Updated on November 2, 2012
( open any image for a click through slide show)
In Litchfield Hills Connecticut, Winvian is a 113 acre oasis, artfully combining whimsy, nature and luxury. The second you enter the grounds, every detail says that this is the best, and the best can be really fun. There are 18 individually designed theme cottages, from the stone house where I stayed to the helicopter cottage. All are decked out with state of the art entertainment systems, steam room showers, and a complimentary mini bar filled with top shelf spirits. They draw a certain type of clientele, and employees, People with character, and a sense of adventure. Executive chef Chris Eddy landed well.
The son of a Vermonter and a Catalan mother, Chris is a chef of the highest caliber having trained with the likes of Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse. His philosophy of food was influenced by his roots. His menu is seasonally based and his dishes are perfectly prepared and not overly constructed. He is all about the flavor, quality, technique and simple elegant presentation. He embraces the “farm to table movement, going even further to “seed to table” with his own on site organic garden. He is also a charming and enthusiastic teacher.
The Cooking school at Winvian is open to guests and the public alike offering classes that range from a two hour signature pasta class -$150 per person, to a three day 15 hour class at $1100 per person. I felt lucky to be able to attend the pasta class.
Two hours of instruction from a master chef like Chris gave me a foundation and understanding of how to make homemade pasta that years of personal experimentation could never equal. The deceptively easy process of mixing flour eggs water and oil to the proper consistency for the dough is confusing in real life unless you know what you are looking for.
Either made in a mixer or by making a well in the center of the flour and mixing by hand on a board, the key is to add the eggs and oil first first and then water only as needed. Flour absorbs ambient humidity so go by the feel of the dough rather than exact measurements. Keep the dough dryer than you think you should until it separates cleanly from the bowl or board. Knead the dough for 6 minutes, coat with olive oil and let rest covered at room temperature for at least ½ hour.
Here is his recipe for spaghetti and ravioli,
Pasta dough Ravioli
2# 00 flour
1 FL OZ extra virgin olive oil
Pasta dough Spaghetti
1 ½ C semolina flour
1C+ 1T water
1 OZ extra virgin olive oil