Pasta a la Paella
- Enough long noodles to fit tightly within your encircled forefinger and thumb - the traditional 2-person serving.
- 1 tin smoked oysters, drained and rinsed to remove any oil.
- 1/2 head of garlic
- 1 cup white wine
- 4-6 merguez sausages depending on size, sliced into 1/2" pieces
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp saffron
- 1 rounded tbsp turmeric
- 1/4 cup medium-sized Spanish red onion, minced
- Roast the Garlic. Heat your oven to 400-450 degrees. Take a whole head of garlic, halve it, put the other half away for later! Slice the tops off the cloves, keeping the bunch together. Put this half-head of garlic in a small oven-ready dish (a creme brul?e cup is perfect.) Cover with tinfoil to help steam the garlic into submission. I estimate about 15-20 min roasting time depending on your oven. You'll know if it's done if the garlic inside the peel looks golden and caramelized, and scoops out like butter (in fact, a butter spreading knife is perfect for this).
- Prepare the Pasta. Bring 4-5 liters of water to a rolling boil (but you can't make them drink! ha! ha!), add 1 tbsp sea salt when boiling. Break noodles in half and submerge. Depending on level of al dente-ness desired, leave in for 4-8 minutes. Do not overboil. Do not rinse pasta afterwards - otherwise the sauce will slide off the noodles. Drain pasta and keep handy in a colander.
- Prepare The Sauce. In a wide, 2-inch deep saucepan over medium heat, drizzle about 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Sauté the roasted garlic but be careful not to burn it. (Go ahead and smoosh it up if you want.) Add the merguez pieces and smoked oysters. Sauté for about 3 minutes, adding onions if desired. Add white wine. Add turmeric, stirring to ensure it dissolves. Lower heat and simmer for about 4 minutes. Add saffron.
- Toss pasta in with sauce, simmer it in until noodles are properly coated. You're done!
Recommended wine: Spanish Tempranillo or Rioja.
An Evening with Piero Lissoni
Last night I had the great pleasure of attending a brief talk given by the Italian architect, urbanist and designer Piero Lissoni. Latitude Nord, the high-end furniture store on St-Laurent just below Mont-Royal, played host as they were launching the Lissoni-designed Living Divani range of furniture, co-sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission who provided top quality snacketry and vino.
Lissoni himself seemed more like an academic - which he is, being a professor at the Italian Design Institute. He was charmingly disarming, self-deprecating and funny, speaking in a mix of Italian, French and English, and looking rather like a shorn Salman Rushdie.
He ran through a PowerPoint presentation (just images, no bullet points - Cliff Atkinson would approve) on the theme of human dimensions - how all of his work has involved the concept of scale, from the thousands of tiny parts required for his Alessi wristwatches to the planning of his Boffi kitchens to stunning glass buildings to designing an entire village. Not entirely unlike Niels Diffrient of Humanscale, except Lissoni tends to work on the macro level where Diffrient works at the individual scale, but by branching out into the designed-objects business, Lissoni shows that the same rules apply, no matter where.
If you've been reading the news, you've heard about the whole new-taxi-fleets debate. Montreal's ecological and transportation activists have rightly decried the city's short-sighted banning of cars with short wheelbases because they "don't have enough legroom". Bigger taxis = bigger engines = more pollution, the argument goes.
The wheelbase issue is a smokescreen - it's really down to the interior layout of the car. The London Taxi TXII is not much longer than a PT Cruiser with a wheelbase of 113 inches, and the interiors are purpose-built to be extra-roomy. Plus it's designed for tight turns in European cities (25ft turning radius) - a natural for the narrow streets of Montreal. They currently use a very clean diesel engine, but I'm sure hybrid or alternative-fuel versions could be made.
On the topic of alternative-fueled fleets: In B's hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, the Badger Cab Company has been running an all-propane-fueled fleet of Buicks since 1980 - reducing pollution while providing a smooth ride at the same time. While propane and natural gas is set to spike in cost, it's a hopeful sign: if they can do alternative fuels economically in a medium-sized city like Madison, we could certainly do it here.