Chef William Zonfa twirling portions of Rustichella 90” RAPIDA spaghetti with cream of leeks, DOP saffron from Abruzzo, and guanciale. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Buon giorno! Man, I had quite the carb-tastic time last night—I was invited to attend a special event hosted by Manicaretti and Rustichella d’Abruzzo at the San Francisco Cooking School, always a great cooking class venue.
We got to watch a cooking demo with chef William Zonfa, the Michelin-starred chef from Magione Papale restaurant in L’Aquila, Abruzzo. (If L’Aquila rings a bell, it’s where that horrific earthquake happened in 2009, where 65,000 were left homeless after the quake.) Zonfa opened the restaurant after the quake, so it’s an important part of the city’s rebuilding and economic recovery to have this one-star destination on the map. Of course, everyone appreciated Zonfa’s handsome and good-natured self, but it was the three modern (yet rooted) Italian pasta dishes he presented last night that really made the room officially swoon.
We tried Rustichella’s relatively new 90” RAPIDA spaghetti, which cooks in 90 seconds—I know, unbelievable (hey, when you gotta have your pasta, like, now!). Zonfa coated the piping hot spaghetti with a decadent sauce made from a cream of leeks, DOP saffron from Abruzzo (which he is also an ambassador of), and crispy guanciale. We also had tonnarelli al nero di seppia con scampi e limone candito (black squid ink tonnarelli with sweet prawns and candied lemon)—a delicate prawn tartare topped each nest of tonnarelli, such an elegant dish.
And finally, his spin on a historic dish, Le Virtù, traditionally made in Teramo, Abruzzo, on May 1st, when everyone empties their pantry to makes a minestrone with all the leftover pasta, beans, and the other odds and ends in their larder. Rustichella d’Abruzzo created a special “pasta mista” (mixed pasta) in honor of this tradition, with a variety of shapes that cook at the same time. So you can buy this pasta and create this whimsical dish anytime if you don’t feel like emptying your pantry on the traditional day of May 1st (but I kind of love that idea). Zonfa’s spin featured an array of vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, fried leeks, and kale) for different textures and tastes, with a base of butternut squash for the sauce. Fantastico.
I think my favorite thing I learned was watching Zonfa spin an individual portion of pasta right from the pan in a ladle with a large fork before putting it on the plate, a rather perfect way to portion and present the pasta. So, yeah, a trio of pasta and two wines from Cantina Zaccagnini, now that’s what I call a good evening.
As for another good evening, that’s going to be at the upcoming tablehopper Sri Lankan feast at 1601 Bar & Kitchen in a couple of weeks. The food and wines will rock, read all about it in today’s issue. And don’t delay on your ticket if you’re interested, space is limited!
We also have a 707 update for you, enjoy.
If any of you are going to the Bon Appétech conference this weekend, I’ll be moderating a panel on restaurant tech innovation on Saturday, do say hi!