A few weeks back, I saw that Mike Patrick, who runs Storico Fresco, posted to their Facebook page: "I could NOT be happier with this Southern Italian pasta. Tortelli cima di rapa, turnip greens sautéed in puglian olive oil and leaf lard, garlic, ricotta from the same region. così così così buono!" Turns out, that pasta was their weekly special, and would be available at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market the next day. You know I was there.
To say this tortelli was great would be a vast understatement. It was as close to perfection as any pasta I've ever had. Eye closing, groan inducing, moan inducing perfection. I cooked it per instructions in well salted water, then tossed with some good olive oil and a sprinkling of small pieces of Benton's bacon (had I had any guanciale on hand, I would have gone with that. Benton's bacon?? My imaginary-Italian grandmother would be rolling over in her grave, bless her soul).
My oh my, the first thing you notice with any of Storico Fresco's fresh pastas is the texture of the dough, which does a balancing act of not too thin and not too thick, not too giving and not too tough. That quickly segues into the flavor of the dough, then into the texture and flavors of the filling - which in this case achieves a lovely sum-is-greater-than-the-parts beauty of slightly bitter greens, slightly pungent garlic, slightly creamy and smoky ricotta. Moan away.
I asked Patrick about the ingredients in this pasta - and his answers just show Storico Fresco's unique approach of combining the best of unusual and authentic Italian recipes with local Georgia ingredients, plus traditional Italian ingredients when the moment is right. The turnip greens? Local, from Riverview Farms, Woodland Gardens, and McMullan Family Farm. The lard? Riverview Farms again, "leaf lard, which has been a battle lately as its getting popular." Garlic? Woodland Gardens. (Mike is hoping to eventually be using his own crop of heirloom lorz garlic from the south of Italy which has a mild artichoke overtone to it.) Olive oil? "To better recreate the flavors, I use a southern Italian olive oil from Puglia, since this pasta's home is there. Its a bit more rustic and tastes TO ME a little more earthy with a nutty overtone." And the ricotta? Smoked ricotta from Puglia, which is "more salty and intense than the northern smoked ricottas." Of course!
Patrick clearly knows his stuff, and it's a joy to see such unusual and fascinating pastas appearing on his table at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market each Saturday. Luckily for everyone, Storico Fresco will soon be opening up shop at 3210 Roswell Road (in Buckhead). The target date for opening is late October, and Mike shares that "this will be an evolving concept with lots of experiments - its nickname will be "the laboratorio" (meaning "laboratory"). We are working with everything from sand-fermented leeks to burnt grains to 24 different combinations of flours. Now, I also spent time in the porchetta production faciltiies in Italy, so, who knows, maybe? We will also have take-home foods that will be unique, but the primary focus will always be pasta."
The possibilities are tantalizing. As fall arrives and the season calls for richer dishes, Patrick is exploring some game-based pastas that should have eager pasta-philes lining up. Pheasant and prosciutto tortelli, or roasted squab ravioli, anyone? Expect many moans to come.
Here's some further background from Storico Fresco's website:
Storico Fresco's founder, Mike Patrick, began exploring the Italian countryside three years ago, hoping to find some of the world's most extraordinary pasta recipes. He found them by working in small pasta shops, in monasteries, in the homes of Italian grandmothers and on traditional Italian farms.
Inspired to preserve these endangered recipes and the traditional ways of making them, Mike founded Storico Fresco Pasta (Storico Fresco means "fresh history" in Italian) to create a line of pastas which are faithful, handmade reproductions of these great, Italian foods.
To make them, we use the Old World skills and knowledge Mike learned from the Italian nonnas, chefs, cooks and artisan pasta makers he collaborated with in Italy. We rake through the dough with an ancient wooden tool called a pettine to create the one-of-a-kind ridges seen in our Lumachelle and Garganelli. We work closely with premium Italian flour producers to find just the right grains. We use no genetically modified (GMO) ingredients and no processed foods. Our eggs come from free range chickens which are raised on our local farms.
Get in Ma Mouth is a look at delicious things around Atlanta. It all started with a fig and mascarpone donut "slider," but knows no bounds other than that of eager hunger - sweet or savory, solid or liquid, homemade or store-bought. Click here for an archive of "Get in Ma Mouth" temptations.
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