A few months back there was a Living Social deal for a pasta making class at The Village Belle. I remember first eating at The Village Belle just a few weeks after their opening. I was really impressed with the food, the ambiance and service of the restaurant. I’ve been back a few times and it always seems to get better. When this deal came across the wire, I snatched it up. I thought it would be fun to learn to make gnocchi and cavatelli as taught by Chef Louis Campanaro and if I get to make a mess in someone else’s kitchen, I’m all about it.
The class began with a nice introduction by the chef, some hefty wine pouring and the meatball sliders that they make in house. These little treasure troves are worth the trip alone. The meatballs are perfect and could be served just by themselves but they up the ante by baking their own bread which puts this little sandwich over the top. It’s a fantastic bar snack or a beautiful start to the meal. Next, we dove into making cavatelli and he showed how simple the dough actually is. The special equipment required is a little cavatelli maker which is mounted on a work table and is hand driven (crank operated) I thought it was cool and I even was able to rifle off about 13-15 of them from rolling out the dough and running it through the little mechanism.
Next we went onto gnocchi which was much simpler than I thought. He showed how he prepared his potatoes and just how to pull the dough together. He kept stressing the how the amounts were unimportant but it was more about the feel of it. I think the feel of food is what it’s all about. In the introduction to The French Laundry cookbook, Thomas Keller goes onto explain how even though each recipe has been painstakingly documented, if you don’t feel it, aka put your heart and soul into it, it just won’t turn out well.
After making two types of pasta, we sat down for a four course menu with a ton of wine. The mixed green salad with feta and candied walnuts really got our appetite going for what was to come. First, was the cavatelli in a red sauce that had everyone at our table questioning whether it had meat or not. It turns out it didn’t, it had fennel, which made us think that it was made with sausage. A nice trick on our senses. The third course was the perfect gnocchi in a brown sauce that I’m guessing used brown butter, marsala and sage? The gnocchi were like little fluffy pillows. I’ve really not tasted their equal. To finish the meal off, a nice scoop of ice cream and a chocolate chip cookie. This was a really excellent, approachable and rustic meal and was extremely well executed.
Below are the pictures that I took. I handed my camera off to a girl there who balked at my photography skills. Apparently she actually is a photographer so if you notice a couple of really good shots, I’m sure it was her, and not me. This was definitely a Monday night to remember.
(That guy in the light blue shirt is me)