On May 20, the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Texas and True Italian Taste present the Authentic Italian Table: A Celebration of Pasta, Italy's Gift to the World. The event will take place at Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight Road, from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $35 and include free parking, wine and samples from over twenty Houston-area restaurants. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite.com.
According to Italian film director, Federico Fellini, "Life is a combination of magic and pasta." I believe that pasta itself is magical. Imagining a world without it would be practically im"pasta"ble. Spaghetti, fettuccine and lasagna may be the most common types, but this versatile gift from Italy comes in hundreds of shapes and sizes.
Making fresh pasta may seem like a daunting task, but the results are worth it. One of my favorite dishes is the Pappardelle Bolognese from Papa Amadeus. I reached out to owner Art Huerta to see if I could stop by for a quick lesson in pasta making. Papa Amadeus is a locally-owned restaurant in Spring, Texas. Huerta opened the restaurant to honor his grandfather, who was a fantastic baker. Huerta has over 20 years in the restaurant business and has worked for many Italian restaurants throughout Houston.
I met up with Chef Rodrigo Soriano to begin my quick course in pasta making. Pasta can be made with flour and water or flour and eggs. Pappardelle is a thick, flat ribbon-shaped pasta made with egg. The egg gives it a richer taste and the yolk adds a touch of color. Chef Rodrigo made the dough the day before so that it would have time to rest before stretching. The dough is run thorough a pasta machine several times until it is the right thickness. It is then folded and cut into strips. Sounds easy, right?
After taking the time to make homemade pasta, the last thing you want to do is over cook it. Pasta should be cooked al dente, which means it is still firm when bitten. You don't want pasta that is going to turn to mush when topped with sauce. Now, I normally order my pappardelle with Bolognese, which is a rich, meaty sauce. Today, Chef Rodrigo chose a lighter sauce to highlight the freshness of the pasta. Onion, garlic and tomatoes were gently sautéed in olive oil before adding crab meat. The pappardelle was then added to the pan for a quick toss in the sauce to absorb all the wonderful flavors.
The finished product was a beautiful and flavorful dish that showcased the versatility of pasta. It was paired with a lovely Nebbiolo, another wonderful gift from Italy. Pappardelle gets it's name from the verb pappare, which means "to gobble up". I did indeed gobble up this dish and I look forward to many more memorable pasta meals. Buon Appetito!
Note: This blog post has been entered into the 2018 Houston Pasta Blogger Competition.
The Cottonmouth Club, 108 Main St., opens for business on April 13th. Located in the former space of Barringer Bar, the club promises a cocktail experience like no other. The collaboration between Reserve 101 co-founder Mike Raymond and bartender Michael Neff, took four years to come to fruition. I was fortunate to get a preview of the bar prior to today's official opening. What did I think? I loved everything about it. Great drinks, cool '70s vibe and friendly, approachable staff.
At The Cottonmouth Club, it's all about the experience. Several different shapes and sizes of glassware are available for guest to choose. The wand may choose you in Harry Potter, but here you choose the glass. I picked a simple, yet elegant martini glass. Before making my drink, bar director Michael Neff asked me a few simple questions. "Spring or Autumn? Shaken and refreshing or stirred and boozy?" I went with spring and stirred and boozy. The result was one of the best drinks I have ever tasted. What was in it? Who knows. What's more important is that I loved it.
The upstairs event space is a sharp contrast to the loungey ambiance of downstairs. Original paintings by Raymond of Texas music icons Kam Franklin, Lightnin' Hopkins and Billy Gibbons adorn the walls. Hard-wood floors and exposed brick help create an atmosphere that is classy and relaxing.
Expect the cocktail menu to include classics as well as familiar drinks with a twist. Whiskey lovers can enjoy a glass of a house blended barrel-aged bourbon or a sip of High West's A Midwinter Night's Dram. According to Raymond and Neff, The Cottonmouth Club will be "the least cocktail-y cocktail bar."
The Cottonmouth Club, 108 Main St. - Open daily 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.