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Have you ever dreamed of making tortellini with world renowned pasta makers in Bologna? I have. I made my first trip to Bologna to meet Monica and Daniela, two renowned tortellini makers, for the “Stuffed” episode of the Netflix show “Ugly Delicious“.In the episode, Daniela recounts the legend behind the creation of tortellini to star chef David Chang. As legend has it, the creation of tortellini dates back to the year 1325 and the Battle of Zappolino. The goddess Venus appeared during the combat between the Bolognese and Modenese. After the defeat of the Bolognese, the goddess went to rest at an inn in Castelfranco Emilia. The innkeeper had a vision of Venus extended on the bed naked. Completely taken by her belly button, he decided to make a pasta shape, tortellini, that resembled her belly button. It’s quite the pasta legend.After filming, I stayed in touch with Monica and Daniela and tried my hand making tortellini with them. Spring is the best to time to visit Bologna, before the sweltering summer heat bakes the city. It’s an easy day trip from Rome although it deserves a longer visit. I left Rome at 9:00 am and arrived in Bologna at 11:00 am with time to visit Piazza Maggiore, the Basilica of San Petronio, and stare at the endless shop displays of hand rolled pasta. After a quick lunch, I walked to Le Sfogline for our 3:00 pm lesson.
After a warm welcome from Monica and Daniela, we put on our aprons and hairnets. Monica is a patient, warm and fun teacher, but do come ready to work hard. Mixing and rolling out the dough is an arm workout. The amount of 00 flour and number of free-range eggs used changes depending on the weather.
We kneaded and turned the dough until it formed a ball. The perfect dough should be smooth and feel like a stress-relief ball. When you press it with a finger it should bounce back.
During our 4 hour lesson, we made tortellini with a meat filling, tagliatelle, quadrucci, maltagliati and tortelloni with a ricotta filling.
We laughed hysterically doing our best to wrap the tiny tortellini around our index fingers and close them correctly. After my umpteenth time, I now have it down. Practice makes perfect.
I love discovering Italy through its food and the people who nurture us. This love is behind all of our experiences at Casa Mia. After four hours with Monica and Daniela you’ll catch the bug too.