Thursday, June 21, 2012

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - The Pasta Man Can

Vinnie and his pastas
The Pasta Man, can

To take a liberty with the words of the famous song that became Sammy Davis Jr.’s signature tune:

“Who can take a sunrise and sprinkle it with cheese

cover it in sauces and a herb or two

The Pasta Man

Oh the Pasta Man can

The Pasta Man can

'Cause he mixes it with love

And makes the world taste good”

Last week I ended up my piece on Odessy Olive Oils and Vinegars asking what a perfect complement might

be. The answer, naturally, was Pasta and this week I want to tell you about a new addition to the Hamilton Market, Vinnie’s Fresh Pasta Factory.

In its second month, now Vinnie’s is doing “not bad, it’s just starting. (I’m) trying to bring something fresh and new here, fresh pasta made on site.”

“People are happy and coming back” says owner Vinnie Olfat who also runs Vinnie's Pizza & Pasta in Toronto. That’s not surprising given the very reasonable prices, further reduced as a “market special”. I paid just $4 for a pound of mixed red and green linguine that Vinnie said should last up to a week in the fridge before use.

When I ask why he’d chosen to expand to Hamilton and commute from Toronto on market days, Vinnie said he explored all around the GTA and came to the conclusion that the Hamilton Market offered the most potential, and “this kind of food was missing here.”

Quite the bold statement, especially in Hamilton, and so I asked if he has an Italian clientele? “Oh yes, sure I have a lot of Italian ladies coming and getting fresh pasta”. He chuckles at my suggestion that perhaps they are passing it off as their own. “They seem to like to make their sauce at home and get fresh pasta here…”

If you are not one to make your own sauce, Vinnie has a good range of home-made sauces, including creamy alfredo, basil pesto and tomato.

A compact, wiry man, Vinnie is actually Iranian, but has been in Canada nine years now, striking out on his own five years ago. He said he took his mentor’s first name to honour him for teaching him everything he knows.

His pasta machine, about the size of a small cement mixer, lurks in the corner of the stall. Apart from standard pasta (using semolina flour, eggs and water as the main ingredients), among his pasta offerings are organic whole wheat, spelt, and as of three weeks ago, and based on customer demand, a gluten-free spaghetti.

A saffron variety sounds worth trying, as does the lemon-pepper. He incorporates fresh vegetables into the pasta for colour and taste: spinach or green pepper for green, tomatoes for red. The possibilities percolate: How about black pasta made with squid ink?

“Sure, I’ll make that as well if someone asks for it.”

Of course, because the Pasta Man can!

To see more pictures, click here. 

Alex (Alex can be reached at fft@thehamiltonian.info )

Food for Thought logo, designed and kindly donated by Ninka Bielak. Ninka can be reached at ninka.bielak@gmail.com.

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