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Sabato Blog

  • Catching up with the Girolomoni brothers

    The only thing that momentarily drew our attention away from the demands of the bumpy, winding road leading towards the crest of a hill (we would call it a mountain) in Isola del Piano, in the Marches, was the appearance of busy local bee keepers, as we headed up the slopes, to visit Girolomoni. They are our organic supplier of pasta, farro, mountain lentils, extra virgin olive oil and a few other very interesting grains.

    The Girolomoni entrance sign. The Girolomoni entrance sign.

    We were particularly intrigued to return to the 14th century Montebello monastery that the late Gino Girolomoni was making his life's work to restore, complete with a small museum, when we first visited some years ago.

    Entrance Arriving at Girolomoni.

    A pioneer of the organic movement in Italy, Gino is renowned throughout the region as the man who brought it back to life again through the introduction of organic farming. At one point he had also been a very innovative and progressive mayor. These days, both his sons and daughter are involved in the co-operative which now includes 200 farmers spread through this, and other regions, in Italy.

    Seven years ago, Gianluca, the General Manager, had told us how lucky he was to work in this company and this environment, a comment he reiterated this visit. Everything in this unique area is farmed organically and the movement has grown considerably over the last few years. Girolomoni grow organic ancient varieties of wheat and grains onsite, and make pasta from these. We heard of plans to build their own flour mill next year on the side of the 'hill'. This will close the circle. Durum wheat is quite difficult to grind compared to normal flour, as it is more like sand in texture. If environment can be seen to directly influence the end product then this mill will produce truly wonderful flour as the views are serene, and the air has a crisp freshness, even on a sunny afternoon. Their power sources are mainly supplied by solar and wind turbine.

    View View from Girolomoni farm.

    The farro used for Girolomoni’s farro pasta is from the father of all modern wheat: triticum monococum. It is characterised by a very appealing natural sweetness. We tried it simply dressed with their extra virgin olive oil. Often people who are sensitive to gluten find they can tolerate this pasta, and the pearled farro they also supply us with. We have recently added their semi-integrale pasta to our Sabato range, which has part of the husk left on, ensuring it is higher in fibre than normal pasta but is still delicious to eat.

    The businessman and the farmer. The businessman and the farmer.

    Gino’s son, Giovanni, is involved on the business side and his brother Samuele, on the farming side. There is a small restaurant onsite, where the chef, Andrea, was mowing the lawn as we arrived. Andrea's previous employment had been at a two-starred Michelin restaurant and he had been interviewed and employed by Maria, their sister, who later became his partner. Andrea cooked us a really delicious lunch and his talents extended to an interesting crispy cracker made from leftover pasta.

    The Montebello monastery chapel. The Montebello monastery chapel.

    All three of Gino’s children now have children of their own, with Giovanni having married in the chapel of the ancient Montebello monastery, lovingly restored by his father from the roofless ruin we had last seen. In the last few years the children have managed to get through the red tape of Italian administration to have the remains, of both their mother and father, laid to rest in the simple, beautiful chapel.

    Here, there is a strong focus on educating the next generation to ensure the survival of the organic movement and Girolomoni frequently invest in this by conducting visits to the property for school groups. The students are shown first hand the passage of the wheat from farm to grain or pasta. Everyone at Girolomoni is very passionate about organic being the sustainable way of the future, and in that environment you can understand the appeal.

  • A visit to Marina Colonna's olive grove

    Marina Colonna's quality extra virgin olive oil has been a prominent hero in our range from the day we started Sabato.

    The sign welcoming us to Marina Colonna's Estate The sign welcoming us to Marina Colonna's Estate

    Her excellent quality oil - and the distinctive anfora bottle bearing the Colonna family's ancient noble crest - are personified by the woman herself.

    A very resilient woman, of resourceful character, she became involved in the family farm in the 1980s as she tired of a career in documentary-making. The final straw was a trip to the Amazon where she was the only woman on a dark and threatening jungle journey. Hot, sunny deserts she could handle deftly, but that jungle trip was mainly pitch black and "you never knew what might slither down your neck". She decided to focus on the potential of producing quality extra virgin olive oil instead.

    Marina cooking us lunch Marina cooking us lunch.

    This is also not for the faint-hearted, to which those involved in our local industry can attest.  Consistently achieving the high quality Marina has maintained for decades and remaining in business, is a feat accomplished only by very few. Marina Colonna may be the only woman to have achieved this status.

