Thursday, 25 April 2013

recent delights: organic pasta; dinner @ itali.co, st kilda;
fig & fennel bread @ rustica sourdough bakery, fitzroy

Oh hello! I think I'm way overdue for another post on some of the recent odds-and-ends in my food world. Today's going to be a carb-heavy issue. Pasta, pizzas and bread. You've been warned.

So first of all let's talk pasta. I bought some organic pasta from the shops some months ago, which I've been meaning to blog about, because they're pretty different from the standard pasta I usually eat.

These lovely little morsels pictured below are strozzapreti tricolore from Montebello in Italy. Prior to this, I've not had pasta in the strozzapreti shape, so the mere novelty of it all engaged me. Plus, it apparently means priest strangler in Italian, which also brings forth the question, does everything just sound better in Italian? Also, they come in three colours. Technically, it's really four - we've got the chilli ones in red, the nettle ones in green, the wholemeal ones in brown and the classic ones in beige. They're gorgeous AND tasty. The chilli is distinctive, and it will infuse the pasta water with a good dose of heat. The nettle ones have a pleasantly earthy taste, similar to spinach. I have to confess that I've been cooking them in a rather un-Italian fashion, using them in lieu of noodles in my Asian-style broths. I quite like them that way!

Montebello - Strozzapreti Tricolore Pasta.

Getting a bit closer to home, and with less food miles, we have Australian-made pasta, too. Hurrah! These are mixed olive leaves from L'Abruzzese, a South Australian company. The green ones are flavoured with spinach powder. The "leaves" are so charmingly rustic, and they also cook up well, retaining a great al dente bite. I figured that they would go beautifully in a gentle, creamy base, so I tossed them through some mascarpone, as well as some other ingredients I no longer remember. My instincts proved correct - it was a delicious match. I've noticed L'Abruzzese also have pasta in native Australian flavours (lemon myrtle! wattleseed! excitement!!), as well as a gluten-free range made with buckwheat, chickpea, rice and lentil flours. Buoyed by my good experience here, I might try those next time.

L'Abruzzese - Mixed Olive Leaves.

I bought both of the above pastas at Ripe the Organic Grocer in Prahran Market, but you can probably find them in other stores that stock a good range of organic pasta, as well. Or you may find something else which is just as fun to cook and eat!

- - -

Moving on. I recently accepted an invitation to a complimentary dinner at itali.co ( 1/173-177 Barkly St, St Kilda) to experience a set menu created by head chefs Piero Roldo and Lino Maglione.

Firstly, we were treated to some kitchen demonstrations - a behind-the-scenes look at how they make pasta and pizza. Here's a fleeting shot I managed to catch of one of the steps to creating a squid ink tagliolini.

The making of squid ink pasta at Itali.co.

We ate so much and I won't be posting all the photos here, but if you'd like a comprehensive pictorial summary you can check them out under the Media/PR Events album in my Facebook page.

I shall indeed share with you my favourite savoury and sweet dishes of the night, however.

Behold...

Slow-cooked boneless rack of rabbit, filled with sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil, served with a red cabbage strudel, and carrot puree.

The description alone is enticing enough, but I did not anticipate how well-executed and beautifully cooked it would be, and in turn, how much I would love it. The rabbit came out in the form of a succulent involtini, rolled with little tangy, salty and herbaceous hits from the tomatoes, olives and basil. The red cabbage strudel, put simply, was like delicious sauerkraut in pastry. The carrot puree was smooth, unctuous, and indulgent. I adored all of it.

Rabbit involtini, red cabbage strudel and carrot puree at Itali.co.

My favourite dessert of the night was the strawberry nutella pizza. You're probably not surprised.

For days afterwards, I would get random cravings for that delicious chocolatey hazelnut spread that we all know and love. I fairly blame it on this pizza. It's a simple concept and a flavour combination that has been no doubt done many times in many places, but what really elevated this pizza was that gorgeous crust. I could try to replicate this pizza at home (and ha, I probably will) - the toppings will be easy - but that perfectly cooked dough, with its beguiling stretch and crunch... I'll have to come back here for that.

Strawberry Nutella pizza at Itali.co.

