Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Restaurant Miettes I

In which we try a sort of experiment: short restaurant reviews. These will be used mostly to pull your coat to some places I've either written about before, but which have news to report, or places I haven't been to enough to have a solid opinion about. They'll also occasionally (as this time) have food-related things to talk about. 

I mentioned the opening of the Korean place, Omija, a while back, but I hadn't eaten there. The Other Ed suggested we meet there for lunch, and the first lunch was good, but not spectacular. A second lunch, however, more than made up for it. 

We had bibimbap, which I imagine is quite the versatile dish in Korea. I used to get it all the time at the Korean place near where I lived in Berlin, and there it was a bunch of rice in a big iron bowl, which had been heated very hot in the oven, and a bunch of stuff, including an egg, slapped on top of it. The pleasure came not only from the mixing-in of all the stuff (which the waiter urged you to do immediately) but from the way the rice crusted onto the sides of the bowl. I didn't see how Omija was going to do that, given that their chief source of heat is a microwave. Well, the answer is that they didn't. Nor did they use an iron bowl. But the dish was very nicely topped, and a wonderful hot sauce was served on the side. We also got bowls of miso soup, which I always like. With the bibimbap coming in at €7.50, it's not the kind of lunch I can have very often, but the second time we ate there, The Other Ed opined that he was no longer concerned for the place's existence, as a throng of people came in, ordered, sat down at the communal table, ate, left, and made way for more people. As they note on their menu, Korean food is way low in fat, and this seems to appeal to their young, multicultural clientele. I wish them luck, and, well, with their skills, they don't really need to rely on luck. I should also note that the Korean/Japanese groceries seem to be flying off the shelves, although I was sorry they didn't have any panko. A couple of weeks, I was assured. 

Omija, 8 rue Boussairolles, 34000 Montpellier. Open Mon-Wed 10am-7pm; Thu-Sat 10am-9pm. 

*  *  *

My friend John's visit in November took us to restaurants old and new, with two brand-new ones for me. The first was when he was waiting for the hotel room to open up, and we were wandering the neighborhood and he asked if there was a place serving seafood. In fact, wandering around by myself a few days earlier, I'd noticed a lot of new restaurants in that part of town, incuding one that was all fish and shellfish. That's how we wandered into Chez Toto. 

Chez Toto is tiny, and very specialized: there are a dozen warm dishes, and lots and lots of build-it-yourself coquillages, assortments of shellfish. Those can get expensive quickly, although the quality of what they had on hand was excellent, from what I could tell. We settled for brandade de morue, a local  specialty made from desalinated salt cod and mashed potatoes and...other things, and stuffed mussels, in which the mussels are cooked with a pork-based stuffing. Both were excellent, and the brandade, at €7.50 for the lunch special, was a particular deal. Service was excellent, the guy spoke English, and the business card says there's a shaded terrace somewhere for dining, noon and evening. That said, those of you familiar with Japan have probably figured out that not many Japanese will venture into this place, excellent shellfish notwithstanding. I'm going to check this out again on a summer's evening, with some cold rosé and shellfish. 

Chez Toto, 20 rue du palais des Guilhem, 34000 Montpellier. Reservations or orders to go: 04 67 92 53 37 or 06 82  00 32 43

*  *  *

One evening, inspiration struck and I suggested we try something that was right out in plain sight, so much so that I'd never even considered eating there although I'd passed it a million times. Le Bouchon St. Roch is at the confluence of a couple of streets just below St. Roch church, in a weird V-shaped space with lots and lots of outdoor dining which spills over into the St. Roch Bar's space. The St. Roch Bar is Montpellier's version of Memphis' Peabody Hotel lobby (minus the ducks and the player piano, of course): sooner or later, everyone in town has a drink there. Me, too. But while doing that with a woman who'd studied here, she said that in her day, the Bouchon was the student eatery. 

It still is, in the evening, and at noon, all manner of locals fill the place up. As I stood shooting that second photo there, the smells of cooking steak, duck fat, and potatoes rolled out the door, almost driving me nuts. This isn't a place to go for daring new takes on traditional recipes or to see what cuisines are influencing today's young chefs. It's a place to get down-home traditional French food, cooked the way they've always cooked it. There's a hell of a lot to choose from, too, and a small, okay wine-list. Prices are very reasonable -- a two-course dinner can be under €20 -- and the decor is pretty garish. The confused signs are due to its having finally consolidated itself in one building; the former place across the street I'll deal with in a second. As a neighborhood place, and an inexpensive neighborhood place at that, Le Bouchon St. Roch isn't going to be the best restaurant in town, not with a menu as long as the one posted there by the door, but it most likely hits the mark enough of the time to keep 'em coming. 

