In September 2013, I embarked on my first international solo trip to Rome. Here’s my review of the Walks of Italy tour “Cook, Dine & Drink Wine with a Local Chef” (a Cooking Day in Rome). If you’re interested in this tour you’ll need to set aside a few hours and I’d highly recommend using public transit.
I heard about this touring company called Walks of Italy while watching Rick Steves’ PBS special on Italian Travel. So, based on his suggestion, I went to google and found they offered a Pasta Making class on a top floor apartment, with a terrace, in the heart of Rome AND it was ‘reasonabily priced’ at 59 euros. I booked it and decided to take the cooking class on my fourth night. I was super stoked, since it was my first (ever) cooking class (since watching the Food Network doesn’t count, right?). I kind of got lost on the way there, but with the help of two lovely Italian woman, I made it! YESSS…
The beautiful burnt-orange coloured building was located in the heart of the city center, I took an elevator ride to the top floor. I was the first to arrive, so Davide and Barbara let me scope out the place and take some photos. Shortly after the couples started to creep in, they popped a bottle of Prosecco alongside with cheese plates and pastries. We started off the lesson with a brief introduction by our chefs and attendees, then off we went inside to start makin the pasta!
The cooking station was bright, clean, spacious and very comfortable for our group of 8. As we all gathered around the kitchen island with our individual plates of flour, water and salt, we found out we were making Amatriciana! Amatriciana was created in Amatrice (a town in the region of Lazio) and is traditionally made with bucatini or spaghetti, guanciale (a cured, well spiced pork cheek) along with tomato sauce and topped with pecorino cheese. I can’t remember the name of the type of pasta we made (after all these years), but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of making the pasta dough from scratch. I would have preferred to have made tomato sauce from scratch rather than from a can, but it was still great none the less. Anyways, our version in class included red onions for the sauce and we swapped the pecorino for parmesan. Although it wasn’t traditional it was tasty, plus being a tourist I didn’t know the difference!
Looking over their site, the price for the cooking class has gone up to 79 euros, that’s pretty steep in my opinion (but I guess When in Rome..).
Chef Davide (bottom photo) and his wife Barbara (top photo).
Allowing the dough to set and rise in the fridge while we get started on the sugo (Italian for sauce).
Here, I’m slicing guanciale (an unsmoked cured pork cheek/ pork jowl). The skin side is tough and very hard, while the other side is softer and covered in seasonings. You’ll definitely need a sharp knife!
Now that the sauce is ready, we’re back with the pasta to roll it out and mold it into the pasta shape.
This is Steve Haenisch aka BackPackerSteve and he’s a travel blogger. I met him while taking this class (since he was also travelling solo, but more importantly was doing social media coverage on this and other tours provided by WalksofItaly). You can watch his video on ‘Things to do in Rome in one day (Rome Guide & Budget Check) below.
I hope you enjoyed reading this review, I’ve linked the full recipe on how we made Amatriciana with a Cooking Day in Rome here! Let me know if you’ve ever tried Amatriciana or if you plan on making it in the comments below!