Crosta & Mollica – A small taste of Italy

Just some quick background on why I am reviewing this new range of Italian food products. Because of the pandemic I’ve been restricted by the amount of time I have been able to spend with my Italian wife who lives in Italy (I live in the UK). Wonderful she may be, but I think she would admit that she isn’t the most enthusiastic cook in the world. Luckily the one consolation is that her Mother makes the most incredible Italian food and we go to see her as often as possible!

After coming back to the UK last month and isolating I was feeling a bit nostalgic for some good Italian food and noticed that Crosta & Mollica had a range of new products coming onto the market. BTW for the sake of clarity, I did get sent the samples for free, but that doesn’t that sway my opinion and as someone who has tried a lot of Italian food, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t give some honest feedback about the products.

The good news is that for the most part the new ranges are actually really, really good. I am always a bit cautious about frozen pizza (see below) as someone who regularly makes his own sourdough bread and has built his own pizza oven I know what a good pizza should taste like. The new range by Crosta & Mollica has four flavours and there is also a plain version where you can add your own toppings.

By the way the secret to making these taste as good as possible is to make sure your oven is as REALLY HOT before you put them in and if you have one, use a pizza stone to cook the base properly.

All ovens are different so ignore the cooking time on the box and keep checking it after ten minutes – there is nothing worse than a burnt pizza! Also, no matter how tempted you are don’t eat a pizza straight from the oven. Waiting 5 minutes for a pizza to cool is the hardest thing in the world, but it is worth it. You wont burn your mouth and you will taste much more flavour!

Each of the pizzas are proved for 24 hours and cooked in a wood-fired oven on lava stone from Mount Etna in Sicily (very impressive). The extra time in proving definitely does make a difference and the pizza bases have a stronger flavour with more texture and elasticity than a normal frozen pizza.

Simple and iconic with sweet tomato sauce, Fior di Latte mozzarella, a little Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – and a finishing sprinkle of Sicilian oregano.

Bosco: Mushrooms with truffle & garlic cream sauce
Made with truffles foraged from Italy’s woodland regions with a creamy ‘bianco’ base, grated Italian hard cheese, grilled mushrooms, fresh chives, and dollops of our truffle and mushroom sauce. This is my favourite of all the pizzas and it’s perfect with a glass of sangiovese wine.

Imperia: Prosciutto cotto, pesto & creamy garlic.
This pizza is named after a beautiful town on the Ligurian coast, home to the best pesto in the world and the same bianco base as the Bosco. It goes just as well with the hand-torn prosciutto cotto ham and pesto.

Stromboli: Calabrese & Ventricina salami and spicy pepperoni
Heading to Southern Italy this time the Stromboli tastes smoky and spicy and features Fior di Latte mozzarella, smoky Ventricina and peppery Calabrese salamis, and hand-crumbled Pepperoni – finished off with a sprinkle of chilli flakes.

Priced from £4.50 – £5 these pizzas aren’t the cheapest you can buy, but compared to the local pizza deliver they definitely represent good value for money and quality wise they are much nicer than the own brand supermarket or Pizza Expresses ranges.

My daughter is a a big fan of the Black Olive Grissini breadsticks (rrp £1.95) and she would happily eat a whole box if I let her. There is also a Parmesan and Poppy Seed flavour Torinesi that are a bit thinner and have just the right amount of cheesyness.

The classic Grissini breadsticks we tried are slightly thicker and are are great with a dip of some kind (hummus or even a jar of the delicious sweet fig chutney they also sell). Along with some chunks of parmesan, a few slices of prosciutto, some burrata and melon these make the perfect accompaniment to an early evening Spritz in the garden after a hard days work.

For me the Fennel seed Tarallini (rrp £1.99) are one of those things like olives, where you eat one and think, hmm they are ok, but then ten minutes later you’ve eaten the entire bowl. They are strangely addictive and the Fennel just teases your taste buds enough to keep you nibbling. There are also some chill crostini in the range too and I’ll be seeking these out at the earliest opportunity.

I’m not so bothered about the Oregano Crostini (rrp £1.99), for me it is just tiny pieces of crispy toast and a tad dry, also the Rosemary Liguette Flatbreads (rrp £1.99) are not my absolute favourites, but cover them with blue cheese, basil and olive oil and they are still much nicer than those crackerbread type things.

Ok, so the Pane Pugliese Italian Toasting Bread they make is THE best toasting bread you can buy and now they have produced a range of flatbreads – A durum Wheat Piadina (rrp £1.89), an Emiliana Piadina (rrp £1.79), and a Wholeblend Piadina which is a whole penny more expensive (rrp £1.80).

Some great Italian products from a quality producer putting quality first that you can buy in your local supermarket without breaking the bank. A small slice of la dolce vita in these challenging times can only be a good thing. Buona Appetito!

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