Three AM Al Fredo

Some friends suggested I write up this story and recipe, so here it is.

3 AM  Al Fredo

vegan-alfredo-sauce-pasta7When I was a teenager I sometimes made myself pasta for a late-night meal. One night I had the pasta nearly ready to drain when my father came home (in those days one of the restaurants he had was an  after-theater bistro in midtown and he often came in close to dawn). He asked if I had a enough to share, and what I was going to put on it.  I said there was plenty and I was just going to put butter and grated cheese. He asked if I was interested in learning a quick sauce and then taught me this:

Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the water. On low heat, melt some butter in the pot along with the reserved water, beat in a bunch of cream, a lightly beaten egg yolk, and stir in grated parmesan or romano cheese. Toss with the pasta and serve.  The egg is optional, he said, but it’s richer with it.

We ate it together and then went our separate ways to bed.  It wasn’t until years later when Alfredo sauce was all the rage that I realized what he’d taught me to make.

1 lb. pasta cooked al dente & drained
½ cup of the cooking water
4 oz butter
1-1 ½ cup cream (any kind – the richer the cream, the richer the sauce)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten (optional)
¼ cup grated “Italian” cheese
sprinkle of pepper to taste (optional)

Melt butter in a saucepan or skillet, adding in the reserved pasta water. Add cream and egg, stirring constantly. Add the grated cheese. Simmer gently for a minute or so, then toss with pasta, topping with a sprinkle of fresh black pepper. Add more cheese at the table to taste.

Channeling My Father

Some days, I feel like I’m channeling Guido.  My father was one of the most charming, charismatic people I’ve ever encountered. He was something of  a scoundrel, using charm to pave the way for himself whenever he could — which was almost all the time!

Guido was a 3rd generation restaurateur. His skills as a host were impeccable. When you were in his presence, you believed (and so did he) that you were the most important person in the world. Since he momentarily shared this belief, he was infinitely plausible, authentic and compelling, and his warmth was unfeigned.  It didn’t matter that thirty seconds after he turned away to greet the next diner, you were forgotten, because for those few seconds you really were the center of the universe.

On the days I channel Guido, it is effortless to connect to the people who cross my path. Clients, colleagues, store clerks, bank tellers, intimate friends — it doesn’t matter. Each transaction, each exchange is “it” while it’s happening. What a flow! What a charge! How juicy! I just adore those days.