Farfalle, Fettuccine, Orecchiette, Penne, Fusilli, Orzo…..the list goes on, and my heart beats a little faster each time I hear one of these magical words. That’s what pasta is really, a little bit of magic. It has the power to transport you to your first bite of mac and cheese in your Grandma’s kitchen, to Sunday night baked spaghetti, to home. Although I am not Italian, pasta has always been a part of my life and my weakness. This long-lasting relationship began when I was in a high chair, with bowties and butter and has since spiraled to squid ink fettuccine topped with sautéed scallops served in a warm Gorgonzola cream sauce as a college student today. In between, there has been shrimp alfredo, orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sweet sausage, vegetable lasagna, and the classic Bolognese. As I grow, so does this list.
Like any devoted pasta lover, I am always on the look out for something I haven’t tried. Although I would like to consider myself an expert, Flour City Pasta at the Westport, Rowayton and Bethel Farmers’ Market made me realize it is possible to surprise even this pasta aficionado. I was strolling through the Market as I do every Thursday, when a colorful combination of orzo caught my eye. Intrigued by the color, I looked up to discover not only was the orzo aesthetically pleasing, but each color was a different flavor, creating the Bon Vivant Orzo composed of Wild Mushroom, Saffron, Spinach, and Cayenne. As curiosity drew me in my eyes scanned the other flavors, Sweet Potato Parpadelle, Lemon and Garlic Fettuccine, Wasabi Linguine, Cracked Pepper Fettuccine… my mouth dropped as the long list of unique flavors continued.
As I stood perplexed about how to begin and what to buy, Dean Gilbert, the NY/CT representative came to my aid. He explained that all of the pastas truly taste exactly like their ingredient namesakes. Conscious of my skepticism he sent me across the Market to Du Soleil to try their pasta salad. He explained that the pasta salad included 4 simple ingredients; tomatoes, feta, sugar snap peas and his Bon Vivant Orzo. Dean claimed the orzo had enough flavor on its own that no additional seasoning was needed. After two samples (and a container to go) I had to admit, he was right.
You really could taste the individual flavors in the orzo and feel the cayenne heat when a red one slid down your throat. Clearly sensing my shared appreciation for pasta, Dean sent me home with a Tomato and Pesto Blend, Chipotle Fettuccine, and my own Bon Vivant Orzo with recipes on each bag and instructions to try all 3 and report back.
A week later, and several bowls of pasta later, I have found pasta heaven. Unlike any pasta I have tasted, the flavors reflect their descriptions and colors. Another facet to this pasta discovery are the recipes that come with them. If you don’t know what sauce you should serve with Curry Linguine or if fish would be good with Spinach Lemon Herb Fettuccine, Flour City Pasta provides full recipes, found on the bags and on their website, for each product. They have concocted many and now are bringing you the best possible way to prepare their pasta. These tried and true recipes include a variety of ingredients as well as cooking instructions and nutritional information. After cooking three pastas following the recipes provided, I can say they’ve got it right.
Flour City Pasta is made the traditional way with organic flour, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices using tools imported from Italy. They are based in Rochester, NY and at the moment, their products are sold in stores in New York, Vermont, and recently at the Westport, Rowayton and Bethel Farmers’ Markets. Flour City meets many of their customers (including many restaurants whom they create custom “house brands” for) at the markets and then move their relationships to the online store. Though their business is expanding, Dean Gilbert believes that the sense of community found in Fairfield County and the support for the organic and farm market movement in Connecticut is contagious, and takes the time to personally appear at our local markets to say hi to those friendly faces. Flour City Pasta is a unique pasta experience and enthusiast or not, you should definitely give them a try.