I’m a big pasta fan. And an even bigger cheese fan. Imagine my delight when they came together, but not in the way you’d expect…
Last night I happened upon a small Italian restaurant in the heart of Cape Town’s CBD called The Cousins. Literally started by three cousins (Andrea, Simone and Luca) from the Romagna, on the Adriatic coast of Italy, The Cousins is as authentic Italian as the gnocco fritto they serve to snack on.
But it wasn’t those little fried breads that really got my attention. Nor was it the deliciously fresh platter of mushroom, tomato, olive and brinjal (and plenty of garlic!) crostinis. Nope. It was the Parmesan wheel.
It’s the first time I’d experienced dalla forma… And trust me, it won’t be the last.
So what is it all about? Basically, it’s a large (extra large) hollowed out bowl of Parmesan. The waiter brings this wheel of magic right to your table, along with your semi-complete, hot pasta dish (tagliatelle with cream, mushrooms, garlic and a little wine). He then dumps this into the Parmesan wheel and tosses it around – when steaming pasta hits melty Parmesan, magic happens.
A technique originating from Italy – some say because of the lack utensils required to gain access into a ginormous round of rock-hard Parmesan – the wheels are replaced every few days, so the cheese is always fresh.
It’s so simple, yet so effective. And the taste was out of this world. And paired with a glass of The Cousins’ house wine, a crisp viognier, it reminded me that sometimes, when something is simple yet executed superbly, it’s pure genius.