping away) to make these. We portioned 12 per person, so there were almost 150 to be made! Alessandra had the quickest, most nimble fingers and made it look so easy.
After all that hard (ok, not that hard) work, we sat down for a beautiful lunch. The pastas were each cooked with butter (of course), fresh vegetables (like zucchini), some edible herbs (yes, rose petals, included), and nothing else. Just plain and simple. I now have a new appreciation for the Sunday pasta making ritual with the nonnas.