pasta fresca



as often as lately and since i have only very recently attained a beautiful pasta machine, an atlas no less, at close to 18 inch width, now there doesn't seem to pass a halfweek when i'm not deep into farina, eggs and the ten minute procedure of kneading that dough, eventually has me slurp silken pasta, hand cut to about the size of a fairish width noodle, a fettuccine of sorts. i start out with enough flour, half farina, half of plain bread, to work four eggs. my cuisinart cranks out an initial dough, though once it hangs together as in a lump, off it rolls onto the bread board and indeed i knead the slab for a fair ten minutes of push and heel, push and heel, till it is ever so smooth, firm, in no way sticky, but a gleamingly dense peck, shining like silk. i cut it in half, checking for bubbles, and press that half into a disk to feed through above atlas, its rollers set at schedule one. the initial roll is lumpy but with each crank it turns a smooth satiny stretch, as rollers narrow the patch to extend lengthwise, ultimately sizing the noodle. at schedule seven the strip is ready to be rolled as if a window shade, wound like a veil, go try and have any a german announce that. before rolling the fillet it needs to be flecked on both sides with a good amount of farina. my sharpest knife then cuts the roll into approximate fettuccine size slivers. unrolled these then will be cooked in a rolling boil of heavily salted spring water.


phew. if only you knew how hard it was to describe that simple noodling procedure. at any rate, i get better at it each time, practice does that for you. the pasta tonight was elegant, yes, just that. a lovely tomato sauce, from paste, butter and crème fraîche, a little sage, hot from the pan made those noodles slither and slurp off the turn, between spoon and fork, in that ancient italian way.
there is nothing essentially new about making and eating pasta, of course, yet a dish like this has brought simplicity back to my kitchen. fresh pasta changes my approach to sauces, a pat of good butter often serving so handily. it brings with it a gentle, delightful notion, one of a home made, hands on reality, unlike even the best store bought 'hard' versions. somewhat comparable, forgive me, to tea brewed from that flow-thru bag and one infused from lose leaf.
i do recommend that you go spend your dough on a pasta machine. the wide mouth atlas is the best far and beyond. its roller assembly allow many precise settings, number 8 being the finest. it also cuts perfectly narrow fettuccine, as well as wide tagliatelle. i do like the cutting with a knife though. the final pasta is never evenly perfect, more like hand made and that is precisely what i look for and enjoy.
fresh pasta is an occasion, an onset occurrence, one you'll never regret, and further, an event valued not only by yourself. any guest will at once pronounce you worthy a noodle genius. and if you're lucky, she'll smile gently, as she champions you to, senz'altro, lo stesso capo di cucina.