    A' Principessa' from a lineage based in Rome with a long and noble history, her estate in Molise has been in the family since the 1800s. It is now 180 hectares with 55 hectares devoted to the many varieties of olives she nurtures like children. About half of these are certified organic, which comes with a lot of extra cost.

    The driveway leading us up to the Colonna estate. The driveway leading us up to the Colonna estate.

    Marina is a fearless innovator and her infused oils - which were first in the market in New Zealand, and often the inspiration for copies - have always matched the superb quality of her classic oil. The Granverde (lemon-infused) in particular has been a staple we have enjoyed supplying to many restaurants and domestic kitchens. It is pressed from the skins of hand peeled organic Calabrian and Sicilian lemons along with the olives. She loves it as a finishing oil or with balsamic vinegar. We really must take her a bottle of the Forvm Chardonnay vinegar, as that has long been a favourite combination in New Zealand.

    Jacqui, Marina and Phil by the tanks. Jacqui, Marina and Phil by the tanks.

    We enjoyed visiting her again. Like a proud parent she showed us around her groves pointing out varieties and individual trees of which she is particularly fond. She noted that the flowering this year is excellent which, barring natural disasters, should mean a good harvest. The necessary water comes from three natural lakes on the property. Nothing is wasted.  The olives provide fertiliser and power as well. She turns the pomace (the waste of the paste after crushing for her extra virgin olive oil, often turned into pomace oil by other companies) into compost. This is then used as fertiliser, while the olive stone part of the pomace is separated out and used as fuel for the boilers, which heat the buildings and the water.

    A view of olive groves and one of the lakes on the estate. A view of olive groves and one of the lakes on the estate.

    I thought to ask what had inspired her unique anfora-shaped bottle, and she laughed and waggled a wooden curtain tassel of the same shape at us.

    Marina with her curtain tassel! Marina with her curtain tassel!

    Simple, pure genius - befitting of the lady herself.

     

  • Cheesemonger Chatter - NZ Cheese Awards

    The annual NZ cheese awards are being held this Tuesday, 14 March - so ahead of this event, here are my picks of what’s awesome in NZ cheese and available in-store at Sabato.

    Tenara

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Tenara pasteurised goat’s milk, microbial rennet, 3 weeks old, made in Kaikoura. A mousse paste enrobed in my favourite bacteria Geotrichum, producing a much loved fluffy cloud of beauty. Back in season August 2017.

    cajeta1

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Cajeta may be the most delicious caramel you’ve never tasted. Unlike a basic caramel which is made from sugar, Cajeta is a goat’s milk based caramel. Cajeta has a deep and earthy complex flavour versus it’s cousin Dulce de leche which is all sweetness. Use Cajeta as a sauce for yoghurt, ice cream, a dip for apples or poured over cake or tart. While Mexican in origin, this Cajeta is made in Aotearoa, and is only available at Sabato.

     

    cheesewithnoname2

     

     

     

     

     

    The Cheese With No Name pasteurised sheep’s milk, traditional rennet, 3 weeks old, made in Central Hawkes Bay. A petit lactic set cheese with a gummy mouthfeel paste, central pith and big gutsy farm flavours. THIS CHEESE IS EPIC. You can’t imagine until you try it! Available only at Sabato.

    Biddy

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Cwmglyn pasteurised cow milk, traditional rennet, 3 months old, made in Eketahuna.  Farmhouse cheddar style cheese with a natural edible rindThe ultimate in single origin, each cheese named after the cow – one of the rarest cheeses in NZ.

    Blue Monkey

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Blue Monkey pasteurised cow’s milk, microbial rennet, 6 weeks old, made in Katikati.  In the tradition of Saxelby Stilton, NZ’s most famous unknown cheese, a blue butter from a different mother.

     

    Calum Hodgson - Sabato cheesemonger.

  • Cheesemonger Chatter - new season Cranky Goat cheese

    Hey goat cheese geeks, get your new seasons fix of Cranky Goat cheese…now in stock.

    The Nag:  Pasteurised goats milk, microbial rennet, 3 weeks old.

    Pelorous Pearl: Pasteurised goats milk, microbial rennet, 3 weeks old.

    The Nanny: Pasteurised goats milk, microbial rennet, 4 weeks old.

    cranky-goat-2

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Continue reading
  • Cheesemonger Chatter- Tenara has arrived!

