A “Berry” good weekend • 07.28.08
Oh boy, the puns never stop around here.
We’ve just returned from a weekend away in Berry, NSW. Berry is a charming town about 2 hours south of Sydney (or 3.5 hours if you try to leave after 4pm on Friday- but no worries!) The trip was to celebrate the birth of Andy as well as the birth of our friend (and favourite Croatian/Canadian) Maja. Six of us rented a big house complete with a pool, tennis court and putting green- none of which were used. There was also a huge wrap-around porch, a fireplace, an enormous flat screen TV and a guitar- all of which were used.
As we were planning the trip we determined that the best way to make use of the house, and to safely drink large amounts of very good red wine, was to stay in and cook dinner for ourselves on Saturday night. There was a barbie available, so I assumed we’d use that. However, on Friday morning a cryptic email arrived from a fellow traveller. Jason wrote us to say that he was bringing “a surprise” for dinner on Saturday night. We tried to guess what the surprise was (the best guess was a pheasant), but Jason was resolute in his secret keeping.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny. We relaxed on the porch with books and glasses of fresh orange juice (there were fruit trees in the yard! Maja made OJ! She is Martha Stewart!)
We went into town for a late lunch at the pub. It was there, in the beer garden over bowls of cauliflower soup, that Jason revealed his secret…
A PASTA MACHINE!!!
Seriously, I was so excited. Andy and I took an Italian cooking class a few years ago and we learned how to make fresh pasta. But we never invested in a pasta maker due to moves / lack of space / blah blah blah… see previous post. We’ve made pasta at home a few times, but rolling it by hand and trying to cut it using a knife and your finger as a guide does not good pasta make.
So Jason and I assembled a dough of semolina, ’00′ flour, 5 eggs, a little olive oil, a little salt and a little water. We kneaded the crap out of it. We let it rest. And then, the real fun began. We made two pasta dishes- tagliatelle with tomato sauce and tortellini with spinach and ricotta stuffing and butter sage sauce. Everyone got in on the act. Jason and Andy were in charge of rolling the dough in the machine. I caught the strands of tagliatelle as they were cut and cut the circles for the tortellini. Steve managed to totally master the tortellini stuffing and sealing process and set up an assembly line so productive and efficient that Henry Ford would have been jealous. Maja and Jody carried out the tortellini making process to Steve’s high standards. It was a pasta-pa-looza!
I have to say, I was really pleased with the results. Both dishes were excellent. I didn’t manage to get a picture of the tortellini before it was eaten, but here’s a shot of the tagliatelle.
Don’t be fooled by the deceptively simple bowl of pasta in the photo above. It took 6 people to create that! The pasta was firm and had a wonderful robust texture. The sauce was sweet with slow cooked tomatoes and was topped with a sprinkling of salty Parmesan cheese. It went very well with a glass of red wine, a fireplace and some lovely friends. Happy birthday Andy and Maja!!