Sometimes, it’s not just not a good idea to gild the lily.
Last week, as I was on hour three out of five of judging moot court at a local law school, I received the following text message from Mr. Annie: “got a box from foodbuzz. something refrigerated.” We are regularly given opportunities by foodbuzz to try new foods – the granola bars, for example, but I couldn’t remember anything that would be cold. I amused myself while listening to the same case being argued approximately 10 times by imagining what could be in the box. Epicurean pickles? Fancy jelly? A bold American Gorgonzola? Whatever it was, it would be free, and probably interesting.
I arrived home, kicked off my heels and tore opened the box to find a package of Buitoni refrigerated pasta – Wild Mushroom Agnolotti from the new “Riserva” line. This was nice, but I wasn’t that enthused; I had tried Another Brand of Refrigerated Pasta in the past, and while it was decent in a pinch, it was nothing to write home to Rome about. I sort of forgot about it (as is my wont) until I noticed that foodbuzz was running another contest, this one focused on creating a sauce for the new Buitoni Agnolotti. That reminded me that I should try the stuff, so I boiled it according to the directions on the package, and dressed it lightly with a little bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and some freshly shaved Parmaggiano Reggiano.
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. That’s all I’m sayin’. (I am not working for Buitoni, it’s heirs or assigns; I just really loved their Wild Mushroom Agnolotti). The filling was flavorful and hearty with lots of really good mushroom, garlic and cheese flavor, and the pasta itself was perfectly tender and just thick enough. My only complaint is the packaging, which seems excessive in terms of thinking “green,” but I’m not really sure how else they would package it. I guess I hope that if they come up with a more earth-friendly method of keeping it fresh and getting it to market, they’ll switch.
Finally: I can’t participate in the contest to come up with a sauce because I wouldn’t sauce this stuff. It’s perfect as it is, and any kind of sauce heavier than a little butter or oil and a grating of cheese would bury the beautiful flavor of the mushrooms, roasted garlic and Grana Padano with which they are filled. I would serve them in broth, as a first course, but again, a delicate chicken “brodo” wouldn’t drown out the flavor of the pasta filling. So try this out, if you’re so inclined – a package is enough for a light meal for two with bread and a salad. You can put sauce on it if you must, but I’ll have mine plain, please.