Una Passione per la Pasta
At fine restaurants in Italy, it isn’t unusual to employ a dedicated pastaia, or pasta maker. A pastaia (pasta-EE-ah) is typically raised memorizing family recipes and honing techniques handed down by generations of mothers and grandmothers. In our quest to create and share authentic Italian culinary experiences, Andrea at Pelican Hill brought in pastaia Julia Holland, who now offers weekly small-group pasta-making lessons for locals and Resort guests.
Julia is the boss of her domain; in the 9-foot-square Pasta Room tucked off the Andrea main kitchen, she churns out 17 kinds of pasta daily for virtually all of the food outlets at the Resort.
“Making pasta might seem intimidating,” says the bubbly, 26-year-old Cordon Bleu graduate, “but it can be very therapeutic. I try to make pasta lessons relaxing and fun, especially with kids. They usually want to see how long they can make a spaghetti noodle.”
Julia has taught foodies, neophytes, couples, trios of friends, anniversary and birthday celebrants and families with children of all ages. Often, restaurant patrons fall in love with a pasta dish and want to learn to make it themselves.
“The lessons can be tied to special occasions,” Julia says. “I recently taught a father and his two grown sons. They had spent months planning their annual guys’ getaway at the Resort, and the class was a highlight of their stay.”
The Pasta Room accommodates only up to three students at a time, and Julia enjoys the small classes, noting that they keep things intimate and focused. “I know firsthand how other classes are run, and you don’t learn as much in big groups. Our space really increases the quality of the experience.”
Classes include an hour of instruction on how to make traditional Italian egg-based pasta dough; assemble a filling; and create, step by step, two types of pasta. Julia uses her pasta machine, but the techniques and recipes easily translate to the home kitchen and don’t require special equipment. Julia is generous with cooking tips, including preparation and storage advice. After a lunch featuring their handmade creations, students take home their handmade pasta along with a goody bag that Julia packs with a jar of sauce and her own dried noodles.
“I have a passion for pasta,” she says. “Through my Italian godmother, ‘Aunt’ Nora, I fell in love with Italian culture. I call the Pasta Room my little hidden Italy. I close the door, put on Italian music and immerse in the work. I feel privileged to do this.”
The Art of Pasta Making is held Thursdays at 11 a.m. and includes lunch at Andrea. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations required; for more information, please call 877.624.6035.