It goes without saying that as an Italian, pasta has a special place in my heart. I have been spoilt by spectacular homemade pasta in my time growing up with a mother, aunties and grandmother who regularly made pasta.
I’m extremely fortunate to live near Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods in Sydney. This spectacular Italian butcher and fine foods establishment is run by Pino Tomini-Forresti, his wife Pia and their family – and what a family business it is!
No stranger to family business, I grew up in Perth the daughter of a hairdresser named Dante who owned and ran a successful hairdressing salon and later two Italian restaurants. Throughout school and uni I worked in dad’s businesses as did my mother, brother and sister, and I can honestly say that the sense of warmth found in family run businesses just cannot be matched.
Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods has the warmth I remember from back home in Perth and sometimes I wonder if I go there just to try out my rapidly fading Italian for a few minutes to feel like I belong.
Scotty and I visited Pino’s with friends last Saturday and were lucky enough to try Chef Simone Galli’s pasta for lunch – We had perhaps the most spectacular pasta I have tasted in a long time. After one taste and a charming conversation with Simone, I knew I wanted to come back for his Pasta e Basta class (“Pasta and that’s all”) the following Wednesday (did I mention Pino has a demonstration kitchen and dining room in his shop!).
We arrived at Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods at 6:30 to a hive of activity. The whole family were there for the class with Chef Simone Galli in the demonstration kitchen, and the entire Tomini-Forresti family helping (translating, assisting Simone, taking photos, pouring wine, serving dishes etc). We sat at a chef’s table up against the kitchen bench and knew we were in for a special treat.
Simone was brought out from Italy by Pino, leaving his restaurant Trattoria La Posta in Como to come to Sydney for the month of July. After an introduction to pasta by Simone Galli translated by Pino and his daughter Carla we got right into the swing of things.
He then came around to each person individually and cut of the dried tops of the spaghetti tied with string so the pasta fell into the bowl ready for eating – what fun!
RECIPE – SPAGHETTI MAZZAETTI AL RAGU BOLOGNESE
100g dried pasta per person (if you have 5 people you would use 500g)
500g beef mince
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stick, diced
1 carrot, dices
2 tbsp olive oil, and extra to serve
1 bottle tomato passata
1 cup water
Salt and Pepper
Fresh basil leaves
Parmeggiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated
Place olive oil in a pot and fry onion, celery and carrots until soft. Add mince meat until browned. Once browned add the passata with 1 cup water. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Once sauce is cooked, tie the tops of the spaghetti into 100g portions and hang over an oven rack. place the oven rack over a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook the pasta in the water until al dente.
Remove rack and place individual spaghetti portions into a large pan of the bolognese sauce with the uncooked portion out of the pan (see above). Dress with olive oil, parmeggiano reggiano cheese, salt, pepper and basil and swirl to combine.
Serve 100g portions individually in bowls and then after serving to guests, take a pair of scissors and walk around the table chopping off the uncooked portions theatrically!
The next pasta dish Simone made was gnocchi shaped pasta cooked in the style of a risotto. Gnocchi shaped pasta is sister to the more common potato version but this dried pasta is made from semolina. Simone explained that this dish is great to make when you have a lot of people to feed. It is a one pot dish as you don’t need to cook the pasta first in salted boiling water – it all happens in a large frypan. This was a wonderful dish and topped off by Pino adding his spectacular chilli salami paste on top (see below right). I need to get me some of that salami paste.
We finished the class with perhaps the most intriguing dessert I have had in a long time… made from pasta. Now, I’m not allowed to share the dish here as it is a Simone speciality and apparently a bit of a secret here in Australia. Stay tuned because I have the recipe, so as soon as I am given the all clear to put it on the blog, I’ll make it for you!
All in all Pasta e Basta was a wonderful class – perhaps the best I’ve been to in Sydney. We were at Pino’s from 6:30 – 9:15, left extremely full and only paid $90. I would highly recommend Pino’s classes to anyone looking to learn more about Italian cuisine in a warm and comfortable setting with a couple of glasses of wine, great food, wonderful conversation and no-one keeping an eye on the clock.
While there are many wonderful classes on offer at Pino’s year round, if you specifically want to see the charming Simone Galli in action, he is here till the end of July. Give Pino’s a call and find out if there are any spaces left for his classes or dinners – you will not be disappointed!
Pino’s Dole Vita Fine Foods
Address: Shop 10, 45 President Avenue, Kogarah, NSW
Phone: 02 9587 4818