It's no secret that Portland, Oregon
is one of the best eating cities in the U.S. right now. And one of the best restaurants in Portland is Nostrana
. On a trip to the Pacific Northwest we were lucky enough to hit Nostrana on a Thursday night, which is better known to those in the know as gnocchi night
. That meal of particularly light, fluffy, potato pasta dumplings was a great introduction to Chef Cathy Whims and her contemporary take on regional Italian classics, but we returned again and again for the charcuterie, the chewy, delightfully blistery, crispy-crusted wood-fired pizza, the crazy good Caesar-y Insalata Nostrana with radicchio, parmigiano, and rosemary-sage croutons, and of course the handmade pastas.
Separately, as the complete food and style geeks that we are, there are few things that tickle our fancy more than a well researched and well designed single topic ingredient based book. Enter the The Geometry of Pasta
. This eye-catchingly illustrated book has pride of place on our shelves for its alphabetic encyclopedia of pasta shapes from agnolotti to ziti, and it's explanations of the climate, cultural, political and economic reasons behind their creation and popularity. Along with recipes. It's a totally amazing tome and one of those rare food books that are equally excellent to use in the kitchen as it is to read curled up in an armchair as if it were a novel.
It shouldn't have surprised us to learn that Cathy Whims is also a fan of The Geometry of Pasta
. In this month's Saveur 100,
she writes a little ode to the book, which she calls "a guide to macaroni and its mates" which "explains how to exploit the curves of cavatelli and the ridges of rigatoni." Are you getting why we love both Whims and the book now? This month at Nostrana, in tribute to both the book and the article, is The Geometry of Pasta
month and Whims is featuring pastas from the book, such as Spaghettini al Merluzzo Felice Seafood and ginger (p. 239), Farfalle con Prosciutto Crudo e Panna (p. 94), and Strozzapreti — priest stranglers - with Manila clams, shallots, garlic, arugula, chive, butter (p.246.) Those of you in PDX, you've still got time this month to stop in, let us know your favorites. Those of us who can't make will have to comfort ourselves with this video where Whims teaches us to make our own version of her great gnocchi.