4 Simple Pasta Ideas and NYC Report

Katie's Pasta Tritato with Fettucini ~ Recipe here

Spaghetti with Tomato, Bacon, Caper and Mint ~ Recipe here

Fresh Pasta Beef Lasagne with Chargrilled Zucchini and Pancetta  ~ Recipe here

Slow Roasted Lamb Pappardelle with Garden Peas and Mint ~ Recipe here

All above photos © Katie Quinn Davies 2013

Ok, let's face it, it's been a LONG time between drinks... I am sure people are well sick and tired of looking at that Lemon Gluten-Free Cake every time they head to the blog... I know I am!

I am just back from 4 days in the beautiful Barossa Valley where I was shooting a campaign for South Australian Tourism. We interviewed and photographed a bunch of wonderful individual artisan food and wine producers. I can't wait to put some of the photos up when the official campaign goes live in about 2 weeks. So more on that a little later on...

What can I say but the past 5 weeks has been one HUGE roller-coaster ride and a fantastic one at that. It has seen me in NYC which, BTW, sent me home with a terrible virus and one I am still trying to fully shake off and which left me feeling dreadfully sorry for myself, utterly shattered and in no mood to go anywhere near a computer, and then I was travelling with work. This all, whilst great for me ~ ok not the sick bit! ~ has sadly prevented me from getting this massively over-due post up on the blog. I think we should all open a bottle of bubbles to celebrate this one finally being uploaded. Believe it or not I shot all these below recipes before I went to the US 4 weeks ago, but alas getting the photos up, along with the recipes (the latter of which can take me half a day+ to type out) was not to be. I spent some of the 22 hour flight tapping away on the computer before succumbing to the wine and movies and putting it on the back-burner...

I am still pinching myself and plaster a big grin on my face when I recall the fabulous night in NYC some almost 4 weeks ago (Ahem ~ WHERE does the time go to??!) when I won the James Beard Award for Photography. I was seriously surprised/thrilled/honoured and super delighted to have won. I almost fell off my chair in shock when they called out my name and I shakily made my way up to the stage and podium to mumble out my acceptance/thank you speech which is one big blur to me to be honest, I know I thanked all the right people, at least I hope I did, but those stage lights and the fact you can see no-one in front of you (and you're shocked as hell), don't help too much in the calming stakes... Anyway I kept it short and sweet and was then was promptly whisked away down the back to get my photo taken, not before having a glass of champagne put into my hand ~ that being a hand which was trembling so much from shock and nerves that the bubbles inside almost slopped out of the glass onto the floor...

Megan (from Penguin/Avery in NYC) and myself just after I got back to the table after the photo on the right, minus shaky hands! ;)

Overall it was a brilliant night, albeit the first 2 hours completely full of anxious nerves all of which were exacerbated when I actually got to the awards venue and realised I was there as a finalist (a journey to which by the way incurred a huge f-up initially as I went to the wrong venue half the way up Manhattan island as opposed to be at the correct on downtown! But we got there in the end and just in time ~ that is in fairness, thanks to a very fast moving and agile taxi driver from the Dominican Republic...

The medal is now hanging in my sitting room here in Sydney and I am mighty proud of it. Thanks again to the judges who voted for my book and work. I really am still so terribly grateful.

The two weeks in NYC were fantastic. To be honest when I go to NY now, I do so on a very relaxed level. I tend to stay at a mate's place in the West Village and just hang out like I would at home. I don't really do the tourist thing anymore there and just love eating at fun, funky and interesting restaurants and taking it easy catching up with friends and family who live there. To be honest, I have been to NYC more times than Dublin since I moved to Australia, so it almost feels a little more familiar to me at this stage.

As mentioned we stayed at an Aussie mate's place at Greenwich and Christopher (BTW there's a great little wine and food bar opened up on that intersection called 'Charlemagne' check it out if you are in the area) but we also stayed for part at the Trump Soho. Ok, I'll admit, initially the name of this hotel didn't do a lot for me. i am not one for big chain hotels and it sounded a tad tacky to me on first seeing it online. I had booked into another hotel for 8 nights in another part of SoHo as to be totally honest, I hated it. It was dark, dreary and depressing and just lacked personality for me, so we spent 2 nights there and moved on and into the Trump as the other hotels I was more familiar with were, frustratingly fully booked (The Bowery and Greenwich Hotel), however this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I can honestly say the Trump SoHo was incredible! I would return in a heartbeat. We were on the 38th floor in a corner suite with the. most. STUNNING almost 270˚ view of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. My mouth literally nearly hit the floor when I walked in on the first day and saw the magnificent view of uptown and the Empire State laid out, literally right in front of me.

