Less Is More (Difficult)

At $24, spaghetti  with tomato & basil at NYC-based Scarpetta is priced within a couple of dollars of the other, impressive-sounding, meat-centric entrees, such as short rib and bone marrow agnolotti, duck & foie gras ravioli with a marsala reduction, etc. It seems to be a deliberate (and laudable, in my opinion) choice by the chef who is trying to make the point that a simple dish of spaghetti with tomato and basil can be on par with (if not superior to) the other menu items in terms of complexity and enjoyment.

Spaghetti with tomato & basil at Scarpetta, NYC

I have always believed simple dishes were infinitely harder to execute well, such as a perfectly cooked piece of fish or an omelet. “Simple to the point of austerity”, – one of my (and Jeff’s) favorite quotes and inside jokes from Sarah Caudwell, a late barrister and murder mystery writer with a sense of humor as sharp as her intellect. The spaghetti was pretty amazing; especially washed down with a glass of a “simple” 2004 Cosimo Taurino Salento Rosso Notarpanaro from Puglia. Still, how hard can this really be?

Hint: it is all about attention to detail (plus a secret ingredient – butter!). Chef Scott Conant, in his interview with Today.com’s journalist Katie Quinn, says, “Anything simple is difficult, to be honest with you…It’s a culmination of just small things that are really done properly “.

The Virgo in me smiles…

P.S. Anybody curious as to how this glorious dish is made step by step can follow the link below:



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