Alas, another year is behind us.
Although our celebration was more subdued than that of the Romans who filled the streets for the city’s New Year’s Eve celebration, we nonetheless welcomed in the new year with good company, a lot of laughs, and the obligatory midnight consumption of lenticchie e cotechino, lentil soup with a special, fresh sausage made of pork, which heralds good fortune in the coming year.
This year certainly had its ups and downs! We spent much of it displaced from our house, while it was being rebuilt following the fire. Rebuilding took enormous time, energy and patience, but happily we have returned, are nearly settled, and best yet, our turn-of-the-century Minneapolis home now has more closet space and a new kitchen to cook in.
Summer also marked a visit back to Rome, and a spectacular road trip through the northern Italian wine regions of Trentino-Alto Adige, La Valpolicella, and Piedmont and Le Langhe. The trip ended as all trips should, with a few days at the sea in the Cinque Terre, with its amazing views and delicious seafood. We really can’t complain.
The year began on a cold Minneapolis day warmed by the visit of a friend and her charming baby daughter, a plate of fettuccine ai funghi porcini, paired very nicely with a glass of 2006 Martinenga Barbaresco, and a few leftover lentils thrown in for good measure.
Much more could be written about funghi porcini – their earthy texture and nutty flavor, their simple yet elegant quality. However, on this New Year’s Day we chose to just enjoy them.
Buon Anno a tutti!
(for 4-6 servings)
Approx. 85 grams (3 ounces) dried porcini mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
1 stick (115 grams, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup dry white wine
Flat leaf Italian Parsley – optional
One package (approx. 500 grams) egg pasta – fettuccine, tagliatelle or pappardelle. Or, make your own.
Rehydrate the porcini mushrooms according to the instructions on the package. We soaked ours in three cups of hot water for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Slice the garlic lengthwise into quarters and sauté it in the butter. Remove the mushrooms from their liquid and add them to the skillet with the butter and garlic. Preserve the liquid from the mushrooms, and set it aside. Add the white wine, and let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes until the mushrooms become soft yet still firm, and the sauce turns creamy. Remove the garlic.
In the meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Toss a heaping handful of sea salt into the water, and add the pasta. Cook until al dente according to the instructions on your package. If you made your own pasta, the cooking time will be about 3-4 minutes; homemade egg pasta cooks much faster than store bought pasta.
Drain the pasta, and return it to the skillet with the mushrooms. Stir together until mixed. If needed, you can add a little of the water used to rehydrate the mushrooms. Serve the pasta hot with a sprinkle of chopped flat leaf Italian parsley. (We didn’t have any parsley on hand, and since it was New Year’s Day and stores were closed, we simply omitted it).