Lunch today: gnocchi with braised nettles and pork, spaghetti with anchovies and tomato and breadcrumbs, and garganelli with olives and mushrooms. And paté. And my sweet parent-friend-who-I’ve-made-my-friend (and perhaps most devoted AC follower) JJ. We met for lunch at the tiny pasta mecca I’ve been reading about, Il Corvo, a fresh pasta project housed in a gelato shop. Procopio Gelateria by sunny day, Il Corvo by rainy afternoon. Home of just three fresh pasta dishes a day, made by hand each morning, devoured by dedicated masses by 2 or 3. (Il Corvo = The Crow, as Joan- “I speak enough Italian to ask the waitress for a table far away from the loud smoking Germans” -Jones, told me wisely … though I guess a person clever-er than I could’ve figured it out from giant crow on the sign.)

We debated what to order at the counter, and were pretty much instantly convinced by the three-man restaurant team to go ahead, why not!, order all three! Plus a little paté, just in cases. First, the paté. Perhaps the best paté ever. Also, I was starving and I have been making a good faith effort to eat healthy junk all week. Aka, kale and barley instead of grilled cheese dunked in Sriracha and a couple of dark chocolate peanut butter cups on the side. So white bread and pig, yes please. (Also, I went to a pig…erm…slaughter demo this weekend, and I’ve been weirdly…erm…craving pork. More on that soon.)

Shortly after the pate, three plates slid across the counter and a nod came our way. It’s your turn for pasta bliss, the pasta man with the awesomely rockabilly hair said with his look. Here is some logic for ya: pasta is good, fresh pasta is better, cold days makes you want pasta. All this came together right here for us real, real nicely. The spaghetti: clearly so reliant on olive oil, but somehow light too. Just fishy enough, brightened with just enough parsley. Given texture with breadcrumbs. Cooked just enough, so the pasta held that stiff fresh pasta bite-back.

The garganelli: (Do you know what that is? We did not. It is squares of pasta with ridges on one side rolled into tubes. The ridges hold the sauce, the tubes hold more sauce. Behold, the genius of Italian-ism) with slices of the most gigantic black olives I’ve ever seen or even imagined, with thinly sliced mushrooms (just enough mushroms to give it that good mushroom taste, which I love, but not enough that you could feel the mushroom texture, which I hate) in a slightly tangy tomato sauce. Just enough sauce too, that every pasta piece was perfect, and there was only tablespoons of precious flavor left at the end for bread-sopping.

Then, friends, the gnocchi. Tiny, tender, sweet. The babies of the pasta community, cuddly and lovable. With once-stinging nettles braised into yummy submission and salty pork shredded to goodness, little bits of crispy roastedness remaining. We loved it all. Beauty. And always so lovely to be with someone from home when you’re away from home. A sweet piece of Idaho (albeit a Canadian piece) here in rainland.

And, you know, pasta. The whole meal was perfect in its just-enough-ness, I’m realizing. Three pastas for two people would be crazy talk at pretty much any other Italian restaurant. Here, no. Go ahead and order the whole menu. You will leave warm and happily full, not stuffed with starch, just cozied with carbs. And the food itself, the just-enough-ness. Just enough perfectly trimmed little leaves of parsley. Just enough sauce, just enough pasta. Just so. And the place itself, just hidden enough that it feels special and secret. Yes. I love Il Corvo. And it is just a mere five minutes from my office. The healthy kick is over.

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