May 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Herbie! Celebrating with Fettucine Neri ai Frutti di Mare, and a new Addition to the Family!

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Those of you keeping track at home have probably already realized it, but for those of you who have not been, we have an important piece of information to share with you. Herbie is now 1 year old! We got him about a month or so after he was born so we haven't had him for a full year yet, but he's grown up quite a bit and really come into his own. Even though he's bigger, he still has kitten-like mannerisms and a little baby face. It's been a great year.

To celebrate, this weekend we re-made a dish that was actually the inaugural post of this blog - frutti di mare. We made it a bit more special by using fettucine neri (squid ink fettucine) and fresh local seafood. Herbie loves fresh local seafood. More importantly though, we got Herbie something very special... a brother!

Everyone, meet Pepper!
Adopting a second cat is something we've been thinking about doing for quite some time. Herbie loves to be played with and will chase toys around the apartment endlessly, often for much longer than we have energy to accommodate him. We also feel terrible about leaving him alone throughout the day with nothing to do while we're at work. So when we came across this little guy the ASPCA adoption truck in Hells Kitchen and saw how he interacted with us and the other cats, we were hooked. We named him Pepper, and he's extremely friendly, loves to be petted, and talks a lot.

Welcome home Pepper!
We've kept them separated for the first few days as per the ASPCA's recommendation on introducing cats to one another, but Herbie was immediately aware that there was a new guy in the house and was eager to start playing.

Please can Pepper come out and play??

After the third day, we let them meet each other briefly and they wrestled around happily with no hissing, growling, or howling! Even though Pepper is half Herbie's size, he didn't run away from Herbie and held his own pretty well. After their first meeting, Herbie was exhausted and slept like a baby throughout the night. Success!

Herbie, tired, but still interested in his new friend behind the door.

We'll keep you all up to date on their continued introduction and you can expect to see more of Pepper on the blog.

Now onto the food...

Making the Dish
What You'll Need

1/2 lb fresh squid ink pasta
6 large fresh shrimp
diver scallops
2 tubes calamari
fresh littleneck clams
fresh mussels
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove chopped garlic
2 cups tomato sauce
3/4 cup good white wine
1/4 cup budding chives (optional)

Frutti di mare is an extremely easy meal to make, and has very few ingredients. As such, the better the ingredients, the better the final dish will be. You'll want the best tomato sauce you can find or make, a very nice, flavorful white wine, and fresh, tasty seafood.

For this dish, we used mussels, little neck clams, diver scallops, shrimp, and calamari, a pretty classic combination of seafood for this dish. Start off by rinsing off your mollusks and slicing up the calamari into little rings.

In a large pot, saut√© some chopped garlic and a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes in a tablespoon of olive oil. Place the mussels and clams into the pot (they'll start to crackle as the water evaporates from the shell), and then into the pot add in 3/4 cup of good white wine.

You'll need to do this all quickly, before the garlic starts to burn. The wine will immediately start to boil and evaporate, so cover the pot quickly. Let the clams and mussels steam in the pot for about 5 - 7 minutes, until all of the shells have fully opened. This will give them a wonderful flavor as they absorb the essence of the wine and oil.

Once the shells have opened, add two cups of the tomato sauce to the pot, and muddle the sauce around with the wine so that everything is combined. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.

At this point, you're nearly done. Drop your pasta into the boiling salted water, and cook until one minute shy of the package directions so it is nice and al dente. Chop up some fresh parsley and toss it into the sauce, and then add the rest of your seafood.

It will only need to cook for a couple of minutes in the hot sauce. Make sure everything is submerged, cover, and after a minute or two, remove from heat.

While we were shopping we came across these lovely budding chives. They're a bit crunchier and tangier than the normal chives, and we'd had them before in a seafood pasta dish, so we took them home and had them for ourselves.

If you can find them, chop them up into manageable pieces, and then add them to the cooking sauce so they can tenderize for a little bit in the heat.

Finally, remove all the seafood from the pan so that just the sauce remains. Drop the pasta into the remaining sauce and toss around so that it is fully covered and the flavors marry.

Tossing the squid ink pasta into the sauce.
Then, place the pasta in serving bowls and divide the seafood amongst the bowls evenly. Cover with the remaining sauce and enjoy!

The cooked frutti di mare.
The Wine
The wine we used for this was a really special one that we picked up in Napa when we were there last September. It's from a small family owned vineyard called Jocelyn Lonen. We were treated to a tasting of their delicious wines overlooking beautiful vineyards by their exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable tasting manager Sam.

This chardonnay is one of the best we've ever had, by far. There is virtually no oakiness, it's extremely smooth, and wonderfully buttery. We used this for the sauce and it made it really stand out, and then enjoyed the rest. If you're into chardonnays, you should definitely head over to their website and place an order for a few bottles.

The Result
We were very satisfied with this meal. The seafood was fresh and bursting with flavor, the budding chives added a nice tangy crunch, the sauce, infused with the delicious Lonen chardonnay, was luscious and delicious, and the fresh squid ink pasta was divine.

For those of you who love seafood, this should be a go to dish. Coupled with a wonderful wine, this was a great, luxurious way to celebrate Herbie's first year and the addition of a new member to our family!

Have a favorite celebratory dish? A good seafood pasta? Let us know in the comments below!

Click through for the full ingredients list.


  1. That sounds delicious, will definitely take it for a test drive.
    Congrats on your new addition, I'm sure you'll have a blast with him. And it's been my experience that B&W's are rather chatty.

  2. Congrats on the new kitteh!

  3. Beautiful pictures and a delicious looking dish.

  4. Happy birthday Herbie and congrats on the new baby brother. Wish I like seafood 'cause that looks delish!

  5. Pepper is SO handsome! Congratulations and Happy Birthday to Herbie!

  6. Thanks all! Herbie appreciates the birthday wishes and Pepper appreciates the compliments :)

  7. Love Herbie's new little bro. Today's recipe looks wonderful, can't wait to try it!


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