Archive for May, 2010
I’m not a big fan of gadgets, you give me a piece of tinfoil and a bic lighter and I can cook you up something. Having said that, there are some tools that do improve your cooking and make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. I’m guessing that somewhere in your kitchen there is a whole drawer of egg yolk separators, laser thermometers, mayonnaise cutters, steam buckets and left-handed ladles. I purged our junk drawer and came up with this list of the essentials.
We poured flour onto the wooden counter and formed a well in the center. We cracked three eggs into the middle of the well and scrambled the eggs with a fork. We then kneaded the flour and eggs for 10 minutes into a smooth dough, and wrapped the ball of dough in plastic wrap to rest for 30 minutes. It occurred to me that this was the perfect time to ask Francesco, a true Italian, why Italian’s refer to this pasta making process as “like making love to a woman”? He looked at me, somewhat surprised, and said in his deep Italian accented English “well, I think it’s obvious.”
Francesco’s Italian eatery, Olio Pane Vino, has been open for a few years now. In the dozens of times we have eaten there, the daily chalkboard menu has listed the same pasta dish only three or four times. “Did you learn to cook from your grandmother?” I asked him once. “No, I left my home in Sicily when I was very young”, he recalled. “I was broke and had to learn to cook whatever I could afford, whatever I could find.” Now Francesco spends his time finding and importing to France great Italian products. Recently I had an Amatriciana type sauce made with a spicy sausage from Sicily. “The guy makes it in Sicily then drives around Italy in his tiny van selling it.” “I convinced him to come to Paris so I could buy some.” The sauce was delicious, smokey and spicy with hints of paprika.
The 2nd is the Bermuda trapazoid of Paris. For being so close to the center, it’s an amazingly difficult place to locate. Most maps of Paris bleed this crooked rectangle into the 1st and 9th. GPS navigators seem to spin out of control once you cross Petits Champs. Other than the well explored Montorgueil, unless you have a J-O-B here in Paris, chances are you have missed a lot in the 2nd.
Of all the people we have met in Paris, only our friends Christine and Dan actually live in the 2nd. Dan spends his day merging and acquiring companies at his office in the 8th, while Christine left her job in Manhattan with a restaurant PR firm to pursue a career in child education services. Today she took time off from dealing with the whims of screaming children and the concerns of parents to show me the best people watching, passages and good eats of her hood.