Lydia, Bert & Connie at Parmigiano Reggiano
My perception was accurate. On the first day it took me almost 4 hours to get out of Italy and I questioned how I was going to see all of what Spain, France, Great Britain, Portugal and many other countries...not to mention the good ole USA...had to offer.
Packed to the walls with an estimated 28,000 attendees and over 2,700 exhibitors, the 2014 Fancy Food show at Jacob Javits Center in New York City was the largest event in its history.
For me, and Chef David who came to the show with me on Tuesday, the first stop is always Italy. There's always something new to find, however I had something on my mind that I needed to discuss with people who make flour.
Recently, I stopped eating the dough that makes pizza in the USA because of the bromated flour that most restaurants and bakeries use to bake bread and pastries.
Away from the pizza restaurants and in the mainstream, Pepperidge Farm is starting to bake many of their breads without bromated flour because of their concern about the negative effects of bromated flour. I can taste nothing different than bread baked with bromated flour, so why don't all bread producers remove this type of flour from the list of ingredients?
People who I speak with either know very little about bromated flour or are not concerned because their attitude is it's just another thing in our food the FDA permits...and if the FDA permits it, how bad can it be?
Well, to them I say it's banned in all of Europe, Canada and many other countries in the world today and California has jumped on the bandwagon by making sure warning labels are required for products containing these additives. In short, we all have a right to know what we are eating.
Educate yourself: Simply Google "Bromated Flour" or "Potassium Bromate" and then decide if you want to say something to your pizza restaurant or favorite bakery.
Bottom line...did you ever hear anyone complain about the pizza or pastries they had eaten it Italy or France?
Back to the show...
Since Italian food is held dear in my heart and taste buds, I must stay on top of the new products that come out of this food capital of the world country.
Let me first tell you about the Italian cheese that others strive to imitate, that has been in existence since the 1300's and where the taste has remained virtually the same since then.
Let me re-introduce my favorite cheese of all time...Parmigiano Reggiano!
Nancy of Parmigiano Reggiano Fame & Bert
At the Parmigiano Reggiano tasting, they hand you a Frisbee. On the inside of this Frisbee plate is a cheese chart explaining the differences in the 15 month, 24 month and 36 month aging process for Parmigiano Reggiano.Cheeezus...can you beat that?
One interesting tidbit. The cheese curd used in the cheese production process is passed onto the pig farms in Parma, Italy that are used to make Prosciutto di Parma just a few proverbial blocks away in the same neighborhood. Ahhhhhhhhh....Parma!
As you move down the aisles of not only Italy, but all the countries, you are in literal food heaven.
New products that impressed us in Italy at Oliver Sapore Italiano was a base tomato sauce made with 20% pureed peaches.Can you imagine?
Another one of their products was a slow bake process to create "semi-dried" tomatoes. It yielded the juiciest and sweetest cherry tomato you will ever taste. Just Brilliant!
There was a sweet organic syrup in natural fruit flavors that you could add to cocktails or wines, a line of so soft and flavorful miniature marinated and grilled artichoke hearts. An Essence of Figs Puree and the best white balsamic vinegar I have ever tasted was at the impressive Sid Wainer & Son Specialty Foods booth.
Need I say...sooooo many wonderful EVOO's.
@ Partanna Brands
Tuscan EVOO by Pruneti & Tuscan Pasta by Fabbri
Figs Puree @ Sid Wainer Foods
Baby Artichokes by Gino's
"Summer Day In A Bottle" by Luca Imports
White Balsamic @ Sid Wainer Foods
Saving the best for last was a wonderful ginger balsamic vinegar which, along with EVOO, will add another dimension to the traditional Bistecca alla Fiorentina recipe.
Jacopo, Patrizia & Gary of Societa' Agricola Acetomodena
There are many variations to this 'traditional' recipe. Mine uses a generous squeeze of lemon just after grilling and an application of EVOO. This recipe from Patrizia, along with Gary & Jacopo, calls for the EVOO and a drizzle of ginger balsamic from her company Societa' Agricola Acetomodena in Modena, Italy.
A quick word about pasta that I feel must be emphasized and was discussed with the many pasta experts we met. There is a flavor that comes from Italian pasta produced for consumption in Italy that simply doesn't exist to the same extent when exported.
Tuscan Pasta Maker Lisa @ Pastificio Artigiano Fabbri sas di Giovanni Fabbri
Many exported pastas are enriched based on the laws of the country to which they are being exported.
"Enriched Macaroni Product" is what you will see on the packages of most brands of pasta. These enrichment's include niacin, ferrous lactate, thiamine mono nitrate (Vitamin B1), riboflavin and folic acid.
There is no doubt these additions can change the flavor of pasta and a reason we, in the USA, cover our pastas with way too much sauce. We're looking for flavor!
The Italian tradition teaches from a very young age to enjoy the taste of pasta and it's the main reason you don't see heavy sauce applications in Italy.
Their ingredients: durum wheat semolina and water, or as it says on the packages of Fabbri and Di Martino, semolina di grano duro and acqua.
"Now that's Italian"!
Francesca @ Pastificio Di Martino
Semola Biologica di Grano Duro @ Pastificio Di Martino
These laws are now becoming a bit more relaxed, however if you want the true taste packaged Italian pasta the way it was meant to be, you'll have to do some searching for the products that don't say "enriched macaroni product" on the box. According to some I spoke with at the show, they are coming.
We shall see!
When it comes to pasta, it's al dente or bust! While at the show, we happened upon Riccardo of
Massimo, Chef David of BetsaPasta & Riccardo
They have developed a pasta for restaurants that when placed in water at an estimated 100 degrees and for up to one hour...it will still yield a firm al dente bite when being prepared. Praise be!
We have yet to test it. When we do, however, the results will be posted. Stay tuned...
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