Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pasta fatta in casa!

Wheat fields in Parma, Italy

"Pasta fatta in casa" will be theme for our blog today!   Since our first discussions of our new menu were in the early infancy- we knew that we wanted  ALL the pasta that is served to be made in house.  Everything will be made by hand.  After the trip to Italy, the chef's discovered so much about the importance of flour and the quality of wheat. Wheat and water: a primer to the most recognizable food in all of the Italian cuisine. After perusing the internet and all of the Italian books in house I came across a quote that fits the idea of the blog for today. “There is a famous scene in a film that is a cult classic in Italy called, Un Americano a Roma. The beloved Italian actor Alberto Sordi tries his best to eat like an American, snubbing the plate of pasta that has been left out for him in favor of the unappetizing “Americana” concoction he’s made for himself. But it’s hopeless-after just a few unpleasant mouthfuls, he can resist no longer. He grabs the bowl of spaghetti and plunges his fork into it with passion and desire that just about anyone in the world over would recognize- the insatiable love for PASTA. What is it about this food that makes adults lust for it beyond reason and children squeal with delight? If you ask an Italian to explain it, the question will most likely be met with a laugh, a shake of the head and look towards the heavens: clearly, it is not something to put into words (!

Needless to say we would need numerous blog postings to discuss the importance of the quality of flour in making the pasta dough. This is a part of the journey we are taking in opening a new restaurant.  Getting a perfect consistency and moisture content for each pasta flavor, its shape, and it's journey from boiling water to the sauce, and then to the bowl. 

Since the chef's returned from Italy. They have been on a mission to learn, experiment and take in all that pasta making by hand is about.  Trial and error (with lots of error) is how the chef’s are learning.   Brandon has estimated he has tossed over 100 kilograms of pasta, because it did not pass the test. The chef's are on the hunt for perfecting each recipe before it hits the table. Fresh pasta making is such a complicated yet such a rewarding procedure. When you get to the right consistency and moisture level, when you choose the shape and sauce to match, it is such an accomplishment. The Chef’s decide on what sauce they are going to be making first, for instance the bolognese here at Luma, they prefer a sturdy shape, like strozzapretti, and then extrude it in a special machine from Italy. This allows them to make any desired shape or flavored pasta that they have in their repoitre.  If a delicate egg pasta is desired, say garganelli,  for a garlicky shrimp sugo (sauce), then they will cut and roll it by hand on a special grooved wooden board. 

There are so many things to take into consideration when hand rolling or extruding fresh pasta. There are many grades of flour from semolina or durham to some of the very finely ground flours like tipo (type) 00.  Choosing the right flour is only the beginning.  The chef's are working with all the different grades of flour and moisture contents to create the perfect pasta. They have used flours such as farro, rye,  and chesnut;  the moisture has been added in many multiple forms, in either liquid or puree form,  such as alleppo pepper,  garlic chive , ramp green, egg, whole milk, beet juice, and the list goes on. This is a very exciting time where we are learning new ideas and concepts,  but also remaining true, with respect for tradition and quality, which was echoed on their trip to Italy. 

They learned so much, and are so thrilled to be able to share it with you back home!
And they are just getting started!  Arrivederci for now!

pasta dough for the maccherotto

making our maccherotto for the Bolognese sauce

individually hand rolled garganelli pasta

some of our brass dies. We started with four and now
we receive two new dies every month to keep the excitement alive!

fresh egg tagliatelle

housemade agnolotti

house made strozzapreti pasta
allepo pepper bigoli

green garlic fusilli
matt filling freshly rolled beet pasta with braise swiss sward
fresh english pea torteliini
matt filling freshly rolled farm egg pasta with
lobster marscapone

corn Agnollotti (which is on Luma's menu tonight), a recipe that
Brandon learned while working underneath Thomas Keller


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  2. I LOVE these types of blogs... Can't wait to read of the adventures (hope to see some recipes we can make at our home), and best of luck in the impossible world of making a success of a NYC restaurant. Hope you beat the odds.

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