The pasta festival in Gragnano was one of those events.
Traditionally, the festival is held the first week in September it is three days packed with music and food. I attended a pre-festival in collaboration with the Gazzetta Gastronomica. A full day with lectures, tours and then tasting in the main square in town and a Sunday pasta dinner with some of the best chefs at Bikini, a hot spot on the coast.
It was probably one of the hottest days, but off we went. We visited the Faella factory, right in the main square.
|inside the drying rooms|
You can find Faella in the USA thanks to Gustiamo. Check out the fabulous high quality products that you can have shipped to you or find out where you can buy near you. It is ALL about the ingredients when you cook.
I will tell you more about the different pasta producers we visted in future posts. I am going to cook my way through the pasta's.
One of the "lessons" is that each shape of pasta is suited for a certain sauce.
Probably the biggest mistake in our pairings-- is spaghetti alla bolognese. NO ONE would EVER serve ragu on spaghetti.
|the office of the Faella factory, their relatives watching over them|
After our visits to several pasta makers, we met at the end of the Valley dei Mulini, where the mills were located for the grinding of the wheat for the pasta, for a small tasting lunch with a famous chef from Cetara, Pasquale Torrente from Il Convente in Cetara.
Pasquale made small cubes of fried Pasta e fagioli ( pasta e fazool) and Pasta e patate, two famous soups from Naples.Left to chill, they become firm and he breaded and fried them as finger food.
Then he made us a Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chili pepper finished off with another rare product, Colatura di Alici, the liquid which drains off of the salted anchovies. It was fabulous. Another reason to head down to Cetara next trip to Naples.
At the last dinner, which was on Sunday night at Bikini with all the famous chefs, I had another version of stuffed and fried pasta, which I had had years ago on another trip to Gragnano.
This version was a single mezzo pacchero from Faella Pasta, filled with meat the breaded and fried and on a melted cheese sauce.
|mezza pacchero con fonduta di provola di monaco by Chef Mimmo di Simone, BIKINI|
Inspired we recreated our own version at class. Mezza pacchero filled with water buffalo ricotta I found here at the local Coop grocery store and a zucchini parmesan sauce.
Parboil the pasta.
Use a small pastry bag to fill the pasta with ricotta cheese. If your ricotta doesn't have a lot of flavor, add some parmesan cheese, grated.
Beat an egg and roll the pasta first in the beaten egg, then in plain breadcrumbs.
Let sit before frying.
Heat olive oil in pan, add the pasta and let crisp on one side, then flip.
Remove when golden.
We sauteed zucchini in olive oil with garlic and a pinch of salt until tender.
Puree with parmesan cheese and olive oil.
Place the sauce on the plate- then place the fried pasta on top.
a great start to a meal!