There are two ways to cook pasta at home: carefully, laboriously mixing, kneading and rolling out handmade dough, or… emptying a bag. Both, if treated with TLC, can be brilliant, though only one is truly convenient on a regular basis.
Rarely the star of the show, dried pasta is a vessel to hold the sauce reflecting our mood. Feeling relaxed and patient? Slow-cooked ragu it is. Boujie? It’s bottarga time, baby. Fancy journeying back to 2020? Dig out the truffle oil. Exhausted? Go on, decant the pre-made pesto. The possibilities are, indeed, endless.
Legendary ex-El Bulli chef Albert Adrià wants to change the way we look at pre-made pasta, however. Priced at £20 for two servings, his new brand Atavi puts the focus on the pasta itself by crafting tagliatelle with a range of flavour profiles. And no, £20 is not a misprint.
There are three types — Sourdough, Smoked and Umami — which are created by reimagining the dough rather than simply adding flavouring to it. The Sourdough dough is naturally leavened to create a taste similar to sourdough bread, while the Umami process changes the dough via a 40-hour koji fermentation, and the durum wheat used in the Smoked tagliatelle is nixtamalized and roasted.
I got my hands on a box of the Sourdough, which Adrià says pairs best with a tomato and rocket sauce, and was surprised to find that it is rather different from the strands I usually slurp - bringing the distinctive tang of the ubiquitous bread to the meal.
It’s a taste that makes you stop, pull your head up from the depths of a bowl and say, ‘what’s that?’ Deliciously unique, it’s the type of thing that’d make great dinner party conversation while your guests come up for air.
Will it replace my everyday tagliatelle? That depends how boujie I’m feeling.