I've used both the Imperia machine (which you can find in Sur la Table etc.) and also the Atlas (by Marcato) - both are the most common in terms of availability (in the UK and US), but I found the Atlas far sturdier, and also it had more gradations on the wheel, making it more accurate in judging pasta thickness. I'm still not completely happy with the thicknesses available - though the next step up is a restaurant pasta machine - about 500 dollars/250-300 pounds. It makes a much wider sheet, and again is sturdier.
Cleaning these machines is also an issue. My instructions told me not to use soapy water, or throw it in the dishwasher, so I always end up knocking the thing around on my front doorstep, trying to get all of the flour out, or using a toothbruh to get in the crannies.
Of course, when I grow up, I wanna be an Italian grandmother... I wanna snap my fingers and have gnocchi flying in all directions.
Of favourite recipes - the Batali beef-cheek ravioli with chicken liver toscana sauce (and shaved black truffle, if you have it, or some black truffle oil if you don't) is as close to heaven as I've come. Obviously beef cheeks are hard to come by, but I've used oxtail, and short ribs, and felt both times that my result turned out a far more succulent end result than the version I had at Babbo.
I've been playing with several different pumpkin/butternut squash recipes, and there always seemed to be something missing - a heft, or substance to the taste (not the texture). I discovered recently that a tablespoon or so of good balsamic vinagar adds a background to the flavour that's unidentifiable, but makes all the difference.
[edit for typo]
Edited by MobyP, 14 January 2004 - 05:55 AM.
"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie SmithFlickr Food
"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP