Pasta: there’s more to it than you might think
The chances are that if you asked the average person what defines Italian food, they would rattle off the trinity of spaghetti, pizza and pasta. It all sounds so simple, easy and straightforward, yet the reality is that pasta, in particular, has a lot more variations than might at first be imagined, according to Luca Marchetti, the genial mine host of the Toscana Italian restaurant.
As regular readers will be aware, the Business Supplement has been doing a series of articles on the Toscana eatery, beginning with the amazing organic vegetable farm and its separate animal farm before moving on to cover the myriad of excellent and somewhat unique dishes offered to its large customer base from its Beach Road location.
As Luca states, “We make fresh pasta here in the restaurant almost every day, and all the pasta is made from duck eggs, which are so much better than using chicken eggs.”
At one stage, Luca was making every pasta style in-house from fresh duck, quail, and guinea fowl eggs, but when some customers, especially tourists unaware of the complete freshness offered by Toscana, began to question the shape and taste, he reverted to buying in some products to give a more common feel to the meals.
“I thought I was giving people a better deal, but so many wondered about the look and shape of my pasta that now I buy in all the penne and the spaghetti, but I still make the rest by hand from our own fresh ingredients,” stated Luca.
For example, with ravioli all the creating and the filling is done inside Toscana. “Right now I have 12 shapes for the ravioli, and each one has a a different ingredient, from guinea fowl to lamb to spinach, and duck and the like.”
With another pasta dish, cannelloni, Luca says, “Sometimes people are not confident about what might be inside. Here at Toscana we don’t have leftovers, because we have such a large turnover of customers day by day, so the ingredients we put into our cannelloni are always the best.”
Gnocchi is a dumpling-like dish made with sour dough. “It’s one of our most popular dishes, even though it’s not strictly a pasta dish,” says Luca. Made with flour, eggs and potatoes, “It’s all mixed and rolled by hand,” noted Luca, who added, with a sly grin, “Like that scene from the movie Godfather III.”
In case anyone isn’t aware -or has forgotten- this was a scene which featured two young lovers with the male showing the female how to roll gnocchi, but then things became a little more intimate, and the gnocchi was forgotten. It’s doubtful such intense emotions are displayed behind the counters of Toscana as the gnocchi is being prepared.
On one aspect of the restaurant and its processes Luca was adamant. “What I won’t do, and never have, is pre-cook the pasta. Everything is fresh.” It’s a mantra that has made Toscana one of the pre-eminent Italian restaurants in Pattaya, and is likely to keep it that way for a very long time to come.