Which pasta should I buy? Read this and find out!

Pasta20150507_124414

De Cecco and Del Verde are actual Abruzzesi dried pasta producers, and their US counterparts are true to the quality of the original Italian product. Barilla, on the other hand, is an entirely different (and lower-quality) product here in the States. I am personally offended by this total lack of respect for US dried pasta consumers, but that’s another story for anyone who is nearly as fanatical as I am about these kinds of things. Rustichella d’Abruzzo is good for certain cuts (I like their orecchiette), and not quite right for others. Their Gnocchi and Perle di Patate (mini gnocchi) are out of this world, if you can find them (at about $8 per lb.). You’ll never find Ronzoni or Rienzi in my pantry, though there was a time when that was all that was available (my grandmother continued to use them, out of habit, until the ’80s, when her daughters revolted). I am currently enjoying “thick spaghetti” and “pennette rigate” from Rummo, a Neapolitan brand that is newly-available here in the NY area. Another promising brand produced in that region is Gerardo di Nola, whose Bucatini I tried recently and really liked. I also made a dish using a Pugliese brand not too long ago that was very good, but I don’t recall which. My go-to classics are DeCecco Rigatoni and Spaghetti, but I will also take Del Verde for either of these, and also for pastine (small pastas, used in soups, etc.). Voiello brand pasta is excellent all around, if you can find it. It’s availability seems to come and go here in NY. I heard that Barilla bought it recently, which to me can only be a bad omen, if it is any indication of how their quality here in States might change. My #1 brand for nostalgia purposes is Gianni di Napoli, a pioneer import brand of high-quality pasta from Italy that my mother used for much of my childhood. It is still good, and a bargain due to its relative obscurity, though not easy to find.
I could go on and on, but I don’t want to scare anyone… I did not write this but I completely agree with her!

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This is what to look for on the box. It should be cut with a bronze dye cut not teflon to get that good rough porous texture that grabs the sauce and has depth and texture to the noodle

The Cipriani is awesome and beautiful to look at but it’s a high end import and so you will pay for it – from 7 – 10 dollars a box. You also only get 8 oz in a box rather than the usual pound. I love the pappardelle!

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janescucinaitaliana

Jane Biscarini From Rancho Santa Fe, CA to Rome, Italy to Chattanooga, TN I grew up in the San Diego area, down the street from the now famous Chinos Vegetable Market. We purchased our organic (wasn’t even a term then) veggies there. Their sweet white corn was a summer staple on our table. 20 years later Wolfgang Puck discovered them for his restaurants in Los Angeles and made them famous. Cooking fresh and delicious meals was always a part of my family life. My sisters and I all cooked. Then in my 20’s I discovered Italy- and my future Italian husband (from Milan). We originally moved to Italy to expose the kids (now Marco 22 and Isabella16 years old) to the Italian culture and language. Well, 10 years into it, we lived in Como, Florence ,Rome and my new favorite Puglia (the next Tuscany). At different intervals we have lived a total of a year with my Italian sister and mother in law, learning and integrating their cooking secrets from Lombardia, Liguria, and Piemonte. Our last year was spent in Puglia – Manfredonia to be exact- (not Macedonia although we kept slipping the tongue and saying that for months) a charming seaside town that is a new favorite and a foodie indulgence! I Completed a professional chef course for Italian cuisine in Terni (Umbria region) 2012. I taught Italian cooking classes for 3 years in Rome- to other foreigners, American embassy staff and secret service. For our work in Rome I prepared at least 2 lunches/dinners a week for Italians and this is what they say in their words: I have tasted many times the dishes prepared by Jane and I can say only this thing: “I’didn’t know that an American lady – I’m an Italian family – part time cook - could make so many tipbits of Italian, American, Mexican cooking, and the dishes are so good that I had to change my opinion about the quality of American food, and about the way used to combine various ingredients to obtain excellent results. Jane deserves a lot of congratulations for her work , for her commitment and for her passion!” Unforgettable her pumpkin soup and her New York cheese-cake, but also “amatriciana pasta” and “lasagna”! I never thought that an American pretty lady could teach me so much! Patrizia- Roma Hi, my name is Laura, I am italian and I live in Rome where I had known Jane since 3 years ago , so I have had the opportunity to go to her nice house many times and to appreciate her as hostess and good cook. Jane is able to cook perfectly every type of food, American, Mexican, Oriental but, above all, she is able to cook… Italian food better than an Italian!!!! It’s not easy to pass the exam of the “verdict” of Italians about different kinds of pasta, pizza, melanzane alla parmigiana, gnocchi and so on, but she is a great cook and she knows how to propose them in the best way as well. And in several occasions it happened that we – her Italian friends – asked her to give us the correct recipes! So I think you are lucky to have Jane as your cooking teacher, I am sure she ‘ll become one of your good friends too, and you’ll enjoy her cooking lessons! Laura Garassini Ho avuto modo di gustare la cucina di Jane, debbo dire che oltre ad essere meravigliosamente presentata i gusti non sono buoni, ma FANTASTICI!! Silvano Ferraro Translation: I had the chance to taste Jane’s cooking. I must say that on top of serving beautifully prepared dishes, their tastes are not good but fantastic! Per mia fortuna ho mangiato diverse volte cibo cucinato da Jane! E’ una esperienza sempre interessante per il palato e per la propria cultura gastronomica: Jane riesce, con poco e con grazia, a creare sapori perfetti che conducono in un viaggio sensoriale dalla tradizione italiana all’esperienza esotica… dove la certezza del buono si accompagna alla scoperta di nuovi gusti! Rosalba Translation: In my good fortune I have eaten Jane’s cooking various times. It is always an experience interesting for the palate and for the true cultural gastronomy. Jane can, with little and with grace, create the perfect flavors that conduct a voyage of the senses from the traditional Italian to the exotic experience…where the certainty of goodness is accompanied by the discovery of new flavors! Cara jane, ormai cucini così bene che meriteresti la cittadinanza italiana onoraria!!! Baci Gianluca Ievolella Translation: Now you cook so well that you deserve the honorary Italian citizenship!

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