REVIEW: PASTA ACADEMY BEER AND PASTA MASTERCLASS
Pasta Evangelists and Birra Moretti Bring Northern Italy to Farringdon
We enter the amber glow of Pasta Evangelists in Farringdon - a cosy, sun-drenched space with terracotta walls and Mediterranean tiles, where Chef Tommaso Giacomin cheerily greets us through the steam of bubbling pots and pans.
He will be leading this masterclass - a collaboration between Pasta Evangelists and Birra Moretti - to bring us the taste of Northern Italy, the birthplace of our beer and Chef Giacomin, who speaks fondly of his Padova, Veneto home. We’ll be making Buckwheat Blecs Pasta, a rare, handmade pasta from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, one of the northernmost regions of Italy, where Austro-Hungarian influences meet Mediterranean traditions.
Couples and friends gather around beechwood tables, which are set with ice cold beer aperitivos and antipasti boards, featuring specialities from Northern Italy; slabs of creamy, Alpine Montasio cheese, focaccia and Prosciutto San Daniele, a sweeter alternative to Prosciutto Di Parma.
We don our linen aprons and eye up the flour, eggs and pasta tools before us, and when enough cheese and beer has been quaffed, Chef Giacomin claps his hands and summons us to his workbench for the first part of our two-hour, artisanal pasta masterclass.
He’s a huge personality and should be cracking eggs and jokes on TV screens, but for now, we are his audience as he takes us on a journey through the history of pasta and Italian cooking. His lively, passionate and funny demo is peppered with colourful, personal anecdotes - he hails from a family of chefs and his mother is adept at whipping up pasta one-handed, “because she always has a Marlborough Red in the other hand.”
Jovially threatening people with an enormous rolling pin if we flatten dough instead of kneading it to activate the gluten, he shows us how to make pasta from scratch, shaping a large enough flour hole for the cracked egg and carefully mixing it, first with a fork and then by hand. Firing out jokes and stories, he drolly chats through Blighty’s pasta faux pax - wrongly adding oil to boiling water and demanding gluttonous servings of pasta, rather than the succession of small, pasta courses they eat in Italy.
And we are dispatched to enjoy unlimited beers, while recreating Scarface scenes with our flour. Friendly assistants pop around to revive questionable blobs and Chef Giacomin offers advice and comedy eye rolls.
He summons us to his workbench for the second part. Here, they are passionate about pasta fresca (fresh pasta) fatto a mano (made by hand) and appreciate that not everybody has a machine. “All you need is a bottle of wine and dough - drink the wine and use the bottle” laughs Giacomin.
He rolls the pasta until it is paper thin and drapes it from his pin, explaining that it’s ready when “you can see Saint Mark’s Basilica through it… or the Elizabeth line station.”
We cut our satisfyingly smooth pasta into frilly diamonds, separate them and take them to him in bowls with our names on, where he cooks them and adds a moreish butter and sage sauce, topped with generous clouds of parmesan. And we’re left to enjoy our work with more beer, chosen because its carbonation cuts through the richness of the cheese and butter and its subtle hops highlight the flavours.
And we leave full, slightly squiffy, smug about our newly-acquired carb skills and not surprised that Pasta Evangelists’ Pasta Academy classes sell out like hot, carbonara cakes. They offer a range of masterclasses, paired with unlimited beer, prosecco or gin, and each dedicated to specific Italian regions, where guests can learn to cook speciality dishes ranging from Puglia’s orecchiette to Rome’s fettuccine and Sardinia’s malloreddus.
If you’d rather eat the pasta without the elbow grease, you can head to Pasta Evangelists' Pasta Bar at Harrods, to enjoy sexy specials like Pappardelle with Aberdeen Angus Ragù, Black Truffle Cacio e Pepe and Spicy Lobster Spaghetti. Or you can buy Pasta Evangelists goodies from the Harrods Food Hall and M&S Food.
But we're definitely inspired to drain our wine bottles and get them floury with a spot of pasta fresca, fatto a mano, for the foreseeable.
Pasta Evangelists Pasta Academy £65 per person at The Pasta Academy, 62-63 Long Lane, EC1A 9EJ or The Pasta Academy, 14 Bonhill St, EC2A 4BX
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