Monday, February 20, 2012

My Favourite Toy

A number of years ago I learned how to to make pasta in a family run restaurant in Barga, a small town in the north of Tuscany.  A woman called Gionetti ran the place with her sister and every afternoon Gionetti would make pasta for the evening.  On afternoon she let me help / watch !!

I won't bore you with the recipe for pasta (6 eggs to one Kilo flour) but what was impressive was the ease with which she operated the bog standard Imperia pasta maker. She rolled the pasta to the perfect width flipped it into the machine and cranked it through.  She made the rollers thinner and started again and in no time she had thin flexible sheets of shiny yellow pasta ready to be cut into any shape.  She let me do some rolling and hey, it turns out I was a natural.

Imagine my surprise when I got back to Ireland, bolted my new machine to the table and cranked out the stodgiest, gluey pasta the world has seen.  So, I worked hard at it and after a large number of attempts, I managed to make reasonable quality pasta.  But it wasn't great and it took about an hour to make a kilo.  I never achieved the results that looked so simple in Barga.

But there are many ways to skin a cat and I am not one to give up easily so, after much research, I bought a Lillo Due pasta machine from Italy.  This is a tough little machine that kneads the pasta and then extrudes it through a variety of different dies.  I have dies for spaghetti, tagliatelli, rigatoni, fuesilli and lasagne but there are many other dies available too.  I can make about 3kg an hour and the quality is second to none.  Well, maybe second only to Gionetti's in the beautiful town of Barga.

The end result.

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