At the end of April, Socially Superlative was lucky enough to receive an invitation to take the seasonally apropos Springtime Pasta Making Class at Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina in Chelsea Market.
When we arrived, we were ushered to the bar for a beverage and appertivo, consisting of polenta fries and fried artichoke-filled artichoke ravioli. The instructional area was set up in the middle of the restaurant as diners looked on to our embarrassment! The individual tables were arranged in a horseshoe shape around the Rana family’s very own Antonella Rana, our teacher for the night.
We began with actually crafting dough from the bare bones, with a “well” made of flour to crack eggs into. Everyone in the class was in the same boat when we were told to knead the dough with our fingers and the dough clung for dear life to our hands. Once the dough was of a more solid consistency, it was taken away to be refrigerated and we repeated the process with the espresso dough for our dessert raviolis.
While the dessert dough was chilling it was time to make the filling for the raviolis. We sliced up fresh asparagus and mixed it with ricotta cheese, and saved the remaining asparagus to flavor the pasta water during cooking preparation. My guest was allergic to cheese, so he was able to make the ravioli with beef and asparagus filling. The dessert pasta consisted of marscapone, chocolate and espresso. The combination gave off an infectious scent as we mixed it in our bowls.
Then it was time for the workout portion of the evening. The dough was brought back so we could roll it out by hand with a rolling pin. Rana’s daughter Maria, who was visiting from Italy, deposited piles of flour on each of our stations to help facilitate the process of flattening the dough.
Once the dough was the size of our table, we made small balls of filling to cover half the table. We brushed water in between the rows to seal the two sides of the ravioli, folded over the other side of the dough, pressed down to get rid of air pockets, and used the tools provided to make fun ravioli shapes. We repeated this process for our dessert, except for my guest, who instead made a dessert tagliatelle that he could later fry up and dust with brown sugar as his dessert.
As if the experience was not already fulfilling enough, the restaurant then serves you their version of the dishes so you know what your pasta at home can aspire to. We were seated at communal tables with our fellow novice chefs and conversation about our pasta prep ensued.
Rightfully so, the pasta was cooked to perfection and the presentation with the fresh ingredients evoked the feeling of spring that NYC was finally warming up to. We received a bag on our way out with packages of our two ravioli combinations to prepare at our leisure, the asparagus for flavoring and garnish and a recipe card.
The class is perfect for an innovative birthday party or anniversary idea and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to do something constructive in the city, or even wants a different idea for a date. It’s great for team building or even to meet people in the city with similar interests. I will definitely be back to experience the restaurant when I don’t need to prepare the food first and will be looking on to see who will be taking the class next!
For more information on how you can take your own pasta making class, please visit: http://www.rananyc.com/contact.html.
– Stephanie C.