Recently, I spent a night in Italy without ever leaving Morgan Hill. As the Italians would say, I had the buono fortuna (good luck) to get a seat at a sold-out pasta cooking class at the beautiful Guglielmo Winery.
The class was presented by Roberta and Gioacchino Barile, a husband/wife team from PiemontExperience [sic], an Italian culinary school that offers cooking classes and customized travel tours. There was a special connection with these chefs since Emilio and Emilia Guglielmo, the founders of the winery, were also from the Piemonte region of Italy.
As the class sipped on Emile’s Grand Cuvee California Champagne ($15.95), Roberta demonstrated the making of four different pasta shapes—all using the same two ingredients: high quality semolina flour and water. She deftly kneaded, rolled, cut and curled the dough into piles. Said Roberta, “I don’t use recipes. The amount of water I use depends on the humidity of the room. The trick is to feel the texture of the dough, making sure it has the right moisture content.” Amazingly, the shapes produced different flavors and textures in the resulting cooked pasta dishes.
The four pasta dishes were brilliantly paired with four Guglielmo wines. The first pasta dish, guitar troccoli, was paired with the fresh, lemony flavors of a 2016 Pinot Grigio, ($15). The 2015 Grignolino, 92 points and a gold medal winner, complemented the spiciness of the next course: the orecchiette pugliesi, a pasta served with broccoli pesto and crispy croutons, A pasta e fagioli, the third course, was served with the 2016 Dolcetto ($22). The white beans and smoky bacon in the dish were accented by the wood smoke aromas of the wine with pomegranate flavors shining through. The last pasta course was the cheese gnocchi in a rich gorgonzola, cream sauce and sprinkled with chopped walnuts. The 2014 Barbera, a bold Italian varietal with a well-balanced acidity, was a flavorful pairing, which helped cut through the richness of the cheese sauce.
At the end of the evening, with visions of gondolas and hugs all around, we said “buona notte” (good night) and “grazie mille” (thank you very much) for such a special evening.
For more information on the cooking classes and travel tours: piemontexperience.com.