Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lotsa Pasta - Dinner is in the bag

I made pasta for dinner last night.

When I say I made pasta I mean I actually mixed eggs and flour, kneaded them together, let the dough ball rest, ran it through my imported hand crank pasta roller(which I LOVE...thank you Nick!!!) and cut the sheets into fettuccine sized strips. Then I sauteed up some pancetta and made a carbonara. It was time consuming but oh so delicious.

I do this often, make pasta from scratch. Although it takes a bit of time and patience I find it so very enjoyable. It's like Playdough for adults...with the added bonus of eating your results.

Some pastas are a bit more arduous to make than others of course. My fettuccine took about an hour total to make. My raviolis take all afternoon. And don't get me started on tortellini.

So when I heard good things(from lots of people) about Lotsa Pasta's homemade fresh pasta and bread I decided to check it out. We don't always have an entire afternoon free to make stuffed dough now do we?

When Nick and I walked into the store a few weeks ago we simply couldn't believe it had taken us 5 months to go there. It was the type of specialty food store we love to visit. It had a very nice cheese and cured meat selection. A wall of lovely, freshly baked bread. Plenty of specialty dry goods and last but certainly not least, a cooler full of fresh pastas.

We chose a package of their house made porcini tortellini, a package of their house made hot Italian sausage and a loaf of their mini ciabatta. We also grabbed a small triangle of Pecorino Romano cheese and a big 'ol can of their Lotsa Pasta brand tomato sauce to finish off our "meal in a bag".

When we got home we could hardly wait for the pot of water to boil so we could dive into our dinner.

I'm pleased to announce that everything was delicious. The porcini tortellini had porcini mushrooms actually incorporated into the dough as well as the filling giving them quite a mushroom kick. They cooked up wonderfully and had great texture as well.

The hot Italian sausage was pretty much a home run in my eyes. I have eaten some good Italian sausage in my day...believe you I'm a tough sell when it comes to that particular brand of meaty goodness. This one had a great balance of spice and fat, so important in any sausage.

The house made tomato sauce was good enough. I'm a purist when it comes to a tomato sauce. I like simplicity and this one certainly fit the bill as far as that was concerned, but I'm not sure I would make a separate trip just for the sauce.

I was also happy with their bread. Have you ever played "what would your last meal be" at a dinner party? I'm always so very torn when it's my turn because I've got a list a mile long of my favorite foods, but something that always rises to the top of my list is a great piece of crusty bread and good quality butter(maybe even a goat milk butter...SO good!). Needless to say...I like me some bread.

Their ciabatta was very good. Crusty on the outside and tender inside. But the thing I liked most was that they offer a variety of loaf sizes. Nick and I can never go through a whole loaf of bread(and still fit into our pants the next day) in one evening and day old Italian bread isn't good for much other than toast points, bread crumbs or the occasional bread pudding. So having the option to buy a loaf built for two was nice.

I have to say that I don't recommend putting this particular mixture of flavors together in one meal. We realized that we were thinking about each piece and it's individual yummy-ness when we purchased them and not their ability to play well together. I would still buy the same things but use them differently. The porcini tortellini would be paired with a very mild sauce...perhaps a really light cream sauce to let the mushrooms shine. Also, the sausage would go great with a more hearty and plain short cut pasta, or you could even slice it and serve it over a bed of cheesy polenta(great idea for my next batch of sausage!). But that's not to say that we didn't still lick our plates clean with our original combination.

When all was said and done our bag of goodies lasted us almost two whole meals and I just finished the block of Pecorino Romano yesterday so that provided a good bang for our buck.

Some things were a bit pricier than I would have liked but it is a specialty food store after all and that's to be expected. And they're really doing all the work for you in many cases so paying an extra buck for a package of great quality home made pasta is, in my very frugal opinion, worth it.

So the next time I'm in the mood for some great quality homemade pasta without having to deal with the effort, time and flour filled mess of doing it myself, I'll have no problem returning to Lotsa Pasta. I wonder what I'll pick next time.

Lotsa Pasta 3717 Lexington Rd.

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