'Each weekend in Bologna, the Piazza Maggiore comes alive. Tables, chairs, and market stalls fill the square, and open-air movies and concerts are held. The atmosphere is electric and festive, and it reminds me of how Melbourne feels now as we emerge from lockdown, ready to take our city back.'
Emilia-Romagna is a special place for me. I own a home there, and it's where my sister lives. Most importantly, in the capital city of Bologna, it was there that I learned the beauty and importance of pasta and how to make a delicious, silky-soft dough.
A Pasta Journey Through Emilia-Romagna is a five weeks pasta course to discover the food from the birthplace of pasta, Emilia Romagna.
Our small-group pasta making course is designed for convenience and connection, combining online classes with in-person encounters.
WEEK #1 TAGLIATELLE AND GARGANELLI
10.30 am, Sunday 17 January 2021 (online)
The Italian way to make fresh pasta!
In this step-by-step class, you will learn how to combine flour and eggs to make a soft, silky dough by hand and roll it using a pasta machine.
You will make two kinds of egg pasta typical to the Emilia-Romagna region, tagliatelle, and garganelli.
Tagliatelle, a well-loved and well-known pasta, are long, flat ribbons similar in shape to fettuccine. Garganelli are meant to look like a trachea – the tube connecting your nose to your lungs. They are the equivalent of penne pasta, and they are formed by rolling a flat, square piece of dough into a cylindrical shape. Traditionally, garganelli were made by rolling them along the piece of a weaving loom called a pettine in Italian – a comb. You will only find fragments of pettine for sale in antique markets and online, and an acceptable substitute is a ridged garganelli or cavatelli board. The grooves the board makes aren't quite as fine as with a pettine, but the pasta still looks pretty, and it tastes the same.
To accompany your pasta, I will show you how to cook a simple, tasty Sausage and Pea Ragu – and we will have lunch together, virtually.
WEEK #2 TORTELLINI IN BROTH OR PARMIGIANO CREAM,
10:30 am, Sunday 24 January 2021 (online)
In week two, you will learn how to make the traditional pasta of Emilia-Romagna, tortellini.
This time I will show you how to make the dough using a food processor, a rather quick and modern technique that I think you will appreciate!
Learn the art of dough rolling and how to use your hands to shape and stuff the delicate tortellini dumpling. You will learn how to make the perfect tortellini every time without over-stuffing.
Following famous chef Massimo Bottura's recipe, we will prepare tortellini and cook them two ways: in brodo (broth) and a Parmigiano cream.
The filling of the tortellini is as important as the pasta. For this recipe, we stick to using ingredients from the Emilia-Romagna region, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, and fresh pork. When you combine these flavours with those in the broth, a moreish savory taste known as umami occurs. Your happy palate will dance with joy from the salty, meaty flavors of steak, mushroom, anchovy, and aged cheese.
Tortellini are a specialty of Bologna. Of course, an official recipe is registered with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce, which says the filling should be equal quantities of pork loin, prosciutto, mortadella, and Parmigiano Reggiano. The reality is that every family in Bologna has a slightly different version that was passed down by nonna, probably before the official version was written. They are always delicious, whatever the variations, and form an essential part of Christmas celebrations – although they are eaten all year round these days.
WEEK #3 DINNER AT TRATTORIA EMILIA,
6.00 pm, Saturday 30 January 2021 (in person)
The people you meet while travelling can become life-long friends. Although we cannot go overseas right now, it's essential to stay connected and to meet others with a passion for Italian food and good conversation.
Trattoria Emilia in Melbourne's CBD is the perfect blend of my home and yours. Tonight, we will dine on a traditional Italian feast from the foodie region of Emilia-Romagna, in the heart of Melbourne.
It's the place you go when you need to leave the house but still feel like you're right at home.
From the restaurant website:
'Emilia brings you food that is rustic yet refined with fantastic ambiance, attentive and professional service whilst all the while remaining a great casual dining spot perfect for a quick lunch or a long relaxing dinner.'
The menu for our meal will consist of:
· Antipasti misti to share including three courses (a salumi board with gnocco fritto, tigelle and mortadella mousse, and more).
· Two kinds of traditional homemade pasta to share.
· A delicious dessert.
*Drinks at own expense
WEEK #4 SPINACH & RICOTTA TORTELLONI WITH THE PERFECT BROWN BUTTER SAUCE, Sunday 7 February 2021 (online)
You will learn how to make tortelloni with one of the most decadent fillings in week four: the simple and delicious combination of slowly roasted spinach and ricotta. Also, we will make the delicate EGG YOLK ravioli (uovo in raviolo) using the same filling. The gorgeous, oversized egg yolk ravioli originated at the famed San Domenico restaurant in Imola, 40 km east of Bologna. They are the most extravagant fresh pasta shape perfect for dinner or breakfast. They are so rich and delicious! But don't listen to me; let that runny yolk do the talking. We will serve both with a brown butter, sage & toasted nut sauce, which we will learn how to make together.
WEEK #5 CLASSIC LASAGNA FROM BOLOGNA,
10:30 am, Sunday 21 February 2021 (online)
Lasagna! Such fun to make. Imagine layers of meat, vegetables, sauce, and cheeses
sandwiched between sheets of mouth-watering pasta. This is one hearty Italian home-style
dish the whole family will love to eat!
Pasta Granny, Franca lives in the hills, south of Bologna. Today for our last cooking class, you will make Franca's Traditional Lasagna Bolognese.
Franca's extraordinary recipe combines diced pancetta, ground beef and pork, white wine, and passata to become a rich, balanced pasta sauce – good enough to impress anybody's nonna.
You will learn how to make silky smooth lasagna pasta from scratch, as well as the creamy bechamel sauce. Your family and friends will thank you for years to come, now you have mastered the perfect lasagna.