My children love pasta. It’s quick, convenient and a very easy meal to put together in and the one dish that’s guaranteed to have them all leave their plates clean at the end.
My normal, basic winning formula is to mix an ordinary, bland supermarket pasta with a tomato-based sauce made more flavoursome with a spoonful of pesto and top each bowlful with lots of tasty grated cheese. I try to give variety as much as possible with minced beef, bacon, and bits of chorizo or squeezing every type of vegetables in that they would normally pick at suspiciously.
The pasta, however, is normally treated as a bland platform to support a richer, tastier food and I’ve tended to buy the cheapest ones I can find.
Offering to try and then review Garofalo pasta, I thought would be a challenge in itself. For one, I wanted to know if the difference between premium pasta and a cheap one is great enough is to pay the higher price. Secondly, I wanted to see if my children could taste the difference.
Garofalo pasta is a top-selling brand in Italy, however, what chance does it have among the British at growing a loyal band of premium pasta followers?
TONIGHT’S FAMILY SUPPER:
A kind of a Bolognese sauce: Onions, garlic, mushrooms, sweet red pepper, chopped courgette, finely diced carrot, minced beef, tomato pasta sauce (from a jar) a dessert spoon of red pesto and a splash of red wine. Served on Garofalo Radiatori (little mini radiators – very cute!). Served with grated Davidstow cheddar and a few shavings of Parmesan.
Garofalo says: “We recognize its quality by looking at it, touching it, cooking it and stirring the pasta with a wooden spoon, being careful so that the pasta doesn’t crack during cooking. We present the pasta in a dish; we recognize the thickness before tasting it. And above all we know that quality improves over time. We know this because here in Gragnano, where our production factory is, men and women who work in Pasta Garofalo, from workers to managers, have worked with pasta for many generations. What we have learnt during these centuries has become our artesian intelligence that gave us the chance of developing a technology with which we can control every step of pasta production, from the choice of raw materials to the packaging that we use.
It is with this awareness and with these possibilities that we can consider each shape a different pasta and not the same pasta in a different shape. From oversea markets we have learnt and continue learning that what for us is perfect can be improved and enriched by the comparison with other cultures. From the Japanese we learnt elegance and aesthetics, from the English control and balance, from America character and the ability to be unique. From children we learnt that taste doesn’t have an age and to cook for them is an act of love. For that reason we launched the children’s line “La Giostra dei Bambini” (The children’s merry go round).”
I would have a tendency to respond: “I can’t taste the b**l-s**t. Please, is it really any good?”
1) I really enjoyed eating it. I loved the big bites of the pasta itself and the feel of the ‘radiator’ grills on my tongue. There was a distinct flavour in the pasta itself which held it’s own with my big, rich and meaty accompanying sauce. I actually hate the ‘kid’s pasta for being a bit wet, soggy and tasteless.
2) The boys all had seconds. They might love pasta, but they rarely go for a second helping.
3) And yes, even my fast-shoveling brood recognized that the pasta they were eating tasted better and more delicious.
Shssh! I have a (secret) second sample of Garofalo’s spaghetti pasta in my kitchen cupboard that I’ll be saving for a more adult supper. I want to create a more elegant sauce with subtler, more sophisticated, flavours that I think this pasta actually deserves. Yes, ok, so the kids like it but while they are not yet in the gourmet league I’m going to greedily keep for my pals.