Dal Pasta is a man not a dish.
His lovely wife is Patti Pie.
These are of course not their real names but they are the nicknames given to them by the people they love. Nicknames so appropriate because Dal is the master of pasta and Patti is the queen of pie.
Upon meeting them, you understand that the reason their food is so tasty is because they pour their spirit into everything they do.
I first met Dal Pasta in Carpinteria at the stupendously gorgeous Rose Story Farm. We were invited for dinner by Dal’s daughter, who happens to be the beautiful proprietor of the farm along with her equally beautiful husband. Dal was, no surprise here, making a pasta course to serve at dinner that night with family and friends. Dal had brought the sauce with him. He had made it at home earlier that day so I didn’t get to see how it was prepared. It was a sauce that gave him great pride, and rightly so. It was the sauce that you dream of, the sauce that can only be achieved by the diligent and tireless hands of someone who learned it from a generation prior and who never succumbs to any shortcuts.
I sidled up to Dal and offered to help. Dal looked at me with his impossibly adorable smile and, dare I say it, was a bit of a flirt. He charmed me from day one. Over the years I discovered that I was not the only apple of Dal’s eye and he had quite a harem of ladies like me who found him irresistibly cute. His daughter, my friend, seemed to find it amusing that her grumpy old dad had the ability to charm us women who were thirty-plus years his junior.
That first night, Dal confided in me as I helped him serve up his legendary pasta. He whispered, “This is the secret.” On top of each bowl of pasta, before adding the steaming hot sauce, he put two pats of butter. And he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye.
One and Only Son ate three bowls of pasta. He was a rather small child at the time so Dal Pasta was happy at bowl two and positively beaming at bowl three. He said he had never seen a little boy eat so much pasta. I assured him that it was indeed the most pasta my son had ever eaten.
But the pats of butter were not the only secret Dal Pasta had. Arriving to dinner at his house one evening not long after our first meeting, I smelled his special sauce simmering on the stove and I started asking questions. He quite amiably began telling me what he had done. But really all I got was that he started that morning with sixty fresh tomatoes which he blanched, peeled and seeded to make his sauce which had been simmering for hours.
That’s all I got.
I had hopes of getting a full recipe out of him one day, but I didn’t want to push too hard.
I wish I had asked more questions. I wish I could see that twinkle in his eye one more time.
Dal Pasta passed away on a beautiful March day in 2014.
I will always put two pats of butter on the pasta before adding a sauce,
but sadly it won’t be Dal Pasta’s sauce.
6 servings of cooked pasta
6 T butter
6 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
Fill six bowls with pasta.
Add 1 T of butter cut in half to the top of each bowl of pasta.
Top with steaming hot sauce and serve.