Sara Jenkins, the acclaimed Pasta-Centric chef in NYC, cooks for "Pasta!" on Bon Appetit and features Faella Pasta.
Faella, since 1907 the best artisanal pasta from Gragnano, aka "The City of Pasta" near Napoli. Faella is also IGP (Identificazione Geografica Protetta). Sergio Faella, here tells you why this is important (in Italian, with subtitles).
Take a look at this photo again, that small brown package sitting on the dish comes to you from Cilento, Italy and contains the precious and divine Fico Dottato DOP, white fig that have been stuffed with almonds, soaked in rum and fig mollasses with citrus peel and raisins. Who wouldn't want to sit down at an eating event to find an elegant, sustainably packaged and culturally significant gift?
And the floral arrangement? Spectacular! Created by Amy, our friend and super floral designer of Seaport Flowers, in Brooklyn. Thank you Martha Stewart and thank you Amy!
The past few weeks have been exciting for our Gustiamo team members. It all started when Stefano's story was featured on the University of Gastronomic Sciences Alumni page. Then, when Beatrice's recipe for Risotto ai Funghi Porcini was included in the New York Times collection of 50 best family recipes, we decided that the rest of us wanted to be in the spotlight and we kicked off Danielle's Gustiamo People Series.
Many of the esteemed food writers we follow and adore
have been lucky enough to find themselves this late summer/early fall on
the Sicilian Island Pantelleria. Where, as one might expect, they were
swept off their collective feet by "i capperi Panteschi",
capers from Pantelleria. At Gustiamo, we have been enamored by Pantelleria's
capers since 2000 when we started importing salted capers and
"cucunci", caperberries in sea salt, from La Nicchia. La Nicchia is a brand of Pantelleria capers
produced by caper farmers who are part of the capers from Pantelleria
We could not be more pleased that so many of our favorite
foodies were able to visit La Nicchia's capperifico. There is a lot
more to caper production than one might assume. As Evan Kleiman says in
her Cappero Pantesco post, "Now that I know a mature caper plant yields 1.5
kilos a season (each picked laboriously by hand), I will never use one without
marveling at the commitment of those who labor on their knees to bring
it to us."
You can see these litte green balls of flavor being jarred
in Elizabeth Minchilli's photos in her Caper post; into the glass jars and next stop Bronx, New York!
In the end, like everything else we love, we prefer
capers from Pantelleria because the taste is unrivaled. As
Rosengarten says, "the texture is best…tight and snappy" and we agree with
Kleiman when she says, "I’ve always been partial to capers in salt
from Pantelleria, with their mild, slightly floral flavor." And,
Elizabeth, we could not agree more with your prediction for the future of hipster
pizza making with capers and crunchy capers (new product idea for
Gustiamo?), "don’t be surprised if you see them showing up on the next
designer hipster pizza you order in Brooklyn or Portland."
We love the word "vendemmia". Although there is no real translation
for this word in English. For the grape growing countrysides in Italy,
"La Vendemmia" refers to a time of year, a state of mind, and a set of
vendemmia /venˈdemmja/ (grape) harvest, vintage
The word "vendemmia" in Italian can refer to either a wine's vintage,
or, in this case, the grape harvest itself. Every Italian region and
micro-climate has its own vendemmia time. In North Western Sicily,
this week will prove to be the last week of Vendemmia.
friend who works with vines in Sicily's "Strada del Vino Alcamo Doc" region told us that he is very
positive about the 2012 vintage both from a qualitative and
One of the highlights for us from this year's Sicilian vendemmia has
been Elizabeth Minchilli's report of the zibibbo harvest in
Pantelleria. Zibbibo, the muscat grape with origins in North Africa,
is one of our favorites because of its versatility. Zibbibo jelly,
which we call Zibbibo Grape Elixir, is a Gustiamo prized Sicilian
import, from La Nicchia, in the island of Pantelleria. We love Minchilli's description more
of how she discovered Zibbibo jelly while in Pantelleria:
"As we went into the small kitchen we were hit with the perfume of what we
all thought was a pot of Ambrosia bubbling away. Instead it was yet another
use of the sweet grapes: jam. "It's a bit time consuming, since we pit each
grape", explained Diego, "And to get it right - with a minimal amount of
cooking - we can't make more than a kilo per batch. But it's worth it". Again, since the grapes start out so sweet the jam requires only about 10 to
15% sugar. Cooked for about a half hour the resulting jam is thick, almost
syrup like, with the heavy skinned grapes still perfectly intact. Sweet,
fruity and chunky."
