Cooking sardines with Rosa Mitchell from Melbourne’s Journal Canteen was a trip back in time, chewing the fat, talking about foodie things with her and her mother, Maria. Rosa has a real knack for making food taste like that of the old days. It’s a simple dish, but when everything is fresh and comes together it is just sublime.
I reckon my dad would have loved it too. Nothing really puts you in touch with food like pasta making. Getting your hands dirty and the bench dusty. There’s mess all through the house! The mixture of flour and eggs comes together and is worked into silky sheets that can be refined enough to wear out on a hot date. It’s the greatest way of bringing people together, standing around a bench and rolling out pasta. This simple act is so tactile and so earthy, it just feels real. Not all pasta has to be refined, though.
Orecchiette, or little ears in Italian, is my favourite example. It comes from the south of Italy, Puglia, where my late father came from. He was a great chef and taught me how to roll out these doughy little ears. I spent hours rolling them as a kid and as a young chef. Cooking these with cime di rapa is not only a marriage made in heaven, but the floury flavour with olive oil and the herbaceous greens mixed together is bliss.
Patrizia Simone? What a host. She is the typical Italian mum-chef. She cooks, she entertains, she laughs and she just plain makes you feel welcome. I’ll never forget the Umbrian feast she put on for us in her home town of Bright, Victoria. Meeting all the characters from around the area was loads of fun, although some of those guys really keep you on your toes. Patrizia cooks like an angel. Her food is very hard to resist, but even when you’ve had too much, in typical Italian style, you’re always forced to have more and, of course, wash it down with more wine. I guess it’s another session at the gym for me.