We were driving through the FI-Pi autostrada with the aim to find an easy way to go to San Gimignano, where we had rented an apartment. My wife, demonstrating women’s hatred for maps, had forgotten ours –and all Tuscany guides– in Barcelona, forcing us to live Tuscany in another adventurous way.
A gentle clerk did her best to explain that the best way was to go to Empoli first and after that follow directions to San Gimignano. That’s not easy in Italy, where you find a direction poster and you don’t see another after you’ve completely lost your way. Even though, we managed to get to Empoli and decided to go to a huge mall, called Coop, to get our provisions for our stay. I must admit that the huge supermarket was a dream come true for an Italian food fanatic. Wonderful pomodoros, sauces, spices, a huge wine area, olio… and, of course, thousands of different pastas! I admit that we went mad and finally purchased almost a dozen different kinds of pasta and spent much more than expected.
One of the pastas we got was called Calamarata. It’s called this way because it looks like sliced calamari –squids–. When you first see them you do not imagine that it grows so much when cooked. Back at home I first cooked them with some prawns and olio forte –made with the Italian olive oil I brought and the very spicy spices from Tuscany– and it was fantastic, despite that I had to boil them for more than half an hour and that it was way too big for just the two of us! Then I began thinking what would I do the next time.
Last Friday, to celebrate the end of this awful July –weathery speaking–, having in mind that my wife was working late and that I was spending lunch time at the beach having a huge paella with my work colleagues, I decided to cook for her something nice, new and special… and I had a wonderful wine to complement the meal!
I got those Calamarata once again but in this occasion I counted just 14 units because, this time, I would stuff them with something nice! While the pasta was boiling for a little bit more than 30 minutes I began preparing the stuff. I first cooked a couple of hake medallions and another couple of salmon tails –I must tell you that without time enough to go to the market, I bought them frozen at La Sirena and they tasted fantastic– and when they were about to be done I added a few peeled prawns. I sided the prawns and a small slice of salmon for the sauce. I putted the rest of the fish in a mincer with the objective to have a dough thicken enough to fill the pasta. After that, in a pan, I made a nice roux with a good measure of oil, a couple spoons of flour and half a sliced onion. Then, I added the mixed dough of hake and salmon and the prawns and while stirring with a wooden spoon I incorporated, slowly, half a glass of milk and then I added, of course, some salt and pepper.
Then, is time to let everything cool a bit and begin stuffing the Calamarata. It’s not an easy thing to do with my huge hands and sausagy fingers but with some patience everything can be done! I took a couple of nice rectangular dishes and began presenting the calamarata. Meanwhile I grilled 4 King Prawns and prepared the sauce. With the minipimer I mixed the half salmon tail I had reserved, with 100ml of cooking cream, salt, pepper and parsley and heated in a small pan. I just sauced the calamarata slightly… gorgeous!
As a perfect marriage –like mine– I chose a wonderful Rias Baixas: Pazo de Barrantes 2010. This wine is 100% albariño and is typical straw yellow with hints of green, brilliant at the simple eye. I find it incredibly floral and fruity and the taste is elegant with strong structure and very subtle acidity. The bottle has been renewed this year and, depending on the day, it looks fantastic… but… in some way it is almost tacky –if you know what I mean!–, with a little bit too much orangy yellows and flowers and borders and the three folkloric clogs… but, in summary, it is a wonderful wine.
If my wife has been honest with me –you never know– she loved this dinner.