I love fresh pasta, but I’ve always been too lazy to make it. The furthest I’ve ever got is making gnocchi. So whilst living in Italy I thought it would be the ideal time to learn. A lot of wine enotecas have diversified and now include cookery courses as well as wine tours. I sent a few emails out to local wineries but it came back as quite expensive (around €300) for a full day cookery course. My mum was visiting us and I wanted to do something cultural and fun!
After a lot of internet research, I stumbled upon a cookery class at the Enoteca Regionale Colline del Moscato which is in the picturesque village of Mango, 8 km from Castiglione Tinella. The cookery course consists of a small group of housewives teaching you how to make typical dishes of the area. This is all set in the castle in Mango which is home to the regional wine shop of local Moscato wine.
We met at the castle at 11am and were greeted by Roberta. She is very friendly and good at English. I had already discussed with Roberta about being vegetarian and I wanted to focus mainly on making different pastas. We decided on making four types; gnocchi, ravioli, tajarin and tagliatelle.
At the end of the session, you get to eat what you make as a sit down four course meal, so we began by making a starter. The local Piemontese housewife, Tiziana, showed us how to make mayonnaise from scratch to make a Insalata Russa (Russian salad). This may seem confusing but Italian legend claims that the Russian salad was invented in Piedmont when Russian aristocracy visited the region. The mayonnaise was mixed with cooked diced carrots, diced potatoes, chopped boiled egg and peas. I can’t say it was my favourite thing in the world but it tasted good. However, I don’t think I’ll be making it again in a hurry…
We moved on to what I was most excited about – PASTA! We started with gnocchi. The potatoes had been boiled with the skin on, Roberta said you should always do this – it makes it easy to peel when cool and allows the potato to keep its shape. We squeezed the potatoes through a potato ricer, added the Tipo ’00’ flour and one beaten egg. We kneaded the dough and left it to rest.
As the gnocchi rested we moved onto making egg pasta. Making the dough was actually a lot simpler than I had imagined. It was quite tricky feeding it through the pasta machine, Roberta was on hand to help as she’s had years of practice. She told us she makes pasta every day for her family! After we had fed the pasta through the machine again, again and again we cut it into strips to make spinach and ricotta ravioli. With the remaining dough we made tajarin and tagliatelle. Tajarin is a traditional Piedmont recipe, it’s basically a thinner version of tagliatelle. The gnocchi was finished by rolling small pieces of the dough with a fork.
For dessert we made a hazelnut cake. As well as the hundreds of vineyards in Piedmont, there is also plenty of hazelnut groves. This light, nutty cake is a traditional dessert in the region and extremely easy to make.
After all of our food preparation, Roberta went to cook it for us. We began our meal with an aperitif called bellini. This is an Italian cocktail usually made with Prosecco and peach juice, but we had it with the local Moscato.
We chose to eat the salad, gnocchi, ravioli and dessert. Roberta paired some local Piedmont white and red wine for us with each course.
I highly recommend this cookery course if you’re wanting something authentic with a welcoming, community feel. It was organised well and left me feeling like I wanted to cook pasta every day. It costs €50 per person. For this you get two hour session of cooking and an one hour to sit down and enjoy what you’ve made with an aperitif and lots of local wine. You also get a bottle of Moscato to take home with you and enjoy. You can get more information about this cookery course by clicking here.
To find out more about the beautiful region of Piedmont, check out my previous blog about my summer there by clicking here.