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The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Pasta

Twitter #Weekendeats highlights: It's a pasta party

PastasOne dish emerged a clear favorite during this morning's #weekendeats chat on Twitter: Pasta. It seemed people couldn't get enough of the al dente golden noodles and all their glory. Here are some of the highlights from today's carb-filled chat:

The pasta party started with a recipe for ground lamb with whole wheat pasta shells, broccoli rabe, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella from the blog Mango & Tomato. Hester from the blog The Chef Doc joined in with her recipe for Mediterranean orzo salad with plum tomatoes, fresh basil and feta cheese.

Lisa from the blog The Cooking Bride brought shrimp to the party with what she calls "Pantry Pasta Take Two" with a recipe for grilled shrimp with cherry tomatoes on linguine, and the blog Deliciously Directionless provided a recipe for spaghetti alla Puttanesca and a topic for a provacative conversation regarding where the name "Puttanesca" came from.

Michelle Jenkins of the blog Dailywaffle.com noticed the ongoing pasta trend and shared a photo of spaghetti cartoccio (served in parchment paper) with octopus, tomato and capers from Cafe Juanita in Kirkland WA.

All this noodle talk has me in the mood for pasta. For more recipes, check out these picks from the LA Times Test Kitchen:

Tagliolinei al limone

Pasta with fresh tomatoe sauce

Tom Colicchio's gnocchi

Lasagna Alla Pina

After the chat, we ask people to upload pictures of their #weekendeats to our What did you eat this weekend? photo gallery. We'll feature some of the photos here on Daily Dish, so be sure to check back for more #weekendeats and #foodporn throughout the week.

Hope to see everyone next Monday morning on Twitter! It's sure to be a drool-worthy good time.

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Joining the grand aioli party

-- Jenn Harris

twitter.com/Jenn_Harris_

Photos, from left: Whole wheat pasta shells and ground lamb / Mango and Tomato; Puttanesca / Deliciously Directionless; Mediterranean orzo salad / The Chef Doc.

Jason Neroni previews Superba Snack Bar

Pasta

Jason Neroni is in the middle of construction of his new restaurant Superba Snack Bar, the Venice spot he's opening with partner and Pitfire Pizza co-founder Paul Hibler. He'll be focusing on pastas, but "no tagliatelle, no pappardelle, no angel's hair." Neroni says he has discovered some pasta dies with unusual shapes, such as for creste di galli -- or "cockscomb," because the macaroni-shaped pasta has a frill that looks like one. 

Earlier this week Neroni staged a mini Superba Snack Bar pop-up at the Pitfire Pizza in West Hollywood, where he served chicken liver mousse and lardo with balsamic cherries; Eclectic Acres greens with Superba ricotta and pickled jalapeño dressing; pizza with pureed ramps, Taleggio and smoked bone marrow; and rye rigatoni with lamb Bolognese, black garlic and smoked ricotta salata. For dessert: black pepper panna cotta with strawberries, anise hyssop and vin cotto

Neroni says he won't be making pizzas at Superba, but do look for the sandwiches that he'll be serving at lunch, such as his porchetta with wild arugula, preserved lemon and garlic confit on a springy roll. "This is delicious," said one diner. To which Neroni replied: "It's porchetta!" 

Superba Snack Bar is scheduled to open at the end of June.    

533 Rose Ave., Venice.

Pizza

Chicken liver
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-- Betty Hallock

Photos: Pasta, top; pizza; and chicken liver. Credits: Betty Hallock

Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila declares her pasta allegiance


Vermeil-1 Declare your allegiance to pasta asciutta -- dry pasta as opposed to fresh noodles -- with this necklace from Monaco jeweler MissBibi. She's rendered a single penne in silver or gold and simply strung it on a chain. And it's on sale right now for 50 euros (about $71 at today’s rate) instead of the normal $150. (Shipping to the U.S. is 10 euros or about $14.) 

 She's also designed a necklace or ring featuring a gold Bague-farfalla-or farfalla (butterfly-shaped pasta) and a pair of mismatched pasta earrings -- one penne, one farfalla. Guys can order them as cuff links.    

Those pasta earrings? I could easily see wearing a pair. Nothing like wearing your allegiance on your, er, ears.

MissBibi, Le Park Palace, 5 Impasse de la Fontaine, MC-98000 Monaco; 011-377-9798-1828; missbibi@missbibi.com

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-- S. Irene Virbila

Photo credit: MissBibi

 

Breaking the pasta code

What-kind-of-pasta

There are more shapes of pasta than any one living person could possibly remember. And especially these days, it seems like every restaurant that serves the stuff tries to outdo its competitors by finding ever newer and stranger shapes (remember when strangolapreti -- "priest chokers" -- were cutting edge?). If you've ever puzzled over what, exactly, are the differences among gemelli, fusilli and spirali, a website called "Charming Italy" has put together a neat graphic. Granted, there are some quibbles. Why, for example, are ravioli -- of all things -- not included in the stuffed pasta category? And you'll search in vain for strangolapreti (or even strozzapreti). Still, it's pretty cool and if they only had one that would fit in your wallet, it would be even more useful.

-- Russ Parsons

Latini brings back Taganrog selection pasta

Latini After a gap of two years when the wheat didn't grow well, Pasta Latini is once again able to offer its Taganrog selection pasta. More delicate than regular durum wheat pasta, when cooked it smells a little like fresh-baked bread.

