“Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” ~Sophia Loren
Something elemental happened in our kitchen recently. We began to make our pasta from scratch. For years I’d believed this was a practice we weren’t entitled to, not being Italian and having the oh-so-easy bounty of boxed (and even pre-made fresh) pasta available at our local grocery store. In the course of things I began to see that we were missing out. A friend mentioned that it was easy; she described a nest of flour filled with a freshly cracked egg. A little of this, a little of that… The simple, time-honored act seemed the embodiment of comfort.
In my home, our kitchen is where our collective soul comes to rest and be nourished. We put on jazz or French cafe music (French Cooking Music on Pandora is a favorite), tie up our aprons and my husband gets to work. He’s fabulous in the kitchen, so creative and unfettered…an artist really. I do whatever needs doing: chopping, washing, stirring, table setting. My kids join in, with newly discovered grown-up ways as their own blend of creativity and taste.
We’ve had two or three pasta nights now, one with friends, the other were nights at home, family only. Each time, we included wine, as one does when a night feels taste-focused. I’m becoming accustomed to wines from Bordeaux that seem to mirror the essence of our pasta nights: newly discovered, surprisingly approachable, economical, Old World authentic and most importantly, delicious.
For our pasta we used a machine that comes with instructions on how to roll the pasta, which starts out as a ball, is cut and flattened and then fed through the machine at various settings to produce a fabric of dough used to make perfect spaghetti and fettuccine. It could also be cut and shaped to make any sort of pasta imaginable. Our experience is nascent and we’ve only done spaghetti and fettuccine with the machine. There will be much creativity in months and years to come, and I suggest this is the most exciting and encouraging point: room to grow, room to love, room to learn…
To Make the Pasta
2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling the pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
Also needed is the pasta machine, mixing bowl and fork
Mix flour and salt. This can be done on a cool countertop or in a bowl. We used a bowl and it was a neater deal, but traditionally think no-bowl was the way to go. Make a little nest in the middle of the flour and salt mixture and crack the eggs (I recommend free range) into the nest. Use your fork, then, to begin the process of marrying the flour and eggs.
When it all comes together, there will be dough to knead! This is entirely cathartic; one’s hands begin to show their beautiful age when covered in flour. Each contour, wrinkle, and angle appear and though the initial inclination is to wash all of this away, I find it to be beautiful and I hope that you are able to admire your own blessings as you massage the pasta into a ball. You’ll need to dust the surface with flour, time and again, to keep the dough from sticking. A hint on kneading…flatten and fold…this is the technique to try as you work.
The dough will then require rest, 30 minutes to 24 hours. The resting period will be the longest phase of the process, something to keep in mind as we take our lessons from the kitchen! You’ll need to divide the dough and begin the collaboration with the pasta machine. In our case, we fed the dough through the rollers on the thickest setting and then were instructed to graduate the thinness. If you have a friendly child or spouse, ask them to join you here as the pasta lengthens and will need hands onto which to drape itself. All the while…keep everything in the pasta’s world dusted with flour. Perhaps another job for a reliable family member…
When the pasta is done, it will look familiar, but more beautiful: long and flexible and vibrant. It is time to boil, just a few minutes. We’ve dressed it with marinara and served with meatballs. We’ve coated it with EVOO and added Parmesan cheese, prosciutto, fresh peas and thinly sliced mushrooms. The options, as it is with pasta, are endless.
The Wine: Affordable (and sustainable) Bordeaux
I recently had the opportunity to become educated on a set of Bordeaux producers that have turned to innovation to produce ready-to-drink, less tannic, versatile food-friendly wines for modern tables. These wines are made by authentic Bordeaux vignerons, but with a global and youthful perspective that includes an emphasis on dry white wines, rosé wines, sparkling wines and sweet wines. A new sense of collaboration, with an eye towards sustainability and diversity, makes recent vintages full of vibrancy.
According to Bordeaux Wines, “as of July 2016, over 45% of the Bordeaux vineyard area was certified to some type of official sustainability code, with expanding polyculture and biodiversity.” As biodynamics is an interest of L’Occasion, three of the four recommended wines are organic or biodynamic. For more on these topics, see my selection here.
For your pasta night, choose a bottle from this selection:
Château Marjosse Entre-Deux-Mers 2014: From Pierre Lurton, of Cheval Blanc and Yquem, comes this blend that expresses the delicious freshness of Entre-Deux-Mers. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillion, 15% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Muscadelle. Would pair well with black pepper, lemon zest, Parmesan on a fresh bed of spaghetti. $16
Chateau du Champ des Treilles “Vin Passion” Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux 2015: Corrine Comme and her husband Jean-Michel are leaders in biodynamics in Bordeaux. They say, “No way to force our rules because we could destroy the subtle balance that makes the soil unique.” This bottle comes from a practice of natural yeast, 24% Sauvignon Blanc, 33% Sémillion, 33% Muscadelle. Try this with linguine with mussels in herb sauce. $15
Château Tire Pé “Diem” Bordeaux 2012: David and Hélène Barrault run this small family estate in Gironde sur Dropt, in the south of Entre-Deux-Mers. The Barraults have practiced organics since 2008 and were awarded official EcoCert status in 2011. Pair with fettuccine dressed with rich forest mushrooms, or with ground beef meatballs. 100% Merlot. $12
Château la Grave Fronsac 2011: Paul Barre has practiced biodynamics for 25 years in his vineyards in Fronsac, which are all plowed by horse. He works with his family to make pure, terroir-driven wines. The contribution of Cabernet Franc in this bottle makes it a pairing for pasta topped with seasoned, roasted vegetables or (if one is adventurous) ravioli filled with mushrooms. 66% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc, 8% Malbec. $32
Wine Pairing Weekend
This month our Wine Pairing Weekend event is hosted by Cindy at Grape Experiences. Please join our group of wine and food bloggers on a Twitter chat to be held at 10 am central on Saturday, February 11. We’ll be talking about notable wines that complement our favorite comfort food or, in some instances, the comfort food that brings out the best in our choice of wine. Simply use the hashtag #winePW to find us.
The following wine and food bloggers will be sharing their best-loved comfort food and wine pairings:
Cindy from Grape Experiences will write about Wine and Comfort Food: Adler Fels Chardonnay and My (New) Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Camilla Mann of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is ready for Saturday with her Kick-Ass Mac’ and Cheese and Kung Fu Girl Columbia Valley Riesling
Lori Hoyt Budd of Dracaena Wines is sharing a favorite Comfort Food with a Side of Wine
We’ve got Cooking at Home: Affordable Bordeaux & Homemade Pasta
Jade Helms of Tasting Pour is contributing her recipe for Croque Madame and Treveri Brut Prestige #winePW
Nancy Brazil and Peter Bourget of Pull That Cork are tempting us with Brandade de Morue and a Lovely Lirac
Wendy Klik from A Day in the Life of the Farm is making us feel warm and cozy with Mushroom Stroganoff with Markham Sauvignon Blanc
David Crowley of Cooking Chat is explaining his Roasted Root Vegetable Soup and Wine Pairing
Michelle Williams of Rockin Red Blog is Finding Comfort in Food and Wine
Lauren Walsh of The Swirling Dervish is making me want to visit warmer weather for Winter Comfort Food for Those 80 Degree Days
Gwendolyn Alley of Wine Predator is thrilled to give us her ideas for Valentine’s Day: Share a Special Red Wine Paired With Comfort Foods with Your Sweetheart
Sue Lau of Palatable Pastime is sharing her notes for Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce
For upcoming food and wine pairing chats with the #winePW group, please click here. Join us!