I think it’s fair to say it’s one of the classic dishes of the Seattle area: lasagna at Cafe Lago.
The restaurant’s faithful have been coming for it since 1990, while others are just discovering it–most recently on Monday night when Chef/Owner Jordi Viladas offered a lasagna cooking class. (Cafe Lago is serving up free classes to celebrate its 20th anniversary, so call for more information and to reserve, as they’re popular and fill quickly.)
At $19.95 per portion, an order of lasagna is an investment, albeit a good one. It’s soufflé-like, the ricotta nice and fluffy, the pasta sheets as delicate as silk scarves, and the whole work simply delicious.
So what does Cafe Lago’s lasagna teach us about sex?
Watching Viladas make lasagna is like watching a porn star in a live film shoot.
The first thing he told the students was that the subtitle of the class should be “Don’t try this at home.” It takes practice. The guy’s got years of experience. So we could watch and learn, perhaps picking up some pointers, but we shouldn’t feel bad if we don’t ever reach his level of expertise.
As anyone who’s watched a porn flick get made can tell you, it’s time-consuming. The process simply takes time. There’s a lot of repetition and repositioning.
Luckily, Viladas had most of his accessories ready, so let’s jump right into the pasta-making. After loving on the dough with a good amount of kneading and massaging, with constant appreciation of its texture, he let it sit in anticipation for a few minutes. (Think of it as the opposite of fluffing.) Then positioning the pasta maker just right, he went for his first insertion, calming assuring us that “the hardest part is getting it in.”
But Vilada’s a pro, so insertion was easy. And continued to be as he pulled it out and put it back in, guiding it in with one hand, and keeping tension on the opposite end with the other.
There were many more steps, with tips and techniques to observe, over the course of the session. For example, alternating heat and cold, and toweling off. You’ll simply have to wait for the video to learn more about that.
Excitement built as Viladas reached the final act. Layer, then lubricate (alternating with special sauces of marinara and béchamel, and of course ricotta filling). Layer, then lubricate. Layer, then lubricate. Exciting at first, but again, as any live porn viewer can testify, the repetition can get mechanical, and indeed boring–and that’s not the fault of the actor. Just the way it is.
It was easy to lose track of the layers and lubricants, but finally the lasagna came to a climactic finish. A site to behold, and well worth the wait. Viladas smiled. “Try it at home…if you dare.”
Big news: Sexy Feast comes to life, as three area restaurants will be hosting real-time Sexy Feast dinners over the next few weeks. Picture a winemaker dinner, but instead of a winemaker describing the wines, Jay Friedman will explain the sexual lessons learned from each dish in your multi-course meal. This will be a stimulating way to talk about romance and relationships! The first Sexy Feast happens to be at Cafe Lago on 1/23, followed by a Valentines dinner at Willows Inn (just named by The New York Times as one of the 10 restaurants in the world worth a plane ride) on 2/12, and then a final one at 5 Corner Market on 2/27. Check the Facebook page for more information, including ticketing.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on January 13, 2011.