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Ready to Launch

Our rosé glass is more than half full on the terrace in Martina Franca.

Our rosé glass is more than half full on the terrace in Martina Franca.

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?

Pascarosa Extra Virgin Olive OIl . . . it's ready to go!

Pascarosa Extra Virgin Olive OIl . . . it’s ready to go!

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.

Figs ripening in the sun at Tenuta Rubino near the Adriatic Coast in Ostuni, Italy.

Figs ripening in the sun at Tenuta Rubino near the Adriatic Coast in Ostuni, Italy.

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.

First cherries of the season from Tenuta Rubino

First cherries of the season from Tenuta Rubino.

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.

Come join us in Portland, Oregon to sample Pascarosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Come join us in Portland, Oregon on May 28th  to sample Pascarosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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.

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Good luck!

    May 19, 2013
    • Thank you so much, Debra. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate knowing that there are kindred spirits like you out there thinking good thoughts. Hope to meet you in person soon! Best, Catherine

      May 19, 2013
  2. Complimenti and augurissimo, Catherine and Brian!! So proud of you for doing this…we have our own version of a new story, and I’m so glad that you’ve found the courage and adventure to do the same!

    May 19, 2013
    • Dear Nina–You are our inspiration! Thank you so much for your unwavering support–it means so much. We will keep you up to date on how it all goes and before you know it, we’ll be back in Italy. Hope to see you soon. Best, Catherine

      May 19, 2013
  3. Good luck Catherine 🙂

    May 19, 2013
    • Hi Marco–Thank you so much for the well wishes! I’ll keep you posted on our progress. Hope to see you again soon in Puglia. Best, Catherine

      May 19, 2013
  4. Cynthia #

    Tantissimi auguri. Sharings the gastronomic pleasures of Puglia is always fun and everyone LOVES the products (what’s not to love?). With all the passion you have put into this project it’s sure to be huge success!

    May 19, 2013
    • Hi Cynthia–Thank you so much for these very kind words. This is the moment we’ve been anticipating and it is both exhilarating and a little scary. Still, we know the products are amazing, so we just need to make sure that we get the word out. Thanks again–your enthusiasm is infectious!

      May 19, 2013
  5. When are you coming to SAnta Cruz?

    May 19, 2013
    • Hi Larry–We’ll be in Santa Cruz from about June 10th through July 9th. We’ll be at Jim and Paula Faris’s house during much of that time, so we’d love to try to connect with you when we’re there. We’re working on several tasting events, too, including one of the Outstanding in the Field dinners with Jim Denevan. We’ll keep you posted. Best, Catherine

      May 19, 2013
  6. Patrice Theriot #

    I am so excited for your new adventure, and that your first product is launching. I am anxious to try your olive oil. I will watch for tastings in Santa Cruz, I hope. I have a question about “organic” products that are imported to the USA. Does Italy have a certification program, like we have here, that permits the term “certified organic” on a product? If so, how does it compare to the US regulations? I know a lot of local farmers who simply do not have the resources to maintain certification, even though they adhere to the practices. (Bureaucracy at its finest.)
    Good Luck.
    Patrice

    May 19, 2013
    • Hi, Patrice–I will be sure to let you know when/where we will be tasting in Santa Cruz. I’d love to see you! Re. organic certification, it’s pretty much the same thing in Italy as it is in the U.S. except that that the standards are even more stringent in Italy. Italy’s certification process conforms to the European Union standards, which has only recently been granted reciprocity with U.S. certified organic standards. And like the U.S., many farmers here who farm organically and/or sustainably have chosen not to seek certification for all the same reasons.If you think it’s a bureaucratic process in the U.S., you should see what’s required in Italy! Still, it is one way to ensure that the product is completely free of toxic chemicals if you don’t know the farmer and his/her practices. We have chosen one certified organic oil and one that is not certified but made from farmers we know who cultivate sustainably without certification. Anyway, more when I see you! All the best, Catherine

      May 20, 2013
  7. Ellen Moore #

    Have a fabulous trip back to the US can not wait to purchase the new oil – please do think about coming to Chicago if sun moon and stars align.

    Cheers my friend

    Ellie

    Sent from my iPhone

    May 20, 2013
    • Dear Ellie–Thank you so much for the encouragement! It means so much. We would love to come to Chicago, but don’t know if we can make it work on this trip. The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) is meeting in Chicago in March next year, though, and I am determined to be there. I’ll give you more information on dates as soon as I have it. And I would absolutely love for you to connect with Sarah at some point. As soon as our site is ready to go, I will let you know, too. Take care–miss you!

      May 20, 2013

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