Le Bouchon St. Roch, 14 rue de plan d'Agde, 34000 Montpellier. 04 67 60 94 28. Open daily noon to midnight. 

*  *  *

Stand where that first photo was taken, rotate 180°, and you'll see a very welcome addition to the Montpellier bar scene: the Beehive. 

It's not an Irish pub, like other bars with English names here, but a very faithful reproduction of an English pub. And not only does it serve English beer (mine's an Abbot, please), but it also serves burgers (beef and veggie), full English breakfasts, and fish and chips. With the recent change of management at the Vert Anglais putting their status as serving the second-best burger in Europe at risk, the Beehive is in good stead to grab the title, although if they cleave to the authenticity of the rest of the place, maybe they'll miss. One place they definitely win is with their fish and chips, which even outdid the last batch I had in London. I went with a native, who delighted in the brown edges of the fish, and the chips were fresh, not frozen, and served with excellent malt vinegar. There was a little pot of what my dining companion called "parsley sauce," although it was more like a mayonnaise with horseradish to my taste, and there was also a small lump of the inexplicable mushy peas, served tepid, which is apparently also authentic. There's a daily special every day, and happy hours and all the rest. I'm ready to go back in the evening so I can have the fish and chips again and sink a few pints of Abbot. it's been a while! 

The Beehive, 15 rue du plan d'Agde, 34000 Montpellier. 09 66 94 53 71. Open daily noon - 1am. 

*  *  *

And, as Woody Allen once observed, frequently there must be a beverage. I've been trying to find new sources of inexpensive but excellent wines around town (easy enough if you go for a drive, of course, since there are caves cooperatives and individual wineries offering stuff you can't get in stores out there), and I've lucked out. First, there is the Caves des Arceaux, which I walk past twice a week as I return from the market (or I do if I take a particular way home, anyway). I'd had the perception of them as being really upmarket and out of my range, but the other day I went in and discovered that, while they have some wines that are far more expensive than any other place I've found in town, there are also, tucked away here and there, some magnificent bargains. A couple of St-Chinians proved it to me: La Grange Léon was a place E and I had driven past in Berlou, and they produce two wines: L'Audacieux, which has a fascinating nose not unlike exploded gunpowder, and a whole bunch of fireworks of the fruity and earthy variety on the tongue, and L'Impudent, which I almost bought, but was put off by the label. L'Audacieux shows a guy casting into a stream, but L'Impudent shows a kid pissing into it! Only in France. But now I'd like to find the one I haven't tried, which is even cheaper. Of course, it's been sold out every time I've checked since then. As you'll recall, when E and I went on that drive, it began as a way to find the winery that had produced the wine we'd had at the restaurant on his birthday, Les Eminades. We'd had the Cuvée Cebenna, and it was mighty. Their less expensive wine, La Pierre Plantée, is just as good, with a haunting, aromatic but not flowery nose, and a big, complex mixture of fruit and earth on the tongue. One thing the Caves des Arceaux does is stock fewer wineries than I've been used to, but a deeper range of their wines. This is why I'd perceived them as expensive: they had the €60 bottles of the same folks they also had €7 bottles from. 

The problem, though, is that they're not all that close to the house. That's why I was intrigued when I noticed a place called Les Vins de Charlotte opening in the lunch-joint ghetto behind the Musée Fabre just before Christmas. It's kind of an out-of-the-way place for a wine-shop, but my curiosity had been piqued, and so I went in the other day to look around. 

I was impressed: one wall is solidly Languedoc wines, excellently chosen in a wide variety of price-ranges with a good range of little-known wineries mixed in with Languedoc's Greatest Hits. The proprietoress, Charlotte Isabello, is extremely knowledgeable (and speaks fluent English), and guided me towards my purchase of a modest bottle of Domaine Chazalon le Gouletier, a Pic St. Loup that was somewhat light for that area, but full of the deep fruit I've come to expect from our neighboring mountain. The best thing about the shop is its intelligent design. allowing a lot of wines to be stored in such small quarters, and the equally intelligent labels looped around the display bottles with accurate, un-hyperbolic descriptions of each one. Charlotte and her business partner Jean-Michel Davidou clearly have a plan going here, and I do hope it succeeds. I'll do my bit: they're practically around the corner. 

