Spaghetti/ Zucchini and Provolone del Monaco D.O.P.
Busiate/ Sicilian pesto
Balanzoni Bolognesi/ Mortadella, Ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano D.O.P. and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P. Extra Vecchio
Maritati/ Sugo of pork, 'Nduja and Caciocavallo Podolico
Su Filindeu/ Lamb broth
Australian Black Angus 1KG/ 1.2KG/ 1.5KG Porterhouse/ Tbone cooked traditionally over hardwood charcoal.
(Advance notice required)
Like many other dishes, this pasta dish carries the namesake of the village where it originated. Invented in the village of Nerano in the 1950s on the Sorrento peninsula, specific ingredients were used to set it apart from the standard pasta and zucchini prepared across Italy. In the kitchen of Maria Grazia, Provolone del Monaco (D.O.P.), a very regional semi-aged cheese made from the milk of the Agerolese cow, along with the clever use of basil were added to elevate an otherwise ordinary number with layers of sweet and slightly spicy notes. The local breed of cattle, called "mucca agerolese", was originally used in the production of milk, a symbol of Agerola, known for milk-producing livestock that grazed the high altitudes of the Lattari mountains. Provolone del Monaco (D.O.P.) is produced exclusively in the area of the Lattari which must include no less than 20% of the milk from the ancient breed.
In the old days, the cheesemakers in Agerola (a Neapolitan hamlet known for its beautiful mountain landscape) dressed in large cloaks made from sack cloth to protect them from the cold humidity, which incidentally made them look like monks. The same provolone cheese peddled by these cheesemakers soon became known as the monk's cheese - 'Monaco' means monk.
Spaghetti—easily underappreciated especially in its purest form and use—is the perfect vehicle in this case given the tendency for starch to be better released to aid in the cohesive binding of condiment and pasta. With the rugged profile of bronze-drawn spaghetti, the cling factor is doubled.
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The busiata is a shape made with the ferretto, which is a wire or iron rod (the word "ferro" refers) that ingenious cooks of the past would use to flatten out the thicker pasta shapes to eliminate that thick centre and make a tubular form to faciliate even (and quicker) cooking. Skilled pasta makers are known to use this particular tool, displaying extreme dexterity with their hands, shaping delicate fusilli, fileja, busiate, minchiareddhi along with many other similar versions of the tubular pasta of the south. It would not be uncommon to pass on a ferretto through the generations earning it a place on the pedestal of family heirlooms.
In Trapani, Sicily, Busiate is like a fusilli in its helical guise but almost as long as spaghetti. It adopted the name with reference to the Sicilian term "buso" or a local reed/ grass with which pasta makers would coil diagonally down the length of the reed to fabricate the pasta. Traditionally served alongside a seasoning of 'pesto alla trapanese' made from tomatoes, almonds, basil and garlic; a non-cook condiment as with the pesto genoese of the north. It is a poor dish, included among the traditional Sicilian agri-food products recognized by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, on the proposal of the Sicilian Region.
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Balanzoni are not quite as distinguished as tortellini and lasagna, but they are just as delicious and appreciated. These tortelli adopted the name from the famous Bolognese “mask” of Dr. Balanzone (the Doctor), and were consumed during carnivals.
Il Dottore (in Italian) was born in the city of Bologna, and is a commedia dell’arte (professional street theatre) stock character during the renaissance, typified by the use of ‘masked’ characters. Il Dottore (the Doctor) plays the function of the vecchi or “old men” and are scripted as obstacles to young lovers. In character, Dr. Balanzone was known to be a renaissance and learned man, who enjoys bursting into eloquent speeches that demonstrate his boundless array of knowledge. He is never short on advice, and always keen on sharing his opinions in a verbose way because he simply loves the sound of his voice.
Dr. Balanzone is represented in this filled pasta of Mortadella, Ricotta and Parmegiano Reggiano. This filled pasta of Bologna approximates the shape and size of tortelloni and made with Sfoglia Verde agli Spinaci (egg and spinach pasta).
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Maritati are the marriage of two famous pasta shapes: orecchiette and maccheroni. This typical Apulian product is consumed especially on Sundays and holidays.
The origin of the term maritati derives from the fact that maccheroni, also called maccarruni or minchiarieddi, in the popular Apulian culture represent the symbol of male sexuality, while orecchiette are the symbol of the female form. Maritati therefore means married and this pasta shape was the protagonist of the Salento wedding lunches of the past to bestow a peaceful and fruitful marriage.
Orecchiette and maccheroni are prepared with a mixture of durum wheat semolina and water. To make the maccheroni, the dough is rolled around a special iron, "paduro", which is then extracted. The orecchiette, on the other hand, come from dough cords as thick as a finger and subjected to a complex dragging technique ("trascinare" in Italian) on the work surface to obtain the classic dome shape with a rugged exterior.
The Apulian maritati are perfect in combination with red meat sauces with the addition of pecorino cheese or with a tomato sauce with cacioricotta cheese or caciocavallo Silano.
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Su Filindeu (or Fili di dio in standard Italian), literally meaning the threads of God, is a variety of Italian pasta prepared exclusively in the Sardinian province of Nuoro. It is the world’s rarest and most endangered pasta variety - allegedly, only a handful of women are in possession of the knowledge and skill today to produce it. It is this reason that Su Filindeu is listed as some of the most endangered foods at risk of extinction - the Ark of Taste initiated by the Slow Food Foundation has listed Su Filindeu among its ranks of endangered traditional foods.
Although the dough is made with very basic ingredients: durum wheat semolina and water, the tactile gestures are highly nuanced and the recipe, non-existent. Su Filindeu is extremely time-consuming and hard to prepare that for the past 200 years it used to be a sacred dish, served only to those who complete a 33km pilgrimage from Nuoro to the village of Lula for the biannual Feast of San Francesco (St. Francis). Upon arrival at Santuario di San Francesco, the pilgrims are awarded with a bowl of Su Filindeu, cooked and served in a rich sheep broth with a generous portion of local sheep’s milk cheese.
I was fortunate enough to meet Claudia Casu three years ago, a pasta maker and my mentor from Sassari in Sardinia, who is an expert where Sardinian cuisine (and Su Filindeu) is concerned—she is the only Sardinian woman outside of Sardinia that is able to produce this ancient pasta. It was through her that my once naive ambition of accomplishing the extremely difficult Filindeu-making technique became a reality.
The Su Filindeu pasta on the menu is produced using only 100% durum wheat, water, salt and most traditionally, with my hands. It is a dish authentically enjoyed in sheep's broth, but a close version is offered instead - a shard of Su Filindeu served over welsh lamb in a clarified lamb broth it was poached in. A drizzle of garlic and rosemary oil to finish.
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