Finding a new home for each leg of any journey can sometimes feel overwhelming. There are so many places to choose from and you can never quite tell ahead of time if you will love your new place or not. We have relied primarily on the reviews of travellers on VRBO in order to find our new home each time we move. We are also starting to learn how to scrutinize each image in the gallery to see if there will be light coming in, if the place feels spacious, how many stairs we will need to climb with our luggage and so on. If you are travelling for a long period of time it becomes important to be honest about what aspects of your home-away-from-home are important to you and what you are willing to pay for these things.
In Monticchiello, we were very happily surprised to arrive at ‘La Cocca’ apartment, (which we found from great reviews on VRBO). This is a private 2 bedroom unit a few steps away from and a part of the B&B, ‘La Casa di Adelina‘. Breakfast was included each morning with the best cappuccinos, as well as homemade pastries, scrambled eggs and more delicious surprises.
A pasta dish that comes from this region and you will see in many restaurants around Monticchiello and Montepulciano is ‘pici’, (pronounced peachy) which is a hand rolled pasta that is a bit thicker than spaghetti and very delicious.
When we asked Francesco (the owner of the La Casa di Adelina) if he knew of somewhere we could learn how to make regional hand made pasta, he called the best pici maker in the city! Georgia and Francesco were kind enough to give us a private lesson & lunch in their B&B kitchen complete with a bottle of local wine – Nobile di Montepulciano.
- 1kg 00 flour (180W) *see notes below
- 1 egg
- 15 – 20g olive oil
- 3g fine salt
- 700g warm water
- Semola flour for dusting the surface and rolling the pici
- extra olive oil
*The names 00 and 0 Flour refer to specifically Italian milled flour that is used for pasta making. You will find that this is also called Doppio Zero just meaning double zero. The grading system is 2, 1, 0 or 00 and indicates to how finely ground the flour is and how much of the bran and germ has been removed. 2 for instance is a wholemeal flour while 00 is the most refined of the three and has the lowest level of bran. It is similar to unbleached all purpose/plain flour, which is a mix of hard and soft wheat, and though while finer, it creates a dough that is silkier and maintains a chewiness when the pasta is cooked.
*The strength of the flour is indicated by the symbol W. W goes from W90 – W400. Flour with a higher W, absorb more water and have a higher content in proteins that help the rising favoring the formation of the gluten network.
- Add all the flour into a large metal bowl and make a well.
- To the well add the egg, salt, and olive oil.
- Use a fork to stir and incorporate a little of the flour at a time.
- When it gets to be not enough liquid, add the warm water and stir well to incorporate all the flour.
- The dough will be slightly sticky but manageable. You can add a little extra flour if needed.
- Dust a clean flat work surface with semola flour and knead the dough for 10 minutes until soft.
- Separate the dough into two balls and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour remove the plastic and roll each ball of dough into 1/2 inch thick rectangles.
- Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil on the dough and use spread the oil over the dough evenly with the palm of your hand.
- Cut 1/2 inch long strips with a sharp knife.
- Roll the strips into ‘pici’ pasta (*long and thin) until all the dough has been used. Each piece of pici should be about 4 feet long, which means you will need to keep connecting the dough together. Check out the video below for a short video on how to roll pici pasta.
- Place the finished pici onto a floured pan until the rest is finished being rolled.
- Boil a large pot of water. Add salt & oil to the water at the start. (*Note for most other pastas – do not add the salt until the pasta is half way cooked).
- Cook the pici for 2 minutes only. If it came straight from the fridge, you can cook for 3 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite sauce (we had homemade ragu from Francesco), grated fresh pecorino cheese and good drizzle of high quality olive oil.
* A note on freezer/refrigeration: Pici can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days before cooking, or else frozen for 1 month, uncooked.
Now for the part you have all being waiting for … process shots!
Weighing of recipes is the ONLY way to go with this recipe. In fact, most Europeans are horrified by the North American ‘cup’ system which is not at all exact!Knead the dough for 10 minutes, adding semola flour as needed if it gets sticky.The Casa di Adelina was the perfect place for this private cooking course!The dough setting for 1 full hour before cutting.Our teacher and host hard at work! Freshly oiled pici dough ready for cutting and rolling. Prepare a pan with semola flour for the long strips of pici to sit while you roll the rest. Learning!The pici in progress . . . Served with homemade ragu and freshly grated Pienza pecorino cheese. Served with red wine for the perfect lunch. Thank you Georgia and Francesco for your hospitality and this yummy family pici recipe that we can go home and share with ours!