Les Vins de Charlotte, 4 rue Glaise, 34000 Montpellier. 09 53 80 73 41. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Today, a large number of websites are going dark for 24 hours in protest against two bills which are up in Congress. These bills, allegedly aimed at curbing piracy, are the result of a clueless entertainment industry which was notably slothlike in dealing with the digital era, being too concerned with making as much money as possible as quickly as possible without spending any to protect its copyrighted materials.

I, too, am concerned with this, since it has eaten away at my ability to make a living, mostly indirectly. But the way the industry is dealing with this, by attempting to enact large-scale censorship and punitive measures against ISPs, is so ham-fisted and, ultimately, destructive to what the Internet is and has been, that it deserves as much resistance as possible.

I'm not blacking out this site today. Part of the reason is that I'm in France, and most of this wouldn't affect me if it passes. France has its own silly Internet censorship problems, mostly related to torrent downloading. The other part of the reason is kind of embarrassing: I got the code to do it, but I just spent 30 minutes digging around the guts of this blog and can't find the place where Blogger has stashed the raw HTML.

You can sign Google's petition here, and read about this all over the place. I signed the petition, and I figure that's better than the symbolic action of blocking out this site for a day. Now it's your turn.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2011: The Year In Pictures

One of the things I never expected blogging to do was to get me interested in photography. But from the first day Jesse Sublett showed me his digital camera in Austin and I snapped to how easy it was to use, I was hooked. That was a long time ago, back when I lived in Berlin, and the quality of the pictures sure wasn't all that great -- your phone probably takes higher-resolution pictures than my first camera did. I know mine does. But bit by bit I started figuring out how to use both a camera and the sofware that can tweak the photos to look better and overcome some of the problems not having film causes. And, since I didn't have the cost of film to worry about, I could just shoot and shoot and toss the bad ones. I sorta specialize in bad ones.

Thus, I figured it would be a good idea to sum up the year on this blog every January, showcasing some of the pictures I took, both the ones you did and didn't see. (Don't forget: clicking on the photos will bring them up in a larger format).

Last year ended with the shutter button on my faithful old camera sproinging out on the end of its spring. This, I was reliably informed, was un-fixable. Fortunately, I had just enough to buy a new one, and, when an assignment sent me to Castellón, in the Valencia region of Spain in late January, I had an opportunity to test it out. I got to my hotel, pulled out the camera, and set out to discover this lovely small city.

The camera didn't work. At all. I shot some okay shots with my iPhone instead, but I was furious. When I got back to Montpellier, I took it to a camera shop that was the designated repair location for this area and...well, the denouement is too embarrassing to go into. Let's just say that it wasn't entirely my fault, and that there's a bit of a design flaw in this camera.

Which meant that the first shots the new machine took that were at all interesting happened on my annual pilgrimage to the States. Spring was just happening in Texas, and in mid-March I went to Cajun country to do a few interviews for the book I'm going to write as soon as my agent sells it. On my way to Ville Platte in search of a superb hot sauce I used to buy there, I had a fantastic photo just fall into my lap. I still can't believe I took it.

The hot sauce proved to be no longer made, the old man who made it long retired, and that morning would have been a complete wash were it not for this photo, the boudin at the guy's former store, and a side-journey to Mamou which resulted in yet another shot of another building, which I remember having been some kind of snack bar years and years ago, but which hasn't been anything much lately.

I also got to eat, after almost a decade away, at the area's iconic crawfish joint, Hawk's, which is, as their t-shirts and ads proudly say, "in the middle of nowhere." It is indeed almost impossible to find, even with a Cajun in the car, and at one point we wound up driving into someone's (dry, fortunately) rice field. My friend Dickie laughed at me for sticking my camera into the food, but nine months later, I can click on the photo and remember how good those 'bugs were.

Returning to France, I spent the next three months banging out a book proposal, so there wasn't a whole lot of visual interest produced around here. In August, though, an old friend from New York invited me to visit him and his wife at her reconditioned farmhouse in the Dordogne. It was a lovely spot, and I shot some fairly good pictures around there, given that sunshine wasn't as readily available as it is down here.

