Monday, 17 May 2010

New video!

Hi guys,

We are proud to announce our first recipe video in YouTube.   From now on we will be publishing videos of all our recipes so you can see how we prepare them.

You can find us in YouTube by searching for "calabriataste" and all the videos will come up.  

As always you can leave comments they are all welcome, we love to know what you're thinking of our recipes, videos and articles!

Cu you all soon

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Sussex Newspaper participation!

Hey guys,

Would like to inform you that The Taste of Calabria is now participating in The Sussex Newspaper supplying delicious weekly recipes and food articles.  Be sure to check it out!

The Sussex Newspaper

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

ORGANIC is it really?

I know this is a hot topic and everyone has a different opinion about it “that is good for you”, “that is more nutritious”, “that is natural”, etc, but I have a problem with what is understood of organic food in this country, and the policies around producing and obtaining an “ORGANIC” certificate.

The other day I was doing my regular food shopping, at least the one I do in the supermarket and decided to check out some products certified as “ORGANIC”. Well, I found that the products I checked out had the same amount of enhancers, regulators, flavourings, acid regulators, etc than any other industrially and massive produced product. So my question is:

If we suppose to eat organic because is healthier, natural with no artificial anything or preservatives added to the raw produce (vegetable, fruits, meat, etc) then why add all those artificial things to the product when packing it or bottling it?

Would these not take out the reason for going organic? If I’m suppose to pay a premium price for going “ORGANIC” because is healthy and natural then I want the products to be 100% natural as it suppose to be and with only the pure ingredients in it! Don’t you think?

I’m an importer of Southern Italian foods, specifically from Calabria. The food I import is made with 100% organic produce and/or wild ingredients, with nothing artificial added to them neither when growing or when packed because that’s how we eat in the South of Italy. Vegetables and fruits that have been grown in lands located in mountains at certain altitude where there is no pollution and wild herbs handpicked from these same mountains. Now, I believe these produce are more organic than any of the ingredients found for example in the products I checked out, however, because we do not have an “ORGANIC” certificate we can’t say our products are Organic. For small producers like us obtain this certificate is very expensive, therefore, we have to sell our products like any other cheap, massive produced products although their quality is beyond these.

As the “Organic” laws in this country are so tight, how can they allow for products containing all sorts of non natural ingredients added to them and still be called “ORGANIC”?

And how at the same time ignore and persecute producers that dear to call their products “ORGANIC” without a certificate but that their products are truly 100% organic and natural?

Any thoughts?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Blog update

Hi all,
Due to certain space limitations in this blog I am forced to move my blog to the following site

From now please go to the above address where you will find  all the great posts, articles and updates that were post here, plus much more images, twitter comments, slideshows and much more.   Please note that you will need to subscribe to be able to receive new posts directly on your email address.

Thank you for your support and hope to see you all there.

PS: Please feel free to leave comments on any of the articles, posts and tips so we can all share our thoughts!



Monday, 26 April 2010

Updated website...

Hi guys!

Just to let you know about my website update! Through this update you will have an easier access to my on-line shop and will be able to find in a quicker away all my products....

Just to let you know all the products available...

 Cured meats from £2.50 per 100gr

Pastas from £2.50

Spices bags £2.50

Cheeses from £2.50 per 100gr

Vegetarian and non vegetarian chilli spreads
from £2.80

Saturday, 24 April 2010

How to make Gnocchi

Hi guys,

This is my mums gnocchi recipe, very easy, very quick and delicious!

Hope you all like it!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

How to recognise good quality pasta!!

I get a lot of people asking me why my pasta is so different from other pastas found in supermarkets and shops. Well my answer has always been because we use the best semolina you can find in Italy, and secondly because we make our pasta like our grandmothers and grand grandmothers use to make it, the old fashion way, our traditional way, using antique methods that allows the pasta to have a consistency than when cooked is like fresh pasta and has a natural taste. Of course no additives, enhancers and massive produced techniques are used.
So then I get the question of, how can we identify when a pasta is of good quality?
Well, unfortunately that can be quite tricky but still there are ways of seeing whether the pasta is of at least a decent quality.
The aspects you should look at are size, colour and thickness of the pasta. Industrially made pasta is quite small in size. Although we can find many types of traditional shapes from the largest to the smallest normally massive produced pasta shapes tend to be smaller than the traditional size for that particular shape. Of course, to be able to recognise this you would have to know what’s the traditional size for that shape, which in most cases is impossible. So the best thing would be if you can actually get a good quality or proper handmade pasta of the shape you are analysing and compare the size of that pasta with the industrially made one, so you can have an idea of the sizes.