I highly recommend this hotel to anyone looking to stay downtown in NYC. I would give it a 9 out of 10. The only deduction being there is really no bar area downstairs other than in a restaurant. The service, cleanliness, quality of bed and linen and most importantly the staff and their friendliness made for such a memorable and wonderful stay. Also I must add the girls in the spa were brilliant too and made the afternoon before the James Beard Awards a really relaxing experience for me. They all insisted I come back down the following day if I won the award and show it to them :)

Without a doubt I think NYC is the food capital of the world. There is so much diversity and options when it comes to this subject in the big Apple.

However I tended to steer away from the OTT degustation meals on this trip, opting for smaller places, mainly in the West and East Village such as:

ACME Swine Empillon Taqueria Aria Buvette El Torro Blanco Spice Market Breslin The Little Owl Louro Employees Only ~ fantastic cocktails Four Faced Liar ~ good Irish style NYC pub Dublin 6 ~ Good pub food with an amazing slider tasting plate Wilfie and Nell ~ good atmosphere Beatrice Inn Old Rabbit Club

However I did go all out and eat at Eleven Madison Park (now No. 5 on the san Pellegrino Best Restaurant List 2013) where we enjoyed a superb 16 course tasting menu which included divine tasting dishes such as; Surf Clam with Fava Bean, Meyer Lemon and Green Garlic; Asparagus with Custard and Rhubarb; Malt Egg Cream with Vanilla and Seltzer and Celery Root Creme Cake with Apple Sorbet, Walnut and White Pepper Cake.

Frankly, I would never normally be able to eat the amount of courses which I did here, but the portions were perfect and I enjoyed every single one of them. I left with no 'stonkered/bloated' feeling, nor were any of us loosening our belts as is so often the case with a lot of top notch restaurants which present degustation menus containing portions which are just too large and akin to a standard starter size. It was a super experience and now I can tick it off my list of "posh NYC restaurants I've wanted to eat at". I will say truthfully though, my favourite restaurant in NYC, based on the food and experience I had there last year (and I am kicking myself I didn't go back this time) is Wylie Dufresne's WD50. Again, highly recommend this restaurant if you want a memorable food experience in NYC.

All above photos © Katie Quinn Davies 2013

NYC aside, the theme of this post is everything homemade pasta (as you might have noticed by the top 4 photos) - well almost - one of these 4 dishes actually uses dried spaghetti, but the rest are all prepared using homemade fresh pasta. Before Christmas last year I did an Advertising shoot for Kitchen Aid which consisted of me shooting some of their range of stand mixers and blenders for a series of print adverts to be used in publications around Aus. One of the items they wanted to feature was their pasta making attachment which fits onto the front of their stand mixer and rolls out your pasta dough into sheets and then into various width strips to make spaghetti, fettucini, etc. etc. To be brutally honest when I saw it first I was pretty unimpressed thinking from a typical creative's mind and how ugly the shot would look with this big silver thing sticking out of the lovely stand mixer (if anyone has my book, you'll know how mad I am about my trust baby blue mixer which I've had now for 6 or so years). Anyway, when the food stylist on the day of the shoot starter motoring up this attachment, honestly I was utterly gob-smacked at just how flipping cool it was... I have an Imperia bog-standard pasta maker which I normally clamp to my worktop, however it's a nightmare half the time as the clamp keeps falling off and I end up cursing and screaming in the kitchen about how frustrating it is to anyone who will listen - aka normally my husband Mick... It's also a tad messy and I really only discovered this latter fact when I saw the Kitchen Aid version in action.

People who read WKA regularly know I rarely plug products, it's not my thing to do so but I do mention in my book a few items for the kitchen which I cannot live without and more importantly just make cooking and in turn, my life, easier. This is one of them. When Mick saw the shots, he said; 'What the heck is that?!" when I explained he was really intrigued and all 'Oooh sounds fantastic!' and the timing was perfect as

A: it was almost Christmas B: Mick ADORES pasta and making his own, and C: he's impossible to buy for, so D: I thought "Bingo!! Get him a pasta roller from KA"

which I did and he loves it. As do I, so I figured I might mention my thoughts on here. We've never used the countertop machine since and there's been a lot less cursing during pasta making sessions as the screw clamp flies off into the cat's water bowl. You can read about the machine here. I have the one with 3 attachments, it's reasonably priced (around $300), however they do also make a rather more expensive option for around $700 which includes a lot more bits and pieces. I can't recommend it enough.

Finally, seeing as I just spent 2 weeks in the US (!!), I couldn't not post this too...

This is a recipe I wrote a few weeks ago for a feature surrounding American Comfort Food. I didn't end up including this recipe and thought it would be good to put it on the blog ~ and no better a time than after my trip to the US. This is my recipe for a good, old US-style/inspired Sunday Pot Roast. It's my Slow-Roasted Beer and Black Pepper Beef with Root Veg and Pan Gravy. It's super easy, and you bung it in the oven for 7-8 hours so perfect for a cosy Saturday night meal or Sunday afternoon late lunch with the family.

Katie's Slow-Roasted Beer and Black Pepper Beef with Root Veg and Pan Gravy. ~ Recipe here