On a quiet corner of SE Division Street, Rachael Grossman’s screaming-red food cart teeters back and forth, squeaking with each practiced thrust of her arms. Inside, Grossman stands at a six-foot-long cutting board, where she kneads, slices, crimps, and tines 10-pound balls of fettuccine, ravioli, and gnocchi dough into submission before they join superfresh ingredients in artful Italian dishes.
At age 5, Grossman entered the world of rigatoni and manicotti as a “sous chef” at her grandmother’s underground supper club in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Later, she spent three months molding pasta shapes at a restaurant in the medieval town of Casperia, just north of Rome, before planting herself in Oregon’s wine country. In 2010, Grossman brought her spaghetti know-how (and 3,000 pounds of pasta) to the streets of Portland.
“If I can make pasta in my 16-by-8-foot cart,” Grossman says, “anyone can do it at home.” Follow her recipe, she suggests, as a rough guide rather than an exacting formula. “The ratio of flour to eggs will change depending on many factors: weather, humidity, size of eggs, and even the brand of flour,” she says. “With a little practice, you will feel when the dough is ready.” Fettuccine alla Checca, the first dish Grossman tasted on Roman soil, is a simple yet satisfying preparation from the classic Italian playbook. With nothing more than a spartan saucing of fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic, you’ll be able to savor everything down to the farm-fresh eggs in this tender, hand-kneaded fettuccine.