Joe Hurd – A nostalgic look on my love affair with Stracchino

stacchino, joe hurd, holidaysThe Thomas Cook middle England “Pilgrimage of The Sun” route

I never did holiday romances growing up, not in the conventional sense, but the closest I got was a story that makes Heathcliff and Cathy look like Alex Reid and Jordan.

When Calabria started getting too hot for my fur lined Yorkshire father, we switched up and would go to the cooler Adriatic climes of Cattolica, a tributary party town of the once great 70’s package holiday Mecca, Rimini. It was a brilliant melange of amusement arcades, knock off football shirts, granita stands, seasonally burnt German tourists, pastel tablecloths and sticky plastic garden chairs – perfect for a teenager from Hull.

Of course, being on the Thomas Cook middle England “Pilgrimage of The Sun” route, you got plenty of opportunities to meet girls and I reckon many of the lads, with whom I would spend my days smacking a 99p flyer* backwards and forwards across the luminous green pool,did.

Not I.

No, back in those days I had one main occupation on holiday -eating. I was like a horse with blinkers and a nose bag attached. From the morning buffet of salami, prosciutto cotto, hot rolls and Nutella brioche to the evening 6 course meals of Salumi, giardineri, veal, passatelli, during the whole shebang with various interruptions throughout the day of Stracciatella gelato and granita, I grazed merrily under the Italian sun like a fatted lazarini.

It was on one of these trips, however, I arguably fell in love with a cheese that had about as much affect on my life as Helen did on the history of Troy.

Stracchino is that shy, shrinking wall flower of the cheese world. It’s hard to find in the UK, difficult to contain and has a reputation for not travelling well. It arrives begrudgingly, from tired (Stracche is a Lombard colloquialism for “tired”) stressed cows brought down from their summer vacation in the lush mountain pastures of Lombardy and Piedemonte. The first milk they produce is slightly fatty, rich and bitter and this is where Stracchino gets it trademark boozy aroma from. It makes for the perfect turophile love story.

In 2001 my parents finally liberated me from the hotel’s poolside lunch menu of stomach cramping lasagna, chlorine spattered imitation beef burgers and a Salad Nicoise solely designed as a threat to punish any infant miscreant. I was free to wander through the lunchtime human tide of sweltering shimmering Germans, willowy red Dutchmen and English families perpetually on the hunt for “Spag *shudder* Bol” .

The one place that seemed to cater for any of the actual inhabitants of Cattolica was a blue garden shed run by a mother and son team flipping out hot Piadina by the truck load. For a greedy teen boy, or anyone this side of vegetarian, what isn’t to love about hot flat bread made from strutto (good time pig juice/lard) with a thick white mantle of rich, acidic spreadable cheese with a yeasty back taste? I didn’t know what I was asking for but my now honed technique of pointing and moving my head in a culinary direction landed me with Stracchino and prosciutto day after day.

Stracchino was a revelation. It’s not a cheese that slaps you round the face and leaves you drooling on the floor, no Stracchino is dairy humility. It’s the cheese equivalent to Barry Manilow’s “Mandy”; It gives a lot, you overlook it, maybe even dismiss it…then a few days later realise it’s possibly one of the best things to have ever entered your mouth. The flavour is one of persistance, it builds and grows before registering in your brain as something quite unreal and moreish.

It’s an oddball cheese to be fair. The texture, when straight out the fridge is satisfyingly gelatinous but give it time at room temperature and it acquires the solemn ooze of lava, letting itself spread out much like a midriff on a fat man following a 12 course dinner. On the palate it’s thick, sticky and heavy, you could even say a little bit boozy? It coats every corner of the mouth with a satisfying earthy, acidic farm yard flavour, before dissipating into sweet, milky vapours that remind you of a young grana padano.