    HUZZAH! The wait is over. The first batch of Tenara from Kaikoura Cheese has arrived.

    Tenara

    Tenara pasteurised goat’s milk, microbial rennet, 3 weeks old, made in Kaikoura. A mousse paste enrobed in my favourite bacteria Geotrichum, producing a yeasty lactic beauty. 250g

    Buy it online here

    And the first batch of Savvy Washed Rind has arrived also.

    Savvy Washed Rind

    Savvy Washed Rind pasteurised goats milk, microbial rennet, 3 weeks old, made in Martinborough. Washed in Sauvignon Blanc with a peachy orange rind –  has aromas of fresh hay developing more earthy notes with age. 130g

    Smoked Soft Goats Cheese kicks off next Tuesday September 6.

    smoked goats cheese

    Smoked Soft Goats Cheese pasteurised goat’s milk, microbial rennet, 1 week old, made in Picton. Lactic set, lightly salted, matured for 3 days, cold smoked in apple wood for 20 mins.

    On Wednesday I hung out with Amanda and Jacqui from The Drunken Nanny in Martinborough. We knocked about town chatting cheese and launched a cunning plan to manufacture New Zealand’s first Gudbrandsdalsost clone; brown cheese. Watch this space….

    Brown Cheese

    Fun to present Blue Rhapsody and Fromage Blanc at the weekends BIG CHEESE lunch The Grill Sky City Auckland. With 100 ticket holders in attendance, there were plenty of folks loving NZ cheese! I had a fascinating chat with a truffle dog trainer that sniffs out the majority of NZ truffles, they tasted pretty epic on the Croque Monsieur.

    the grill lunch

    5000 tonnes of Camembert AOP was produced last year versus 60,000 tonnes of "Made in Normandy" Camembert. The appellation contrôlée label (AOC) certifys 'Real' French cheese keeping it free of any imposters. Normandy Camembert surprisingly is made in Normandy France and is protected with a AOP - a protected designation of origin. A debate is currently waging with the The INAO (National Institute for Origin and Quality) to try and clarify this situation between AOP and Camembert "Made in Normandy".

    Of the dozen Camembert PDO, only two are fermier - farm cheeses. And all of this mass production of Camembert damages the Camembert de Normandie brand leaving it to no longer mean anything. Read more here..

    By Calum Hodgson, our Cheesemonger

  • Cheesemonger Chatter

    Viva l'italia!!! PROMO PARMIGIANO! Grab yourself a steal on our 200g Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano small wedges!

     Drunken Nanny FamilyCheesemaker Amanda from The Drunken Nanny in Martinborough visited us this week. It was a great chance for her to meet some of our trade customers and talk about our trial cheese concepts we’ve been tinkering with. Watch this space!

     

    Continue reading
  • Cheesemonger Chatter - Seasonal Cheeses

    KaikouraMushroomShroomKaikoura Cheese Company will be featured on New Zealand’s greatest TV show Country Calendar Saturday October 8. The timing is great, New NZ Seasonal Cheeses are arriving on our shelves throughout September and October. Just in time for NZ Cheese month. Continue reading

  • Cheesemonger Chatter - 44 wheels of Parmigiano on the whey...

    44 wheels of Parmigiano have been ordered, on their whey to Sabato for Christmas.

    Parmigiano

    The surplus of the 44 wheels unable to be stored on site to be held in chillers offsite. I plan to visit the storage facility – a cheesemonger wants to know where and how these babies will be resting!

    Alongside the 44 wheels, will be PARMIGIANO REGGIANO “Solodibruna” DOP cheese, extra selected 48 months, 250g fixed weight.

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  • Kiwi quinoa - a New Zealand first!

    Kiwi_quinoa3

    The first New Zealand grown quinoa has finally arrived at Sabato.

    Kiwi Quinoa is the innovative idea from Rangiteki couple Dan and Jacqui Cottrell. After 5 years perfecting their method and process, they harvested their first crop in February 2016. We were lucky enough to get our hands on this sustainably farmed quinoa and we couldn't be more excited!

    Continue reading
  • The finale

    Giusti Acetaia Giusti Acetaia

    One of the main reasons for our journey was a trade fair in Parma, which is an easy way to touch base with some of the suppliers we have gathered over the years.

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