Ambra is our host for the pasta making experience at her fabulous pad close to the Vatican. We sat down with her recently over some aperitivo to get her thoughts on Italian cuisine, the perfect dinner guests and which dishes to try when in Rome.
1. What was the best Italian meal you ever tasted?
The best dish I have ever eaten was a ricotta stuffed squid. I loved the freshness of it and the memory of the taste still makes me think of the Summer.
2. How did you learn how to cook?
Since I was a child, I would holiday every summer with my grandmother in Tuscany. It was from her that I learned to cook so she is my main inspiration. Early in the morning we would sit together and make plans for something new for lunch. Then we would go shopping in the village to choose the best products that were in season. The most important thing I learned was to plan, follow the seasons and never to buy excess.
3. What is your kitchen like?
My kitchen is small, quite simple and stocked with seasonal products. I revisit my favorite recipes a lot so I always have the ingredients that I need. I shop mostly at the local Prati neighborhood market because I know that the traders there source everything from the best farms in the region.
One thing that I always have is a bottle of the extra virgin olive oil that my family produces in Tuscany. That tends to end up in every dish.
4. Who are the ideal guests for your dinner party?
My ideal dinner guests would be refined and full of conversation. I think it would be interesting to listen to Machiavelli and Casanova indulge in small talk over some prosecco. I’d love to share some tiramisu with Isabella Rosselini and J.K. Rowling. Tyrion Lannister would be amusing and I would also invite my mother because she would never forgive me if I did not.
5. What dishes should a visitor try when in Rome?
I always suggest the artichokes, if they are in season (November to May), as Rome is famous for them. There are two ways of cooking them. The Jewish artichokes are fried while the Roman ones are simmered. Try both as they are totally different and tasty.
Personally, I like to eat first course meals and there are two typical pastas that deserve tasting, Cacio e pepe and amatriciana are both dishes that are very simple. Because of the few ingredients involved in them, the slightest change creates a different experience, so it is always interesting to try them in different places.
To hear more from Ambra, you can visit her, go shopping with her in the local market and learn how to make and cook homemade pasta in her apartment.