The age-old Italian tradition of making pasta.
There is a certain romance to homemade pasta. The mixing, rolling, kneading, and cutting of the delicate dough all come together to create not only a culinary masterpiece but also a one-of-a-kind experience.
Families pass along their recipes and secrets to children who are just learning to love the kitchen. In Italy, Sunday mornings are dedicated to making pasta. With most everyone off work and children home from school, the whole morning can be devoted to creating something that everyone can enjoy together; this is how traditions are made and kept throughout the years. Homemade pasta truly is one of life’s little pleasures, offering comfort, warmth and company. No matter how good the pasta you buy can be, nothing compares to the pasta you put time and energy into making with your own hands.
Who better to tell us about the art of making pasta by hand than the professional pastaio, or pasta chef, at The Resort at Pelican Hill. Andrea, located within the resort, focuses on the precision, detail and tradition that goes into pasta-making. By designing its very own pasta room with a controlled temperature of 68 degrees, the pastaio can create a variety of handmade pasta that is authentic to the Italian tradition.
Andrea uses simple ingredients, including imported stone-ground flour, organic eggs and purified water. This is the base to homemade pasta, while families and pastaios often have their own secret additions to their dough that make it uniquely theirs, and very special.
Making the perfect pasta at home, of course, requires specific tools. A rolling pin is a necessity in pasta-making. You want to make sure that the dough is the same thickness throughout, and a tapered pin will allow you to do this. Next, the most efficient way to precisely and quickly cut pasta dough is with a pastry wheel. If you are making lasagna, ravioli or farfalle, a fluted pastry wheel will create the familiar ruffled edges, while a straight blade will give you clean lines. A dough scraper is used to bring all the ingredients of the pasta dough together to form a ball, which is then rolled out and cut into familiar pasta shapes. This dough scraper will also help to clean off the pastry board, which provides the perfect surface for kneading and rolling out the dough.
Perhaps the most valuable tool that pastaios use to make their pasta perfect is a pasta drying rack. It is necessary for air to circulate all around the fresh pasta so that it dries evenly. Many Italian households have their own method to dry their pasta, with some hanging it over the back of chairs, while others suspend their pasta over a wooden dowel between two raised platforms. Further, it is best to avoid working where there are air drafts, as the dough dries out too quickly, making it impossible to work with. This is why it is so important that the pasta room at The Resort at Pelican Hill is maintained at a stable temperature, as not to dry out the pasta prematurely. Whatever the method used, it is all part of the tradition and art of making pasta.
But if searching for the right ingredients, tools and time is not something plausible in your life, The Resort at Pelican Hill offers hands-on classes instructed by their very own in-house pastaio. Through these classes, students learn to make traditional egg-based pasta, and then enjoy a two-course lunch that they made themselves; all at the Andrea pasta kitchen. These courses are offered Wednesday through Saturday at 11 a.m., allowing only three students per class, making it an intimate and rewarding Italian experience.
While learning how to make pasta might not be the most complicated process, it does require attention and dedication, and the longing to create something amazing. Making pasta can become a tradition within your family, just as it is in so many Italian families, and at Andrea.
Andrea Ristorante at The Resort at Pelican Hill
22701 S. Pelican Hill Road | Newport Coast | 855.467.6800 | andreanb.com