The second aspect you should look at is the colour. Massive produced pasta is kind of yellow because the dough which was made from probably had more ingredients added to it than what it should have. Handmade or good quality pasta has a very light yellow or white colour because is the actual colour of the semolina. Of course the quality of the semolina used influences this a great deal. Also, massive produced pasta has a sort of transparency look to it probably because the dough from which it was made of was thinner in consistency than what it should be allowing producers to produce more amount of pasta per kilo of dough. Good handmade pasta will have a solid look, ie it won’t look weak if you know what I mean, it will look heavy.

The third aspect to look for will be thickness. Good handmade pasta will be thick. This gives the pasta the consistency handmade pasta has. If you look massive produced pasta you’ll see that the shape will be very thin, looking at the cut edge. Again, because the dough used was very thin and when squeezed through the machine to form the shape is using the least quantity of dough to produce more amount of pasta per kilo of dough.

The next aspect you can check this time when cooking or after cooked is the consistency. As I said industrially produced pasta is quite light in weight where as handmade pasta or good quality pasta will be heavier making you eat less to feel full. The consistency will be softer than normal dry pasta, the shape would have grown/extended in size more than normally massive produced dry pasta will because the dough would absorbed more water .
So to conclude we can say the best dry pasta you can get would be one that when cooked is like fresh handmade pasta.

Well I hope you guys liked the article and of course that was useful.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Ho to make truly sun - dried tomatoes

I usually get asked quite a lot how to make sun – dried tomatoes when selling my products in food events. Although I sell sun – dried tomatoes people seem to be intrigued by the fact of how they actually are done. Well, this is a very simple question depending on which version you are interested in. If you would like to know how the industrially made sun – dried tomatoes are done, ie, the ones sold in supermarkets and mainstream shops they are oven dried. For this well just simply just put the tomatoes in the oven for many many hours on a low temperature and vuola! Done! However, if you interested in how truly sun – dried tomatoes are made ie how we make them in Italy, then continue reading this article.

Although you can get sun – dried tomatoes almost anywhere nowadays I have to say not all the sun – dried tomatoes you find are good quality or organic or handmade or made as we in Italy traditionally make them. Like all my products and this may sound very cocky I’m proud to say that my sun – dried tomatoes are one of the best in the market, at least, of the ones I’ve seen and tasted in the UK.

Although sun – dried tomatoes as its name is just a tomato that has been dried originally dried under the sun, the flavours you find in oven dried and sun dried tomatoes are significally different. You might ask why? Well simply because truly sun – dried tomatoes are dried under the natural heat of the sun which doesn’t add artificial flavours to the fruit. They dry quicker because the steam coming out of the fruit from the evaporation of the juices will not re-enter the fruit, it will evaporate into the open air unlike the oven dry making the tomatoes dryer therefore extending its best before date.

So, how to make sun – dried tomatoes.

1) Cut the tomatoes in half

2) You can take the seeds and pulp out or leave there, is up to you.

3) Rub the tomatoes with rock salt or how we call it in Italy “sale grosso”.

4) Place tomatoes in a sort of grill where they can be lifted from surfaces so the juices can run out.

5) Place in them in a sunny place, where they can get as much direct sun light as possible.

6) The process can take 1 week or more depending on how strong the sun is.

7) Place a mesh on top of them so insects or dirt can’t touch the tomatoes.

8) During the night place them inside so the humidity from the night and morning does not “wet” the tomatoes.

9) You will know if the tomatoes are ready by touching them and checking for moisture. If they are still soft then they still have juices so they need to go back in the sun. You’ll see when they are ready because also the colour will be darker.

10) When they are ready place them in a cool place so they cool down. You can put them in a bag or jar without any oil and use them when needed.

11) If you want to put them in a jar with oil, wash them first so you can get rid of the salt, dry them immediately with a clean tea towel and place them in the jar. Stuck them quite together and fill the jar with olive oil until all the tomatoes are completely submerged.

12) Every time you take a tomato out top up the oil so all the tomatoes are always submerged.

