Monday, September 17, 2007

There is such a thing as…

Perfect pasta!

Taglietti con Pomodoro & Basilico

There have been many realizations relating to food (and life more broadly) that I have had to accept since leaving the comfort of my kitchen in Brooklyn. One being, “I make damn good pasta, but I am NOT a pasta chef”. A pasta chef (specifically a line cook) is solely at one with his/her culinary medium. Each dish, however different, is informed by careful considerations relating to pasta traditions in real time. No single pasta is ever exactly the same. I watch their intensity. When have the flavors coalesced and at what exact point will a ladleful of gluttonized pasta water heighten the dish’s character and fluidity? What must stay in the pan and what must go (garlic, peperoncino, shrimp heads etc) before the addition of its combining liquid (Wine, Brodo or water) and when/if said ingredients will return. When to season (dry and fresh)? When to garnish? When to stop? When the plate needs to go. Vai!

A pasta chef’s wrist is his/her most important attribute. For a single plate of perfect pasta I have seen a pan jerked meticulously 20 times until it has glimmered at the sight of its own perfection. The plating reveals a pasta’s final moment, carefully twirled in one cyclical motion. The remainder, broken pasta and the sauce, rests atop. 2 utensils and understanding of the pasta shape. Pennoni, Penne, Ravioli are carefully plated with tongs, but each with a different type of precision.

In the kitchen where I work in Rome, I am able to intermittingly watch our pasta chefs’ movements and plating, helping when necessary. There are 8 available pasta dishes on our menu, others upon request from the owner. Most homemade in house, others pre-packaged.

Tagliatelle & Fettucine

Pennoni Amatriciana (rendered Guanciale, Peperoncino & Tomatoes)- remixed with Balsamico

Pasta with a Pesce Ragu (Polipo, Spada, Gameroni etc)

A Tipici Romana piatte -Fettuccine Caco e Pepe - plated for a fast pre dinner meal. A dish I will revisit on this blog.

I will update this post with other photos of pasta perfection from the Restaurant shortly.

1 comment:

Kim P-F said...

Hi Michael!

Just wanted to say that I'm enjoying your food adventures. The pictures are fantastic and the commentary is really interesting. Keep it up! we in brooklyn (well, the Village) are cheering for you.