Proving that making pasta is just as much art as it is science, and that it’s surprisingly simple to make a fresh, delicious pasta dough, chef and owner of Flour + Water restaurant in San Francisco, Thomas McNaughton, visited the Santa Clara City Library as part of its February Food Fest on Feb. 15.
McNaughton, 31, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who also owns Trick Dog, Central Kitchen and Salumeria in San Francisco’s Mission District, mixed near equal parts 00 flour (fine flour) and egg yolks to make a dough that would be rolled out, stuffed and transformed into various types of pasta during Sunday’s demonstration.
“You can take all these recipes in the book and you can substitute all-purpose flour and the pasta is going to come out amazing,” said McNaughton. “It’s a great recipe. It’s just when we go down to the really delicate and fine textures that we’re talking about and we’re trying to achieve in the book, 00 flour will always win in my heart.”
McNaughton’s cookbook, Flour + Water: Pasta, named after the restaurant he opened five years ago, is his first and devoted entirely to the art of pasta making. “It’s single subject,” he said. “It’s just about pasta making and really through the lens of Flour + Water … Not a lot of restaurants give that much time, energy and space to fresh pasta so it’s very, very close to my heart and very interesting … I just want to show how easy it is to do these recipes at home.”
With over 600 types of documented pasta, Flour + Water dedicates part of its restaurant to a dough room and test kitchen to continue perfecting its recipes and keep in line with the restaurant’s choice to remain fresh and seasonal.
“If you look at the menu of Flour + Water it changes almost every day,” McNaughton said. “We’re certainly a seasonal restaurant. We only work with small farms. We use whole animals and really the season and the farms dictate what we use on the menu, but if you were really to break down the pasta on the menu of Flour + Water, it’s much closer to Northern Italy than southern.”
McNaughton and his restaurant group, Ne Timeas, hope to open two new restaurant ventures at San Francisco’s Swedish American Hall (Upper Market area) within the next three months. Visit www.flourandwater.com for more information.
February Food Fest, which is sponsored by donations to the Santa Clara Library Foundation and Friends, is holding its final demonstration and cookbook talk on Sunday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. when Tony Gemignani, author of The Pizza Bible and 11-time Pizza World Champion will speak.