My first contact with Ramekins was not the best… the person I talked to on the phone the day before the event (I had not received confirmation) was vague and curt. She could not tell me if I was reserved for the class or if the class was full. I would have to wait until the manager caught up with the emails. I was called later in the day to confirm that I wasn’t actually registered for the class (I had registered through the website) but I could attend if I wished.
So the next day I headed off to Sonoma. There’s a big sign on W. Spain St. for Ramekins. The main parking lot is in the back and there is no signage whatsoever telling you where to go. The building near the parking lot looks like a Hotel/motel and since I know there is a bread and breakfast which is part of the School I figured well maybe that door was for that – so I walked around the front (facing W. Spain) nope – no main entrance and no signs. So I looked around there is a barn at the back and a nice Victorian next door – could the school perhaps be in the Victorian? I walked over… hmm looks like a restaurant – ah - right this is The General’s Daughter restaurant.
So back to the hotel-looking building. I try the entrance off the parking lot. There is a check-in desk to the right. Ah yes, right this way. I’m escorted about 20 feet and then re-greeted and a plain black apron is put on me (no option to do it myself) and then I am dismissed to go wash my hands. After that I am asked to enter the class room (after affixing a nametag) and write my name on a piece of tape adhered to a cafeteria grade plastic glass to moniker my refreshment choice of Coffee, Sport Tea, Ice Water or Calistoga Sparkling. I go for the sparkling (towards the end of the class I make the mistake of trying the Sport Tea – omigahd do people who drink this have any tastebuds?) and then pick up my packet of recipes.
So after handling a nametag, magic marker, my purse, some random recipe sheets, water bottles, and Ice Scoop and shaking hands with other students why exactly did I wash my hands before class? Not that washing your hands isn't a great idea... perhaps we should have washed them though before handling the food...
The first part of the class was Tasha DeSerio’s demonstration of how to make pasta dough. Then we got to make ours. A bit of chaos ensued, dampened only by the Ramekins staff that tried to get the items needed that we don’t have like: salt, mixing bowls, some place to throw eggshells… We finally managed to mix dough. Then another demonstration of what to do with the dough and we’re released to make a go of using the little pasta machines attached to the tables. Well that didn’t go so well. Our handle kept falling out and eventually was deemed stripped and unusable by the other couple using it. We almost all end up using Tasha’s personal machine. After stretching and cutting we filled and were done. Then we got to watch Tasha finish the sauces she made earlier and were herded out into the courtyard to eat.
The wines offered were Sebastiani Chardonnay or Pinot Noir - where’s my Chianti?
Many of the other students were tourists taking a nice cooking class in wine country. I learned enough to recreate the pasta at home. The Basic recipe worked well. But of the class organization by the school I was not impressed. Overall I was inspired enough to try making pasta at home and have managed a number of times with excellent results.