"Is the low-carb boom over?" asked Melanie Warner in the New York Times, and, happily, the evidence points to yes. Warner tells of manufacturers' warehouses full to bursting of low-carb soy pasta rejected by consumers, and of dieters "disillusioned with low-carb dieting ... because they missed eating traditional ice cream and pasta." As the year 2004 drew to a close, Kate Zernicke, also in the Times, declared, "It was probably inevitable that the year that started with a boom in low-carb diets would end in a bust in low-carb diets," noting that of its 110 low-carb products, one company has ceased manufacture of 75. While Art Culinaire harbors no ill will toward those who've devoted their resources to demonizing pasta--everyone must make a living--we can't help but celebrate the collective return to common sense that once again allows everyone to enjoy a steaming bowl of spaghetti, the kind made with flour and water.
HE'S A GRADUATE OF THE CULINARY INSTITUTE of America, but Shea Gallante had already owned a restaurant before starting his education. At age 19, the Poughkeepsie, NY native, armed with a degree in accounting and five years' restaurant experience, secured investors and opened a pizzeria.
"I learned a lot," he says. "I took an empty white box, and I built everything, costed it out, and I really didn't know what I was doing." After a few years, Gallante chose to forgo the pizza business and go to school.
He explains, "I was working long hours and getting nothing out of it. Eventually it became more than I could handle, and I got rid of it." As a student, Gallante externed in New York, at Pino Luongo's now-defunct Coco Opera. He returned after graduation as line cook and was later made sous chef.
He says, "It was not a great restaurant. I was working in a no-star place, but I learned some valuable management skills. I was working with a German chef, and together we ran at a 26% food cost and 19% labor cost, and we did it very well."
His next stop was at Felidia, Lidia Bastianich's temple of Italian cuisine. He says being polite helped him land this job, explaining, "We met about a position in her Kansas City restaurant, and I sent her a follow-up letter, saying thank you, and I think that might have impressed her." Bastianich had executive chef Fortunato Nicotra offer Gallante a job at Felidia, with one caveat.
"[Nicotra] said, 'I don't even have a space for you in the kitchen, but I'm going to put you between this guy and that guy and hopefully it will work out." It did: he became sous chef after three months, and stayed for nearly three years, until a trail at Bouley opened his eyes to another world of possibility.
"As soon as I saw [the food] I thought, I have to work here," he says. Bouley warned him he'd take a pay cut and would start as an entremetier, but Gallante was undeterred. Just as at Felidia, he was named sous chef within a few months. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bouley became a Red Cross sponsored kitchen, cooking for thousands of rescue workers from the nearby disaster site. When, in the midst of this, chef de cuisine Galen Zamarra left, Gallante took over.
He recalls, "That was hard. It was 24 hours a day. I was ordering pallets full of skirt steaks and chicken breasts. US Foodservice was pulling up, and I had a forklift ... It was an experience, something I'll probably never do in my life again. To order and coordinate in that quantity, for breakfast, lunch and dinner ... And it wasn't just chicken patties, it was real food, real desserts." Bouley re-opened for business in February 2002, and Gallante stayed until joining forces with sommelier Robert Bohr and oenophile/restaurateur Roy Welland to open Cru.
Welland's previous restaurant, Washington Park, opened with Chef Jonathan Waxman in the same Fifth Avenue space in 2002, and closed in 2003. Welland is an options trader and wine collector who has made his 65,000 bottle collection (about 3,500 bottles on the list at a time, with 50 poured by the glass) available to diners. The wine program has garnered a lot of attention, but Gallante isn't worried about playing second fiddle.
"The wine program is phenomenal and Robert is a great sommelier. There's no competition; there's no animosity. We have a great wine program and a great food program," he says. "How I see it is, '82 Bordeaux is available in 95 restaurants in New York City, but I'm the only one that cooks my food."
