New York has long been a food capital, from the upscale kitchens of our finest restaurants to the bagels and sausages on the street corners. But as anyone whose walked around Brooklyn has figured out, the next chapter of New York’s food history has everything to do with the local, “artisanal” food scene that is making its mark on the city. From the rise of greenmarkets and food fairs to the focus on seasonal ingredients, these products embody a DIY ethos that New York City has had from the very beginning.
The New-York Historical Society’s Museum store is introducing it’s Taste of New-York History collection of specialty foods that can only be found in New York City and State, including jams, cheeses, and chocolates. The store will also be hosting a series of Friday Night Bites events, where local vendors will provide demonstrations and tastings. One of our vendors, Sfoglini Pasta, will be here on June 7. Based in Brooklyn, Sfoglini Pasta focuses on making freshly extruded pastas from local grains and ingredients, experimenting with new flavors like beet, nettle, and even everything bagel! We spoke to Sfoglini co-owner Scott Ketchum about making pasta, New York’s food scene, and how best to cook their bagel pastas.
You and [co-owner and chef Steve Gonzalez] have lived and worked all over the country. What about New York made you want to start this business here?
I came to New York about 12 years ago, and really, it had always been a dream of mine to move here. I grew up in the MTV generation and seeing everything that happened here—it was just so different from where I grew up. I had that desire from young age. I moved to San Francisco for a while, but I still knew I wanted to come to New York. As for Steve, the restaurant business brought him here. This is where all the chefs want to be.
Given your culinary backgrounds, why did you choose to open a pasta business instead of a pasta restaurant?
That really was our original concept, to have a restaurant with wholesale business on the site, and we worked on that for a long time. But with times being tough, financing, it wasn’t happening as quickly as we had hoped. So we saved up some money, and thought we’d have enough to do the wholesale business. And there seemed to be a hole in the marketplace; no one was doing pasta the way we wanted to. We want to share pasta making with people, show people how it’s done. A Sfoglini is a type of pasta maker in Italy, so it’s about sharing tradition. Our space doesn’t have room for classes right now, but eventually we want to expand into that. It’s a nice thing to share with people.
Do you have any tips for making pasta at home?
I think using great ingredients and taking the time to do everything right makes a difference. We like to experiment with a lot of new grains, and we’re hoping to bring that more to the market, and show people how to use local grains.
What gave you the idea for the more inventive pasta flavors?
Steve really loves to go to the markets and local farmers, where we see what there is available to use. Just using whatever is local and fresh at the time is what we try to focus on. We know there are certain things we try to repeat, but you never know. The beet pasta we did in February was very popular, the nettle pasta turned out magnificent. Not everything always works, but we try.
The everything bagel pasta has gotten you a lot of press recently, mainly I think because it combines these two New York food cultures in a really new way. What gave you the idea for that?
That grew out of Hurricane Sandy. Steve was in the East Village, and lost power for that week and came to stay with me on the Upper West Side. My wife went to get bagels one morning, and she loves the everything bagel crumbs, and sprinkles the crumbs on everything. We were joking around that we should try to make a pasta out of that, and it just grew. But it all started over bagels for breakfast.
New York has a long history of food culture. How do you think what you guys do, and the larger artisanal food movement happening right now, is a part of that?
I think the food culture disappeared for a while in New York and people wanted to bring that back, especially when things became so processed with artificial ingredients in everything. Everyone just wanted to eat fresh again. It’s not necessarily why we started this. It just started happening and we were in it. Steve has had this passion for a long time. Italian cooking is all about finding local, fresh ingredients.
What’s your favorite way to serve the everything bagel pasta?
We’re doing it in our pasta of the month box this month, but we think people should treat it like is is a bagel, so the recipe here includes cream cheese and smoked salmon and onions. But I really like a lot of our seasonal pastas because they have so much flavor on their own, so you can’t go wrong with cooking them with some brown butter or olive oil and a little bit of cheese.
5 oz Sfoglini Everything Bagel Fusilli
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 ½ oz Red Onions sliced long and thin
½ oz Capers
1 Tablespoon Cream Cheese (room temperature)
7 ½ oz Smoked Salmon
½ Teaspoon Dill, Finely Minced
Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
Increase or decrease ingredients/seasoning to taste!
Heat 3 quarts of salted water and bring to a boil, add Everything Fusilli and cook for 5-8 minutes.While waiting for water to boil, sauté the red onions in olive oil and salt over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add a couple teaspoons of pasta water to stop the onions from becoming too soft and turn off heat. Add capers to sautéed onions and let sit. Drain Fusili, add to onion and capers and turn heat back on medium. Add cream cheese and a splash of pasta water until cream cheese is melted then turn off heat. Add smoked salmon, dill, salt and pepper, mix and serve.