Think of Michael Patrick as a pasta scholar. A fascination with homemade noodles began during his South Florida childhood and grew into an obsession for obscure pastas made by vanishing Old World methods. A certified sommelier who worked in restaurants as well as wine education and journalism for two decades, Patrick spent six years traveling intermittently through villages all over Italy, learning from home cooks and culinary professionals, before starting his own small-scale production in a shared kitchen near Your DeKalb Farmers Market. The fanciful shapes, many with unique fillings, that he sells through his company, Storico Fresco, reveal more skillful attention than any other fresh pastas sold in Atlanta. He makes his products with little more than a rolling pin, small dowels, and a wooden comb called a pettine that creates ridges on, as one example, lumachelle—a tubular pasta infused with cinnamon and lemon zest that he traces to a recipe from Benedictine nuns in the province of Le Marche, east of Tuscany.
Patrick uses what pasta makers refer to as the “volcano technique”: Dump the flour and the salt on a large maple board, make a nest, crack the eggs, spritz a tiny bit of imported Italian water with high mineral content (which helps create a firmer pasta), and mix everything with a fork, keeping the dough on the dry side because, he says, “the salt will attract plenty of moisture from the air.” Passed through a dough sheeter and cut by hand, the final product has the seductive cat-tongue roughness that can never be achieved by machine-made pasta.
All the flours Patrick uses, including finely ground wheat versions such as double zero, come from Italy. Eggs are a crucial pasta ingredient for refined texture and proper color; Patrick uses brown eggs from a breed of hen that produces deep red yolks. Fresh-filled, refrigerated pastas such as Lombardian pi fasacc (“swaddled newborns”) wrapped around handmade ricotta, Grana Padano cheese, Tallegio, borage, lemon zest, and fresh local herbs draw sellout attention at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market on Saturdays, where Patrick sets up a table. (His dry pastas cost $4 to $8 per half pound; fresh pastas run $12 to $14 per pound.)
Once you secure a precious tray of Friulian cjalsons (tiny calzones filled with a mixture of chopped figs, raisins, smoked ricotta, and fresh herbs) or bertu (“donkey ears” shaped around a fine forcemeat of cotechino pork sausage and ricotta), carefully follow the instructions printed on beautiful labels that detail the recipe’s history. Both Patrick’s fresh and dry pastas cook in about six minutes. The latter—whether flat, round corzetti perfumed with local borage or ribbed garganelli—is best kept in the refrigerator and served with little more than sage and brown butter or the simplest of tomato sauces.
Patrick’s pastas have found a ravenous audience, and as of press time he was looking for a location to increase his artisanal production beyond the current 150 pounds a week. Aside from the Peachtree Road market, preorder Storico Fresco products through Facebook (facebook.com/storicofresco) and pick them up from the Farm Mobile operated by Riverview Farms (grassfedcow.com), which makes multiple weekly stops throughout the metro area. storicofresco.com