13) The tomatoes will last a very long time I had mine for more than 6 months in the fridge.

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

'Nduja, where does it come from?

The ‘Nduja di Spirlinga was born as a humble dish prepared by farmers to use the remaining meat parts of the pig. The name ‘Nduja comes from the French word “andouille” that means “sausage”. Originally comes from the area of Vibo Valentia in the South area of Calabria, although nowadays is produced throughout the region.

The ‘Nduja origins are still not very clear, according to some historians it was introduced by the Spanish in the 1500’s together with the chilli, but as its name comes from the French word “andouille” it reminds of a French sausage that could have been imported in the Napoleon period around the years 1806-1815. It is believe that Gioacchino Murat Vicerè from Naples and brother-in-law of Napoleon ordered the free distribution of a cured meat very similar to the ‘Nduja.

In the town where the ‘Nduja was originated every year around the 8th of August takes place the Festival of the ‘Nduja. A gastronomic celebration where all the habitants of the town get together to prepare several stands offering many traditional dishes based on the ‘Nduja. Street celebrations take place around the town ending at the main piazza with the famous dance “camijuzzu i focu”. This festival is the oldest celebration of the Vibo Valentia town.

Due to its peculiarity on how is eaten and its characteristics of pork meat and a large amount of pepperoncino (chilli) the ‘Nduja has become one of the most traditional and widely known foods of the region.

Although similar to a cured meat the ‘Nduja is actually a soft chilli and pork meat spread, best eaten spread on warm toasted bread or as a base for sauces and casseroles. However, if you don’t like or cannot resist the heat of chilli then best to avoid as it can be very hot.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Is your olive oil good?

Being in the business of importing traditional foods from Calabria I had many people approaching me asking how to identify a good olive oil? Either whilst in Italy or here in the UK.

So in answer to all those questions I decided to write this article about how to identify and select a good olive oil for your table.

Sometimes when we’re standing in front of the olive oil section in the supermarket with about 30 types of different oils we think, which one should I get? Is the famous brand better than supermarket brand? Or is the green one better than the brown one? Or is it the yellow one better? Or is the one with bits more flavoursome than the one without bits? WHAT SHOULD I DO??!! Help please!!! I just want an olive oil to add to my salad bowl...!!!

Well the answer is very simple and complicated at the same time. Olive oils are very difficult to assess once they are bottled. Usually the best way to know if the oil you want is good is by tasting it, of course when we’re buying it in shop or in the supermarket we don’t have the leisure of asking Tesco’s manager to let us try the oil before buying it, so we need to guide ourselves by using the following recommendations:

1) In reality a good oil should not have a “best before date” older than 18 months from the date bottled. This is because the oil has to be new never from a previous year.

One of oil’s worst enemies is light. Olives contain chlorophyll which is a great preservative and antioxidant but quite bad for the preservation and quality of the oil if exposed to light. In exposure chlorophyll will transform in antioxidant making the oil go from green to yellow very quickly. Some olive oil producers add synthetic chlorophyll to “hide” this effect. So, if you see a green olive oil in a shop think that it contains synthetic chlorophyll unless you know it comes from a local producer down the road and therefore the oil is new.

2) When choosing an oil place the bottle against a source of light for a few seconds. This will tell how clean or not the oil is and its real colour. Oils can be either filtered or not. Some oil producers prefer to leave the oil unfiltered as these “bits” make the product more flavoursome and with a stronger olive taste, therefore, a better quality oil meaning a more expensive oil. However, this preference makes the “best before date” even shorter. Be careful though as sometimes these unfiltered results are not purposely made by the producer but the result of a bad filtration process which leaves nasty flavours meaning a bad quality oil. It is also important that you don’t buy an extra-virgin olive oil yellow or brown as this indicates a badly preserved product.

How to know if your oil is good after purchasing?

Well, let’s think that you finally managed to decide which olive oil you’re getting from the supermarket or shop. You got home and opened the bottle to taste that fantastic Mediterranean flavour you tried whilst on holiday, how do you know what you’re getting is really a good oil or just a “mock” of olive oil.

There many ways of testing this:

1) The acidity of the oil should not be more than 0.35%, however, by law producers in Italy are allowed to extend that percentage to up to 80%.

