Thursday, November 13, 2014

My tryst with pasta and the Italian Cuisine World Summit

They say when you really really want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Bear with me and my melodrama please. When you know the complete story you will understand this melodrama better. Note: I used the word "understand" not appreciate or agree :)

This is a story of one lonely pasta maker. One fine day, a little more than three years ago I got home a metal contraption that I just couldn't say no to; a manual pasta maker. My reasons were solid. There is something so romantic about making pasta from scratch I thought; making that well of flour and eggs, pulling in the flour till it all comes together, kneading the dough just enough and then running it through the pasta maker. With the large chunks in one hand you pass them through the machine, flour flying in the air, with pearls around your neck was the picture I dreamt about when I bought the machine. Ofcourse a dress with a pretty apron that had lace on it completed the picture.

Pity that none of the above happened. The machine intimidated me. I don’t have the time to make it from scratch I would tell myself especially when I can get whole wheat dry pasta everywhere. Why should I spend my energy making fresh one and to be fair these days you get really good dry pasta off the shelf. But you bought this saying you will be making all those raviolis and lasagnas I would hear a little voice in my head.

The pasta maker travelled across countries when we moved from Delhi to Dubai.  In its new home too it sat ever so patiently in a box behind all the baking and cooking paraphernalia I have accumulated over these years.

Until one day last month when I was asked to make one thing that really scares me as part of the monthly challenges for Jamie Oliver’s Food revolution Ambassadors.

I loved this take on Halloween. Do one thing that scares you every day they say. What a beautiful thought to make Halloween more meaningful! You know where it is going, right? Yes, it took me straight to my past maker. Infact this had been on mind when the year began when I set out some food resolutions for myself and one of them was to finally open that box and use that pasta maker. This challenge made me conquer my fear and meet my resolution as well.

I decided to make this pumpkin goat cheese pasta. It was Halloween after all :) I struggled but in the end I did manage to put something on the table. I also wished someone would just appear and teach me how to master fresh pasta so that I could do this more often.

Looks like a little birdie heard my wish and I got invited by the ever so talented and lovely Dima to attend a masterclass (part of the Italian Cuisine World Summit) to learn fresh pasta! Told you that melodrama was required :)

The master class would be taught by Chef Walter Potenza. He would be helping me master the white magic art of flour I was told. Lasagne, tagliatelle, tagliolini, pappardelle ravioli, tortellini, agnolotti and potato gnocchi; all with the help of a pasta extrision machine.
The class was calling out my name and I wasn't disappointed. 

The class was held at the very scenic Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management which looks into the gorgeous Burj Al Arab. Sigh! What a location.

We began the session learning the fundamentals of making pasta from scratch. How to build that well of flour and egg, how you have to let the egg pull in the flour and not the other way round and should listen to the mixture and know when to stop. That Chef Walter had a great sense of humour helped. He did advice us to either go marry men who knew how to make pasta or master it ourselves. Pity his advice came ten years too late. I would have to master this I told myself.

The session was very informative and gave me the much required confidence of making pasta from scratch. Chef Walter took us through making pasta with various combinations; flour, egg and oil, flour and oil, semolina, a bit of flour and eggs. The last combination is something I am really looking forward to trying. He also mentioned that the Italian obsession of using the double zero flour was something that he didn't quite adhere to and the regular all purpose flour worked just fine. Told you he knew how to keep his students interested.

We talked about how to understand what the dough was telling us…be it allowing it to let it rest, or listen to it when it was springing back or falling apart. It was like paying attention to a friend.

We also learnt how to put together a Swiss chard and cheese ravioli, potato gnocchi and were also given a demonstration of a professional pasta maker machine which made some beautiful spaghetti in a matter of few minutes. What made the session memorable was that Chef Walter shared his experiences, his life and anecdotes about his work with everyone.

Would I recommend the course? Big Yes! Considering at the end of the sixty hours you get a professional certificate (Note: I only attended a single module) and more importantly you are learning from Master Italian Michelin Chefs, cuisine educators and experts as well as renowned food producers and also from Italian Cuisine Master Chefs with extensive experience in Italian Restaurant Management Abroad.

A big thank you to Dima for the warm invitation (run her to blog now to know everything about the summit for her blog is the official blog for the summit), the Emirates Academy for hosting it and Chef Walter and his entire team for imparting this skill to us. Now that I have made friends with my pasta maker and I know that the pasta dough is very forgiving I will be certainly getting my hands dirty often. Oops I meant dusty.

Find everything about the Italian Cuisine World Summit here and the courses offered by them here. The full course is available twice throughout November you can choose the course that best suits your schedule.

The Course fees: Originally AED 9500.00, but Dima is offering her readers a 40% discount making it for AED 5700.00 only (applicable only for the early bookings).

Leaving you with this poem that always makes me laugh out loud.

Spaghetti, spaghetti, all over the place,
Up to my elbows--up to my face,
Over the carpet and under the chairs,
Into the hammock and wound round the stairs,
Filling the bathtub and covering the desk,
Making the sofa a mad mushy mess.
The party is ruined, I'm terribly worried,
The guests have all left (unless they're all buried).
I told them, "Bring presents." I said, "Throw confettii."
I guess they heard wrong
'Cause they all threw spaghetti!

Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 


Dima Sharif said...

So glad you enjoyed the Master Class Parchi, and agreed some preps from scratch can be intimidating and sometimes all we need is a helping hand to ease us into making these. This is exactly what the Masterclasses of Italian Cuisine World Summit aim to accomplish. Also learning from the Masters of the Masters is always a huge plus, because these people have spent years perfecting their skills and teach us the outcome of all this practice and where they are today. Who doesn't want to learn new techniques and traditions instead of be only stuck in those of the past.
Thank you for all the compliments too, you are too sweet ;) x

orangekitchens said...

Dima: Thanks for dropping by Dima and your kind words of encouragement. You are absolutely right some of the combinations of making pasta differently and healthier were very interesting and I am glad I was there to learn them from the best. Once again thanks for hosting the class.

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

You've reminded me that my own pasta machine has crept to the back of the cupboard and not been out for a very long time. Jamie's books were my guidance for fresh pasta actually - and the step by step photos banished all fear. Like bread making it's theraputic. However I don't think I've ever made filled pasta as beautiful as yours. Lovely post and congrats on being an ambassador - you'll do a fantastic job.

orangekitchens said...

Sally : So good to see you here. Thanks for your kind words. When encouraging words come from people like you...who inspire me it gives me a lot of positive energy & all the enthusiasm required to make a little difference in my own way.

About the pasta maker, there should be an international take out THAT pasta maker day :)

IshitaUnblogged said...

I had the opportunity to learn from Chef Walter Potenza... he is brilliant. Have linked up to your post:)

orangekitchens said...

Ishita: Yes, isn't he and makes learning fun that is what I liked about him the most..thanks for linking. I should do the same.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...