Garofalo Pasta may have only arrived in the UK last autumn but in Italy, it's existed for ... well, centuries, according to their website, which traces their history back to 1789. When I was offered the opportunity to test some of their pasta, I jumped at the chance, not really expecting to see any difference. I know that homemade pasta or the fresh pasta you can buy in the refrigerated aisle of the supermarket always taste different but surely dried pasta is all the same, isn't it ? Even if Garofalo is stocked in Waitrose, Ocado and *gulp* Harrods !
Well, as I could immediately see, all dried pasta is not the same. We buy normal run-of-the-mill spaghetti - not the dirt cheap budget supermarket brands but nothing really spectacular either -and they've all always tasted and looked the same. I could immediately see that the Garofalo pasta looked nothing like normal pasta, as you can see from the photo - on the left bog-standard shop-bought spaghetti, on the right Garofalo ! It's a much paler colour (which now makes me wonder why the others are so yellow !), it's thicker, it looks slightly floury and it feels almost abrasive like sandpaper ! Oooh exciting, time for a taste test then !
I decided to inspect the package to see how long this super duper-pasta would need to cook - 9 minutes. As I waited for the water to boil, I had a glance at the information on the packaging and was surprised and impressed to see it's principally in Italian. Very authentic then, not just pretending to be Italian ! The English translator was obviously having a bad day because it just says "Italian pasta" whereas in all the other languages, it says "Pasta made with semolina of hard wheat". The French bit even goes so far as saying "Edible pasta of superior quality made with semolina of hard wheat". Makes "Italian pasta" sound a bit lacklustre !
9 minutes later, I sampled a piece and found it slightly too al dente so I left it to cook for a couple of minutes extra. I served up four platefuls with a cry of "Dinner's ready, and it's posh pasta all round" ! For the sake of reviewing, I decided to start off tasting the pasta on its own and it was actually really tasty, with a definite wheaty taste, unlike the usual bland spaghetti. The girls had theirs with a little knob of melted butter and, when I had a quick taste, you could actually taste the pasta rather than just the saltiness of the butter. Mike absolutely smothered his in pesto so he couldn't really taste any difference but he did say he could feel it had a nicer texture. I added a small amount of pesto which was delicious, although I couldn't taste the wheatiness any more.
Coming back to the bit that was leftover draining in a colander, I was amazed to see that there wasn't the usual white gellified starch in the bottom of the pan underneath. I'm no pasta-expert but I would guess that's a sign of superior-quality ingredients.
It's certainly a lot more expensive than most dried pasta but you really can taste (and see and feel) the difference so if you're out to impress at a dinner party or just want your family to enjoy some genuine Italian pasta, it's well worth splashing out. Delissimo !
star rating : 5/5
RRP : 1kg spaghetti £3.50, 500g pasta approximately £2 depending on the variety
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