What’s in your pantry???
Self-isolation has me thinking about how long we could have meals without going to the grocery store. I’ve been making or buying fresh pasta since our first trip to Italy. When I did a pantry inventory I realized I have some vintage pasta…seemingly just like it was the day it was bought. While I’ve steered clear of carbs over a year I still serve Brandt pasta dishes. It’s a great one dish dinner.
These images let you know why, after our time in Italy I started making fresh pasta. Fresh pasta shops in Italy are like Duane Reade’s in New York City. While Nonna’s still make pasta daily…not everyone has a Nonna. Thus, fresh pasta is readily available as one of the staples of most Italian meals.
Another thing we learned is the pasta is always the star. Clockwise…1) Tomato based sauces seem to only tint the pasta opposed to the America style of immersion. 2) Even Genovese Basil Pesto is lightly tossed into handkerchief pasta simply for flavor…not to bathe. 3) Speaking of flavor…try a porcini ravioli with just a spoon of artichoke cream and grated romano. 4) There are exceptions…when seafood plays the leading role, the pasta steps into the featured actor role…and everyone is entertained. 5) A fond memory is a meal in Orvieto. Our friends arrived on the shuttle before us and were told the restaurant was closing. Then, Brandt and I arrived. I saw the server and my gaydar alarmed. I smiled…paused…tilted my head, paused…and asked if there was anyway we could order a few things. Suddenly the table was full of food. Well, that’s the way I remember it. Their handcrafted portioned lasagna was so amazing. After he brought out one we ordered four more. The bottle of wine he gave me to bring home was quite nice, as well. 6) Sometimes a plate of pasta only needs truffles, olive oil and garlic…the luxury of having a pantry in Tuscany.
Our most memorable Italian Pasta meal was on the beach in Amalfi at Zeffiro Sereno. We took a very steep series of old world steps from our hotel down to the beach.
We had no idea what to expect but we could see the Italian garden lights from our hotel balcony and it seemed like an adventurous thing to do. We were greeted and seated promptly. As the host/server/busboy/only employee in site was asking about drinks we noticed a skiff pull on to the beach. The guy looked like the Tom Hanks character in Castaway…toward the end of the movie. He came on to the beach carrying a restaurant bus tub and walked directly to our table. The bus tub held the catch of the day…several fish and one large spinny lobster. I immediately responded…and I quote, “we’ll have it all”!!! He walked away. We ordered wine. We looked over toward the open air kitchen and realized he was also the chef. Here’s one of the dishes he created.
See what I mean about the sauce. It’s like the perfect accompanist. They only support the vocalist…they offer the perfect balance of color, texture and aura…never overpowering. This dining experience will be with us for a lifetime.
As they say nowadays, “so I did a thing”. I came home and started making fresh pasta. I have a hand crank for just the two of us and a Kitchen Aid attachment for dinner party batches. It only took a couple of failures to get into the swing of things. We haven’t had dry pasta since 2012. However, I have learned dry pasta holds up better in soups.
- Cacio e Pepe is one of my favorites.
- We love a simple spaghetti and meatball dinner.
- Fettuccine with pesto and grilled chicken is a full meal deal.
- I’ve also ventured out to raviolis. They were tasty but I would not enter a competition with regards to consistency.
Then the universe sent us Miles…Brandt adoringly calls him Pasta Boy.
Miles Tamboli had a similar experience to ours. He made a trip to Italy to research his family heritage. Instead of bringing home wine and olive oil like we did…he brought home (shipped) a pasta machine. Miles had been involved in the Memphis Farmers Market for several years with his employer. He took a year off and reappeared as seen above. I haven’t made pasta since. He also makes sauces, ricotta, mozzarella and pesto. It’s JUST LIKE stopping at the corner pasta shop in Poggibonsi.
I enjoyed making pasta and won’t say I never will again. However, the freshness and convenience of someone who has perfected the craft is just too good not to support. Miles will tell you it freezes well for up to a month. Monday I used Rigatoni from the freezer purchased in September and it was perfect in every way. It’s fairly clear from the images we love his Casarecce and Bucatini…but it’s ALL good!!!
Tamboli Pasta and Pizza
Almost instantly customers told Miles he needed to open a restaurant. Fast forward to November 2019 and Miles made his dream and everyone’s wishes come true when he opened Tamboli’s Pasta and Pizza. It wasn’t easy and he has put every ounce of energy he has into it but Memphis is a better city because of his drive, determination and commitment.
We were fortunate to be invited to the soft opening and have returned. Now, Memphian’s can have Miles products at home or in the cozy environs of his Midtown Osteria.
“It’s All Good”…really good!!!
Don’t fret if you don’t make fresh pasta. If you’re standing at your pantry looking at dry pasta there is a really good meal waiting for you. Even without summer tomatoes…a few roma tomatoes, a hand full of mushrooms, some garlic (a lot), olive oil, salt and pepper tossed in a skillet briefly then served over al dente pasta…well, that’s a meal sure to lift your spirits. Brandt would tell you the leftovers are even better the next day.
Here’s hoping your self-isolation is lovely and a good time is being had by all!!!