Described as 'modern European', Gallante's menu has a Gallic bent but reflects an affinity for techniques and ingredients from Italy. He offers six varieties of crudo, the Venetian-inspired take on sashimi that's currently ubiquitous on Manhattan menus. He acknowledges the debate over crudo's authenticity, saying, "Felidia's chef (Nicotra) is Sicilian, and from what he tells me, they'll do things in Italy that resemble our crudo. They'll take sliced fish, give it chopped olives and capers. They might not cure the fish like we do, though." Aside from Chef Moreno Cedroni, who creates what he calls 'susci' in his Marche restaurant Clandestino, Gallante says he hasn't seen much raw fish in Italy; he stops short of taking a firm stand, though, adding, "Whether or not they ever had [crudo] in classic Italian cooking, that would probably be an argument in itself."
Unlike many American chefs, Gallante didn't extern in Europe. "It wasn't part of my directed career path," he says. "I don't firmly believe that you have to go. If you can go, it's great. You learn a lot of respect and a lot of discipline. But the techniques? Sauteing is sauteing, cooking sous vide is cooking sous vide. However," he says, "it's just like they say, you're never gonna find better pasta than eating it in Italy, no matter where you go."
He may defer to Italy, but Gallante's pastas are hardly second-rate. His grandmother first taught him, and he got plenty of practice at Coco Opera and Felidia. At Cru, "pasta guy" Enrique, a 14-year veteran of Felidia, makes it all by hand.
"He's phenomenal," Gallante says. "He does the work of four people, and better than ten. He's a craftsman. It's extremely valuable." At the time of our meeting, Cru doesn't have a pasta extruder, but Gallante hopes to get one, and will expand his menu to include dried varieties. He anticipates making whole wheat bigoli, bucatini, maccheroncelli, and pici which, Gallante says somewhat sheepishly, "look like joints", with their tapered ends and twisted appearance when cooked.
As for his condimenti, or sauces, Gallante happily strays from tradition, for example combining mullet, caviar and mint over a base of pasutice, "a flat little diamond shape, a little smaller than pappardelle," that, he explains, "takes well to substantial other items." He talks excitedly about pappardelle, of which he says there are at least five different sizes, varying by region. "The pappardelle we use here, I would call it classic Tuscan pappardelle," he says. "It's like being in Italy, and there are at least nine different dialects of the Italian language. Same thing with the pasta. Each region has their pride, their own reasoning for everything. If you look at pasta Bolognese, there's so many variations on that sauce--and for each cook, his is the best," he laughs. "You can never go wrong in Italy, because wherever you go, everyone has the best of everything."
RELATED ARTICLE: Five Cheese Ravioli with Pecorino and Snap Peas (Serves 4)
Rioja Blanco, Vina Tondonia
Lopez de Heredia
Rioja, Spain 1987
For the pasta dough: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Transfer dough to a lightly-floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for a minimum of two hours. Divide dough into four pieces and roll each through a pasta machine, starting on the thickest setting and finishing on the second to thinnest setting. Cut into 6 X 12-inch strips. Set aside on a lightly-floured sheet pan.
For the parsley puree: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch parsley for 45 seconds, then immediately shock in ice water and drain. Roughly chop parsley and squeeze out excess water. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree with olive oil.
For the ravioli filling: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.
For the ravioli assembly: Lay out pasta sheets horizontally on a lightly-floured work surface. Place one teaspoon of filling on pasta at two-inch intervals, leaving a one-inch margin at the bottom of each strip and a four-inch margin at the top of each strip. Top each dollop of filling with 1/2 teaspoon parsley puree, and place an additional teaspoon of filling atop each portion of puree. Brush exposed pasta with beaten eggs. Fold pasta on top of itself and press down gently on sides to ensure that there are no air bubbles and that sides are completely sealed. Cut into 1 X 3-inch rectangles.
For the sauce: In a small pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer.
For the snap peas: In a saute pan, heat oil; add shallots and saute until translucent. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add snap peas and steam until tender, about two minutes. Finish with butter and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To finish ravioli: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently drop ravioli into water and simmer until cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and gently toss with sauce.
To serve: Place three ravioli on four serving plates. Froth sauce using a hand-held immersion blender and drizzle foam atop ravioli. Garnish with snap peas, a few drops of walnut oil, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and micro parsley.
