Thursday, March 3, 2011

Anatomy of a Pasta Dish

Last night, I finally FINALLY got to Rooster's Wood-Fired Kitchen in Charlotte. I say it that way because G had eaten there eons ago, ordering diver scallops and was miffed when he only got two...for a lot of money.

But that was eons ago, like I said. We've visited for a drink or two since then, tasted a few nibbles and then? Then Groupon came, and I was determined to get G back into the place. For dinner.

And Wow.

We had a reservation but went early hoping (very much against hope) that we could get a table anyway. No dice. But there were two quite comfy stools looking into the kitchen, right by the pasta station.

When the hostess read the specials, she had me right away with this pasta dish. House-made spinach noodles tossed with house-made (I think) guanciale, peas, some lemon, a grating of house-made SOMETHING (more on that later) and a yolk cracked right into it.

Rooster's take on carbonara.

It was fascinating to be so close to the kitchen action again, after all these years away. Sure, I wasn't IN the kitchen, but I loved hearing the orders called out, the pasta guy acknowledge it, orders get fired, we saw orders get tossed (too late? too early? Too cooked? Who knew?)...I told G how it was all working (ooh, and bragged: I was an expediter extraordinaire) and then I saw two bowls go out on the counter next to the pasta station.

"That's us," I said to G, nudging him. We watched in silence (as the enormous swirl of sound was all around us) as the pasta guy dropped our noodles. Drained them, tossed them with the magic in the pan and divide them into the two plates. Then he shaped a little nest in each mound of hot hot pasta, cracked one egg into his hand, letting the white fall away (I do it just like that!!) and settle it into one of those nests...crack another egg the same way...then he picked up a hard nugget of more smokey meat and grated it over all.

The plates reached us, my mouth watering already. I managed to wait long enough for a scraping of cheese and then? Oh. My. This was the best bowl of past I've had in eons. Maybe ever.

We caught the eye of the pasta chef--thumbs up--he got a little smile all to himself, and he looked pleased we were pleased. I know from experience that it's nice to know the people who are enjoying the fruits of our labors in those hot kitchens.

I managed to save half (mm. Lunch today)...but I had to catch him once more to ask about what he'd grated onto the pasta...turns out it was another house-made sausage, one of his own making, using ostrich and bresaola (I think)...Of course, me? I'm thinking, "Drat. I can't duplicate it." But that's okay. Guess sometimes that's the better way.

Wish I'd bought him a beer. He earned it.


Unknown said...

Hi Babette! I found your blog from french fridays with Dorie. I joined late and I'm making the mustard tart and searched back to see other people's experiences. Enjoyed scrolling through your pages. I also love Marcella Hazan!

Ulrike, Dubai said...

That sounded so good that I actually googled the restaurant, and your location. Hm, not handy from Dubai, but I'll keep it in mind, should we ever be in the vicinity...