Thursday, November 22, 2018

Pasta Made Perfectly in the Italian Countryside

I last left you with an initial taste of my vacation in a medieval hilltop town in Umbria, and our plan to meander over to a pasta-making class outside of town.

Luxuriating on our balcony, and at the cafe in the town square, Becky and I could barely drag ourselves away. But mouth-watering recipes awaited, so we persevered. Let's face it, even on the most relaxing vacation, there is likely to be a day or two of hard labor. One must succumb.
It was only 3 kilometers from Panicale to the farm, on the outskirts of Paciano. The directions provided by email, while colorful, were not very enlightening. The "road that descends through the olive groves" and "shrine at the junction" could have meant any one of a half-dozen choices. After wandering around the scenic countryside, with assistance from GPS, we arrived at Il Fontanaro, ready to cook.
We needn't have hurried. The guests arrived slowly, and leisurely launched the morning with a discussion of olive oil, over a bottle of red wine. Olive oil is a key ingredient of any Umbrian feast, and wine is essential to negotiating the intricacies of the three types of Italian flour and various kneading techniques required to make pasta.
After a suitable period of chatting--and imbibing--on the shady veranda, we got down to the serious business of mixing, kneading, rolling, and shaping tagliatelle, farfalle, ravioli, and gnudi. 
It was hard work trying to fit in all of that manual labor between sips of the villa's house-produced vino. What I really wanted to do was luxuriate on the veranda enjoying the view. But I took another swallow and persevered.

After rolling and cutting the pasta, we turned to sauces. Briefly abandoning our libations while we repaired to the kitchen garden, we gathered plump tomatoes and fresh herbs.
Then we chopped, sauteed, drank some more, and slaved over the stove. Pasta in boiling water. Zucchini, garlic, and lemon in one frying pan. Tomatoes and garlic in another. Cook, drink, repeat.
Does it look like our hostess, Alina, did more than her share of the cooking? Don't let the photos fool you; we worked hard. One must, in order to appreciate the rewards. However, it may be true that she was slightly more able to tolerate large quantities of the house wine than we novices.

Finally, the food came to the table. At this point we gave in, sat down, opened another bottle, and allowed the hired help to serve.
After feasting and offering congratulations all around, we enjoyed aperitifs: limoncello and amaro, an Umbrian specialty.

After a couple more hours, we got around to the afternoon's final business: how to return to our vacation rentals. We all came by car. We all drank. Oh well, it was Italy, after all. We had eaten well, and surely pasta absorbs significant quantities of alcohol.

Fortunately, Becky and I only had 3 kilometers to go, and the GPS was still working. And all we had to do upon our return was more luxuriating.

No comments:

Post a Comment