Italian restaurants named after cooking utensils joe hurd, spaghetti bbc saturday kitchen lamb chops with stracchino

I was hooked, but I didn’t realise it until my return to the UK. I had taken my alabaster goddess, with her un-sculpted lines and love handles that make it look more like some flabby bread dough than cheese, totally for granted. In the UK, circa 2001, it was nowhere to be found.
I remember clearly going into our local branch of Safeways and keeping my eyes partially closed in Christmas morning-like anticipation,hoping that maybe one of those featureless tubs, nestled amongst the spiky bergs of Parmiggiano Reggiano, would be my creamy Holy Grail but only to be totally disappointed on finding largely insipid pots of supermarket mascarpone and ricotta.
Later, when I was a little older, we hooked up in Bologna. Shunning the opportunity to catch up on some underage drinking round the back of the Conad supermarket, I’d wander the colonnades of the old town tucking into this block of alabaster cheese tang like it was an apple.
I even got bold, smuggling as much stracchino wrapped in cling film through customs at the height of the foot and mouth scare like a crazed dairy obsessed Howard Marks as I could fit in an Umbro duffel bag. The border control didn’t scupper me but the intense heat in my bag generated in the near greenhouse conditions of Charles de Gaulle airport transformed the cheese into a fizzing ball of milk funk. I was gutted.
It would be years later I saw stracchino again, sitting prettily in the shop window of one of London’s outrageously priced Italian delis. She was still the same, pearl white, plain and unassuming, hiding the mysteries contained within but now with a price tag of nearing five quid and rendering it way out my league.
We are older now. Stracchino is becoming more available to the public, whereas with abs to maintain, I’m becoming less available to cheese. I see it now and again; in place of Mozzarella on a Pizza, where its beautiful melting abilities and subtle richness outshine the best buffalo and burrata. Occasionally she pops up tucked into a tortellini or stuffed into a veal chop by recent converts with Italian restaurants named after cooking utensils, sat jauntily on a blue rimmed plate atop a marble counter. Soon the East end hipsters will come and elevate it to lofty cheese heights, waddling West London food bloggers will rave and strike their piggy little flags into its terra un-firma. But me and Stracchino will always have that summer, in Cattolica.


New wardrobe or Maletti Salumi? What would you choose…

Exciting new products from Salumeria Maletti

A story of great tasting salami recipes that date back over a hundred and fifty years. Maletti Salumeria was born in Casinalbo, in the suburbs of Modena, towards the end of the 19th century, from a small kitchen workshop Francesco Maletti’s passion grew for excellence in Salumeria and his products soon became known for their unique flavour and aroma. Soon after his products were set to be exported all over the world and served the most beautiful delicatessens in Europe.

Maletti cured meats began to be distributed, first in Italy, then also abroad, the kitchen workshop became a small factory and a company store was created for the local consumers from Modena and Bologna where they could purchase direct from the store and chat with the family members about their goods.


Salsiccia di Secondegliano

salsiccia di secondegliano

WEIGHT: 400g.

LENGTH: 34cm.

DIAMETER: 3.5cm.

QUALITY: choice pure pork, belly and shoulder only.

SPICES AND FLAVOURINGS: white wine (Sweet); white wine and crushed chilli pepper (Strong).

FLAVOUR: the mouth watering flavouring is sweetened by the light smoking (Sweet). Quite hot due to the wild chilli pepper, which gives it an unmistakable fragrance and flavour (Strong).

Gluten-free. Dairy-free.

Have you discovered the taste of real tomato?

An Italian love story…

torpedino from fondiAll love stories begin in the same way, firstly you have to meet each other and this is exactly what happened with the Torpedino. The Di Vito’s family business has always been in tomato production and when everyone thought it was impossible to grow a particular variety of tomato with a natural sweetness, they never stopped searching for the perfect answer. Finally in 2007, the Di Vito’s family discovered the Torpedino. Torpedino is the greatest expression of a territory that has always been devoted to the production and culture of tomatoes and this is what makes it an authentic product. It is a rustic variety, belonging to the family of Mini SanMarzano with a well-balanced relationship between sweetness and acidity, a solid pulp, and very little seeds. In the category of small size fruits this is the only one that can be consumed both red and green and it can be enjoyed both fresh and cooked. The shelf life of this gem extends beyond other tomatoes and will keep perfectly up to 20 days out of the fridge. Torpedino is a product that involves a close and passionate group of producers working the countryside, united by their love for quality, all working to achieve perfection.

francesco mazzei with the torpedino Francesco Mazzei when he discovered the aroma and taste of Torpedino, now a firm favourite within the menus of his restaurants.

