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).
A few weeks ago New York City hosted The Greater NY Dental Meeting, the huge annual dental conference. The reason we are talking about it here is that this conference featured Pasta Faella! Guest speaker, Dr. Sabino Aquino, is from Gragnano and he arrived at the conference with Pasta Faella in tow to share with his fellow dentists. At first we thought, isn't this such a random novelty? Then, we realized it makes perfect sense! As Pasta Faella pointed out on our Facebook page, "Who better to judge the goodness of pasta when cooked Al Dente? In fact, in Italian "Al Dente" means "to the tooth". A dentist knows a good pasta when they sink their teeth into it. Bravo Faella!
At Salone del Gusto we didn't go anywhere without first making a stop in Campania. Actually we felt we were always there. Why? We love Campania and its products. For example, Pasta Faella and Colatura di Cetara, their booth was right next to each other, geographically they are very close and they complement each other perfectly. You can make Pasta with Colatura in no time and it is delicious.
Sergio from Pasta Faella was eager to show off the new Pasta Faella label which includes the IGP Gragnano seal. As Sergio explained to us, the IGP Gargnano status is so important because it helps to protect against incorrectly labeled, or fake, Gragnano pasta. Remember, Gragnano pasta is a sought after artisan food and there are only 10 producers (Faella being one) that are officially IGP Gragnano.
While in Campania (that is, the Salone del Gusto Campania section), we of course had to visit the coast to get our fishy fix from Nettuno, our colatura producer. Of course it is not enough for these guys to simply have their jars of aged sauce out on display, they were actually making colatura at their booth. Although there are many forms of this fish condiment, for example that ancient Romans called this type of fish sauce Garum, we loved hearing Giulio from Nettuno talk about the importance of colatura to Cetara, where this anchovy sauce has an ancient history of its own.
For Gustiamo, Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre were smashing. And we have to say, they only thing better than watching Giulio from Nettuno Nettuno produce colatura right before our eyes was watching Carlo Petrini bust a move at the Slow Food Youth dance party right before our eyes, also. Smashing. We love these men!!!
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!
In 2004 ten pasta producers from Gragnano, in Campania, applied for the IGP "Gragnano pasta" certification (protected geographical indication) - first initiative ever of this kind in Italy - to safeguard the century old Gragnano know-how from imitations and reward Gragnano pasta’s notoriety and legendary reputation of excellence: for more than 500 years Gragnano has encapsulated the very essence of pasta making tradition. The town’s favorable location between the sea and the mountains and the quality of its spring waters, allowed it to become the pasta "district" of the world.
In order to grant IGP certifications, the designated authorities must conduct lengthy, in depth analysis of the productions, including repeated visits to the establishments to ensure compliance with all requirements.
In 2012, the designated Italian authorities have completed all investigations and finally granted Gragnano pasta IGP status. Of course, our producer Faella is among one of the ten original producers and can now boast the official IGP stamp!
Some of the most important criteria included in determining if this pasta production conforms to the IGP protocols, are - Characteristics and high quality of the wheats - All the steps of pasta making must happen on the producers’ site, from mixing the dough to the packaging - Pasta must be extruded exclusively through bronze dyes - Drying must be for a minimum number of hours, and at very low temperatures - The water used for the mix must be from a natural and local spring source and more…
Faella pasta meets all the requirements – have you had a chance to taste it yet?
The town of Gragnano is universally known as the "Citta' della Pasta". The brand has become so important that it looks like everybody is making pasta in Gragnano. (Like everybody in the world is growing San Marzano Tomatoes!) This is going to stop, and soon. The Town of Gragnano just received IGP status from the Italian Government. With all that the new Italian political ministers have to do these days, that they are working on IGP status for Gragnano pasta shows you how important this acknowledgement is. From now on, all the impostors using "Gragnano Pasta" in their labeling may be prosecuted by law.
Thanks to all our customers! Our company identifies beautiful hand made products for you but our mission is to help these small artisanal producers stay in business by selling more of what they make at fair prices. That's what they need to survive. "Glory only" does not feed their families and employees. So, you can imagine the satisfaction we get when the producers tell us they are happy with Gustiamo's work!!! One of them is Sergio (left), of Pasta Faella.
In the video below, Sergio tells us that his exports rose by 25% in 2010!!! He wants to celebrate and come to America in the Fall. More about Sergio's visit, later.
In the same video, Sergio also introduces his Pasta's new packaging. Not new, actually. It is the sturdier and thicker paper with a bronze-closure ring that all pasta companies in Gragnano used a century ago. More expensive, but how beautiful!! (click here or on the arrow, below, to watch the video.)
Laura Caparrotti, formerly "only" a facebook friend, sent a message asking me to donate a basket for a fund raising.
We receive so many similar requests, we usually kindly decline. But Laura fund raising had a title that caught my attention. It was "Gomorrah". I immediately replied, Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah? Yes, she wrote. Anything you want, I replied.
So the "virtual" relationship changed to friendship, we donated the basket and went to the event. Held in a most beautiful loft in Soho, it was a reading of some passages from Roberto Saviano's book. Laura's Kit-Kairos theater is raising funds to bring Gomorrah to NY and US stages.
Our basket was "The Gomorrah Basket a.k.a. Long Life to Roberto Saviano", dedicated to all the honest food artisans of Campania, who, with big sacrifice and hard work, resist temptation of easy profits; those who care about their land and their people. These producers are our heroes.
Here is the list of what wasi ncluded in the basket and why:
- Pasta Faella from Gragnano. Mario Faella at 94 goes to work everyday in the pastificio in Piazza Roma, Gragnano, to make sure the new generations don't mess it up.
- Piennolo tomatoes from Mount Vesuvio. In Neapolitan, Piennolo, means "appeso" in Italian, "hanging" in English, because in the winter, in Naples, the tomatoes are stored in the home attics hanging from the ceiling, kind of like a prosciutto. The members of the camorra should hang, too.
- Colatura, the anchovy sauce. Made in Cetara, on the Amalfi coast. It is a wonderful ingredient to enhance every dish. It is so strong, you use it by the drop. Torture for the camorra would be the whole bottle in one gulp.
Pasta con Bottarga is a very easy dish to make and it is very good for you since the ingredients, other than the pasta, are raw. We are often asked how we make Pasta with Bottarga. We, the experts! This is Gustiamo's official recipe. The condiment: in a bowl, in order of importance: bottarga finely sliced, ev olive oil, chopped parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice, capers, finely chopped garlic, finely chopped chili pepper. If you have time, make it the night before and refrigerate. Otherwise, not a problem. Cook the pasta, add the condiment and stir well. Serve! Anybody can do it and it is REALLY delicious!
The finished dish does not photograph well, as the bottarga looks like a flat small salame. Instead, above is a photo of the fish, the mullet, where the bottarga (which is its egg roe sac) comes from.
Matthew and David of the new cool Minerva cafe downtown not only want to learn everything about our products, they came to the warehouse to taste them, too! Here, from left: Martina, David, Matthew, Anne, Stefano and Kunle.
So, when you next go to Minerva, you know where the inspiration came from. If you like what you eat, ask David for the recipes. Then, because he sells those of our products he uses, you can buy Gustiamo's ingredients on the spot. All the good reasons to go to Cafe' Minerva. Let us know what you think!