Nov. 5, 2003 18:20
…We were picked up at the station by Massimo Barratta, the son of the owner of Seliano. After he showed us our room full of antiques of great character – he brought us to the dining room and kitchen, where we met the cook, Anna. She was in the process of making fresh “fusilli,” very much different from the cork-screw shaped fusilli that I’m used to. Massimo served us an antipasto of fresh mozzarella di bufala (finally!) [ed. note: We had been in Campania for almost a week and this was the first mozzarella di bufala we had come across. Of course Seliano is an agriturismo, at which they raise and work water buffalo], pizza rustica – a true pizza “pie” filled with ricotta di bufala, mozarella, sausage and prosciutto – bread and preserved strips of eggplant. Everything was quite tasty. I was served a label-less bottle of red wine that Massimo later said was Aglianico made by friends of the family.
We next partook of the simplest, but most wonderful pasta. It was the freshly made fusilli – which Andrew and I also got to try to roll, but couldn’t slide off the rod. Anna made it look so easy. It was anything but.
The sauce for the fusilli was simple cooked canned tomatoes (ed. note: piennolini di Vesuvio). Wow! These tomatoes were incredible – the essence of Southern Italy! Anna denied having added anything else to the sauce. We did, however, grate ricotta salata di bufala over the pasta. This was the first truly fabulous dish of the trip. Ironically, it was probably also the simplest, relying entirely on a few top quality ingredients.
What struck me about this passage and the description of this wonderful pasta besides the fantastic memories from the trip was that the dish really captured the essence of the best of Italian food – quality of product and a preparation to allow that quality to shine. I suppose that is why Italian food will only go out of style when there is no longer quality product available to shine through.