Tuesday, February 9, 2010

paying attention

people ask me all the time, "how do you come up with your menu?"
...the answer...
"eat alot , and pay attention!"

As a father of two small children (rapidly getting bigger) I am consciously trying to raise them as citizens of the earth. To assume responsibility for their actions. To take only as much as they need. To leave behind as little as possible. But most importantly, to Pay Attention! Sometimes the most important information is coming from behind you. When you cross a busy street are you actively crossing the street? Are you paying attention? Or are you eating, texting, blowing your nose, talking with your friends and just putting one foot in front of the other and hoping for the best? Missing out on the fact that the old lady standing next to you could have used a hand navigating the pot holes, or that there was a driver that almost just clipped you. Did you ever find yourself sitting in traffic and if the guy in front of you would just pull up six inches you could make that precious turn? Next time you find yourself there cursing him out, think about how often you use your own rear view just to see what's going on behind you. By paying attention you will get more out of life. Sometimes in the satisfaction of helping a stranger or simply slowing down to let someone cross the street. If you are both paying attention, very often you don't even need to hit the brake, you just need to take your foot off the gas. Please don't misunderstand me, I love to multi-task as much as anyone. In these fast-forward times we live in, technology is making it easier by the nanosecond. I am guilty of the "I am more important than you, get out of my way" as much as you are. But, I'm trying to be better. I find that as I try to be a good parent and teach the kids to be great people, I am learning as I go. They are teaching me as much, if not more than I could ever teach them.

A few weeks ago (OK it was a few months ago) we took the kids to Philadelphia. Museums, The Pool in the Hotel, The Aquarium. Many, many Highlights. But for me there was one special dinner, at a restaurant called Osteria. Maybe a little too fancy for the kids. It was a little later than they usually eat, and we were all a bit tired from a busy day. The kids were both drawing and excited to be having pizza and pasta in a fancy restaurant. When the server brought our appetizers we were moving along fine. It could have been a nice night out with great food and that was that. But Tracey's pasta was heaven on a plate. Butternut Squash Ravioli, Sage Brown Butter, Grated Amaretto Cookies. One of the greatest, most memorable dishes of my life. Again, we could have been done and on our way but, I was paying attention and needed to know what was making this dish so fabulous. Well, it was the Pasta itself. So thin and delicate, with just the right amount of bite. So I asked a few questions, and after our trip, back at our restaurant I started playing around with my own pasta recipe. First switching to King Arthur bread flour. Then adding some semolina. Then, thanks to my sous chef getting my hands into some imported OO flour from Italy.

Next I will start to play with the ratio of eggs to flour and the results of whole eggs to egg yolks. For a recipe with only a few ingredients the possibilities seem limitless. But the hardest part is the paying attention. I can't tell you how many times I carefully put something together and then get distracted. The restaurant rolls into service and the pasta is gone, sold out before I got to sit down and contemplate the differences of the finished product. So, the next time you find yourself with a cold winter afternoon and no pressing engagements. Get in the kitchen, make some pasta, and don't forget to pay attention. The recipe that follows is the current base recipe we use at Andre's. I am still playing with the eggs.

18 ounces OO flour

5 large eggs

1/2 shell full of olive oil

1/2 shell full of water

(a 1/2 shell is a little more than a tablespoon)

1 comment:

  1. www.osteriaphilly.com Sorry I didn't include the link in the original post.