Rules of pasta club:
Bring an open mind
No phone scrolling at the table
Don't feed the dog spaghetti
Be responsible for the energy you bring into the room
Don't bring dickheads
If you're anything like me and carbohydrates are part of your DNA, then you need to know about Pasta Mama. It's Melbourne's very own dinner club for pasta aficionados set in a plant shopfront on Johnston street, Collingwood. The rustic sensory experience is a little slice of European paradise, transporting you to Italia circa 1970. The ambience is devastatingly romantic: plants and art adorn the walls and hang from every nook between weaving fairy lights; there's a colourful mural with sage advice ('Eat spaghetti to forget your regretti); and sweet Italian melodies play in the background—swoon.
Self-confessed pleasure connoisseur (and plant designer 'Plant Mama') Jenna combined her love for pasta and homegrown, seasonal food to create a new experience in dining, one that's as fresh and nourishing as possible. Alongside her pup, Sprout—who greets each guest with a jump and a kiss—Jenna is the hostess with the mostess, explaining the source of the ingredients and wine, and the philosophy of eating slowly, simple and local. Whether it's lemons from a nonna's backyard or a wine producer from Northcote (like Jamsheed wines), Jenna and her rotating guest chef will only make dishes with what they can harvest at the time of year—the menu isn't even confirmed until the day of the event!
On 9 January, I tapped out of life and fled to the hills of Tuscany with Pasta Mama, enjoying a lavish banquet of antipasti, three different types of pasta, two salads and dessert. Oh, and wine—lots of quality, preservative-free drops. Our guest chef for this pasta club date was Cassandra (AKA Figgy), creator and baker from Fig + Salt. Fittingly, we started off with figs and ricotta on crostini; pea, mint and goats cheese bruschetta; fresh Sicilian olives; and Chia Sourdough with fresh butter baked that morning (it took all my willpower to not eat the whole loaf).
Then came out the pastas: homemade spaghetti with three different cheeses and a splash of lemon, followed by fettucine with a rich eggplant ragù and spaghetti with broccoli, garlic and toasted breadcrumbs (pangrattato). Our sides included panzanella salad with the juiciest heirloom tomatoes and a radicchio salad tossed with wild fennel and orange. After about 2 hours of slowly enjoying our epicurean feast, chatting with fellow pasta lovers on our table, we finished on a refreshing note: lemon sorbet with dehydrated orange and dark chocolate. Perfetto.
Keep your eye on Pasta Mama's instagram for the next dinner date! @pasta_mama_