Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Recipe: Spaghetti d’Arvier via "Local Lemons"

now how smashingly delicious does this look? this "re-posted" blog entry is from one of my new favorite food blogs called "Local Lemons". the blogger, Allison Arevalo, is a brooklyn transplant to the bay area and she does a great job of sharing her love of food, cooking and local sourcing of ingredients. you should really check out her blog.

regarding this recipe... i personally believe (even and an admitted degenerate carnivore) that mushrooms may be the most underrated and underused ingredient in cooking. they just pack such a flavor punch.... i both loved the ingredients and also the "story" behind how she came to find this dish. check it out....

One suggested change: I think that when i give this dish a try I may substitute arugula or "rocket" for parsley to see if it gives the dish a bit more bite and flavor complexity... if it's turns out to be "too much", then i'll go back to the parsley. also, if the sourcing of the "porchini spaghetti" is difficult, i'm sure this recipe would still taste great with regular fresh or homemade spaghetti. thoughts?

Spaghetti d’Arvier


Without thinking too long, can you recall the best meal of your life? I know it’s a tough question, but I am lucky enough to remember every minute detail of the most amazing food I have ever tasted.

The meal was at Cafe Du Bourg, in the small town of Arvier located in the Valle d’Aosta in northern Italy. This town has two restaurants, and is known for their local red wine, Enfer d’Arvier. This particular region of Italy churns out magnificent dairy products, and this is because the fresh water that rolls down from Mont Blanc feeds the grass, which in turn feeds the happy cows.

As for the meal, it included fresh cheese, two homemade pasta dishes, and a steak I still drool over. When the waiter asked us how we liked the food, Alejandro responded, “The chef is truly an artist!” To that, the waiter replied, “La chef? Es la mia mama!” From there, to say they treated us as family would be an understatement – it was the Italian experience you only dream about.

This dish is my adaptation of my favorite part of the night, spaghetti with wild mushrooms, tomato and fontina cheese. I bought homemade porcini spaghetti from the farmers’ market, and found fontina from Aosta at my local Italian shop. If you spot this cheese at your market, pick it up! It is earthy, creamy and nothing like fontina from elsewhere.

Ingredients for Spaghetti d’Arvier
1 lb fresh porcini spaghetti
4 types of wild mushrooms, chopped – I used black trumpet, hedgehog, yellowfoot and organic button
4 ripe tomatoes, seeded, cored and chopped
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup fontina d’aosta, finely grated
Handful of parsely, finely chopped
About 3 tbsp high-quality fresh butter
Extra-Virgin olive oil

First Phase:
Set a big pot of salted water to boil

Heat up a large saute pan, add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil.
Saute button mushrooms on high heat for 5 min. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.

Add one more tbsp. butter, and the rest of the mushrooms. Saute for 5 min.

Add the chopped tomatoes and the last of the butter. After 2 min, throw the button mushrooms back in the pan, and turn the heat to low.

Add the parsley, salt and ground pepper – stir. Turn off the heat.

Second Phase:
Put the spaghetti in the boiling water for no more than 4 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.

Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and the fontina cheese and sitr together.

When pasta is done, add it to the saute pan with the mushrooms and tomatoes. Add the reserved water and the yolk/cheese mixture – stir quickly. Sauce should now be nice and thick.

This recipe is my contribution to Festa Italian at Finding La Dolce Vita and Proud Italian Cook.

Pastadearvier2Tips and Changes:

- Farm fresh, organic butter is key for this dish.
- Be sure to stir quickly after you add the yolks so the eggs don’t cook and set.
- I cook the button mushrooms first because their texture is different from the others. If your mushrooms vary in size and texture, I suggest you don’t skip that step.
- Fontina cheese is strong. I may use less next time.

Where I shopped:
Fontina Cheese: The Pasta Shop on College Ave. in Rockridge.
Wild Mushrooms: The Berkeley Bowl on Shattuck Ave.
Porcini Pasta: The Phoenix Pastificio, Berkeley Farmers’ Market

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