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Monday, May 2, 2016

From Mayhem to Magic: Handmade Pasta Class in Pittsburgh

It was a typical Tuesday night in our house: mayhem. One brother was yelling at another for not playing with him (because yelling always make people want to play with you), a second wanted to go over a friend's house. A third wanted to stay home and be by himself. I had just finished a run that I started too late and I was sweaty and had two articles due and wasn't making progress and my husband was going to be arriving home late.

In the midst of the chaos, I reminded everyone we had a family pasta class and received a chorus of complaining groans in response.

"We are going," I told everyone.

As we were walking out the door five minutes after the class was supposed to start, someone had to run back in and use the bathroom.

Yvonne, our teacher, called to ask if we were coming at all. I tried not to yell "WE ARE COMING" into the phone. I barely held it together.

On the drive there I told the kids I would stop booking family activities like this. It wasn't worth listening to their whines.

But when we showed up to the tiny storefront on Babcock and walked inside, everything changed. We were greeted with a classic red and white checked tablecloth, red plates, and a candle burning in a chianti bottle. Bowls of white flour waited for us on gleaming kitchen work tables.

"Put on your aprons," Yvonne told us. We did, and we got right to work.

Our family has made pasta before. In fact, my oldest and I once were part of making the longest pasta noodle in Pittsburgh. But we had never done anything quite like this. It was more than a pasta class. It was an evening of magical family memories.

When Yvonne told us to measure out our flour and eggs right on the table and mix them up, the boys crowed with delight.

"We get to mix it right on the table?" screeched the middle one. "Sensory overload!"

As the flour and eggs transformed into dough, our family relaxed and laughed and chatted. We also learned.

Pasta dough needs to rest and busy families need downtime. As we let our dough sit, Yvonne served up a classic Italian antipasti and showed us incredible pastas from her giant pasta book. We ate and laughed and the boys (and my husband and I) asked endless questions. Everyone was in an amazing mood and the behavior was so positive. Food had worked its magic once more.

We did both hand-rolled and machine-rolled noodles and tasted both kinds. We all agreed it was a tie for favorite.

Cooking the pasta was a real eye-opener for me. Turns out I've been neglecting to salt my water the way Italians do. 

After such delicious food, everyone felt completely satisfied, but Yvonne had more magic up her sleeve and surprised us with dessert. I also learned how to use a Bialetti. It's on my Mother's Day gift list.

We've been fans of Yvonne's pasta and the wonderful oils from the Olive Tap for quite some time, but this was our first class with her. I can't express how much this class changed our moods for the better and how patient she was with our children, even when one of them broke a bowl. She's a mom of three boys, too, and her experience with exuberance was obvious.

If you know what you're doing in the kitchen, take this class.
Get to this pasta class, even if you know what you're doing in the kitchen.

And tell Yvonne we sent you!

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