Food Finds: From Olive Oil to Sauce to Pasta
A great pasta Bolognese recipe brought one couple together—and not too many months later, a food business was born.
Paolo Volpati-Kedra and Tessa Edick, 30 and 32, respectively, are passionate about their Sauces 'n Love sauces, and it's not just because they found romance over pasta Bolognese. After meeting in a Boston park, Milanese-born Volpati-Kedra convinced Edick to come home with him so he could cook her that family recipe—and they married within a year. At their dinner parties, friends asked to buy their pasta sauce so often that they launched the line of seven sauces in 2000 in Somerville, Massachusetts. Parsley and marjoram soften the bite of fresh habanero in their Arrabbiata, while the Sugo Rosa is a rich mix of cream and tomatoes. Volpati-Kedra insists on chopping the onions by hand and plucking the herbs leaf by leaf. Each jar of sauce is made with such emotion, he says, that people can feel the love when they taste it (617-666-3600 or www.saucesnlove.com).
Bella Cucina has won acclaim for its packaging but deserves to be better known for what's inside those beautiful jars.
One taste of Bella Cucina's sauces and marmalades and you'd swear the recipes were passed down through generations of an Italian family. But even though 39-year-old Alisa Barry founded the company in Atlanta in 1994, her dedication to Italian cooking is unwavering. Both her Farmhouse Sugo, a chunky pasta sauce that gets its complex flavor from capers, salt-packed anchovies and sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, and her organic Passata al Pomodoro, or pureed tomatoes, are packed in glass jars so they won't pick up metallic flavors from a tin can. Barry has an appreciation for ingredients—she apprenticed at Berkeley's Chez Panisse and was chef of the restaurant's Café Fanny—and a head for business: Her next project is Pranzo, an Italian café that will open next door to her Atlanta store this summer (493 Peachtree St.; 800-580-5674 or www.bellacucina.com).
A Matter of Import
The importers at Vino e Olio will move heaven and earth to bring great Italian ingredients to America. Just ask the Pope.
"The best part about working with nuns who make tomato sauce is they never lie," says Alessandro Cecconi of Vino e Olio, a Miami-based importer and producer of Italian foods like the nuns' Passata di Pomodoro. "When Sister Maria says a shipment will be here Tuesday, it is!" Forty-one-year-old Cecconi and his partner, 32-year-old Costantino Cicchelli, discover small businesses like the convent—whose only other customer is the Pope—and bring their products to America. In the Sicilian town of Pachino, Cecconi found the men who now make their house-brand tomato sauce full of chunks of flavorful tuna. Vino e Olio's melata honey, produced by bees that collect fir-tree sap on a land preserve north of Rome, has a woodsy, caramel flavor. The company also carries regional Italian olive oils and unusual pastas, like squid-ink fettuccine (877-846-6365 or www.vinoeolio.com).