Ready to Launch
Just about a year ago, we left our home, our stuff and our country to live in Italy and launch a new business. At the time, we didn’t know where it would end. What would the business look like? How would we navigate the commercial landscape in another culture? Would we get tired of Italy? We were starting from scratch: no business model, no sources, no branding and no internet. Had we totally lost our minds?
Ten months later and we are heading back to the U.S. to promote the release of Pascarosa Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In a few days, our website will be live and we’ll be able to sell this amazing, organic extra virgin olive oil from the Valle d’Itria on the Adriatic coast in southern Italy’s Puglia region. After seemingly endless tasting, working with tin manufacturers, finding an incredible design firm, designing packing boxes and filling thousands of tins with extra virgin olive oil at the olive mill, we are finally ready. It’s been the most creative experience we’ve ever had. It’s also bound us closer together as we weather the twists and turns of this nuova storia together. And we’re pretty sure our minds are still present and accounted for.
Last night we ate a clean-out-the-refrigerator meal before packing our bags. During the day, we had stopped by a farm down on the Adriatic Coast near Ostuni to pick up some organic food product samples we want to import along with our olive oil. The family wanted to show us their farm, so we joined them for a walk around their 20 well-cultivated acres in the most stunning setting you’ve ever seen. We went home with a bucket full of peas, bags of cherries and some wild greens growing along the rock walls than ring the property. Dinner was composed of Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ piselli novelli (new spring peas) recipe, sauteed greens and as many cherries as we could manage.
This last evening before we return to our family and friends underscores what we love most about being in Puglia. What Italians call la materia prima (the raw material) is magnificent here: outstanding fruits and vegetables that burst with unadulterated flavor, farm-raised beef, pork, lamb and chicken, farmstead cheeses, fresh and dried legumes and, of course, olives, olive oil and wine all made without chemicals and other additives. There isn’t the dizzying array of choice found in American markets, but we have found that to be a virtue. Everything we see in the market is local, presented at the height of its season. This also makes these ingredients affordable—the best is accessible to everyone.
We hope to bring some of this accessibility to the U.S. in the form of outstanding olive oil and, soon to follow, other foods like preserved fava beans and chick peas, pear, quince and almond jam, stuffed hot peppers and patés of artichokes, olives and spicy sun-dried tomatoes. Our nuova storia is still new and will keep evolving as we continue to immerse ourselves in its twists and turns. Thank you all for your incredibly kind words of encouragement as we find our way. If you live anywhere near Portland, Oregon, we’d love to see you at our first Pascarosa olive oil tasting on Tuesday, May 28th at Real Good Food at 833 SE Main Street (NE corner of the building; look for the olive oil sign out front) in Portland. Call 503-730-8055 for more information.