Casa Artusi Philippines proudly reopened its doors and kicked off the first class for “La sfoglia di una volta”, Pasta Making and More, The Artusi way last November 23, 2014 at Whitespace Manila.
Casa Artusi is the centre of gastronomic culture dedicated to Italian home cooking in the old town of Forlimpopoli, district of Forlì-Cesena, in the region of Emilia-Romagna. It is, all at once a library, restaurant, cookery school, wine cellar, museum and events venue- a living museum to home cookery, if you will. The Philippines was chosen to house the first overseas campus, opening in 2012. It offers cooking courses to gourmands and professional cooks alike, anyone seeking to learn authentic methods and gain a better understanding of traditional Romagno cooking.
What sets Casa Artusi Philippines apart from other centres for learning is that it allows one to go beyond the technical aspect of preparing food; it also delves into folk history, traditional tools, the origin of each dish and, interestingly enough, how certain components were successfully adapted to locally available produce.
All the recipes provided were from ”La scienza in cucina l’arte di mangier bene”, or Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well by the namesake of Casa Artusi, Pellegrino Artusi a merchant and gastronome with a passion for traditional home cooking, Emilia Romagna style. It first came off press in 1865, and has been reprinted and translated in several major languages over the decades; this edition holds a comprehensive collection of dishes, culled from fine home cooks from around the region and had been tested exhaustively.
The class began with a warm welcome by chef Margarita Fores, who then introduced Carla Brigliadori, head of Casa Artusi since 2008, noted chef and sommelier. Both formidable cooks, they worked together to teach and demonstrate to the class in a charming mix of English and Italian,. The three-hour course provided a mix of instruction and discussion of cooking techniques, peppered with anecdotes and historical facts, some hands-on production and a goodly amount of food and vino tasting.
Prepared dishes were passed around, expertly paired with fine wines. Between sips and nibbles, exchanges of local culinary lore and discussions of what made each dish and technique special to the area, one cannot help but be impressed by the simplicity and quality of ingredients, the thoughtful preparation and the genuine appreciation of food: things universal to food lovers everywhere.
Casa Artusi Philippines brings the heart and art of Italian cooking to Manila, and for people who want to experience it as a whole, this is not to be missed.
This first session tackled the following:
2 Antipasto —Crostini di Fagetini, a rustic liver and sage spread on crisp toast and Baccalà Mantecato, a savory spread consisting of whipped cod in cream over crostini.
3 Classic Pasta Sauces — Genovese Pesto, Salsa Frutti di Mara and Bolognese
Piadina — A versatile grilled flatbread, one of the quintessential preparations of Romagna.
Handmade Pasta Dough, and 12 traditional shapes – Basic ratios, methods of forming and recommended sauces and fillings for each kind.
The recipes were explained in depth, and during the course of demonstration it was explained how each evolved to its present version. Traditional implements, specially flown in, were used—artisan made earthen slabs, large rolling pins, a 4- cornered marble mortar and wood pestle and carved pasta moulds. The students were invited to touch, smell and/or taste the dishes in the different stages of cooking, emphasizing the importance of being familiar with the texture, colour, aroma and taste of what's being cooked. It was a hands-on experience, from the mixing, kneading and rolling out of dough, to the shaping and cooking of the piadina and various pasta shapes and sauces.