Barcelona Dreaming, Part II


By mid-June, ten months after they put down a deposit on their Boqueria stall (see "Part I,") our four young culinary entrepreneurs were finally able to begin the work that would transform Fruites I Verdures Vicenta into Pazzta 920. Down came the white walls; up went bright orange tiles. Down came the spooky florescent bulbs; up went recessed track lights tucked into a sleek false ceiling of curved and polished wood. The old storage area, where the previous owners had stocked extra crates of carrots and melons, became the new kitchen for making pasta. Like true foodies, the guys stocked their kitchen with the latest technology. Mariano showed off the brand new walk-in and the sous-vide cooker, but the real star was a Willy Wonka-esque monstrosity he called "The Extruder." Roughly the size of a Volkswagen and with three motors, the Extruder was plated with chrome and its various knobs and buttons winked in the light. The ravioli and spaghetti that were to be the stand's lifeblood would be made in this machine—filled, cut, and pushed out through its gaping maw. The Extruder cost $23,000 and had to be shipped from Italy. I wasn't kidding about the Volkswagen: The Extruder, all 1,300 pounds of it, wouldn't fit though the stall's entrance. Down came pieces of the black granite counter that had just been installed. While they waited for the technician from Italy to show up and explain how the damn thing worked, Juan and Mariano developed recipes. They knew they wanted to have seven or eight different pastas at a time, and they insisted that everything to be seasonal. But mostly they wanted to take full advantage of what the Boqueria had to offer. "This is one of the best markets in the world for raw materials," Juan said. "People pick their vegetables at 5 a.m., and by 8 they're on sale." Across the way, the butcher nodded in approval. It was he, after all, who would be providing the beef and pork for the ravioli at Pazzta 920, now set to debut on June 30. Coming Next: Open for business.

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