Enter into a private courtyard off a bustling street in Rome, taking the elevator four storeys up and finding yourself on a whimsical terrace overlooking balconies strung with clothing lines and twinkling lights. Chef David greeted me with brilliant smile and bellowing laughter, inviting me to sit, drink and enjoy the present moment while we waited for the others to arrive. I scooped in the scenery, holding close to my heart the nearby call of the seagulls, the warm spring air and the rustic nature of the patio table and chairs. Something about it screamed with familiarity, like I had been there before — of maybe I was just imaging Pottery Barn catalogues from back home. The groups began to arrive and soon there was a full table of ten (plus baby). David popped the champagne and toasted to the evening as we raised our classes. Some of Chef David’s signature dishes quickly arrived at the table – my favorite being a puffed pastry filled with melted gorgonzola and a slice of pear. After a host of introductions and storytelling, we were ushered into the kitchen, already prepped for a master class of pasta making. Chef David explained in his thick Italian accent that he only started to truly study cooking a little under 4 years ago when he left his corporate job in New York with the hopes of finding a more enriching, purposeful and soul-nourishing job and lifestyle. Moving to Rome and returning to his Italian roots, he dove into the world of cooking, and naturally, was a natural. Soon after, he began to invite groups to his rooftop terrace and kitchen for private lessons on how to create some of Italy’s famous dishes (especially pasta).
On the menu for tonight:
— A tomato sauce with a thick noodle and meat from the cheek of a pig —
We began at the countertop, studiously following his instructions of scooping, mixing, stirring and folding. This recipe called for just flour, water and salt (no eggs) so we quickly had clumps of not-too sticky dough, ready to be put in the fridge (to help it set).
Red wine was poured by the glass and soon onions and bits of pork were flying into the skillet. The air stung with onions and hinted that something delicious was in the works.
Patiently waiting for the dough to set, with wine in hand, we moved to the kitchen table for a lesson on just how to create the twisted pasta the recipe called for. Carefully folding the dough and rolling it with a sprinkle of flour, Chef David inserted it into the pasta crank, flattening the rounded ball into a thin sheet. This process was then repeated several more times, each time producing a thinner sheet. Finally, when the sheet arrived at the right thinness, it was sliced and then rolled into a sort of wormy “S” shape.
The night trickled on as we laughed about and our poorly constructed shapes, voicing that our faulty designs would be masked by the fragrant sauce that was cooking on the stove.
Before we knew it, Chef David was scooping up all of our wormy shaped pasta and tossing it into a vat of boiling water. Sans any egg, it only took about 4-5 minutes to cook, and then he began to fish out the boiled pasta, dumping it into the cooked onions, tomato and diced pork.
The air in the kitchen was warm, zesty and I could hear every stomach rumbling, as each pair of eyes anxiously watched the pasta being served into the bowls.
And voila, dinner was served!
And boy, was it mighty fine.
By this point, we were stuffed and pleased by our job well done — too tired to think about preparing a sugary dessert; luckily Chef David knew that would be the case and whipped a little treat up beforehand. Cheersing to an excellent night, a masterpiece meal and to new friends, we took in the night one last time.
A magnificent night in Rome, indeed.
Dreaming about taking a pasta making class or saying you learned how to cook in Rome? Maybe you’re a solo traveler looking to meet fun individuals? Walks of Italy provides the perfect solution with Chef David and this was a definite highlight during my time in Rome.
6:30 PM to about 10:30 PM — learn, cook and dine!