Lessons from the lesser grater
I like to cook, and I’m fairly good at it. Pasta, in any form, is my favorite and my specialty.
Nonetheless, a couple of times a year Gail wants me to to take her to the Old Spaghetti Factory in Todos Santos Square in Concord. She likes the Spaghetti in brown butter and mizithra cheese, and although you would think it’s pretty easy to make at home, Gail contends that I am incapable of properly browning butter.
The Old Spaghetti Factory has been around for about 40 years, and it’s still a monument to good management and ferocious cost cutting. For $9.95, you get a salad, a plate of pasta and a dish of spumoni for dessert. The fancy upscale mizithra dish with garlic, mushrooms and bacon costs an extra buck. I had the basic, Gail had the upscale. A glass of wine, a glass of iced tea, and the entire bill came to $34.94, $40 with tip.
Part of their secret is turning the tables four or five times a night. We sat down, the waiter was right there to get our order. The salads come out almost instantly, the pastas are close behind. He brings the check with the dessert and you have a sit down dinner and are out the door in 45 minutes, sometimes less.
Portions are generous, the food is hot and good. The bread is a fresh baked loaf. The spumoni doesn’t have any candied fruit or pistachios in it, because it’s cheaper that way, but it still tastes fine.
I used to try to make the same dish at home. Toby was a little kid, and in charge of grating the cheese, with me as assistant. That’s where he got the title of “Greater Grater” and I became the “lesser grater”. Fifth graders love cheesy puns almost as much as I do. Sadly, though, I proved to be an inadequate butter browner, so now we just go back to the mother ship of Mizithra cheese.