Some of the ways that we love to eat Zibbibo Grape Gelatina (Ambrosia, Nectar, Elixir.. however you call it) is to flavor
whipped cream, yogurt, in a Prosecco Kir, drizzled over berries, in tea, with aged cheeses; or of
course, plain and simple on warm fresh bread.
We are so proud to see our very own Stefano highlighted as a
feature Alumni on the University of Gastronomic Sciences website. We think
Frances said it best when she told Stefano the other day over lunch, "I
have so much respect for you as a person who decided to follow what you
loved". In the UNISG interview, Stefano talks about his decision to
study Gastronomic Sciences even though he had just graduated from Law School:
The thing that excited me most in life was food and I
really wanted to work with food. I was actually coming to the realization
that food had been one of the only themes throughout my whole life that
had consistently sparked my interest. I mean, since I was really little I
was pulling stuff off like staying home from school and calling my grandma for
her fresh pasta recipe, or late nights with my brother cooking focaccia al
Stefano's passion and knowledge are a huge part of Gustiamo.
We are lucky to have him on our team! Here's what Stefano has to say
about all that he does at Gustiamo:
...coordinating our producers in Italy, running logistics
of in-bound merchandise and supplies, managing the wholesale program for
restaurants and stores in the USA… oh, and making the Sant’ Eustachio coffee
for the entire Gustiamo office, which I like to do.
We like to joke with Stefano about making coffee, but he is
really quite skilled at using an American drip coffee maker!
The buzz at the end of August in NYC was all about figs and
fig trees. When Melissa Clark
tweeted asking for submissions about great fig tree stories we couldn't
resist. Of course a Francesco Vastola
story was the first to come to mind. Francesco, or Franco, Vastola is the head
farmer at Madia Farm, in Cilento, an area famous for its White DOP figs.
The white fig jam Francesco makes is one of our favorite, not too sweet and with big chunks of figs inside. This jam is so good, Chef Marco Canora once said it is "off the chain".
This is our short story
that appeared at the end of August in the comments section of the New
York Times Diner's Journal:
Local farmers in the Cilento, Campania region of Italy
pay homage to their family fig trees with a surprising food custom: eating
unripe figs! This usually happens on April 24-25, around the feast of San
Marco. My Cilentano farmer friend Franco Vastola eats these young figs with his
family every April fried or in salad.
Last week, in the NYTimes,
Florence Fabricant compares Sicilian Noto Almonds to "other" almonds and writes: "Fat, buttery Marcona almonds
have become the stars of the nibble bowl. But serious cooks, and those with sophisticated taste buds that welcome bitterness, might consider distinctive almonds from Sicily. These are dry in texture, not oily, slightly wrinkled and dense with assertive flavor, the go-to nut when you want to leave no doubt that there are almonds in that cake or those cookies. The finest, from a company called Caffè Sicilia, come from the area around Noto, a Baroque hill town in the island’s southeastern corner. The almonds are protected by Slow Food..." If you are a serious cook, you know what to do. You can buy Almonds from Noto by Caffe' Sicilia, here.
Getting ready to go to Washington DC, to attend the Fancy Food Show and to celebrate Pasta Faella, SOFI finalist as best product of the year. Their panel of food experts chose among nearly 2,000 products in 30 food categories. In the Pasta category, they chose Faella pasta, which is an incredible accomplishment. How many brands of pasta are out there??? Is this an indication that Pasta Faella is really really good?
As you can read on the Nasft website, here: Made artisanally by the Faella family since 1907 in legendary pasta birthplace Gragnanao, Pasta Faella has outstanding rich grain flavor and a porous texture that makes condiments cling beautifully. It's air-dried for at least two days, bronze die extruded and made with only the best durum wheat flour and local Lattari Mountains spring water.
When you submit a product for the SOFI awards, you also have to prepare all kind of technical and market information, including "preparation instructions". We wrote: "Instructions are given for one 500 gr (1.1 Lb) bag of pasta - Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil, add sea salt to taste. Add pasta to boiling water. Stir gently every few minutes to separate shapes and cook for 13-15 minutes or until "al dente". Drain pasta and serve." Hopefully we got the instructions right and we'll win!