Other notes: The general quality of the food I sampled here was excellent. A few didn't quite grab me so much, but besides the two dishes mentioned above, there were several others that I enjoyed - the pan-fried Canadian scallops with cauliflower pannacotta, the black ink tagliolini with assorted seafood (especially when drizzled with the chilli oil condiment on the table), and all the other pizzas I tried - one was a lovely summery one with swordfish on an eggplant base, and the other a deliciously pungent mushroom and truffle pizza. Additionally, a shout out to owner, Remo Nicolini, who was an excellent host - he is clearly passionate about food and it really shows in the way he runs the place.

Itali.Co on Urbanspoon

- - -

Last, but not least, in this series of carb-laden treats...

Hi, bread with juicy figs and aromatic fennel seeds. Why art thou so yummy?

This is the fig and fennel ficelle from Rustica Sourdough Bakery (402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy). Apparently this bakery has been around for quite awhile, but Simon and I only stumbled upon it recently when he wanted some takeaway coffee. We went in and discovered the ficelle. I also discovered, unsurprisingly, that it is even more delicious toasted, with butter. What isn't, really.


- - -

What are some of your recent delights?

27 comments:

  1. That fig bread looks so good. Must check that bakery out. I've had a few good new discoveries lately, Holy Goat fromage frais from Castlemaine which I bought at a farmers market and on the homemade front, I've been playing around with ponzu sauce recipes. So good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love the sound of your discoveries, I'll have to check them out too!

      Delete
  2. Yes yes yum. You had me at pasta. I love rustic-looking pastas, especially when they are also priest stranglers. It's funny, I was just looking through a book I recently bought on pasta shapes, and the one I remember reading about translated to priest's hats. What's with all the pasta/priest co-mingling? I guess priests just know a good thing when they see it:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, I guess priests are pretty big in Italy. ;)

      Delete
  3. YUMMM. that pasta looks so good! and that bread too! xx

    Gemma @ http://andgeesaid.blogspot.com.au/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Fig in any bread-like carbohydrate is pure bliss. Looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. anything that is coloured out of the ordinary definitely catches my eye :) my recent delight also had fig in it - a fig, honey and proscuitto pizza :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. The ficelle floats my boat the most. I must admit that no part of strawberry nutella pizza appeals to me! But I am giggling at the priest strangler...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm surprised you're not a Nutella girl! Since you like nut butters and all. Is it because it's based with milk chocolate? Or too sweet? Too processed? I don't tend to go crazy over Nutella like some people do, but I did adore it with that pizza.

      Delete
  7. I'm a sucker for unusual pastas (flavour and shapes) so this post definitely got me excited. I love nettle pasta but have never had chilli pasta - sounds amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unusual pastas for the win! They're so much fun. I think they were quite generous with the chilli powder with that one - such a pretty red, and gives the pasta water a spicy kick.

      Delete
  8. Thanks for sharing your gastronomic delights. The fig bread looks awesome. One of my favourite pasta dishes is made with Strozzapreti at Balla Osteria in Sydney. Think i'll have to pop in for lunch this week. Thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the right idea - I'm definitely going to try to work more strozzapreti in my life!

      Delete
  9. There is something so wonderfully luxuriant about pasta and bread!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Especially when we're talking about those pastas and that bread. Yum.

      Delete
  10. You had me at carb. I love Italian food so much. It is all about comfort and good simple ingredients. Heaven!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just love witnessing the creation of pasta... it's just sooo attention grabbing (well to me at least :P)

    ReplyDelete
  12. hi! I've just nominated you for the Liebster blogger award. There are a few questions to answer, it's something that passes between bloggers to get to know them better =) all informations are here : http://the-wandering-girl.blogspot.fr/2013/05/answers-to-liebster-award.html

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good to know I'm not the only crazy using pasta in Asian broths! =P I've also been known to stir fry pasta...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is so good. My mum also does a mean pasta stir-fry. It's the Asian way! ;)

      Delete
  14. It is an interesting information about pasta. There are some ingredient used to make it. Chicken Pasta Dishes are also easy to cook if we follow some steps.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails