Our first stop was up a mountain. I started noticing all the trees looked the same. We stopped at the very peak across from a ski resort and there was a chestnut company. All those trees were chestnut trees. The company made a chestnut flour that would make a great substitute for wheat flour for customers who had trouble with wheat. Or at least we hoped they did. Due to consistancy problems they did add a little wheat to their flour. Again thru the interpreter we tried to find out if there was anyway of eliminating the wheat. And yes people still roast chestnuts on an open fire and you can buy them on street corners in Europe during the holidays. Hint, smaller chestnuts are tastier than the bigger ones.
They also joined us for lunch and served many of their products at a local cafe with a great view. Almost finished another knotch losened on my belt they wanted to serve a pasta dish. We were all shaking our heads no when they explained that they wanted us to try their mushroom sauce including the fresh porcini mushrooms they picked that morning. Okay, twist my arm. What happened next was a spirited discussion on what pasta to use. How will it look, will it capture the sauce, how chewey is the pasta, will it get too soft with the sauce. Lesson learned, not once did I have a pasta in Italy this trip that I recognized in the States. And yes what pasta you use does matter.
Next a pasta maker. I think everyone has bought a product and somewhere on the package there will be a black and white photo of the founder. I must admit that in the past when I saw this I did not give it much thought, but after this trip I understand that past family member was the reason they exist today and probably the heart and soul of the company. This pasta company was the only one to use only Calabria wheat. Most of the others incorporated some Canadian wheat. Price had a lot to do with it but also Canadian wheat to them brought a certain characteristic they were looking for. This company’s recipes came from the grandmother. She was known to spend hours making her pasta. Her husband decided to start the company with her recipes with one clear guiding principle, don’t mess with her original recipes, hence only Calabria wheat. I could on about all the unique things they do to make it special but to taste it was all you needed to know. His grandfather truly loved the business and instilled that in his son and grandson. His grandson runs the business today and every time he gets a new customer he gets their business card and drops it off at grandfather’s gravesite and then talks to him about it.
Our last stop, again we were running two hours late was another olive oil producer. The olives were the same kind as before so it shared some charicteristics as the others we tasted, but the mouthfeel and finish were slightly different. We had another seven course meal waiting for us so we did not stay long. I think we made it an early night, got home at 1pm. Next a 100 year old drink. ¼/p>