Simon Johnson Pasta
Simon Johnson only select the finest quality ingredients and gourmet goods including pasta made by Italian families with generations of passion!
Last issue we launched 'Simon Johnson Vinegars', the first in a series of features on Australia’s purveyor of gastronomic delights, SIMON JOHNSON. Boasting five retail stores across the country, Simon Johnson provides chefs, home cooks and entertainers the finest culinary products from dairy to deli goods, fish products to fruit, nectars, nuts and more.
Their expert team hand picks their range from the best producers both in Australia and throughout the world. In doing so, they love uncovering the stories behind each product, often discovering family-owned companies whose passion for their wares dates back generations.
This is certainly the case with pasta, as two of Simon Johnson’s favourite brands come from Italian families who have been making pasta since the early 20th century.
+ Special Offer
Buy any two packets from the Pasitificio di Martino or Pastificio Benedetto Cavalieri ranges and receive a FREE jar of SIMON JOHNSON pasta sauce (530g) to create the ultimate in Italian flavour.
Use code: pastaselector
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The Gold of Gragnano
Sheltered by the Apennine Mountains in the Gulf of Naples lies the town of Gragnano, renowned as the birthplace of dried pasta. The climate conditions are perfect for its production with a sea breeze bringing humidity from the coast, along with watermills bringing spring water from Monti Lattari.
For over 1000 years, locals have been producing dried pasta in their town and so important is it to their history, it’s become known as Oro di Gragnano, or ‘the gold of Gragnano.’
In fact, the European Union has recognized Pasta di Gragnano to be a PGI product (‘Protected Geographical Indication’) meaning it has to meet rigorous standards of production.
One of the families dedicated to following these exacting standards is the di Martino family. Their pasta factory (pastificio) dates back to 1912, and since then, they’ve handed down their passion for pasta through the generations.
What sets Pasta di Gragnano, including that of the di Martino family, apart is the fact that firstly, the pasta dough must be bronze-extruded (where the dies, or moulds, used inside traditional Italian pasta cutting machines are made from bronze). As bronze is porous – as opposed to Teflon – it gives the pasta a rough surface texture that helps the sauce cling to the pasta.
Secondly, Pasta di Gragnano must use high-protein durum wheat, which helps keep the pasta al dente while it cooks. Thirdly, the dough must be made with water from the local aquifer, which is naturally very light in calcium and other minerals, so it does not change the structure of the semolina. The dough is then kneaded until it reaches the right consistency and elasticity.
Lastly, the pasta must be dried at a low-temperature (between 40°C and 80°C for 6 to 60 hours, depending on the shape) to maintain the quality and flavours (pasta dried too fast at high temperatures can be left with a brittle texture and bitter flavour). Pasta di Gragnano is then ventilated with hot air, several times, and the product must be packaged in the place of production within 24 hours.
Pastificio di Martino has always made Pasta di Gragnano PGI by mixing 100% Italian durum wheat with the spring water coming from Monti Lattari.
Left: Third generation Benedetto Cavalieri; Right: The founding family members of Pastificio Benedetto Cavalieri
‘Fine & Selected’ from Apulia
The Cavalieri family has been growing wheat in specifically selected fields in the heart of Apulia, southern Italy, since 1800. However, in 1918, when Benedetto Cavalieri established the Mill and Pasta Factory, the family also became synonymous with First Choice Pasta.
Ever since, Pastificio Benedetto Cavalieri has been committed to innovation and quality – tradition in production combined with modern technology in machinery for kneading, pressing and drawing. They introduced a new system that dried the pasta in special rooms with a hot water fan for humidity (as opposed to out in the streets, which was the custom at the time).
Left: Simon Johnson pasta; Right: Pasta drying
His son, Andrea Cavalieri, took over in the 1950s and established a management structure. The business is now run by his son (Benedetto) and grandson (Andrea).
Benedetto Cavalieri Pasta is widely renowned for the rigorous selection of Italian durum wheats in specifically selected fields on the hills of Apulia and Basilicata, as well as the ‘Delicate Method’ of processing. This process uses long kneading, slow pressing, drawing and drying at a low temperature to preserve the nutritional values of the durum wheat.
Both Pastificio di Martino and Pastificio Benedetto Cavalieri are two fine examples of the world’s finest quality on offer at Simon Johnson.
* Simon Johnson pasta offer ends 31 May 2021, exclusive to Selector readers.