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The world for Italian cooking at home is opening up. Already a favourite option among Britons, authentic food products from the Continent are increasingly becoming available to the average shopper.
Matthew Blakeley, of online retailer Blake & Tate, says some of Italy’s largest produce manufacturers are becoming aware of increased demand from home users, and are quickly introducing smaller versions of their products that could previously only be bought in bulk by restaurants.
A whole new appreciation for Italian cuisine is budding among home cooks. “Due to the rise in demand for affordable, high-temperature ovens such as Ooni and Gozney over the last 12 months, consumers have discovered an entirely new way to cook foods they never would have achieved previously, bridging the gap between new and experienced cooks,” Matthew says.
One of the best-sellers at Blake & Tate is DOP San Marzano tomatoes from producers in Rega and Strianese. “They’re unique as they’re grown in a controlled area of Mount Vesuvius volcano that has a unique soil structure, exposure to the sun, and temperature differences due to the altitude making these tomatoes low in seeds, bright red in colour and incredibly tasty.”
When it comes to pasta, whichever brand you ask, the answer will likely be the same: fusilli, spaghetti and penne are the tried and tested favourites. But independents can find success by going beyond the ordinary. “We find variations of these popular shapes sell well with fine food retailers as there is not always a direct shape match in the supermarkets,” says Sally Assinder of Garofalo. “An example is Garofalo Spaghetti Lunghi. This is our traditional hand wrapped long spaghetti.”
Elsewhere, it’s all about spicy sausage and truffle sauce. “One of this year’s rising stars is our Calabrian Spicy Nduja, which is hugely popular due to it’s instantly recognisable flavour and smell,” Matthew says. “Salsa Truffina Mushroom & Truffle Sauce is a unique combination and can easily be stirred into pasta to give that instant rich restaurant flavour found at some of the best restaurants in the UK.” Scratch cooking is alive and well – retailers, take note.
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