Top critical review
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Don't be scared, it works.
on February 1, 2009
I was hesitant to buy this product based on the two negative, most up-voted reviews. One goes on about how crummy and unworkable the product is; the other talks about black and silver metal particles coming out of the device.
I purchased it anyway, based on the other reviews that haven't been voted up past the two negative reviews for some reason.
The bottom line is that the product is relatively inexpensive and it works.
I've encountered no metal particles in my pasta. The pasta can travel to the sides as you crank if you're not careful, but it does go through. The product does work. It appears to me to be solidly built. Its manufacture does not appear tinny or crummy.
The main body of the unit is designed to flatten your dough to the desired thickness. There are seven settings. You start with the most thick and work your pasta down to the desired level of thinness.
The other pieces are attachments that involve the second stage where you make the pasta the desired shape (fettuccine style, spaghetti style, etc.). You attach the unit by sliding it into grooves on the front of the main unit. You then attach the crank into a hole on the side of the attachment and turn it to work the pasta through. The attachments easily slide in and out but stay in place once attached.
So don't be scared. It works.
There are a few annoyances, however.
- The bottom support "pads" aren't pads at all, but pieces of hard white plastic. On smooth surfaces, the machine will slide during use if not held in place.
- The height of the crank is higher than the machine, so you will have to use the machine with the edge of it near the edge of a counter.
- When you put one of the attachments (to cut the pasta into the various kinds of pasta shapes) on the unit, the weight distribution isn't completely stable, and it can topple over if you're not careful. This really hasn't been much of a problem for me, though. It can topple, but generally doesn't.
- The crank is removable and does not lock in place. If you forget this fact, it can fall out on you if you move the unit and haven't taken out the crank.
And, lastly, some helpful advice as there may be other newbie pasta makers out there like myself.
Before using the unit, make sure you have enough room. You will need somewhere to lay out or hang your pasta.
There may be a reason why the "pads" on the main unit aren't sticky pads. As you crank the pasta out, you have the option to slide the unit so that the pasta can be flat when it comes out. Imagine feeding out a length of rope as you walk backwards. If you do that, the rope will form a relatively straight line. If you stay stationary, the rope will just fall in front of you, folding and coiling on itself.
Depending on the pasta recipe and thickness setting you use, your pasta may be brittle and break as it folds or may stick to itself when it remains in contact with itself for some time. So I think sliding the unit as you crank or having someone else around to gently grab the pasta and pull it forward can be a great help.
Manage your pasta-making in stages by portioning out the dough into small portions, so that the unprocessed pasta isn't sitting out, drying up, and becoming brittle and the pasta being processed doesn't have a chance to stick to itself once made because your attention is on managing your work space and dealing with finding a place for your pasta, moving it around gently, making sure the unprocessed pasta isn't getting too dry, etc.
My first few attempts at pasta making were a mess because I didn't do this. Pasta was everywhere, and my real-estate for working was dwindling rapidly. I painted myself in a corner.
Give yourself lots of time and room by making sure you have a large working area. Portion out the dough, keeping the portions you aren't processing in the fridge wrapped in saran wrap.
Also, depending on your recipe, the cooking time for the pasta may be very different from what you expect. I would work with really small portions at first, cooking experimentally and sampling often while boiling.
Fresh pasta cooking is different than cooking store bought stuff. Some kinds of fresh pasta take longer than you expect to get to the right mouth-feel, others take a lot less time.
The low price of this unit it makes it ideal for beginners like myself. I am sure there are other units that are better, but this one works for me at my current stage of culinary development. I figure three stars would be a fair rank in this regard.
Good luck and have fun!