Giorgio Franci (top), with Davide Borselli (bottom)

Giorgio Franci (top), with Davide Borselli (bottom)

At the end of June, we spent two days in New York searching through the aisles of the Javits Center looking for new discoveries and old friends — at the premier event in the specialty food industry.

It is always exciting to attend the Fancy Food Show — there are miles of aisles of specialty food products. Luckily for us, most of the Italian producers are grouped together. If you think about it, it is a bit of a dating game for food producers and buyers as we seek the right products for our customers.

For Olio2go, the highlights were time spent with Giorgio Franci and Davide Borselli.

Franci is the master producer of exceptional oils. To sit with him and enjoy a progressive tasting of oils from Fiore, though Villa Magra Grand Cru, is a noteworthy experience. The first oils are direct and flavorful with a clean finish. As the oils become increasingly fruity and complex, the finish extends and lingers.

The Franci 4-bottle Gift Set provides the upper end of this tasting experience with Olivastra Seggianese, Le Trebbiane, Villa Magra dei Franci, and Villa Magra Grand Cru. It’s the perfect way to conduct your own tasting event.

Also, in the Italy Pavillion, Davide Borselli of La Poderina Toscana represented his family’s Biologico (organic) Wine and Olive Oil. There one could taste the organic selections La Poderina Toscana Oro and Argento side by side, while sipping on his Organic Integrona IGT Toscana (white) and Marracone DOC (red) wines. This was a prelude to of our visit a few days later in Washington. (More on Davide’s visit to DC in an upcoming post).

For more information on the outstanding extra virgin olive oils from Frantoio Franci and La Poderina Toscana, see this post.

So, what discoveries did we make?

Be on the lookout for new pasta shapes and packaging, risotto kits, Nutella-like hazelnut spread (made with extra virgin olive oil, rather than mystery fats), Crispy Capers to add a snappy, nutty, savory finish to dishes, beautiful green dried myrtle leaves (think of them as a delicate bay leaf), and with a nod to molecular gastronomy, a new balsamic treat (more on that soon). It was also the first look at the holiday season and time to order Panettone, Panforte, and festive treats. Coming soon.

 

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Click to Listen: Taste Matters Episode with Nancy Harmon Jenkins (#125)

We’ve just discovered the Heritage Radio Network and enjoyed listening to this superb interview with Nancy Harmon Jenkins. The interview covers many important topics — Olive Oil is covered in the first 11 minutes — including our central focus on Italian Olive Oil. The Mediterranean Diet, lifestyle, cooking with olive oil, Slow Food, and ancient grains (like farro) are included. Listen to Nancy and then visit Olio2go for Italy’s Finest Olive Oil.

We are often asked how often we travel to Italy on buying trips (usually twice a year) but there’s one event in the U.S. that brings amazing choices to our shores.

The Fancy Food Show just concluded in New York. As always, we found a phenomenal range of food (olive oil from China?), ice pops made with kale, and more cheese than you can imagine. We stayed true to our mission to find the best selections from Italy!

We met with favorite producers such as Salvatore Cutrera from Frantoi Cutrera, and planned the fall purchases, starting with the zesty Frescolio. We also learned the the flavorful Cutrera Gran Cru Cerasuola has the highest polyphenol level of any of the Cutrera monocultivars. It is over 600!

The most unusual selections were those from Pantelleria, a tiny island far south of Sicily, and very close to Africa, known for the production of capers. Look for these in a few months!

In 2012 our big discovery was pistachio cream from Sicily, an item that has sold out quickly. Sometimes we don’t know just how good our good ideas are. We didn’t find any pistachio cream this year, so we are glad that connection has already been made for our discerning customers. We should be well stocked again by September.

We had a fortuitous moment when we met with a very experienced importer who is bringing in a very exclusive line of hard to buy olive oils. (Those wine producers can be tough negotiators). Look for new selections from Tuscan wine producers after the next harvest.

The Rogers Collection, known to us as an olive oil importer, is also a big mover in the cheese world. We scheduled our visit to their booth to attend this special and ceremonial opening of a new wheel of Parmiggiano-Reggiano DOP. This is a 36-month aged cheese, and even more special in that it is from brown cows. There are only four producers who craft DOP Parmiggiano-Reggiano from brown cows’ milk. Fabulous.

