Oh but I died and went to heaven! How on earth did I live in New York, think myself a foodie and not know of the wonderful place that Chelsea Market was!! I mean, really, I am terribly embarrassed and feel like I was a fake foodie, like fraud, having missed quite possibly the most wondrous place of them all.
It all started out innocently enough, when I joked about making homemade pasta with the BF. I kept oohing and aahing at the homemade pasta created here and here, and whining to him about having carb envy. I don’t even like carbs that much and here I was, sitting in bed, looking at people’s floury creations and wanting nothing more than a toy of my own. Back in college a friend of mine had a pasta maker and we spent many a night making our own fettucine, drying in on the handmade drying racks he created, and then cooking it up with our own creamy porcini sauce. Our meals were memorable, if only because we would always start cooking at 11pm and wind up eating sometime around 2am. Even back then, our Chianti came from a bottle, not a jug or a box. We were frugal, but we ate well. And ever since then, I wanted a pasta machine of my own.
Well, all my promises of pasta and such did not go unnoticed. The BF, a man who listens as well as he eats, reminded me one weekend of my aspirations. I, promptly did some research and found a fine looking machine on Williams-Sonoma. Still, I had to consult someone who owned one, and so I asked the inimitable Deb on her thoughts. She quickly told me about her model and that she got it at Bowery Kitchen Supplies, which, I’m embarrassed to admit, I thought was located on Bowery. Not in Chelsea Market, of which I’ve never even heard, or probably didn’t remember.
Armed with an address for BKS, the BF and I set out, on what was quite possibly the coldest night we’ve had to date, to purchase the machine and make some pasta. Saturday night, people. To call us nerdy and homebodies would be the ultimate understatement.
When I spotted the building I was excited, but confused. I saw plants in the window, no kitchen things in sight and I thought that we were going to a Home Depot like store. BF warned me that this just might be the kind of place where I lose all sense of grace (as if I had any to begin with) and might have a fainting spell. He wasn’t even close. I had a complete and total meltdown, in that scary, happy way. All these little stores, with all the food stuffs. The seafood place where the lobster looked fresh and succulent. The place with cupcakes so pretty I almost wept, and cookies to commemorate the Super Bowl. The Thai place! The meat place! The place with all the Italian groceries where I went crazy and BF had to restrain me.
“No, of course we need a gallon tub of blood orange pulp! I will make… something out of it!”
”Look at the gigantic bag of porcini mushrooms! If we buy it, it’ll last us 20 years!!!”
“Pizza flour?? Buckwheat flour? Don’t we need it?”
”Lentils!! Do you like lentils? I could make this dish with caramelized onions and lentils, that you’ll love!!”
”Stop, look, there’s a pound of foie gras!! And over there, there’s rabbit.”
”Do you like mascarpone cheese? Because I can make this thing with it, that’s going to be amazing….”
In short, I was dashing madly from one item to the next as if it was my last time buying food. I was excited and almost panicked – what if we never come back here again? I felt as if I was stuck in wonderland, where all my food dreams came true. I never wanted to leave. I could just make a cot somewhere in the corner, by the bread makers and wake up in the morning to the hypnotizing scent of baked bread, my cheek pressed up against the floured glass.
BF could barely tear me away and out of that place. And that was all BEFORE we got to the Bowery Kitchen Supplies, where I almost bought a $300 pasta machine. Why? Because I hadn’t any idea and I figured, since I am buying it once, why not just get the best? Lucky for me, the BF being as practical as he’s diligent talked me out of this crazy notion. And so the pretty Atlas was mine. We barely made it too as the stores were shutting down.
Back at home, I followed the recipe until I got the desired consistency. I covered the bowl and waited an hour to roll. I dried my pasta and waited for it another hour. But when I tried to boil it, it stuck together and I had to manually separate the little guys. First time’s always the hardest. And though the pasta turned out divine in taste, I had to work a bit better to get the look just right. And the next time when we made it last week, the individual pasta pieces were much much better, separate and distinct.
I have plans for ravioli, herb printed pasta, and a vegetarian lasagna that will challenge even the heartiest meat lover. I have this machine now and it must justify its existence to me. And I promised someone to share recipe ideas. After all, I owe her a few good ones, since she’s consistently inspired me to make new dishes.
I’ll leave you with this thought – the advertisement on the pasta machine manual features an attractive woman wearing nothing but pasta. The moral, or rather the suggestion is probably that eating pasta made by Atlas, will render you this svelte and this hot. If this is indeed true, I am going to eat pasta three times a day and much like Sophia Loren, I’ll owe everything to spaghetti.
Adapted from Atlas Manual & memories of making this in college
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
4 tablespoons water (optional)
To make pasta dough in a food processor:
Process and blend flour, eggs, salt, and water in food processor until mixture just begins to form a ball, adding more water if needed by spoonfuls. The dough should be firm and pliable and not sticky. Pulse dough for 10 seconds more to knead it and remove from processor. If the dough feels a bit sticky, flour it on the outside, place on a floured surface and let stand for an hour covered by a bowl. This makes your dough more pliable.
Once the dough is ready, cut it into four/five pieces and roll the pieces one by one through the pasta roller, starting with the thickest opening and then gradually increasing the dial. Be sure to roll the sheet through the “1″, i.e. thickest setting 4-5 times to get all the air bubbles out and ensure a smooth sheet. For fettucine, the 4 or 5 setting on the Atlas machine works very well. Anything thinner and your pasta begins to rip. Once you are done with the thinness of your pasta sheet, move it through the pasta cutter selecting the desired type of pasta. Take the pasta afterwards and place it on a towel to dry for an hour. While drying, boil a large pot of water with some salt and a little bit of olive oil. When water is at a boil, throw in the pasta and let cook for 3 minutes or so. Test the pasta for doneness (you want it to be al dente) and when the pasta is finished, drain the water and serve immediately with your favorite sauce and plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese!!