Tonight I went to a ravioli making class at Gio Culinary Studio in Voorheesville. It was ridiculously fun. We recently got a pasta machine, so my husband signed me up for it.
I guess I just first want to say that my interest in cooking stems from several factors, including that it can create a loving feeling in the home, and a larger sense of community. Coworkers also seem to like when I bring in cookies. But here is another important thing that cannot be forgotten - learning how to cook is great because with not very much money and not really too much effort you can, on a regular basis, make food for yourself as good as or better than food that is served at any restaurant. This last benefit of my interest in food and cooking was what came into my mind tonight. With common everyday ingredients and a simple sequence of steps your mind can be blown completely.
I went out to Voorheesville to his little storefront that has pictures of wedding cakes in the window. An adorable engaged couple showed up. They were the only other people in the class. We started with the pasta dough. I could immediately tell his was better than mine, and I knew touching it and looking at it that it was going to be amazing in the way I could immediately tell the dough for my Joy the Baker cinnamon rolls was going to be fabulous. Gio was great at explaining everything at the right pace and had all kinds of extra little tidbits about buying herbs, canned tomatoes and where to get amazing butter (Adventures in Food Trading).
We made three fillings for the ravioli: mushroom, four cheese, and lobster. We rolled out the dough with his KitchenAid attachment and cut out the ravioli pieces using cookie cutters in circles and squares. We pressed the dough around the fillings making sure to get rid of air bubbles (this causes ravioli to burst). He went in the back to boil the raviolis, the couple and I chatted about weddings (beware your mother wanting to invite 50 extra people a month before!), and then he came back and showed us how to make the pan sauces. For the mushroom he did a sherry sauce that smelled and looked amazing as he cooked it. I told him about my dream to make baked Alaska, and he said with a minimum of 6 people he could do a custom class about flambéed desserts (do I have 5 takers?). He talked about a trip to Italy he is organizing that will featured cooking classes everyday, and a private dinner club you can join there where there may be seven course tasting menus and wild boar chops. Then, he made a very light and fresh tasting sauce for the cheese ravioli with basil and white wine. The lobster ravioli he cooked in brown butter and added parsley at the end. It is hard to go wrong with brown butter, and that gave the ravioli a crisp texture. Everything looked so beautiful and tasted utterly amazing I had to fight my tendency to want to take a photo of everything and gush over the pan sauces too much. I was listening to a podcast with Joy the Baker the other day, where she mentioned that people who "super love what they do have 'the sparkle' that makes them great at it". This man clearly has "the sparkle" that Joy talks about, and these sauces were beyond words. And I have my notes so I can recreate them anytime from the comfort of my own home!
He told me about his croissant class (another dream of mine - too bad I will be out of town that day!), and we chatted about the percentage of water content in European butter.
I think he won me over when the dough was still raw, and I could tell it was going to be great from the texture and moisture of it. But I think he really won me over with the sauce for the lobster ravioli. To think with simple steps and cheap ingredients something that lovely and amazing can be created right before your eyes! I drove home through traffic circles on 85, my mouth filled with the taste of brown butter, grateful to have met him. On top of that he makes wedding cakes - living the dream!