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Learning to Make Pasta from Scratch in Rome | Ummi Goes Where?

Food is an important part of my travels, so every time I venture abroad, I will make it a point to try the local dishes, or better yet — try to cook them!

What food can you best associate with Italy?

Gelato, pizza, and of course, the much exalted pasta in all its many forms. Italians are known to be vehemently proud of their cuisine and will never settle for the store-bought kind if they could help it.

As they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do, so when I was there last fall, I joined a pasta-making class to learn the secret recipe of Italy’s most popular dish.

How to Book a Pasta-Making Class in Italy

There are many pasta-making classes all over Italy. All you have to do is choose based on your budget, location, and whether you want to learn in someone’s home or a business establishment. You can try searching on Get Your Guide, Viator, or any other booking websites.

I chose a class in Frascati, Rome because:

  1. It was the nearest to where I was staying.
  2. It was the cheapest.
  3. It was listed on Airbnb. I have joined many Airbnb experiences and loved each one of them. Cooking classes on Airbnb have been vetted by the Airbnb team to be an authentic culinary experience taking place in an intimate setting and hosted by a local expert.
  4. It came with free drinks and appetizers, and a tour of their wine cellar!

For this class, booking can be done on Airbnb app/website or by using the form below. If you don’t have an account yet, you can register through this link here to get a special discount on your first booking.

What to Expect

Getting There

The host will pick you up from Frascati Railway Station. Here is a video prepared by the host on how to reach the station from Rome city center:

The train to Frascati took only 25 minutes from Rome city center but it was not as frequent as I thought — I had expected it to be every 5 – 10 minutes, like the subway. Good thing that I went early. The not-so-good thing was the train was delayed, which apparently isn’t that big of a surprise in Italy. Still, it made me so frustrated, thinking that I was going to miss the class.

When I reached Frascati Railway Station however, I was relieved to see that the host, Simone was still there waiting for me. It turned out that two other participants were also on the same train. Because train delays were not uncommon there, Simone was totally unfazed at having to wait a little longer for everyone to arrive. 

Frascati Italy Pasta-Making Class | Ummi Goes Where?
Frascati, Italy.

From the railway station, we walked to the class venue. It involved some hike up a set of stairs to a hilltop, where you could see a picturesque view of Frascati. Along the way, Simone told us a brief history of the town and their family business. The class was to take place inside their family’s restaurant that doubled as a cooking school during closing hours.

The Class

Learning to make pasta in Italy
Credit: Katherine (Airbnb)

First, we put on our aprons and washed our hands. There was a long table already laid out with all the utensils and ingredients required for pasta-making.

To prepare the dough, we added egg and salt to a bowl of multi-purpose flour, and mixed it all together with a fork. Once it was the right consistency, we transferred the dough to a wooden board and started kneading until it wasn’t sticking to the surface anymore.

There was no rigid measurement involved during the mixing and kneading. We simply added more flour or water as needed.

This obviously required a lot of experience to get it right. Simone was there the whole time to guide us. He only needed a quick glance at our dough to know whether it was ready or not.

So, we had to continue kneading and kneading until he gave his approval.

Then, we continued to the next step: flattening the dough with a rolling pin.

Pasta making class in Rome, Italy
Credit: Paulo (Airbnb)

I thought the kneading part was hard enough, but this one was an even lengthier process. We had to make the dough as thin as possible — until it was almost transparent — without breaking it. I chafed my thumbs from having to press so hard on the rolling pin. No wonder most Italian nonnas are strong, burly women.

When Simone finally decided that our pasta sheets were thin enough, we each had to choose which type of pasta we were going to make. Because we were not using any pasta machine, our only options were flat pastas, namely tagliolini, fettuccine, tagliatelle, and paddardelle (from smallest to biggest, in that order).
 

I chose paddardelle simply because I had never heard of it. So, we rolled the flattened dough and cut them into strips based on the types of pasta we chose.

Pasta making class Italy
Credit: Paolo (Airbnb)
Pasta making class Italy
Credit: Maya (Airbnb)

Once we were done, we had to let the pasta rest for a while before we cooked it. Heck, after all that workout, we needed to rest too! The hosts served us with some appetizer, which was a platter of locally-sourced cheeses and deli meats.

The next step was making the sauce for our pasta. There were three options: carbonara with truffle sauce, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe. All three of them are traditional Roman sauces that have been passed down for generations. I went for carbonara because of the truffle sauce.

To expedite the process and probably because there were not enough stoves for each of us, Simone did the cooking while we helped him mix the ingredients in separate bowls. His assistant blanched the pastas.

Learning to Make Pasta in Rome Italy
Simone and his assistant preparing our pasta dishes.

And then, it was time to eat! During the meal, you will also get to taste their family’s wines: “Frascati Superiore” D.O.C.G. and “Vagnolo”. Or, you can buy a whole bottle to be shared among your group members.

Pasta making class in Rome
My paddardelle.

As the grand finale of the experience, Simone handed us each a lantern and took us to visit a cave below the cellar. This was where some of the wines were kept.

After that, with our stomachs full, we waddled back to the train station where we parted ways. A PDF file of the recipes was e-mailed to us a few weeks later.