For the pasta dough:
17 ounces durum flour 3 eggs 2 egg yolks 3 ounces water 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the parsley puree:
1 bunch parsley, leaves only Olive oil as needed
For the ravioli filling:
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano 1/4 cup finely grated Asiago Vecchio* 4 tablespoons Tartufello, finely grated** 1/2 cup Ricotta Romano*** 4 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated Salt and pepper to taste
For the ravioli assembly:
Parsley puree, from above 2 eggs, beaten
For the sauce:
1 cup chicken stock 1 sprig marjoram 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Salt and pepper to taste
For the snap peas:
2 tablespoons olive oil 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock 1/2 cup snap peas, removed from pods 1/4 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley leaves Salt and pepper taste
For the garnish:
6 teaspoons walnut oil 4 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Micro parsley
*Cow's milk cheese from the PoValley that is aged two years.
**Sheep's milk cheese that is aged 45 days and contains small chips of summer truffles.
***An Italian Ricotta cheese made from sheep's milk between November and June.
RELATED ARTICLE: Whole Wheat Pappardelle with Braised Lamb and Early Spring Vegetables (Serves 4)
St. Joseph, "Offerus"
Rhone, France 2001
For the pasta dough: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Transfer dough to a lightly-floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for a minimum of two hours. Divide dough into four pieces and roll each through a pasta machine, starting on the thickest setting and finishing on the second to thinnest setting. Cut into 1 X 5-inch strips. Set aside on a lightly-floured sheet pan.
For the lamb: Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Season lamb to taste with salt and pepper. In a medium saute pan, heat oil until smoking. Add lamb shoulder and sear on all sides. Remove lamb and lower heat. Add carrots, celery, onions and garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add tomato paste and brown. Deglaze with red wine and reduce by half. Add lamb stock and reduce by a quarter. Add lamb shoulder and rosemary, cover and transfer to oven. Braise for approximately 2 1/2 hours, or until fork tender. Let rest for two hours, then pick meat off the bone, leaving as many big pieces as possible. Strain braising liquid, skimming off fat, and reserve.
For the vegetables: In a medium pot, melt butter; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add braising liquid and bring to a simmer. Add vegetables and cook until tender. Remove from braising liquid, cut into quarters and set aside. Reserve braising liquid.
To finish: In a large saute pan, heat oil; add garlic and shallots and sweat for two minutes. Add reserved lamb, baby vegetables, braising liquid and butter. Reduce sauce by a quarter. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and simmer until cooked. Remove from heat and drain. Toss pasta with sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil and thyme.
To serve: Divide pasta among four plates. Garnish with fennel fronds and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Note: Recipe for lamb will make more than needed.
For the pasta dough:
12 ounces whole wheat flour 5 ounces durum flour 3 eggs 1/2 cup water 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the lamb:
1 5-pound lamb shoulder, bone in Olive oil, as needed 1/2 cup peeled and roughly chopped carrots 1/2 cup roughly chopped celery 1 cup peeled and roughly chopped Spanish onion 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped 1/4 cup tomato paste 2 cups red wine 8 cups lamb stock 1 sprig rosemary Salt and pepper to taste
For the vegetables:
2 tablespoons butter 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped Braising liquid, from above 1 bunch baby carrots, peeled and trimmed 1 bunch baby turnips, peeled and trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped 1 tablespoon butter 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
For the garnish:
Fennel fronds, chopped Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
RELATED ARTICLE: Fuzi with Red Mullet, Citrus and Osetra Caviar (Serves 4)
Vermentino, Colli di Luni
Liguria, Italy 2002
For the pasta dough: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Transfer dough to a lightly-floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for a minimum of two hours. Divide dough into four pieces and roll each through a pasta machine, starting on thickest setting and finishing on second to thinnest setting. Cut into 2 X 4-inch strips. Set aside on a lightly-floured sheet pan.
For the red mullet: In a large saute pan, heat oil; add shallots, garlic and tomatoes and sweat until moisture is cooked out, about two minutes. Add red mullet and saute on one side for 30 seconds to brown. Turn fillets over, add mint leaves, fish fumet and butter. Reduce liquid by half and season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the caviar sauce: In a small pot, combine creme fraiche, shallots, lemon juice and salt. Bring to a boil, add caviar and remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients to sauce and stir well to combine.
To finish pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and simmer until cooked. Remove from heat and drain. Place pasta in a large bowl and toss with caviar sauce until fully incorporated.
