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Noodle inspiration for the new year

January 20, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila
  • Seattle photographer Jim Henkens' hand-cut pappardelle.
Seattle photographer Jim Henkens' hand-cut pappardelle. (S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles…)

These are the noodles I want to make in the new year. The photo is of the pappardelle my friend Jim Henkens, a photographer from Seattle, made this summer on Lummi island, where he’s restoring an old cottage. I want to feel that shock of gold through my fingers.  

Jim learned to make pasta from Justin Neidermeyer, the opening chef at Cascina Spinasse  in Seattle, who in turn learned to make fresh pasta from Cinto, the legendary tajarin-maker at the trattoria Antica Torre  in Barbaresco (Piedmont, Italy).

Tajarin are thin hand-cut noodles made with an astonishing proportion of egg yolks to flour—as many as 40 yolks to a kilo (2.2) pounds of flour. That’s what makes the dough so yellow.

I don’t think Jim uses quite that many eggs, but aren’t his pappardelle gorgeous? That night he tossed the noodles in a dusky chanterelle sauce and served the pasta outside at a long table in front of his cottage overlooking the Rosario Strait. We’d gone crabbing that morning, and we all stood in the kitchen before dinner, picking crab meat out of the shells.

One step at a time. Suitably inspired by this photo and the remembered meal, I’m dusting off my pasta machine this afternoon.


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-- S. Irene Virbila¿

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