The Italians have a knack of turning the simplest of ingredients into the most wonderful things to eat. Probably because for a long time in rural Italy, sparse ingredients were all they had. So spaghetti with cheese and pepper, pizza topped with simply tomatoes and mozzarella have become classics. And bread, sliced and toasted and topped with simple, natural bits and pieces. Bruschetta and crostini, now a popular start to a meal, almost certainly derive from a time when the slices were less dainty (and probably not so fresh), and made a handy and hearty snack for agricultural workers. If they were lucky they may have been topped with a bit of cheese or cured meats, or perhaps simply salt and olive oil, and garlic. (It used to be said that garlic is the peasant’s spice cupboard.) I’m rather partial to garlic, so I guess that puts me in my place! Continue reading
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One of the very nicest things about the days we work in our little warehouse, picking and packing products to send out to our deli customers or our online shoppers, is the aroma that fills our cold store: the sweet earthy smell of good salumi and fine cheeses. Because we stock all our cheeses and salumi in the piece and slice and cut to order, the old cold store door gets opened quite a lot, and with each opening a little delicious pungency escapes to tempt us. The best days of all are those when fresh deliveries of cured meats and cheeses arrive, because then we get to spend time unpacking, checking and putting everything in its rightful place on the shelves. And, of course, sniffing!
Today was a cheese day. We like cheese days. Here’s Danilo casting his experienced eye over a whole pecorino sardo: a lovely mature sheep’s milk cheese with a hard texture and an earthy flavour. But our favourite today is the delicious taleggio DOP which we source from our selected producer Ciresa, in Lombardia, a cheese-producing family since 1927. Continue reading
“So, how do you find all the producers that supply your wonderful products?” one of our customers recently asked us. At first we were surprised at the question. You see, for us, there’s only ever been one way to track down the products we choose to sell, and that’s to travel Italy, meet the producers face to face and taste, taste, taste! (Nothing gets into our shop unless we’ve tasted it.) It means many miles on the autostrade, even more on roads that twist through chestnut groves or past vine-covered hills or over snow-capped mountains, getting lost in towns, getting lost out of towns, and much exploring, and talking. But we’re pretty sure it’s the only way to find the best products from the best producers.