It’s a four season tomato, fresh all year round.

Torpedino grows from May to November in Fondi. When the climate turns cold the Torpedino production is moved to the south of Italy in the Sicilian countryside of Licata and Vittoria. The sun of Sicily can guarantee a reasonable quantity of fresh products from December to April making it a tomato to enjoy all year round.

Martino and Mariano on the uk tourWe at Delitalia have fallen in love with this jewel and import it weekly to be enjoyed in restaurants around the UK. Transformed into elegant decoration, garnishes, accompaniments and rustic dishes by chefs hands, it can change the way you think about a simple tomato – have you tried the true taste of tomato?

Martino and Mariano di Vito (Mr Torpedino) visit customers across the UK.

Danilo Cortellini – “4 Grosvenor Square”

Danilo Cortellini

danilo cortellini book 43 grsnover square delitaliaOriginally from Abruzzo, a small region of Italy that is rich in culinary tradition, Danilo Cortellini’s destiny to become a chef was already decided. Inspired by the landscapes and memories of his hometown; a place that stood next to the highest mountain in central Italy, Gran Sasso, the Adriatic coastline, and a thriving farm industry, the ingredients of Danilo’s first experiences in the kitchen were always fresh, abundant and seasonal.

Early memories of cooking hark back to running around the kitchen with his brothers and hiding under the table as his grandmother made fresh pasta, complaining about their noise. Soon, mealtimes became synonymous with family, sharing, and bringing people together, something that turned into the driving force behind Danilo’s pursuit into the culinary world.


Supplying the food for the Italian Embassy

We work close with Danilo with the supply of premium ingredients for many events where he creates the most fantastic dishes for the guests of the Ambassador at the Italian Embassy. These recipes can be found in his book…




Mezzogiorno by Francesco Mazzei

FRANCESCO MAZZEI, DELITALIA, MEZZO GIORNO, BBC, FRANCESCO BOOK Mezzogiorno is my first cookbook and it represents all I love about cooking. Recipes are drawn from the traditions of the southern Italian regions of Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia. Inspired by our family’s joy of sitting down around the table to reconnect daily, the book is divided into chapters based on the traditional format of an Italian meal. It is a culinary journey from antipasti, primi, secondi, vegetables all the way through to desserts with a section dedicated to sauces and bread.

The style of cooking is rooted in ‘peasant cooking’, the art of transforming humble ingredients into more than the sum of their parts to create a flavoursome meal. Rustic and hearty but also light and fresh, ideal for the long, balmy Italian summers.

I hope you will enjoy reading this collection of recipes as much as I enjoyed writing it. Buon appetito!


available from delitalia

Please let us know and we can arrange a copy for you and your friends, we could have your book personalised by Francesco!

Call us or email to discuss a price and delivery.


Moscato di Saracena featured on ‘The Wine Show’

Francesco Mazzei cooks with Enzo Barbieri

mazzei barbieri cruschi altomonte delitalia

In the small town of Altomonte above the roof tops sits the fantastic kitchen restaurant of Enzo Barberi, the well known Italian chef from Rai TV. His long time friend Francesco Mazzei takes over his kitchen and creates the most tasty dish of Liver Involtini stuffed with Nduja, finished with Pipi Cruschi…

Claudio Viola, winemaker

moscato mazzei francesco altomonte viola cantina calabria

The Moscato di Saracena is a delicious and refined meditation passito wine that, as it is only produced in this area with a very old procedure, requires a separate vinification of the moscato grape, which is obtained from the local vine and from other grapes. The must obtained from the vinification of the malvasia and guarnaccia grapes is concentrated to increase the sugar content, while the aroma and the particular taste derive from the moscatello grape, picked and dried some weeks before the harvest. The moscatello and adduroca desiccated grapes are selected, manually pressed and then added to the concentrated must (first pressing). After a long and slow fermentation we have an amber yellow passito with gold reflections, with an intense aroma and with a honey, dried figs and exotic fruit flavour.

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