Where To Buy The Best


Italian cheeses

Italian cheeses

Fresh Italian cheeses or lattecini such as mozzarella di bufala and burrata are at their best when just a few days (preferably a few hours) old, while the best parmesan will be aged a few years. Valvona and Crolla's Cravero Parmigiano Reggiano for example was made in 2001. Web-based Italian retailer Esperya sells Zabo Parmigiano Reggiano at two-and-a-half years old, and Montorsi "extra mature" aged at least two years. And as part of its "Wednesday Fresh" offer, Esperya delivers fresh buffalo mozzarella made Monday and despatched from Italy on Wednesday to arrive on your doorstep Thursday.

Pasta

Do not think that fresh pasta is, by definition, better than dried, particularly when it comes to supermarket brands. Good quality dried pasta is superior to mediocre fresh pasta. It's also better value for money, and the correct choice for sauces of the cooked tomato family. The rule: don't bother buying fresh pasta unless you are doing so from first-rate suppliers such as Manicomio, Speck and Carluccio's. The best mass-produced Italian brand of fresh pasta is Rana, available in independent delicatessens.

Hams and salami

The intense meaty flavours of some artisan-produced salume can be off-putting to those unused to it, so gauge your guest list before buying. Brits increasingly have access to specialist Italian varieties made from rare breeds of pork and beef, and other animals such as boar, venison and goose, via gourmet suppliers such as Savoria. Pre-sliced packs of Italian meats from the supermarket can pass muster if you open the packet, separate the slices and leave them at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before serving.

Rice

You may have heard that arborio is the proper rice for making risotto and, true, unlike basmati or regular long-grain, it is a plump-grained, stock-absorbing risotto rice. However Italian epicures would think it third choice, favouring instead the Vialone Nano or Carnaroli varieties.

Olive oil

A lot of guff is talked about olive oil. It is not possible to generalise that Tuscan oil (or the oil of any other region) is "the best". Oils vary from company to company, and from year to year. Extra virgin blends have the advantage of consistency and are okay for cooking. Single estate varieties are enjoyably inconsistent, fun to explore and good retailers will let you sample before buying. The most important thing is, whatever brand you choose, to keep it well out of the light. Buying oil packed in dark glass bottles or cans will help.

Antipasto

Standards of bottled marinated vegetables vary tremendously. It's disappointing to open a jar of artichokes to find they have not been grilled or roasted, that they were stored in brine, or that the oil is not olive but bland vegetable oil. Seggiano is premium-priced but is an excellent organic and artisan-produced brand available from many independent retailers around the UK.

Funghi

Canned and bottled truffles are a waste of money, while dried porcini (or ceps) are better value than they may seem. If you're going to buy truffles, go the whole hog and buy fresh ones in season from an upmarket specialist. Dried porcini keep for ages in the cupboard, ready to use as required, and have an intense flavour that elevates the humblest sauces, soups and stews. Try to ensure the mushrooms in the pack are as clean as possible - small pieces are okay, grit and grass are best avoided. Chefs are divided in their views on the culinary value of truffle oil. For some dishes a truffle-flavoured cheese or butter added just before serving will give better results.

SUPPLIERS

Carluccio's

www.carluccios.com, Tel: 020 7580 3050.

Limited mail order service. At 8 Market Place, London W1. Other London branches, and in Bicester, Bluewater, Kingston, St Albans, Tunbridge Wells and Windsor.

Claude's

Tel: 020 7348 2072.At 7 Swains Lane, London N6.

Esperya

www.esperya.com, Tel: +39 071 759 2274.

The Fine Cheese Company

www.finecheese.co.uk, Tel: 01225 448748. Mail order service available. At 29 & 31 Walcot Street, Bath.

La Fromagerie

www.lafromagerie.co.uk, Tel: 020 7935 0341.

Mail order service. Branches at 2-4 Moxon Street, London W1 and 30 Highbury Park, N5.

Harvey Nichols Foodmarket

www.harveynichols.com, Tel: 0870 873 3833.

At 109-125 Knightsbridge, London SW1, and in Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds. (Birmingham branch has wine shop only.)

Manicomio

Tel 020 7730 3366.

85 Duke of York Square, King's Road, London SW3.

Savoria

www.savoria.co.uk, Tel: 0870 242 1823.

Speck

www.speck-deli.co.uk, Tel: 020 7486 4872.

At 6 Thayer St, London W1 and 2 Holland Park Terrace, Portland Road, London W11.

Valvona and Crolla

www.valvonacrolla.com, Tel: 0131 556 6066. Mail order service available. At 19 Elm Row, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine