I first made spaghetti alla chitarra at Casale Centurione in Abruzzo. I had read about making this square shaped spaghetti the traditional way using a “guitar” (chitarra) but had never tried to do it. The name itself is fascinating as it describes the device perfectly – a whole lot of metal strings strung along a board that cut sheets of thick pasta into spaghetti. There was even a beautiful old chitarra (now no longer in use) at Casale Centurione that had belonged to Giulia’s grandmother.
We ate the spaghetti alla chitarra we had made when we stayed at Casale Centurione, but had an unforgettable version when we went to visit the agriturismo L’Antico Feudo in Ortona (Chieti) in Abruzzo. Fausto, a friend of Giulia’s took us to the agriturismo run by his family. The agriturismo was a self-sustaining powerhouse – they pretty much grew or made everything they served in the restaurant – from the salumi and bread, to the olive oil and wine. I was seriously impressed – everything I love about Italy, that local and sustainable farm to table culture was right here in Ortona.
We had a tour of the azienda, as well as an incredible meal that started off with antipasti (prosciutto, cacciatora, gorgeous little pastry shells, fresh ricotta, freshly baked bread) and then went to spaghetti alla chitarra con Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is a variety of red wine from Abruzzo and I can only assume that the wine was incorporated in the pasta, making it a darker colour. Looking at the photos of the dish, I can still taste the sauce, which (and I am going to have to take a guess) was made with pork mince, onions, garlic, carrots and spices. It was certainly a sauce that made you want to soak it all up in bread (fare la scarpetta) as you didn’t want any to go to waste. Then it was followed by the most delicious hand made biscotti (celli ripieni) with coffee. A memorable meal.
I had a lesson in using a chitarra when I stayed at Casale Centurione, under the watchful eye of Giulia’s mother-in-law, Francesca. The funny thing is that at the moment both Francesca and I have broken our left wrists. So pasta-making will have to wait for both of us at the moment. I am really itching to buy a chitarra to try making the spaghetti here in Australia – maybe I can even twist Fausto’s arm for his family recipe for Spaghetti alla chitarra con Montepulciano.