Guest post from Tom today...
This past weekend Adam and I celebrated his birthday early by taking a pasta and gnocchi class with Angelo Garro in San Francisco. Sicilian by birth and a blacksmith by trade, Anglo's Renaissance Forge has become a gathering place for people that enjoy food prepared in traditional ways. Long-time readers of the blog will remember that I took a salumi class with Angelo some time ago, and enjoyed it immensely.
We gathered at 10AM for some cappuccino, pastries, and introductions, then got right in with the preparation of doughs. The pasta dough is a simple combination of flour, semolina, egg, and enough water to bind it together. We then rolled it down to thickness and hung it up to dry for a bit.
For the gnocchi, we put potatoes through a ricer, then mixed with flour, semolina, egg, and water to make a dough. This was then rolled by hand, dusted generously with flour, and set on trays and chilled.
All this work required some sustenance; Angelo obliged with some of his homemade salami, prosciutto, and pancetta, along with some of his own wine.
After the sheets of pasta dried for a bit, we sliced them up into linguine.
The gnocchi was cooked and blended with some tomato sauce and meatballs. The pasta was mixed with a tomato-mushroom sauce and some fresh ricotta Angelo made. Then it was time to eat!
It was a wonderful time, and Adam and I both learned a lot. Two things in particular struck me during the day.
The first was when we started peeling potatoes. I've taken more than a few cooking classes over the years, and maybe it sounds silly, but it was so nice that there was an assumption of basic competence in this class. Here's some potatoes, here are some paring knives, get cracking. I work in education, and I see the benefit of setting high expectations. Sure, the adults in the class all had more cooking experience than Adam, but by just treating him as someone who could do the basics, he rose to the occasion.
The other was the value in cooking together. I've tried making pasta myself from time to time, but always with just meh results. Recipes and YouTube videos can only take you so far; there are some things you need to work on with an expert. It's not so much the ratio of flour to semolina to egg that you're learning, it's the way the dough should feel at each stage, the shine that the sheets take on as you roll them, the way to get a clean edge, the size and shape of the gnocchi.
Much thanks to Angelo, Veronica, and Beth at Omnivore! Now, on to buy some semolina...