Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Linguine alle Vongole - The Finer Points of Perfect Pasta

I have gone on record to say L’Anima is my favourite Italian Restaurant in London here . In fact it’s now one of my favourite restaurants in the UK.

Through a number of discussions on Twitter with Daniel Young @youngandfoodish and Rejina Sabur @gastrogeek1 I got involved in a debate about Linguine alle Vongole that led to meeting and getting to know Francesco Mazzei the brilliant Chef and co Owner of L’Anima.

Eating regularly in a restaurant obviously tells you a lot about the philosophy and passion of the Chef. What is striking about L’Anima is the attention to detail be it the home made bread, choice of olives, the carefully constructed wine list and of course perfectly executed dishes that transport you to Calabria’s, Sicily and Sardinia.

What I like about Linguine alle Vongole is that like many Italian dishes it appears on the surface to be very simple, boil some pasta and throw in a few ingredients

Linguine or Spaghetti alle Vongole is an essentially contested dish just like many others that transcend regionalism and can be found in all corners of the country and beyond. Every aspect is debated and contested, rosso or bianco, chilli or no chilli, white wine or no white wine, choice and quality of pasta, fine or coarsely chopped parsley, cooking time and so on.

In reality when you deconstruct this dish you start to understand Italian Cooking, the importance of good quality ingredients and the dialectic between apparent simplicity and the combination of few ingredients to produce the synthesis of a perfectly executed dish.

Through this project I have been lucky enough to watch a master cook one of my favourite dishes, whilst explaining each of it’s finer points. I am of course even more fortunate to have eaten this glorious dish cooked by Francesco Mazzei from scratch in less than 12 minutes.

Now you to have the opportunity to see Francesco cook Linguine alle Vongole and then eat the dish at this unique event.

Francesco will demo and effectively deconstruct this deceptively simple dish through a series of short web videos and then at a special October 2009 tasting dinner in the private dining room of L'Anima. The first of the vongole vids, "Spurgare le Vongole: The Ritual of Cleaning the Clams" will begin appearing on Thursday 17th of September on youtube and twiddeo. 7 additional videos will be released over the next 7 days.

Tell us why you love linguine vongole in 140 characters or less and post it on twitter before the 25th of September, including the hashtag #vongole somewhere within your response. (If you don't use twitter, post your reply as a comment below). If your verse on vongole is voted the best, you and a guest will be invited by Francesco to attend the special linguine alle vongole tasting dinner at L'Anima in October.

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