The Verdict

I may be a foodie, but I’m not a pasta connoisseur. I can’t really tell good pasta from bad pasta. I might enjoy Prego’s instant spaghetti bolognaise just as much as I enjoy an authentic Michelin-starred pasta dish made by a real Italian chef.

Therefore, I can’t really comment if the pasta I made on that day was good or not. I found it to be a little too soft for my liking, but maybe that’s just how real pasta is supposed to be like.

However, as far as cooking classes go, I’d definitely recommend this one to anyone who’s traveling to Italy, especially those who are big fans of Italian cuisine. Even if you’ve never cooked before, this class allows you to immerse yourself in the unique traditions of the Roman culinary world.

Have you joined any cooking classes abroad? What was your experience like? Comment below.

Posted in Food & Drinks, Italy

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32 Comments

    • ummi

      Thanks, Edahyu! Yes, food is usually my main agenda when traveling, and I always love learning new things, so cooking classes are a great combination of both 🙂

    • ummi

      Hehe, terima kasih, Farhana. Nampak cantik la kot, tapi saya rasa macam lembik sangat je. Mungkin macam tu la pasta yang sebenar. Hmm, saya prefer pasta segera yang jual rm3 kat supermarket tu je.

  1. bae Roslan

    have never experience joining any cooking class abroad. but feel like to after reading this. such an informative posting. thanks for sharing

  2. Mahamahu

    Process to make pasta from ingredient I tak pernah cuba lagi buat kat rumah sendiri pun tak berani selalu beli yang dah siap je hehehe nampak dapat belajar ni mesti lebih mudah dan senangkan..

    • ummi

      Kalau beli lagi mudah dan cepat, Maha. 😀 Buat sendiri memang fresh la, tapi takleh simpan lama macam yang beli kat kedai. Dan kalau kita takde mesin, kita cuma boleh buat yang bentuk leper macam ni je. Apa pun, kelas tu memang seronok.

    • ummi

      Ya, Nadia, memang seronok buat pasta ni ramai-ramai. Meriah. Kitorang semua tergelak sebab semua dah kepenatan, tapi instructor tu asyik kata masih belum cukup nipis lagi. Akhirnya menjadi juga.

  3. Sis Lin

    Rupanya ada nama lain dan bermacam nama pasta yee.. Sis biasa ‘pasta’ tapi tak tau nama jenisnya hahaha.. tapi biasa beli yang jenis Prego aje macam Ummi juga.. Tu pun biasa spiral dan spageti or macaroni, lain-lain paten macam rasa pelik hehehehe..
    Setakat ni macam belum ada lagi kelas buat pasta yang Sis jumpa kat Johor ni..

    • ummi

      Saya pun sama sis. Setakat ni pernah jumpa pasta yang biasa-biasa je macam spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, angel hair, macaroni, penne, dan lain2. Tapi kat negara asal pasta ni sebenarnya ada berpuluh-puluh (mungkin beratus) jenis.

  4. Kitkat Nelfei

    Interesting experience tho.. 🙂 I think Malaysia need to do more hands-on activities like this that open to both local and international tourists in near future.. I know Tourism actively promoting this for exposure too..

    • ummi

      We actually do, Kitkat. I’ve seen nasi lemak cooking classes, pewter-making, batik-painting, pottery, and many more hands-on workshops in Malaysia that caters to tourists. Perhaps we don’t notice them because we’re so familiar with the local arts and crafts that we don’t feel the desire to learn them.

    • ummi

      Thank you, Afifah. If you love pasta, then you should definitely do this when you go to Italy. Personally I couldn’t really tell the difference, although it did feel a bit softer than the usual pasta I was used to. But perhaps you could. 🙂

  5. Saidila

    Rumah mana rumah ..? hahaha rasa nak datang rumah suh awak buat Pasta yang dibelajar…tengok gambar pun tahu sedap. Sama macam kat Korea kan ada kelas belajar buat Kimchi ….

    Saya pernah tengok jugak satu rancangan travel diorang ke Italy then masa tu kat kampung tu ada buat pesta wine. Tiap keluarga akan masak dan enjoy makanan sama2 orang kampung.

    Sempat jugak saya ambik resepi Patata Cunzate dari rancangan tu sebab nampak sedap dan senang.

    • ummi

      Oh bestnya kelas buat kimchi di Korea dan pesta wine di Itali tu. Thank you for sharing, Saidila. Nanti saya akan dapatkan info lebih lanjut. Btw, pasta yang saya buat tu biasa-biasa je rasanya. Entah la, agaknya tekak Melayu saya ni tak pandai bezakan kot. Hahaha.

    • ummi

      Oh, I didn’t know they have something similar in Yilan. I’ll look into it — thanks for letting me know. In Malaysia, we actually do have cooking classes for travelers. So far, I’ve seen nasi lemak cooking classes. I think that’s our national dish 😉

    • ummi

      Indeed, Grace. I dig experiences like this when I travel. Especially that we eat pasta so much at home, it’s so cool to actually learn to make it yourself in its country of origin. 🙂 Hope you’ll get to try it yourself in the future!

    • ummi

      Memang best dapat belajar ilmu baru, FD. Tapi saya tak pernah pun buat pasta kat rumah lepas tu. Part yang nak kena giling dia sampai nipis tu yang malas.

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