pasta, fennel pollen/seed, tomato, hot pepper, mint


I never thought I’d find the elusive ingredient, fresh fennel pollen, in my kitchen, but one of our creative local farmers made it possible this week. For more on the delights and the use of this extraordinary, very Italian seasoning, see this discussion of fennel in high summer.

As I write this I can still taste what the Wall Street Journal food writer called culinary ‘fairy dust’.

  • fresh bucatini pasta from Eataly (they’re sold in neat 1/3-pound ‘nests’, and it seemed to me that two of them would be inadequate if the dish was not going to include any other substantial ingredient, and that the three which I purchased might be too much; I was right, so we ended up with enough to visit this aromatic primi on another day), served with a simple sauce of olive oil heated slightly with one pretty seriously hot, but still described as Italian, pepper (unusual in its maroon color), from Oak Grove Plantation, then combined with one sliced red heirloom tomato from Berried Treasures, both fresh fennel seeds and fresh fennel pollen (from a generous-size bouquet of fennel flowers I had purchased from Lani’s Farm this week), and a bit of torn spearmint, also from Lani’s Farm
  • the wine was an Italian (Umbria) white, Orvieto Classico Superiore Castagnolo Barberani 2014
  • the music was Morton Subotnik’s ‘The Wild Bull’