I was lucky in that my friend's wife took off for a few days in Paris during my stay and left me one of their cars to tool around the countryside in. It was high tourist season, but tourists are predictable, so it wasn't hard to avoid most of the places they were. One of the nicest places I found was a small town called Elvès, which I think would make a good central point for further explorations of the area. There were some very nice buildings there, but some of the coolest stuff was on doors and walls. I kind of liked this old sign, warning beggars away: 

And this traditional farmer's wreath, made from the principal grains of the region, is hung each harvest as a gesture of thanksgiving. 

Weirdly, one of my favorite shots from this whole trip was taken as I waited for the train that would eventually lead me back home, with the last couple of drops of battery on my iPhone as I waited at the Les Eyzies train station. They just don't build 'em like this any more. 

Not long after I returned, I got an e-mail from some readers of my blog, a couple who'd just moved here after scouting much of southern Europe for a decent retirement spot. E&J may be retired, but they're sure not slowed down, and we've taken to doing a trip into the surrounding countryside on the average of once a week. Since their interests and mine coincide almost totally, this has been a godsend, because I can neither afford a car nor the $3000 it would cost me to get a French drivers license. I've documented these trips from the first one on, but I've also taken so many pictures that there hasn't been room for most of them.

I spend a lot of time shooting into the mountains and valleys, and I must say, this isn't even about skill: Stevie Wonder could take just as good photographs as I do in this part of the world. For instance, after climbing the hill on which Olargues is built, I grabbed these.

The map says these are the Monts de l'Espinouse, about which I know litle, but hey, there's a whole new year ahead of us.

Drinking and driving may be a French national sport, but E doesn't engage in it, which is good: someone has to be sober on these little back roads. Still, one day as we tootled along, I couldn't resist asking him to pull in to one winery, which is one of my very favorites around here, so I could take a nice clichéd photo:

We'll be back for a tasting at some point, though: they might have some wines they don't sell in the shops, and I do like the way Mas de la Seranne makes their stuff. 

Recently, our journeys have taken us to oppida, Roman settlements providing goods and services for travellers along the system of Roman roadways, one of which, the Via Domitia, passed right through this area. There are a lot of remains of these, including the most famous, Ambrussum, which is a must-see for anyone interested in this part of history in this region -- and a place whose ruined Roman bridge got painted by Courbet. 

Okay, his painting was maybe better than that (it had an extra arch, for one thing: it's been washing away for years), but the winter light around here is quite different than the Really Blue Sky gives you in the summertime. Both are wonderful, but somehow this is more subtle.

Oddly, some of the best shots I got were on one of the most recent trips, to the oppidum of Ensérune, which not only resulted in the blog post that was possibly the most fun to write of all of them this year, but some really nice photos. Part of it was because besides its hilltop location, it was near a weird 13th century engineering project which looks like a UFO landing-site. In the annals of almost-great photos, this circle of light hit the circle in the valley moments before the shutter clicked, but the wind had driven it on by the time the picture got taken. Still a pretty nice shot.

The wind, though, did help to make another shot work out nicely, sculpting these trees over the years.

And the vineyards below are patiently waiting for the weather to change.

One thing I want to do this year is to explore some of the religious history around here, because the Languedoc has been home to loads of "protestants," ie, those who resisted the Roman Catholic church over the years, yet the area around here is loaded with abbeys and other ecclesiastical buildings. This speaks to a tension which spilled over into politics, thanks to the relationship between the French king and the Pope. At some point I hope to get a bit further south than I am now to look at some of the Cathars' strongholds, but there's still lots within a day's drive of here to look at.

And you never know when, as happened in the Dordogne, you stumble upon a church whose art hasn't been erased by the centuries of religious warfare which is so much a part of French history...

...or the odd bit of sculpture which hasn't been smashed.

So I'm really looking forward to the year ahead, having culinary, travel, and historical adventures, puzzling them all out, and reporting them to you from the City On A Hill, Montpellier.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mid-January Miettes

Okay, let's start out the year with some good news. As you remember, there was a rash of bakery closings around here, starting with the famous Fournil Ste. Anne and (gulp) including Ortholan, the one on my corner. I'm not nearly the consumer of bread that the average French person is, so this was only a minor inconvenience for me, but there did come the day when I whipped up a big pot of minestrone using "dirty carrots" (yup, that's what the guy at the market had them labelled as), which have been left in the ground instead of harvested immediately. I was curious if this would make a difference. Boy, did it make a difference. No wonder they're a Euro per kilo more than clean carrots. The sweetness and, um, carrotyness of them was astounding. And with such a soup one wants some good bread.

