Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, Philly chef David Katz discussed Peasant’s Spit-Roasted Pig and Potatoes with chef-owner Frank de Carlo. What do you crave, de Carlo?
“If I had to pick one dish, it would be from Michael White at Marea. I was in his restaurant three weeks ago and it was the most authentic Italian food I’ve tasted in this country. One of the dishes that I really liked was a spinosini with langoustine. Spinosini is a fresh, egg pasta, like a very thin spaghetti. That dish for me is perfection. First of all, I love pasta. And I liked the subtleties of the dish: If your eyes were closed you’d think you were eating in Southern Italy. I don’t know how he got it, but he got it. My wife and I are in Italy two or three times a year, and we’ve spent a lot of time in the South, and he really nailed it. The dish is very simple, but that’s what Italian cooking is. From what I can tell, it was just tomatoes, perhaps a touch of garlic, olive oil, the langoustine, and probably a splash of white wine, but you’re going to have to ask him.”
Marea chef-partner Michael White responds:
“The pasta itself, spinosini, means “little spines” or “barbs” — however you want to describe it — it’s very, very thin, almost like cappellini, but it’s an egg-yolk pasta. It’s really just a canvas for the langoustinos that we quickly sauté with garlic and chilies, and a little bit of San Marzano tomato and white wine. The fresh pasta is very delicate and so are the langoustines, the scampi. We get these from Andrew Hamilton at Scottish Wild Harvest when they’re available, but we also get them from F. Rozzo & Sons in the city. Having lived in Italy for eight years — I’m married to an Italian as well, my wife Giovanna — and going back and forth, we eat constantly; there are a lot of miles on this belly. Seafood restaurants on the Adriatic coast showcase langoustines, and this is a very simple and light preparation. Usually you have langoustine or scampi with spaghetti, and we just happen to do it with spinosini. Because I don’t sleep, that’s how we figure these things out: trial and error.”
Read about a recent dish Michael White enjoyed.