I was reading the most recent finger-on-the-pulse article by the brilliant journalist and author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) in the New York Times Magazine when the ironies came crashing down.

I was reading the most recent finger-on-the-pulse article by the brilliant journalist and author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) in the New York Times Magazine when the ironies came crashing down.

Titled "Out of the Kitchen, onto the Couch," Pollan's article was keenly commenting that in America the proliferation of cooking shows has accompanied a sharp decline in actual home cooking.

In other words, while we're willing to spend time watching popular programs like Top Chef and Iron Chef America, we're spending ever less time in the kitchen; in effect, for many, cooking is becoming a spectator sport.

As I was finishing Pollan's piece - and a trough of Thai takeout - I guiltily tuned into Top Chef only to see a TC-sponsoring commercial for a conveniently prefabbed pasta that piqued my interest. Subsequent research revealed the pasta was manufactured by an Italian company that's been operating in Tuscany since 1827 even though it was bought by Nestle in 1988.

Going to the company's website, I was directed to a Bay Area local news clip showing Michael Chiarello - a celebrity chef contestant on this season's Top Chef Masters - casually name-drop the pasta company. Could a Taste Test idea possibly shout at me any louder? -G.A. Benton

What I tried: Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti ($7)

Is that a mushroom in your pocket?: These Buitoni agnolotti (very much like ravioli) pockets claim to be made with all-natural ingredients and no preservatives. They're dated and stored in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

The two-step process for cooking them was identical to making any fresh pasta: boil four quarts of water, dump in the agnolotti, boil for four to six minutes more and then sauce. When these were ready (I simply tossed them in melted butter), I was impressed beyond all my jaded expectations. They were near restaurant-quality good.

The pockets had a surprisingly nice texture that tasted only of hard durum wheat, and the excellent filling delivered a bold, full crimini flavor with uneven chunks of mushroom perfectly accented by cheese (Grana Padano and Parmesan) plus a touch of garlic. As commercial convenience foods go, these were mighty impressive.

Would I eat them again?: Si, si signori.

Spot a new product you'd like Taste Test to try? E-mail gbenton@columbusalive.com