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April 24, 2006

Casumziei Ampezzani

Dominic Armato
In my zeal to talk up the Kitchenaid pasta rollers, I neglected to mention that I tried an interesting pasta this past Movie & Pasta Night.

The name is half the fun. At the risk of playing Mario Batali, casumziei are beet ravioli, with Ampezzani meaning that they're from Ampezzo, which is a little region in the north of the Veneto, situated in the Dolomite mountains. As such, had I been on the ball, our accompanying film would have been some classic blaxploitation flick. But I was too busy oohing and aahing over the pasta.

It's a little unusual. I've always felt that, while every region has its distinctive style, most of Italy plays by roughly the same set of rules... except for Sicily and the Veneto. The fact that Sicily's food is so unique doesn't surprise me one bit. It's separated from the rest of Italy by a ton of water, and... show of hands... who hasn't conquered Sicily at one time or another? The Veneto, on the other hand, I just don't get. If I were a well-informed Italian culinary historian, I'm sure I could explain why in exacting detail, but suffice it to say that the the foods of the Veneto are just different. And I love 'em for that.

Anyway, as with just about any good pasta, Casumziei Ampezzani is extremely simple. It's a very traditional dish that I don't have a terribly creative take on, and unlike the dried pasta, I haven't yet gotten around to writing the 10 commandments of fresh pasta, so no recipe for this one. But, here are a couple of recipes posted elsewhere, for the curious. The filling is roasted beets, ricotta and milk, and the sauce is melted butter and poppyseeds. A lot of poppyseeds. We're talking a "take a drug test and make your employer think you're a raging jacked-up coke fiend" amount of poppyseeds. A little bit of one of those northern hard cheeses is grated over the top, and there you go. Whether or not this one does it for you pretty much depends on how you feel about beets. I know a few folks who just don't do beets, and they're absolutely insane, but this probably isn't for them. That said, I think this is one of those "essence of" dishes, where if you try it and don't like it, okay... I surrender... beets just aren't your thing. If anything slathered in that much butter still doesn't do it for you, it's a pretty good indication that the love just isn't going to happen. Either way, they're pretty.


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