Here’s how I thought In a la Munde worked, you get a pasta making demonstration, have a go at getting flour under your nails yourself, before sitting down for dinner that someone has cooked for you.
Here’s how it actually works: 3 groups are made, one each for the appetizer, main course and dessert, all of them with pasta. Each group is then given a clipboard with a recipe, is introduced to their workbench, ingredients and get cooking. Uli (pronounced Ooolleeee) trundles about in her red wooden clogs and generously doles out encouraging words and noises.
Initially I succumbed to a bout of awkwardness, as I stood shoulder to shoulder with my pasta partner, Yasmine, going over the recipe. It felt a bit like when my yoga teacher unexpectedly announces it’s time to practice hand stands with a buddy and you dart furtive glances to the people on your right and the left, trying to ‘blink‘ the right decision.
Lucky for me, Yasmine turned out to be entirely normal. Even better she gives Persian cooking classes at Goldhahn & Sampson. And she will cook a Persian dinner for you at her home, for 2-8 people, €49 a head (let me tell you, I can not wait to organize an evening for my girlfriends there!). Any shyness I might have felt quickly dissipated when it dawned on me around 9pm that if we didn’t get the food made, we weren’t going to eat!
The prospect of going hungry, bonded us somewhat and catapulted us into familiarity. We worked well together but faced with recipes we had seen for the first time, an unfamiliar kitchen and of course the challenge of making pasta (which actually, turned out not to be that challenging after all) it took until 10:30 to sit down to our first course of ravioli with brown butter and sage. We inhaled the dish and showered the two girls who had made them with compliments. I think that even if I had not been ravenous, I would have found that ravioli delicious.
Next, Yasmine and I were up. We made duck ragout with olives and orange zest, served with bigoli pasta. The two of us got to use the most exciting pasta machine of the group. You sit on a bench, feed a large rope of pasta in a bronze tube fitted with a large holed matrix and then you turn the vice round and round until: bigoli!Dessert, chocolate pasta filled with vanilla mascarpone ice cream and raspberry sorbet (which was made that evening).
It impressed the pants off me. That 7 strangers can come together and make such good food, even if it took us three and a half hours.For me, Uli is the jewel of it all. So often food is about the people. She has a wonderful way about her, friendly and open, warm and fun. And an eye… Instead of a generic door chime, she fashioned one of her own out of empty tomato paste cans and dried chile peppers. The recipes are attached to clipboards with two holes so that you can hang them on the two nails in the shelf over your workspace, so you can read and work at the same time. And her hand-made aprons are a dream. Those of you who know me, this is what you will all be receiving from me for your birthday (that or the Spätzle Shaker). They are knee-length, cover only our waist, feminine, with pockets and sometimes a metal hook to which you can attach a tasting spoon.
Really though, anyone who is bold enough to wear red wooden clogs is a star in my book.
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