Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Sardinia pasta and wine class – Il Corvo, Pike Place Market

Posted on: Wednesday 13 July 2011

On a balmy Saturday evening a few weekends ago, a group of eight descended the Pike Place Hill Climb and into Il Corvo for a Sardinia pasta and wine class with Mike Easton and Jerry Tide.

Unlike my previous visit, Procopio Gelateria was empty.

Stools were moved outside, wines were chilling and decanted, and pasta machines lined the communal bench.

As usual I was early so I assisted with the antipasti. I heaped spoonful of braised squid and octopus onto sliced and toasted baguettes while Mike spread roasted and puréed eggplant, chilli and garlic onto another platter of bread.

Meaty and tender, the braised squid and octopus were mixed with capers, garlic, smoked paprika and lemon juice, and sprinkled with fresh parsley. The eggplant was smoky sweet, with a hint of heat from the chilli.

We sipped on Prosecco as Mike explained that we would be making fresh pasta in pairs. He printed copies of the recipe and emphasised the importance of taking our own notes on techniques.

Flour and egg makes pasta! Thankfully Mike prefers the metric system as I’m bad at imperial conversions. The basic ratio for making pasta is one hundred grams of flour and one egg for one person.

We carefully measured the flour on a metric scale imported from Australia, made a well and cracked the room temperature eggs in the middle. We gently whisked the eggs and slowly stirred in the flour to form a sticky dough. Our hands dusted with flour, we kneaded the dough until it was smooth and firm. The key is to rest the dough for at least half an hour to let the gluten relax. I was concerned about over-kneading the dough but Mike said you cannot do that with pasta!

Mike commented that ‘French food is about process and discipline; Italians cook because they love to eat’. Mike’s philosophy is to do less but use quality ingredients to create ‘simple and thoughtful combinations’.

We flatten the dough with the palms of our hands and Mike demonstrated how to roll the dough through the pasta machine. There’s a rhythm to this – dust dough with flour, feed in widest setting, fold in thirds, adjust dial, dust dough with flour, feed in next setting. This process was repeated six or seven times. The dough had softened with time but was relatively sturdy to handle. You’ll know when the dough is ready by touch and feel, it’ll be different each time you make it.

We breathed in the fresh aroma of the dough and were looking forward to tasting our handiwork.

We switched from the dough roller to the pasta cutter. The dough was cut into shorter pasta sheets. We cranked the handle and strands of fettuccine emerged at the bottom.

It was a delight to watch the pale strips of cascading dough. Just as the last inch of dough disappeared into the machine, you gently bunch the fettuccine to ensure it doesn’t tangle.

I dangled the freshly made pasta on my hand, like swinging tassels on a curtain.

And of course we made too much pasta so we each took a container home. It can be stored in the fridge for up to five days or frozen. I like that it doesn’t have to be defrosted before cooking!

Mike makes fresh pasta every day. The lunch menu changes daily at Il Corvo – short pasta, long pasta, filled pasta and gnocchi. He brought out a plate of cavatelli, a short curled pasta made with semolina flour.

Making cavatelli is a labour of love. The antique handheld tool produces one vavatelli with each rotation!

The star of the show was the pasta which cooks in ninety seconds. Mike simmered bruised cloves of garlic and chilli in olive oil.

The glistening ribbons were tossed with the infused olive oil and grated bottarga.

There was a collective sigh as we each had our first mouthful of artisan pasta. Cooked al dente, the slippery fettuccine was the perfect balance of the salty and briny bottarga, the mellow and aromatic garlic, and heat from the chilli. It was so delicious that I replicated the recipe at home with the leftover pasta.

While we were cleaning up and wiping flour from every surface, Mike was cooking our secondo – pesce arrostiti alla Sarda. Seared then baked, the whole trout was served with potatoes and olives.

In between all that, Jerry poured us glasses of Vermentino and Cannonau (Grenache). The Vermentino was light and summery, and the Cannonau was a pleasant pairing for the fish. There was also Lambrusco and I discovered I was partial to a nip of Amaro!

Hands-on and casual, it was a fun three hours. Sincere thanks to Mike and Jerry for sharing their passion and expertise for food and wine. Salute!

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5 Responses to "Sardinia pasta and wine class – Il Corvo, Pike Place Market"

maybe i will get out the pasta maker soon…

[…] The gentlemen eschewed dessert for whisky and Scotch digestifs, poured by Jerry who was the sommelier at the Il Corvo Sardinia pasta and wine class. […]

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