If King Midas had the golden touch and flourishing botanists have green thumbs, then the Cute Gardener has a pasta persuasion; one that sinks right down into my soul every time he creates a new bowl. In a recent article, I wrote that the way to my heart was through my stomach, and never is that more evident than when the CG pulls out the tall cylindrical pasta pot. He can cook virtually everything well and spoils me constantly with his renowned dishes, but it’s his pasta that constantly has me going to the stove for seconds and which continues to rival even the best Italian restaurants.
Over the course of the past year I have had so many incarnations of his noodles and toppings from pork and leek perciatelli to tomato and salmon farfalle to guanciale and shallot spaghetti to angel hair and basil pomodoro to butternut penne – the list goes on and on. And he’s never repeated a version yet.
But the dish he made for me last week was undoubtedly the best pasta dish I have had yet. Not just made-at-home pasta, but all-time-tried pasta.
He claims to have stolen it from the Belvedere Restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills after loving the dish so much he just had to recreate it on his own. I haven’t tried the Belvedere’s version but knowing my mate, I would wager that his might even be better as it has an extra ingredient called “little touch of home”. Watching him cook it was a maelstrom of knife strokes and smells that included a golden sauté of shallots, the dicing of three different kinds of mushrooms, the boiling of tiny elbow macaronis, a folding in of provolone and parmesan cheeses and a final blend of all of the above into a pot into which enormous handfuls of spinach were wilted.
All I can say is that this is my favorite pasta dish to date and when I woke up this morning on Valentine’s Day and thought fondly of the one I love, I first saw his face in my mind’s eye with his customary curmudgeonly smile followed immediately by a floating dish of this heartstring mac and cheese. My mouth is still smarting from the memory.
Any man can take a woman out on fancy dates to the best places but a man who knows how to whip up a dish in his own kitchen is a priceless gem. Here’s a Happy Heart Day to all those awesome male chefs in the world!