This past weekend, GUES teamed up with the Georgetown Italian Club to bring students the opportunity to create and eat delicious handmade pastas, courtesy of assistance from the Chef of Al Volo DC. Originally from Florence, Daniele had years of experience working in high end restaurants with a famous NYC restaurant group – until he decided to craft and sell his own fresh-made pastas as a side job. When others soon became enamored with the quality pasta product Daniele was selling, he took the risk and decided to open up Cucina Al Volo with his nephew Matteo. Located in Union Market, Cucina Al Volo sells handmade pastas and fresh sauces to make at home, or pasta and sauce combinations to eat there. Once their stand at Union Market became an instant hit, the duo decided to expand and opened up Osteria Al Volo in Adams Morgan, which serves delicious antipasti, hearty pasta dishes, decadent desserts and of course, dozens of wine varities.
Daniele started off the pasta making class by introducing his back story and inspiration of opening up Al Volo in the nation's capitol, followed by an introduction of the special technique he uses to create all-natural, high quality pastas. Using a professional pasta maker with a bronze dial, he mixed semolina flour and whole eggs together to create a course dough, which the machine then churned out into long, slightly rough ribbons of fettuccine pasta. Attendees of the event got to help roll the ribbons of pasta into rounds – as shown below.
Next, Daniele showed attendees how to make gnocchi, a pasta made from potatoes and shaped into little pillows. First, he boiled starchy Idaho potatoes until soft, which attendees then grated finely. The potato mash was then mixed with more semolina flour, creating a dense and moist dough which attendees then rolled and cut into small ovals. Both the gnocchi and the fettuccine was placed in boiling water until soft (but not too soft, as true Italians love a good bite to their pasta) and mixed with fresh made sauces that Daniele brought with him. The fettuccine was paired with a tomato-based lamb ragu, which was hearty, savory and extremely flavorful. The lamb within the ragu was extremely tender and juicy. The gnocchi was paired with a homemade pesto sauce, which had fragrant notes of fresh basil, garlic, and pine nuts. And to top both dishes off were several hearty spoonfuls of fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Overall, the event was incredible – from the hands-on experience with making pasta to being able to taste them in delectable sauces. After this event, GUES members are sure to try out Cucina Al Volo and Osteria Al Volo – plus we're anticipating the opening up of a new Al Volo restaurant in Baltimore. Special thanks to the Italian Club for co-hosting this event with us and Daniele for all of his pasta-making wisdom and fantastic food.
Taste The Culture
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