Thursday, February 13, 2014

A tasty bronzed Italian

When it comes to food, you really do learn something every day. I wandered into Gamboni's Deli this week in search of some linguine, the nicely flattened pasta that I find much easier to manage than standard spaghetti. Most of the time I buy Barilla in the supermarket, but I go to Tony Gamboni for anything a little out of the ordinary.
           There were two packets of linguine. One was $4.95, the other was $6.95. That's quite a big percentage difference - but on the other hand, it's still not a large amount of money, especially as I don't have other hungry people to feed every day and a 500g packet makes me around six or seven dinners. 

So I asked Tony why they were different prices. He showed me that the more expensive packet said "bronze die".

The big commercial pasta companies, he said, extrude their pasta from machines using Teflon dies. This works really well, because nothing sticks to the Teflon. But that's the problem. The pasta comes out perfectly smooth. Using a bronze die gives it a slightly rough surface - as you can see in this photo. And that, of course, means the sauce sticks to the pasta much better. Magnifico.

So of course I bought it - who could resist a tasty bronzed Italian? I had a vacuum-sealed packet of New Zealand clams in the fridge. Like the mussels, they're cooked and come with their juice, so it doesn't take long to:
- get the pasta into boiling salted water for 7 minutes, then drain, keeping a couple of spoons of the water for the sauce and warming a pasta plate with the rest
- take the clams out of their opened shells (keeping a few in their shells to go in the sauce - it looks pretty but it also seems to add a bit of flavour)
 - soften some garlic and onion, reduce a bit of white wine or dry vermouth, add some thyme leaves, the clam liquid and 2 Tbsp pasta water
- reduce all that a bit, add the clams and taste for seasoning, adding a spoonful of cream if you feel really decadent
- tip the sauce over the pasta and mix it carefully
- chop some parsley and quarter a lemon
- serve strewn with parsley and with a hunk of bread, a wedge of lemon and a glass of white wine on the side.

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