To serve: Divide pasta among center of four shallow bowls. Place fish atop pasta and divide remaining fish sauce among the pasta. Top each portion of fish with a caviar quenelle and sprinkle with chives. In a small bowl, place two tangerine segments and one blood orange segment. In another bowl, place a 1/4-ounce caviar.
For the pasta dough:
10 ounces type 00 flour* 7 ounces durum flour 3 eggs 6 1/2 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the red mullet:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 1/4 cup peeled, seeded and roughly chopped tomatoes 4 3-ounce red mullet fillets 2 mint leaves 1 cup fish fumet, made from red mullet bones 1 teaspoon butter Salt and pepper to taste
For the caviar sauce:
1/2 cup creme fraiche 1/2 shallot, peeled and finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice Pinch of salt 1 ounce osetra caviar 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice Zest from 1/2 orange 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley, leaves only
For the garnish:
1/2 ounce osetra caviar 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
For the accompaniments:
8 tangerine segments 4 blood orange segments 1 ounce osetra caviar
*00 flour is a type of Italian flour for making pasta. Available through Buon Italia at (212) 633-9090 or www.buonitalia.com.
RELATED ARTICLE: Tagliolini with Broccoli, Mousseron Mushrooms and Fresh Clams (Serves 4)
Riesling Smaragd, Singerriedel
Wachau, Austria 2001
For the pasta dough: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Transfer dough to a lightly-floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for a minimum of two hours. Divide dough into four pieces and roll each through a pasta machine, starting on the thickest setting and finishing on second to thinnest setting. Cut into 1/8-inch wide strips. Set aside on a lightly-floured sheet pan.
For the broccoli pesto: Cut broccoli stems into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large saute pan, warm one tablespoon olive oil; add garlic and shallots and saute until translucent. Add stems and pepperoncini and saute 30 seconds. Add vegetable stock, season with salt and pepper and cover. Simmer until stems are tender, then remove from heat and strain, reserving cooking liquid. Set stems aside. Transfer stems and one or two tablespoons of cooking liquid to a blender and puree until smooth. Add pine nuts, cheese and parsley and puree again until well combined. On low speed, slowly add pine nut oil and remaining olive oil in a thin stream so the pesto will emulsify. Chill and set aside.
For the clam sauce: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli florets and cook until just tender, about two minutes. Drain florets and set aside. In a large saute pan, warm olive oil; add garlic and shallots and saute for 30 seconds. Add white wine and clams and cook until clams begin to open. Remove from pan as they open so they do not become overcooked and rubbery. Reserve cooking liquid.
To finish tagliolini: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and simmer until cooked. Remove from heat and drain. In a large saute pan, warm one tablespoon olive oil; add garlic and shallots and saute for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, saute for 30 seconds and add florets. Stir to combine. Add clam juice, clams, two to three tablespoons pesto and reserved vegetable stock to adjust seasoning. Add pasta to sauce and toss until evenly coated. Finish with butter, remaining olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano. If sauce is too thin, simmer for three to four minutes to reduce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve: Divide pasta among four deep bowls, making sure to include the vegetables from the sauce.
For the pasta dough:
17 ounces type 00 flour 2 eggs 1 egg yolk 6 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon salt Olive oil, as needed All-purpose flour, as needed
For the broccoli pesto:
2 bunches broccoli, stems trimmed and peeled, florets removed and reserved 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for sauteing 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed 1/2 shallot, peeled and finely chopped 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped pepperoncini 1 cup vegetable stock 1/2 ounce pine nuts, toasted 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, leaves only 1 teaspoon Leblanc pine nut oil* Salt and pepper to taste
For the clam sauce:
Broccoli florets, from above 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped 1/2 shallot, peeled and finely chopped 2 tablespoons white wine 8 ounces fresh clams (i.e. razor, mahogany, manilla, cockles)
8 ounces tagliolini pasta, from above 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped 1/2 shallot, peeled and finely chopped 1/4 pound mousseron mushrooms 6 ounces clam juice Vegetable stock, from above 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Salt and pepper to taste
*Available through Honest Foods at (800) 584-4481 or www.honestfoods.com.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||Back to Basics; Shea Gallante|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2005|
|Previous Article:||No shrinking violet.|
|Next Article:||What's the scoop?|