SECOLARI offers a large variety of dry flavored pastas produced by Pappardelle’s Pasta Co., a small artisan producer located in Denver, Colorado. Mary and I came across these unique pastas during our trip to California in May 2011, though I also recalled the brand from an earlier trip to Pike’s Market in Seattle. Never have we come across a pasta producer that offers such a broad array of different flavors and types of pasta. Our offering at Secolari includes such exotic pastas as Venetian Calamari Linguini, Dark Chocolate Linguine, Lemon Chive Angel Hair, Basil Garlic Fettuccine, as well as an assortment of other flavored lasagnas, pappardelle, fusilli, mafaldine, trumpets, bow tie, and orzo. and other types of. For those opting or requiring Gluten-Free pastas, we offer a line of ten different types including Basil Garlic Penne, Chipotle Lime Trumpet, and Lemon Pepper Fusilli. These pasta products are found only in a handful of small retailers and farmer markets along the East Coast.

What we like about Pappardelle’s pastas is that they are made the “old-fashioned” way, and the company sells only to small shops like Secolari. The pasta is made of the highest quality durum semolina, which is harvested from select fields in the upper Mid-West. The pasta dough is mixed with fresh Rocky Mountain spring water, and slowly and gently kneaded at low temperatures, helping to preserve the natural characteristics and flavor of the wheat. Unlike modern producers that use Teflon extruders and forms, Pappardelle’s extrudes its pasta with old-style dies made of bronze, assuring a coarser and more porous texture. Once extruded, Pappardelle’s pasta is dried slowly, and in special drying rooms that are dedicated and customized to a particular type of pasta. Unlike commercial pasta that is typically dried at 190 degrees Fahrenheit, Pappardelle’s pasta is slowly dried at 90 degrees over the course of 24 to 48 hours – a process that assures a superior product.

Founded by two former chefs, Pappardelle’s pasta characterizes the three essential qualities of what the experts and chefs look for in high quality pasta. First, most agree that exceptional pasta must simply taste better — not necessarily as a finished dish, but in its natural form after cooking. It should be able to stand on its own with a little olive oil and a slight sprinkling of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Second, great dried pasta must retain its texture after cooking. Low quality pastas, for example, will literally fall apart in the pot, or turn soft and sometimes mushy. Another sign of inferior pasta is that the water turns cloudy when it is placed into the pot of boiling water. In contrast, great dried pasta will have a rough texture and retain that texture throughout the cooking process. When eaten, the pasta is solid, heavy and more sustained than the slick and often brittle pasta found on most store shelves.

Finally, great pasta will smell great — it will have a distinctive aroma and when dropped into boiling water. Great pasta will release an “enticing whiff of wheat” – a scent that is reminiscent of a bakery. This is interesting, because many who have walked into our shop, often comment about its pleasant aroma — No doubt, caused, in part, by these fantastic products.

While Mary and I have not yet tried each and every flavor of pasta we carry, we do know that the many we have tasted meet each of the three characteristics of a great pasta. We also know that our customers who try the pasta in accordance with one of the recommended recipes attest that it is the best pasta they have ever had!

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