Saturday, January 6, 2007

My Current Obsession: Pasta

My current obsession is fresh pasta.

About six months ago, my sons made fresh egg pasta as a science project, and I was completely blown away by the difference. I've had what was called "fresh" pasta at finer restaurants, but there was simply no comparison between those and the ribbons of thick, delicious, flavorful pasta my sons turned out that day. We topped it with a simple alfredo, and it was fabulous.

So, I have been reading extensively about fresh pastas and homemade sauces, different types of cheeses and cheese graters, and searching both local stores and online sources for a hand-crank pasta cutter.

The two top recommended types of pasta cutters are the Atlas and the Imperia. Reviewers say that the Atlas is the best, most stable and easiest pasta cutter they've ever used. Cook's Illustrated says that either can be difficult to find in kitchen or retail stores, so to buy whichever one you find; they both cost around $40 each and don't seem to have any distiguishable differences that would set them apart from each other. If you have a different opinion, be sure to let me know.

The one thing I really like about the idea of a pasta cutter is that you never need to clean it. Okay, maybe that's a bit of a hyperbole. You do need to clean it, but only with a soft cloth and a little dry brushing. It's not to touch soap and water.

To journey along with me on my quest for s-l-o-o-w-w pasta, check out The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles from the Cook's Illustrated folks. I have recently fallen in love with Cook's Illustrated, and if you are just getting into real cooking and want to learn more, you should, too.

In the days and weeks to come, I'll be experimenting with fresh pasta, different recipes, different ways of cutting it and different shapes, different ways of preparing it and different sauces to combine with it.

If you have experience with fresh pasta, pasta cutters or makers, sauces or other pasta-related information, share 'em in the comments.

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