Now, as I mentioned, there are a lot of bakeries around, but most of them are no good. They don't make the bread on the premises, and they actually belong to chains. Ortholan is actually part of a mini-chain, and I discovered during this closing that their fabrication is done out by the Grand M, a traffic circle that sorts southern- and western-bound traffic. Sure enough, on our latest trip, E and I passed it (it's at the end of the Avenue de Toulouse), and there was a portable cooling unit in their parking lot, no doubt keeping their yeast cultures alive while work was being done inside. But at least they're local. I'd been eyeing another bakery nearby on the Clos René with the unpromising name Aux Gourmets, and decided to give it a shot. It was a decidedly ordinary-looking baguette, no doubt of that, and I wasn't overly excited by the prospect of trying it, but I was having minestrone one night and went in and grabbed a loaf. Not only was it cheaper than Ortholan, but the baguette was remarkable: crisp, nutty crust, and a crumb that was notable by being a bit salty, which really fits in not only with the soup, but makes it ideal for eating with cheese.

Ortholan re-opened shortly after the new year, and yet last night when I defrosted a tub of minestrone, I walked down to Aux Gourmets for a baguette. Sold out. The bawdy old ladies who run the joint gave me a lot of attitude for having waited so late in the day and then said "sorry." "Me, too," I said, and they all cracked up. The place displays the logo of the Conféderation Nationale des Artisans Pâtissiers, so despite the kind of goofy atmosphere, they're serious. They have a huge chocolate factory in the rear, and I know they also make their own ice cream, and I bet all of this is delicious. And so the neighborhood opens up a little more...

* * * 

The year sure got off to a good start for one guy I saw. I was coming back from the market and one of the many people you see going through the trash (the unemployment here is among the highest in France) had found a box, unopened, from La Poste. He opened it, and it turned out to be one of those "gourmet assortments," with jam, pâté, honey, a couple of bottles of wine, and so on. He was pawing through the excelsior, and his eyes bugged out every time he hit a new treasure. I'm sure there's a back-story as to why this expensive gift was thrown out unopened, but it turned out to be good for someone, at least. Hell, I would have done the same if I'd gotten there before he did!

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Stupid t-shirt season has definitively been over for a while, but there's still stupid business names. It's kind of a truism that in Europe, if you're trying to appeal to young people, you do some of your advertising in English, although in France, you have to add an asterisk with a French translation down the page. (This doesn't always work: in the early internet days, the Paris subways were plastered with huge ads that said DO YOU YAHOO?* which were answered with * Êtes-vous Yahoo? -- not at all the same thing, of course). Anyway, this being a slow news month, I thought I'd report on some other misuses of English I've seen around. There is, for instance, a nearby cell-phone shop called Internity. I've tried and tried to figure out what that's supposed to be -- is the word "internet" involved here? Eternity? Internal? Hard to figure. A bit clearer is the decorators' firm over in Ste. Anne which bears the name Interior Living, which, these days, sure beats Exterior Living, although you don't want to be too interior or people will think you're antisocial. (There's also a sport called Body Fighting, but I haven't investigated it in hopes that I can train for some Mind Fighting). And some business names are totally inexplicable. On the way to E and J's place is a cafe called Le Snake, which I thought was a misspelling brought on phonetically by the way French people say snack, but no, it's got a picture of a snake as well as multiple examples of the word snack. (Snake isn't the French word for snake, if you were wondering). And finally, there was a store on the corner by me for the longest time purveying cheap knockoff sportswear and shoes called Editions ED. I was relieved when they moved on, but the landlord had no problem re-renting the place to a purveyor of awful women's clothing. Its name may explain why I haven't found a French girlfriend yet, though: it's called Crazy Feminity. Feminity? Crazy French people is more like it. 

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I've posted before about the paper graffiti artist who calls himself Al Sticking, who has posted his stuff all over France, but lives here. The "enlèvement des tags" guys go after him as virulently as they do hoodlums who just scrawl their names here and there, but he's also invited by real businesses to do work, as the bike shop on the rue Four des Flammes shows. A friend of his has a jewelry business which sells postcards of his work, as well as some of his motifs made into jewelry, and just before Christmas, he managed to do a nice piece all over the front of the place. 

I assume the sculpture out front is by someone else, but the two stuck characters are real nice. 

