The famous Arezzo Antique and Flea Market is held on the weekend of the first Sunday of every month. Vendors arrive from all over Italy to sell…well, everything imaginable. While Arezzo is full of wonderful restaurants, I like to have lunch at one of the outdoor tables of Logge Vasari, a restaurant located under the loggia and facing the Piazza Grande, the epicenter of the market. What a great place for people watching.
But Logge Vasari doesn’t stop there. They provide a show for passersby who wander under the loggia browsing vendor tables. The restaurant stations a lady at its entrance who makes handmade tortellini on a marble-top table while you watch. No better advertisement for the place. A great way to lure customers.
By the time I arrived with my friends, the basic pasta dough had already been made and rolled out. Notice the size of that mattarello…the long all-wood rolling pin Italians use to roll out dough. I thought mine was long at 27 inches. Our lady has disappeared inside for a moment to fetch something. I was tempted to take over. I restrained myself.
She’s back with her filling, her cutter and her egg wash…which she generously spreads with a large pastry brush. We must have arrived early as you see in the background some bored wait staff awaiting the Sunday dining onslaught.
I imagine there’s ricotta, parsley and egg mixed together in the tortellini filling. I only imagine as our lady is busy and not very talkative. In fact, she ignores me. Notice a third wait staff member has appeared in the picture below, also awaiting the Sunday lunch crunch. He’s probably seen the birth of Logge Vasari tortellini too many times to count.
A quick round of filling dollops across the length of the pasta sheet.
An expert fold-over of the dough, below. She works quickly and silently.
The all-important pat-down of the dough to form individual pasta bowls of filling.
Then she reaches for this amazing utensil, the dough cutter. Notice it’s made of bronze, the best material to cut pasta dough as bronze leaves tiny pock marks in the dough, the easier to catch and hold sauce. All the best packaged pasta is extruded from machines using bronze dies. I have never seen in the U.S. anyone selling a bronze tortellini/ravioli stamp. Note to self: Google this.
Back to work. She quickly lops off crescent-shaped pieces. I think she could do this in her sleep.
Finally, the piece-de-resistance move…folding the dough into its cooking (and eating) shape.
They are lovingly (I assume) placed on parchment paper ready for the boiling water. And a hungry customer. Well done, my lady. And on to the next batch.
Actually the pasta special they brought me was slightly different but sitting atop of bed of pureed beans and accompanied by slightly sautéed, very delicious cherry tomatoes. The food here is very good, the location is great. But, diners, look closely at the bill as the restaurant adds on its own 15% gratuity. The practice of automatically adding a tip to the billl has gone out of style at a lot of restaurants around Italy. But not all of them. So be sure to check your bill every time you dine out in Italy.
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