Let me paint a picture for you.
It's 1996, Barry and I have rented Big Night on VHS (remember that?) the wonderful Stanley Tucci/Tony Shalhoub movie about two brothers trying to make a name for their struggling Italian restaurant by making and serving their signature dish, Timpano.
We were enthralled. Not only was the movie marvelous, spectacular, entertaining, but the meal prepared in the movie was mouth-watering.
As Roger Ebert says, in his review of the movie:
The movie works smoothly and deeply to achieve its effects, which have to do with more than this night or this feast. The surprises in the plot involve not only secret romance but heartbreak and long-held frustration, for if genius is great, it is nevertheless not easy to be genius' brother. By the end of the movie, we have been through an emotional and a sensual wringer, in a film of great wisdom and delight.
For Christmas that year, I bought Barry a cookbook written by Stanley Tucci and his family, and of course it included THE recipe.
Once in a while we would read the recipe and sigh. "Too hard, what would we do?"
What I didn't realize is the universe was working behind the scenes for me.
Well, I became a good cook in the intervening years. I even started to make my own pasta.
But more importantly, the universe gave me an Italian friend. And not just any Italian friend, but an Italian friend who cooks like an angel.
Take a bow, Ben.
So at some point last year, over a couple of bottles of wine, Barry and I began to regale Ben and his lovely wife Ger (who is responsible for bringing us all together!) about the movie and this infamous recipe.
"Let me see the recipe," Ben said. We hauled the dusty tome from the bookshelf, where it had stood silently for almost twenty years, waiting for Ben to arrive.
"I can make this." Now, that might have been the wine talking, but we jumped. Off Ben went that night, carrying the book with him.
On Friday night, we arrived. In honour of this long-awaited night of nights, we had brought a very expensive bottle of wine, although if truth be told, it was only marginally better than Ben's uncle's homemade wine, made from grapes shipped over from the old country.
As expected, it was a lot of work.
The pasta prepared the day before:
Into the pan:
When we arrived it was cooling, ready to be flipped:
After some tense moments pre-flipping that required the three parties involved to have an extra sip for the heroic task:
And then the big moment:
A thing of beauty!
We ate and we drank, and we finished the evening with my friend Ger's Tiramisu, which I unfortunately have no photos of because frankly, by then I was a little snookered.
Just like in the movie...
Another thing crossed off the bucket list, and I now feel brave enough to try it myself...
Grazie, Ben & Ger! ti amiamo!