Other photos show our friends from Italian Products, Compagnia del Montale of Modena, pasta and rice selections, and the grand show floor, in the Italy Pavillion.

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I don’t know if my children read this blog. If they do, I will soon be in trouble. But sometimes I’m just a kid and I like to see what I can get away with. As a mother in the food business, it can be fun to expand the offerings at home.

Now these are children who at age one ate spicy salsa in Southern California, at age 8 ate rabbit and boar in Tuscany, and at age 10 at mussels in Galway, Ireland. Sometimes, if they haven’t been told what they are eating, they are more….adventurous.

The foods of Southern Italy seem to be perfect matched to hot summer nights. Just recently we had an easy dinner of pasta with Villa Cappelli Spaghettata (from Puglia) to spice things up. If I had offered them anchovies, I’m sure the answer would have been far from affirmative. So, when I was alone in the kitchen, I tossed a teaspoonful of Colatura di Alici (from Campania) into the sauce. The Vicidomini Spaghetti Chitarra (also Campania) was the pasta of the night. All were combined and the dish was rapidly consumed.

There was something more….interesting….about the dish when served with Colatura di Alici. It brought out food magic with umami. Highly recommended.

Spinach Fettucine from Scordo.com

Two of our favorite food bloggers recently wrote about their delicious creations using Pastificio Vicidomini’s Semolina Flour. Even better, CiaoChowLinda used a recipe from our favorite cookbook, Domenica Marchetti’s Glorious Pasta of Italy.

Scordo made the most glorious spinach pasta!

CiaoChowLinda made Semolina Dumpling Soup. Is there a rainy day coming up?

 

Some time ago, there was a small café in Newport, RI, called Cappuccino’s. It seemed that I enjoyed their pasta salad for days on end and eventually deconstructed it to develop a similar recipe. This has become a summertime favorite in my family. We’ve already made it twice this spring.

Cappuccino’s signature pasta was a curvy twist. My preference is Ruote (also known as Wagon Wheels). Another favorite is Festoni.  In a pinch, I’ll select Penne e Ziti Rigati or even Gnocchi Sardi.

As recipes go, this one lacking in specifics. A little more or a little less of each ingredient will be fine! You’ll be busy chopping so this is a great recipe when you have an extra pair of helping hands. My daughters are a big help for this recipe!

You’ll need to have a very large pasta bowl for this abundance of goodness!

1 package of Vicidomini Ruote Pasta, 500 grams

½ C + Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, such as Titone DOP Biologica, Gerbino Organic, or Santisi

½ – ¾ C DeCarlo Sun Kissed Tomatoes, or sliced sun dried tomatoes

1-2 C fresh broccoli flowerettes, microwaved for 2 minutes to bright green, with a nice bite

1 Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell Pepper, diced

½ C chopped olives, try Olives from our Savory Pantry or your favorites

1 C cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

½ C celery, chopped

2 scallions/green onions, chopped

½ – ¾ C canned garbanzo beans, drained

6 slices cooked bacon (or pancetta!), crumbled

¼ C basil leaves, slivered

1-2 fresh lemons, juiced (to taste)

Ravida Sea Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Other seasonings to taste

*Good Quality Mayo

Fill an 8-Qt pot with water and heat to boiling. Begin chopping vegetables! Add pasta. While pasta is cooking, microwave the broccoli and cook the bacon.  If you are really fast you can get all of the chopping done before the pasta has cooked.  Drain the pasta while still al dente and rinse to cool the pasta.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Add more olive oil as needed. If you like your salad to be a bit creamy, stir in mayo. Chill before serving.

It’s no secret that Olio2go is headquartered in the suburbs of Washington DC. So today we celebrate the bounty of tomato recipes in the Washington Post Food Section.

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Sweet Pepper is a quick flavorful meal – perfect for a weeknight, with a glass of wine. With 2 Tablespoons of a good extra virgin olive oil, and perhaps a bit more for a final drizzle,  this makes a very satisfying week night dinner.

The annual tomato recipe contest is filled with world flavors, with an Asian-Latin combination as the top selection. We’re partial to Summer Spaghetti and Warm Grilled Tomato Salad. We can make recommendations for olive oils!