Posted by: scintillatingspeck | February 5, 2010

Fresh, local tagliatelle with ragu Bolognese.

Did I die and wake up in heaven?  Or did I really make this happen?

That, my friends, is homemade fresh tagliatelle with homemade ragu Bolognese that I prepared last Saturday.  But this was no ordinary meal.  Oh no.

You are looking at pasta that is as local and fresh and amazing as it gets.  The Red Fife wheat was in our CSA share from Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain.  That wheat was milled by hand by me, at home, in my Country Living grain mill (which I am quite pleased with).   The eggs (Lynn’s Laughing Layers) were purchased at the Saturday Winter Farmers’ Market in Northampton from Lynn Bowmaster.

The ingredients for the ragu Bolognese were similarly locally sourced, with a few exceptions.  The ground beef was from our meat share from Chestnut Farms.  The carrots (Winter Moon Farm) and onion (Atlas Farm) were also purchased at the Winter Farmers’ Market.  The celery, butter (from Cabot in Vermont), canned tomatoes, white wine, and Parmigiano Reggiano were purchased at our local co-op, River Valley Market.  Olive oil was imported from Italy and purchased through the Pedal People Food Collective.  Milk was from Mapleline Farm.  The pinch of nutmeg, okay, I can’t remember where I got the nutmeg, because I’ve had it quite a long time.  And the salt, ditto.

I made both the pasta and the ragu by heeding the words of Marcella Hazan.  Marcella strikes the same note of authority and urgency in her guidelines for cooking as I am accustomed to hearing from fellow foodies from Emilia-Romagna (meaning, virtually everyone who lives in the region):  there is a right way to cook.  The cuisine of my ancestors is world-renowned.  Bologna is not known as la grassa (“the fat one” or, let’s put it more poetically, “the well-fed one”) for nothing.

Making the tagliatelle felt like a sacred ritual.  I was nervous.  Would it be even half as good as my nonna’s?  How could I possibly live up to her legacy?  I wanted to honor her memory through food, to pass her love through the veil of time and death into my hands, into the food, into my family.  I wanted to get it right.

I made the classic volcano of flour on the counter with its crater full of eggs, beat the eggs with a fork, and then gradually added flour into the middle.  Lily was fascinated by all of this.  Eventually we ended up with pasta dough which I kneaded for a while.  Then out came the hand-cranked Atlas pasta machine.  I split the dough into sections and rolled them through, progressively making the pieces thinner and thinner until they were translucent and fragile.  They were then passed through the cutting part which cut them into tagliatelle.

The ragu Bolognese was also made over the course of several hours, first by sauteeing the onion in olive oil and butter, adding the carrot and celery for a few minutes, adding the ground beef and cooking it, adding the wine and letting all of the liquid evaporate off, then adding the milk and nutmeg and letting all of the liquid from that evaporate off, then adding the canned tomatoes and simmering for hours.  This is seriously slow food.

At long last, it was all ready.  The tagliatelle were boiled, the Parmigiano was grated.  Time to present it to the ultimate authority.

Did she like it?  Yes, yes she did!

And then Tom and I tasted it and we wept with joy.  It was exquisite.

Happiness reigned.

May we all have the opportunity to eat this well.



  1. Bravo! The beauty of not only making your own meal, but being able to trace almost each and every piece of it, is wonderful. I share your joy – and your love of fresh food! 🙂

  2. Hooray!!

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