2) The “polifenoli” which are the bits that are good for the circulation system and in general for our bodies have to have the highest level possible. These “bits” with time will decrease, that’s why oils should not be consumed after the 18 months threshold, the older the oil the less or non polifenoli will have, rending the oil without any goodness in it.

3) The oxygen quantity absorbed by the oil which comes from the initiation of its own oxidation activity that with the pass of time will bring nasty smells and flavours should not be less than 20.

So, after knowing all this information, have you asked yourself what we need to have to produce a good olive oil? Well here are some of the aspects producers need to have to be able to make a good olive oil.

1) The olives have to be collected in the right period when they start to change from green to brown.

2) A good olive oil will depend of course on the quality of the olive. Every olive has its own flavour. Climate, type of cultivation and place also play an important part on this. For example in the North of Italy a more light olive oil is produced, but in the South the production is more accentuated because the olives mature better helped by the warm climate and the quality of the soil. That’s why the best olive oil produced in Italy comes from Calabria and Puglia.

3) The olives have to be nice, healthy and without any insect marks or wholes.

4) They have to be collected in crates with opening so air can circulate and taken immediately to the frantoio to be process as soon as possible.

5) The ideal temperature for the process to be done in is between 25º to 30º for a period no more than 20 to 30 minutes.

6) Then the oil is left to decant for a few days. After is passed onto another container to separate the oil from the bottom and elevate residuals. After a few months of repeating the same procedure all residuals are eliminated.

7) At the end the oil is preserved in air tight containers at a temperature of no more than 20º and in a dry and dark place.

Have you ever asked yourself why we normally find extra virgin olive oil and not virgin olive oil?

Well the answer is very simple. The virgin olive oil is normally used to be mixed with the extra virgin olive oil. The extra virgin olive oil is added to a low quality oil as is the virgin olive oil until obtaining an oil with the right parameters, 0.8% acidity per 100gr. This means a cheaper way of producing a good oil without compromising completely in the quality, but, meaning we are not getting a 100% extra virgin olive oil.

Types of olive oil

- Extra virgin olive oil

- Virgin olive oil

- Olive oil

- Olio di sansa di olive

Well I hope you all enjoyed this long but very informative article about how to choose the right olive oil when you’re at the supermarket or shop. Remember that the best place to buy your oil is at the producer; of course I bit difficult if you’re in the UK!

See you all the next time...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

My mums traditional Italian Lasagne

After posting the Tiramisu recipe I was looking out of the window and watching the nice and sunny day, suddenly it brought me back to remembering last year pick nick days, so I thought of giving you guys my mums delicious Lasagne recipe.
This is a great dish to take out on pick nick days for the whole family, and because is a one pot dish there isn;t much washing up to do after!!
Click on the title that will take straight to my recipes page, enjoy!!

Quick and Delicious Tiramisu

Hi all,

Now that spring and summer are coming we can start to enjoy those delicious summery deserts, so I decided to give out my traditional and delicious Tiramisu recipe for all of you who like light yet delicious treats.   This is a great recipe that you can prepare in advance and keep for a few days in the fridge.  Just click on the title that will take you straight to my recipe page.

So, with no more to add, enjoy!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

15th May Food Harvest Festival, Brighton

Hi all,

We are going to be this Saturday in New Road, Brighton, from 9am until 6pm.  We will be bring our fantastic cured meats, Pecorino cheeses, Pastas and our dried vegetables bags!!  Come along and check us out..!!

See you there...

Sunday, 7 March 2010

New recipes!

Hi all,

As promised here are some new recipes I've added onto my website for you to enjoy cooking..!

Green Risotto

Mushroom and cheese risotto

Sun-dried tomato risotto

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Taste of Calabria up coming events!

Hello all,

As promised these are the first dates of the up coming events we will be participating.

Spring Food Festival
13th March 2010
New Road, Brighton. Free entrance.  10:00am until 5:00pm

Brighton Food and Drink Festival
12 September 2010
New Road, Brighton.  Free entrance.  10:00am until 5:00pm

That's it for now, any changes in dates will be let you know through this site!
See you all

Monday, 1 March 2010

Celebrity chefs brands better?

The other day I was having dinner with some friends of mine in an Italian restaurant. After having a long conversation about foods from all over the world the topic of celebrity chefs own brand came up.

