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I’m a pasta fanatic. Superb fresh pasta, made with soft wheat and eggs, at its best hand-rolled with a wooden pin on a wooden board, quite different from the stuff smashed between stainless rollers or extruded which will have a totally different, slippery texture when cooked. The great stuff is difficult to find and I lack the skill of a sfoglina hand roller. I order it when I’m in the zone.
I’m in love with dry pasta, made with hard durum wheat and water. But there’s a huge difference between industrial pasta, extruded from Teflon dies, quickly dried, resulting in a slick surface, and the good stuff, extruded from bronze or brass dies, slowly dried, with what looks like a sanded surface, which, when cooked, gives the sauce something to hold onto. My favorite brands are Pastificio dei Campi, Gemme del Vesuvio, Vicidomini and Gerardo di Nola, all from Campania. And Benedetto Cavalieri from Puglia. All, when cooked, result in a more al-dente product. I order my pasta by the case--always ready for unexpected guests and hostess gifts.