Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vetri's Pasta

I've talked many times about how much I like making pasta. The process is what I love most. Making the well of flour, then incorporating the eggs, and finally rolling out the dough- I feel like Nona, the only difference being that the flour used is far from my hair color.

There is nowhere better to get pasta in Philadelphia (arguably the whole U.S.) than Vetri. The product is the result of a master who trained in a Bergamo kitchen, perfecting pasta with little old Italian ladies. Though I had worked at Osteria (Vetri's newer restaurant that uses the same recipe) I was never able to get a hold of Vetri's almost legendary pasta recipe-that is, until just recently when Vetri was featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer article.

Now I have a tried and true pasta recipe already, from the French Laundry Cookbook, so I was eager to see how Vetri's would stack up. Thomas Keller also trained in Italy, so I guess this is basically a war of little old Italian ladies, to see whose pasta is superior. Will Vetri's little old Italian lady bring home the W for Bergamo? Or will Thomas Keller's Nona represent for Piedmont? Let's find out!

Contrary to The French Laundry Version, which uses only AP flour, Vetri's recipe calls for semolina and 00 flour, both of which I had on hand. Vetri's recipes also requires 9 egg yolks. 9!!! That's a whole lotta yolk. I put all the ingredients in a paddle-fitted kitchen aid, and blended until they came together. The fact that this recipe uses a kitchen aid, as opposed to the well method kinda turned me off. I prefer getting my hands dirty. Basically I'm like a five year old. The Kitchen aid method was quicker though, and soon I began kneading the dough. Unlike Keller's recipe which calls for excessive kneading, and states that "you can't over knead this dough," Vetri's only calls for five minutes.

Vetri's dough is noticeably wetter and easier to work with. Keller's is rather tough. Both recipes call for some resting time, and then, you roll out.

After blanching in salted water, I tossed the pasta in the frying pan with some butter and some of the pasta water. Vetri's pasta is soooo (for loss of a better adjective) yummy. It gives a slight bite, it's not as tough and Keller's, and seems smoother. Though it contains a higher egg yolk to flour ratio than Keller's, it's not noticeably richer. It does seem smoother however.

So who will take home the Nona throwdown crown back to their little old, humble abodes, with salami hanging in the kitchen, and olives growing in the backyard, and truffles in the rice, and wild boar grazing in the distance? Vetri's Nona gets the slight edge. But don't worry, I still love you Tommy K (who by the way is coming to the Philadelphia free library soon)


CHEF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CHEF said...

You have to have semolina in the mix. The texture becomes flat and doesn't carry that special "bite" that I always look for in fresh pasta dough. When doing filled pastas (ravioli, agnolotti, etc.), it is especially important. Gotta have the semolina. I also worked under a Bergamo chef in Baltimore. The pasta recipe seems very similar to his. There's nothing like some fresh made pappardelle with a nicely done marinara and some chunks of smoked fresh mozzarella.