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A typical Sunday scenario is a long line of people queuing for fresh pasta. The very thought of those ravioles melting in their mouth makes it all worthwhile!
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The abc of fresh pasta
Unlike dry noodles you buy in the supermarket, fresh pasta is made and sold daily. Like bakeries, pasta houses must work with their ingredients whilst they are fresh, as the dough is made of flour and eggs, and doesn’t keep well. So these businesses are all over the place in the cities, and match or exceed the number of grills. The tradition is not only an Italian one. In Buenos Aires, in the 1940s, 85% of the pasta houses were in the hands of Galician immigrants, according to the magazine, Brando. Today they are owned by natives, but the mix favoured the incorporation of new recipes.
So, what is known in the world as ravioli, in Argentina is known as raviol and is slightly different, a little bigger and with a whole host of fillings. Another much loved dish is sorrentinos. Similar to ravioli but round like a bowler hat, they are usually stuffed with ham and cheese, or a variety of cheeses, and are one of the favourites! In the world of pasta, they’re the ones reserved for holidays and incidentally, they are a local invention: created in the 1930s in the Buenos Aires restaurant, Sorrento, hence the name, from a creative chef from Mar del Plata.
The filling and the sauce
Sunday pasta is eaten with red wine. It’s rare that it is cooked with seafood, so the pairing is always the same. However, there are reds and reds when we talk about stuffed pasta, especially the sauce.
For just as we buy a portion of ravioli or sorrentinos, these pasta houses also provide sauces to accompany them. And so without much effort, we have a varied range of sauces from carbonara, a cream based sauce, to pesto, with lots of basil and olive oil to Portuguese sauce made with aubergine and tomato, or fileto, which is tomato, garlic, salt and olive oil.
For any of the above, you can’t go wrong with an everyday, medium-bodied, fruity red. In particular Bonarda, whose aromatic freshness, with a hint of peppermint or eucalyptus, works wonders with tomato and spices. A young Malbec is also a good choice, as it brings a meaty texture with fruity aromas, which go well with tomato-based sauces. For those who prefer cream sauces, however, they are best enjoyed with high-altitude Chardonnays, whose unctuous feel and freshness enhance the flavour.
In any case, pairings are not that important when it comes to pasta. Because if there is something that makes the Argentines choose this dish it is that they are filling! And so, as is custom, these dishes are not only about what you choose to drink, but rather about having all the family packed in together at the table. Something that is so Argentine, like pasta.
Written by Joaquín Hidalgo for Wines of Argentina