We were wondering whether these brands are really different and/or better than traditional supermarket and non supermarket brands. So, when I went to do my traditional weekly food shopping at my local supermarket I couldn’t resist the idea of checking these sort call premium celebrity chefs brands. Guess who I found first? Of course Jamie Oliver’s premium pasta. I checked his package to see the ingredients and of course the pasta is made from Durum Wheat Semolina (as you do) and is of course produced in Italy. Then I went to check Tesco’s own brand and what did I found? Of course made of Durum Wheat Semolina as Jamie’s, and of course also made in Italy.

Astonished of this discovery but not surprised I checked the actual product for colour, shape, size and hardness, and guess what? They were both exactly the same! Of course I didn’t buy the products because for start I don’t really want to pay £2.50 for industrially made pasta only because Jamie Oliver’s name is in the pack, and of course I don’t eat Tesco’s own pasta brand. However, I wanted to make a last check before making my decision, so I called a very good friend of mine in Italy which works in a pasta factory that makes Sainsbury’s own pasta, and guess what I found. Apparently they also do Jamie’s pasta (can’t confirmed this) but that’s the info I was supplied.

So, with this small research of the pasta world in the supermarkets it just puts to think, why do we have to pay premium charges for celebrity chef brands if they are exactly the same as supermarket own brands, or inferior that traditional pasta names such as DeCecco.

Then, if people gauge the quality of a product by its price then I should sell my pasta at £4.00 per bag? Because mine is absolutely 100% handmade, with the best semolina that you can get in Italy, and when you cook it is like having a bowl of 100% fresh pasta. Is this the case then? But yet I sell mine at £2.50 per bag even though mine is handmade and Jamie’s industrially made. So what does this tell us about consumer’s perception of good quality food? That they decide depending on the name in the bag and not buy the actual quality of the product? What do you think?

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Food and dishes Pronunciation

I just found this blog about how people tend to pronounce foreign dishes and foods, being the British the worse in the list.

Is not that I'm having a dig at the British people, but aren't day the worse?  Or in fact there are other nationalities worse than the Brits?  What do guys think?

Anyway, have a look at the comments, perhaps we can open our own discussion about the matter...???

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Quick and easy Italian recipes

Hi all,

Well as you all know by know yesterday I decided to create my own recipe section on the website, after having a dig on Jamie Oliver's cooking and recipe selection.

Today I have added more quick and easy Italian recipes for you to enjoy.   I have added lots of vegetarian dishes for those of you not meat eaters, but for the rest meat eaters I will be adding these recipes later.

So if you like my recipes then leave us a comment to share with all the rest of the community....

Anyway see you guys next week, enjoy!!

Leak and tomato timbales

Italian Omelette

Onion and Mozzarella Tarts

Roasted Bell Peppers

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Quick and easy PASTA CARBONARA

I was just watching a repeat of one of Jamie's Oliver cooking program and it just makes so "angry" because most of his dishes are Italian or Italian base.   Of course I've got nothing against Italian cooking, I'm Italian so love the cuisine, but what makes me "angry" is that he presents the dishes as his when in reality they are Italian traditional dishes!!! nothing from his creativity in the kitchen.

Although as an Italian I should feel good about the fact he is taking the Italian cuisine into British homes, but not I don't feel good.   Firstly because he doesn't say they are traditional Italian dishes, and secondly because he actually changes the dishes to adapt them I guess to the British taste, in which case they stop being Italian!

So, thinking about the whole thing, I decided to create a recipe section on my website linked with my blog, so all of you out there who are interested in true Italian dishes as we really cook them, then please do check out my website and/or blog to learn this recipes.

So, my first dish will be one of the most famous recipe Pasta Carbonara!  A very easy and quick recipe that can be done after a long day at work or on one of those days that feel like not cooking but yet want to eat something nice and taste without calling your local takeaway....

I hope you guys enjoy!  In the next few days I will be publishing my next recipe.... keep checking my blog out.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Nduja, Capiccollo, Pancetta and Schiacchiata

Hey guys!!

Just to let you all know that we have a new range of cured meats.   All made naturaly with no artificial preservatives, wheat or bread.   The only ingredientes are salt, spices and herbs, chilli for the hot ones and that's it!

We have 'Nduja, Capicollo, Schiacciata and of course Pancetta..!! check out the Cured Meat section on our website...