Here's a bit of history: The Italians began importing the wheat from Russia in the 19th century, and the variety is named for the port of Taganrog on the Azov Sea in Russia. What's the connection? In the 13th century, Taganrog was a colony of the Maritime Republic of Pisa (who knew?).

Latini, a family-owned pasta company started way back in 1888, reintroduced pasta made from Taganrog wheat in 2000. Like all its pastas, Taganrog pasta is extruded through brass dies -- the better to grab a sauce.

I'm curious and am putting in my order for this heirloom variety pasta as soon as I finish this post. 

Latini pasta Taganrog spaghetti and penne available from Gustiamo.com in 500 gram (1.1 pound) packages, $9.50; www.gustiamo.com; 718-860-2949.

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-- S. Irene Virbila
Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photo credit: Gustiamo

3 Food Events You Should Know About: Pizza- and pasta-making from scratch, 'Top Chef' casting call, and Planned Parenthood Food Fare

Gail-Simmons 

Have what it takes to be a Top (Pastry) Chef? Put away the knives and pick up your pastry bag.  Bravo announced that it will film a second season of "Top Chef Just Desserts." Casting calls for the new series, along with a new season of "Top Chef," will take place in Los Angeles at the Foundry on Melrose on March 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Time to start practicing the monologue on how your prized signature dish has been passed down five generations, proving that you have what it takes to win (the audition).

Pizza and Pasta 101: Confounded by the art of pasta fresca and homemade pizza?  Pizzeria Ortica is hosting hands-on cooking demonstrations with chef Justin Miller that teach how to make pasta and pizza from scratch. Guests can reap the joy of their hard work, accompanied by Italian wines, at the end of the class. The demonstration classes begin at 11 a.m. March 26, April 23, and May 21. 

Planned Parenthood Food Fare 2011: Planned Parenthood's annual Food Fare, kicked off more than 30 years ago by Julia Child, is set for March 10 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. This year, more than 150 restaurants and caterers are taking part, ranging from A.O.C. to Pink's hot dogs.  Tickets cost $150 for the daytime event and $225 for the evening session. Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica; (213) 284-3316.

Photo: "Top Chef Just Desserts" judges, from left, Hubert Keller, Gail Simmons, Johnny Iuzzini and Dannielle Kyrillos surround the show's first winner, Yigit Pura.

Opening the vault: The top 12 recipes of 1987 and 1988

Chair
Counting down the L.A. Times Test Kitchen recipes that were honored as the best of the best over the last 25 years has been a fascinating study in recipe titles.

Consider the best recipes from 1987 and 1988. The titles range from the plainly descriptive -- Fluffy Orange Rolls, Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies -- to the more high falutin': Margaret Clark's Guenoc Winery Chocolate Chestnut Gateau.

What we were also cooking in 1987: Our own pasta. Here's the recipe for Lasagna Alla Pina.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Fresh pasta dries over the back of a chair. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Sorry makeover artists, Mario Batali's not parting with those orange Crocs

Mario-batali Chefs spend hours in the kitchen, sweating over a hot stove for your feast. Do they really care what they look like back there? Mario Batali sure doesn't. He'll even tout his famous jailhouse orange Crocs around town.

On Tuesday night at the Can-Do Awards, which benefit the Food Bank for New York City, the Iron Chef told Fashion Week Daily to step off. Fashionable or not, he's gonna rock those trademark Crocs:

"Crocs are my signature, and I take a beating on your blogs about it! All fashion blogs think these shoes are the ultimate problem. I wear them because they’re the most comfortable thing and I don’t give a .... about fashion. I like fashion on other people.”

Turns out whether he cares about it or not, Mario's a fashion trendsetter. Orange was all the rage at the fall 2009 New York Fashion Week men's shows.

-- Whitney Friedlander

Join us on Twitter @LATimesFood

Photo: Chef Mario Batali attends the sixth-annual Can-Do Awards dinner and auction hosted by the Food Bank for New York City. Credit: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images

Pitfire Pizza reaches for fine dining

PitfirePizza If you're a fan of Pitfire Pizza's BBQ chicken salad or their mac 'n cheese, you should hurry and place an order before April 2. The local mini-chain with outposts in North Hollywood, downtown L.A. and Westwood (which recently acquired a beer and wine license), is changing its menu this Thursday and will eliminate both of those popular dishes. Pitfire is also getting rid of the Baked Ziti, Fiery Chicken Soup, Dixie Chicken Penne, Papardelle Pasta, Pumpkin Pizza, Folded Sausage Pizza and Folded Chicken Pizza. (The folded pizza is their approximation of a calzone.)

They'll be replaced by approximately 15 new dishes created by chef/owners David Sanfield and Paul Hibler along with executive chef Mark Gold of Café Pinot and the Water Grill. (Gold earned three stars from Times Restaurant Critic S. Irene Virbila when he cooked at Leatherby's Café Rouge in Costa Mesa.) The new dishes include the signature chicken salad ($9.75) featuring sous vide chicken on a bed of baby arugula topped by toasted pine nuts, pickled currants, shaved scallions and hand-torn bread crumbs tossed in a champagne vinaigrette; clam and bacon linguine featuring littleneck clams and Zoe nitrate-free bacon in a tomato broth. And a new mushroom pizza ($9.95)-- with more whole mushrooms--will replace the old version, which had shaved mushrooms.

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