When in Rome, do as the…well you know, Romans do. So naturally, I loaded up on carbs in every way, shape, and form. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to go on a food tour or participate in a cooking class—so I can take those flavors back home and always remind myself of a certain place.
Let’s wander through the streets of Rome and prepare a tasty Italian classic…
Entering in to a private courtyard off a bustling street in Rome, I took the elevator four floors up and found myself on a terra cotta-hued terrace overlooking balconies strung with clothing lines and twinkling lights. Chef David greeted me with brilliant smile, inviting me to sit, take a drink, and enjoy the view as the other guests arrived. I took in the scenery, holding close to my heart the nearby call of the seagulls, the warm spring air, and the rustic nature of the patio table and chairs. Something about it screamed with familiarity, like I had been there before—of maybe I was just imagining Pottery Barn catalogs from back home.
The groups began to arrive and soon there was a full table of ten. David popped the champagne and toasted to the evening as we raised our classes. Some of his signature dishes quickly arrived at the table—my favorite being a puffed pastry filled with melted gorgonzola and a slice of pear.
After a host of introductions and storytelling, we were ushered into the kitchen, already prepped for a master class of pasta making. Chef David explained in his thick Italian accent that he only started to truly study cooking a little under 4 years ago, when he left his corporate job in New York—with the hopes of finding a more purposeful and soul-nourishing job and lifestyle. Moving to Rome and returning to his Italian roots, he dove into the world of cooking. Soon after, he began to invite groups to his rooftop terrace and kitchen for private lessons on how to create some of Italy’s famous dishes.
On the menu for tonight: amatriciana—a chunky tomato sauce made with meat from the cheek of a pig, combined with thick noodles.
We began at the countertop and followed his instructions of scooping, mixing, stirring, and folding. This recipe called for just flour, water and salt (no eggs); we quickly had clumps of not-too-sticky dough that was ready to be put in the fridge (to help it set).
Red wine was poured by the glass and soon bits of chopped pork were thrown into the skillet. The air stung of onions and hinted that something delicious was in the works.
Wine in hand, we patiently waited for the dough to set, and moved to the kitchen table for a lesson on how to create the twisted pasta the recipe called for (better for the sauce to cling to). Carefully folding the dough and rolling it with a sprinkle of flour, Chef David inserted it into the pasta crank, flattening the rounded ball into a thin sheet. This process was then repeated several more times, each time producing a thinner sheet. Finally, when the sheet arrived at the right thinness, it was sliced and then rolled into a sort of wormy “S” shape.
The night went on as we laughed about and our poorly constructed shapes, voicing that our faulty designs would be masked by the fragrant sauce that was cooking on the stove. Before we knew it, Chef David was scooping up all of our “pasta worms,” and tossing them into a vat of boiling water. Sans egg, it only took about 4-5 minutes to cook, and then he began to fish out the boiled pasta, dumping it into sauce mixture.
Et voilà, dinner was served!
By this point, we were stuffed and pleased by our job well done…and too tired to think about preparing a sugary dessert. Luckily Chef David knew that would be the case and whipped a little treat up beforehand. Toasting to a masterpiece of a meal and to new friends, we took in the night one last time. A magnificent night in Rome, indeed.
Dreaming about taking a pasta making class or saying you learned how to cook in Rome? Maybe you’re a solo traveler looking to meet fun individuals? Walks of Italy provides the perfect solution with Chef David and this was a definite highlight during my time in Rome.
If you’re heading to Florence, check out this article: Forget the Uffizi Gallery—Experience the Tuscan Countryside and Go Truffling Hunting Instead!
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