Given the city's inability to distinguish between street art and graffiti, I almost hate putting up the pictures I have in this post (except for those immediately above, which I assume were commissioned and will remain up for some time) because these pieces enliven the streets without harming any of the historic beauty of the town. But I spent a lot of time in Berlin shooting street-art, too, and I have to say I get a kick out of it. 

Next up will be a raft of short restaurant reviews, dating back to mid-November when my friend John was in town. But I have to get out and shoot these, too, so that'll take a while. Tune in, though; it won't be long. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ho-Ho, Ho

We here at Broke Not Poor Kitchens, the French-based gourmet cooking school for the 99%, are constantly looking for useful recipes, but sad to say, the chief cook and dishwasher has a real propensity for pasta. There's nothing wrong with that: there's hardly a dietary staple that's as versatile. But that also means that this is yet another pasta recipe.

Pasta Puttanesca, to be exact, sometimes rather euphemistically translated as "Harlot's Pasta." The hoary (sorry) legend behind it is that Roman prostitutes needed a hearty meal that could be prepared between assignations with clients. That may be as that may be, but more interesting to me is the suggestion that if this is true, most of Rome's prostitutes came from southern Italy: the breadcrumbs are a giveaway.

At any rate, this is a nice hearty winter dish, made quickly and easily, and from mostly cheap ingredients. I guess you didn't get rich whoring in Rome.

(Sorry about the color: the flash didn't go off.) What you need for a dish of this is, clockwise from the top, parsley, preferably flat-leaf Italian parsley; capers; tomato purée, which comes in a box in this part of the world, a dozen or so brine-cured black olives, two anchovies (four fillets if you're using oil-cured ones), some garlic, and two tablespoons of toasted bread crumbs. Oh, and olive oil, which somehow didn't make it into the picture. Dried red chiles are also an option, albeit one I didn't exercise the night I shot this.

You're going to have to pit the olives because I know you're too smart to buy crappy grey-tasting canned pre-pitted olives, right? You can do this with a sharp knife and some patience, or you can do what I did and buy a cheap cherry-pitter. Put the olive pointy-side up in the O there in the bottom and bring down the pitter. The pit plops out the bottom of the device and if your olives are good you'll have something that looks a lot like the crappy canned pitted ones only tastes like olives.

Put the olives, a tablespoon of drained capers, the anchovies, about four cloves of garlic (each clove cut into three or four pieces), and a generous amount of parsley leaves into a food processor. Oh, and put your pasta water on: this moves rather quickly. Process the ingredients until they look pretty well ground.

But wait, I hear you say. I recognize that food processor! It's the fancy Braun that also comes with a blender and a dough-maker! It costs $500 and is only available in Europe! And you're right. You can also do it with a cheaper one, but I didn't have one of these babies for a long time, and I did the chopping with a good sharp knife. It takes longer, but it gets you there.

Next thing to do is to toast your bread crumbs until they're golden. This can be a slightly hairy process, but you should use a dry frying pan and realize that you'll have pale bread crumbs until the moment you don't. Keep stirring them and keep in mind they can go from raw to burnt in seconds. If you're skillful, you'll come up with something like this:

You can also do this with a bit of olive oil, as I've seen in some southern Italian recipes. And you can not toast them at all, if you want. Up to you.

Now, you put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in your sauce pan and heat it over medium heat. When it's ready, toss in the mixture you've just ground up. This is also when you'd add your dried chiles or chile flakes, if you're using them.

Stir it around and don't let it burn. In a few minutes, it'll be fragrant, urging you to come add the next step. Pasta water boiling? It should be. Go toss in the pasta (penne rigate is what I've always used, although there are actually people who make this with spaghetti) and then put one cup of that tomato purée into the mix.

Stir it in, lower the heat, and let it cook for just as much time as your pasta takes to cook. (De Cecco, which I use when I can't find Voiello, takes 12 minutes for penne rigate). Again, stir it to keep it from burning (can you tell I have burned this recipe from time to time?).

Soon, your sauce will look like this.

On your way to drain the pasta, spill about a tablespoon of the pasta water into this so that it will adhere well to the pasta. Then, bring the drained pasta over, mix the pasta with the sauce, add the bread crumbs, and take it to the table.

Man, I just had lunch and simply looking at this makes me hungry again! Try to eat it slowly; it's got a lot of depth to appreciate. And that other recipe you found for it that uses tuna fish instead of anchovies? Toss it. Anchovies rock.
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