Lately I’ve been thinking, if I’m going to be scoffing and critiquing other people’s cooking on this little blog of mine, I better get a clue about what to do in the kitchen myself. I can’t be throwing shade on someone’s sous-vide when I can just about rustle up a roast dinner for two.
I made a good start by brushing up on my BBQ knowledge at the Harthill Cookery School Weber® Grill Academy but last week, I went on my merry way to the Peroni Pasta Masterclass at Gusto Heswall. A £25 ticket bought you access to the pasta masterclass, a complimentary beer on arrival, fresh pasta to take home and a main meal to enjoy after the event – chicken pesto pasta for me.
Hosted by The House of Peroni in conjunction with the launch of their new orange-infused Peroni Ambra, we kicked off proceedings with a drink at the bar. I, naturally, went for my old Gusto favourite – the Strawberry Cheesecake – as you know how much I love a good dessert cocktail by now but have since sampled the Ambra and thoroughly enjoyed the zesty alternative to classic Peroni.
A couple of cocktails down, we headed into the swanky event space to be greeted by two beaming Italian girls from Shoreditch eatery, Burro e Salvia who ran the entire class par excellence. They ushered us into our places, each of us standing in front of a wooden board with an egg placed strategically in the middle of a mound of flour. These were the simple ingredients we used to create our gluten free pasta dough, which was great news for me as a part-time gluten-dodger.
With some scary looking tools to hand and implements that looked a lot like something out of a Victorian period drama torture scene, I was surprised at how delicate the pasta making process was. After mixing and kneading the flour (100g for one portion) and egg together, we were told to treat our ball of dough with utmost care and respect so as not to dry it out and create a mixture too brittle to work with. Our golden hunks of floury goodness were smothered in clingfilm until we were ready to work with them to keep ‘em nice and moist. Urgh, there’s that word… moist. Sorry!
We went about pushing our balls of dough through fascinating pasta pressing contraptions while our hostesses with the mostess-es talked us through the various shapes we would be crafting, stopping to cool down with sips of gluten free Peroni as we went. We each made butterflies (or bows to us English folk), fancy tubey things and a nest of tagliatelle. I mean, I thought this kind of stuff was done by a factory machine but the guys at Burro e Salvia make each bow, each corrugated edge by hand.
The girls told us that they had traveled all the way from the Big Smoke to the little Wirral peninsula with their own eggs in tow. Why on earth didn’t they just visit the local Tesco, you might ask (we did too) – the answer: because English eggs just don’t enough sun exposure to create that beautiful yellow hue that authentic Italian pasta always boasts. So fresh that it only needs 2 minutes cooking time (1 minute extra for every day you store it in the fridge before use).
Okay so that’s my rundown of pasta making 101 but if you’d prefer to hear it from the experts themselves and you’re going to be in the London area anytime soon, be sure to swing by the Burro e Salvia website. You’ll find listings of all their upcoming events and classes right there as well as more info about the beautiful brand itself.
If you’ve got any of your own tips to share with me, leave them in the comments below or over on Twitter as I’m probably going to need all the help I can get on my pilgrimage to pasta making mastery!