Italian American Picnic // August 2013 Mantry

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Like turtlenecks, picnics are rarely associated with masculinity, but when pulled off correctly can elevate any being to a Class A gentlemen. We know we’re not here to tell you how to live your life but we humbly submit lounging horizontal in the sun and drinking crisp bubbly as one of summer’s great pleasures. So we lined up an Italian inspired spread from a handful of the nation’s most talented makers, now all you gotta do is choose your dining room.

Sfoglini Pasta Shop // Cavatelli // Brooklyn, NY

Sfoglini are generations of ladies in Bologna who make pasta by hand.” explains head honcho Steve Gonzalez whose pedigree includes primping pasta at El Raco de Can Fabes, a Three Star Michelin spot in Spain. Steve and his partner Scott give a nod to this tradition of handmade pasta, pumping out seasonal varieties using American semolina flour and locally sourced ingredients like wild foraged ramps and Bronx Brewery Ale. This Cavatelli’s curved shape and long rolled edge helps hold thicker sauce, so no reason to look any further than Nonna’s Sweet Sauce, some fresh torn mozzarella and basil (equally as good at room temp).

Nonna’s Sweet Sauce // Spicy & Sweet // New York, NY

Posing the question of what an Italian grandmother, a Venezuelan expat and a native New Yorker have in common sounds like the setup for a tasteless joke, but it’s actually the recipe for one of the tastiest small-batch tomato sauces in America. No this isn’t some East Side Mario’s schtick, “Nonna” actually exists, hailing from Brooklyn by way of Calabria she raised co-owner Michael on her family table tested recipe. Jorge found a seat at that table and the trio has been turning out home-made sauces using vine-ripened New Jersey tomatoes ever since.

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Tartufo Salami // Creminelli // Salt lake City, UT

Truffles. For a short stint truffle oil was getting used and abused in restaurants across the nation as a quick and dirty reason to ring up the price tag on underwhelming pungent risottos and dollops of potato purée. It’s easy to forget that the delicate, earthy aroma of truffles when used correctly heightens pork to luxurious levels. Meat maestro Christiano Creminelli helps his pigs fly by hand tying and slowly curing local heritage pork with a blend of spices and black summer truffles. Nominated for two national specialty food awards both for outstanding meat product and outstanding new product Cristiano passes his skills he learned from his father to a lawn near you.

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Tuscan Chèvre // Bell Chevre // Elkmont, AL

You know those pictures of Southern Italy — the ones where rolling hills are painted with winding roads, and free running animals dot the countryside like some photoshopped fairy tail? Well it was rural Alabama. If you turn up the right dusty road in Limestone county, you’ll arrive at the hand crafted haven of Tasia Malakasis, a native Alabamian (gracing the cover) who’s trophy case trumps even the state’s college football programs with over 50 awards from famed institutions. Recruit these marinated medallions of farmstead fromage for a simple arugula salad or smear on bread with tartufo salami and hatch chile pesto.

Hatch Chile Pesto // Gracious Gourmet // Bridgewater, CT

It’s a long way from Genoa to New Mexico, but the birthplace of Pesto meets it’s hatch in this American take on the Italian staple. You know a chile has a rabid following when it’s national festival manages to attract 30,000 visitors to the stifling sands of Hatch Valley, NM each August. Nancy Wekselbaum is graciously drinking the Kool-Aid of these chile-heads and has developed a unique hatchling spun off from traditional pesto that showcases southwestern flavours. We would go goat cheese and hatch chile panino or simply tossed with some spaghettini and pecorino.

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Parmesan & Rosemary Popcorn // Quinn Popcorn // Woburn, MA

Quinn founders Coulter and Kristy have been poppin’ off of late catching a new wave in popcorn game. Overhauling from bag to hull, the two decided it was time for zappable corn to clean up it’s act, introducing chemical free bags and Non-GMO organic kernels coated in actual ingredients (eureka!) to nuke the competition. What’s left is a salty, herbaceous bowl that pairs equally as well with Shawshank as it does champagne.

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August 2013 Mantry | Italian American Picnic

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