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Italian Delicacies from Cibo California

by Lorrie Baumann

Start-up company Cibo California, founded last year, has reached exclusive distribution agreements for artisanal products previously unknown in the United States and is ready to launch them into the American market. Cibo California CEO Massimo Cannas says he spent months and even years persuading families that make artisanal Italian food products in traditional ways to share these products with the American market and to trust his company with that mission.

One of those product lines is Campofilone egg pasta from the Pastificio Decarlonis Srl, a family company run by brothers Paolo, Pietro and their father Enzo Decarlonis, who agreed to hold a “serious family meeting” after a long conversation with Cannas that ended with the decision that they were ready to enter the American market. “I spent several years convincing this family to start selling their products to the United States,” Cannas says. “We are the only company that is able to import their products to the U.S.”

The company is located in the Marche region on the eastern coast of Italy, directly across the Adriatic Sea from Croatia and separated from Florence by the Appenine Mountains. It’s a beautiful part of the country with an uncontaminated environment, and the pasta made in the tiny village of Campofilone is protected by the Italian government with an IGP designation, “Maccheroncini di Campofilone I.G.P.,” which means that the pasta can be traced back to this geographic area. “It’s only there that they can use this name, the Campofilone pasta,” Cannas says. “Only there, by the law, are people authorized to produce this kind of pasta and authorized to call it Campofilone pasta.”

Made with just egg and flour, with no added water, the Campofilone pastas cook in just two minutes. “They make this pasta using just flour and hand-cracked local, fresh eggs. This is what makes the difference,” Cannas says. “One by one, the eggs are cracked by a team of ladies. They must be quick.” Federico Pavoncelli, Vice President of Cibo California, says that one of his favorite recipes for the Decarlonis Maccheroncini di Campofilone IGP is Maccheroncini with lobster. “Very simple, quick to cook and delicious,” he says. He makes it with some chopped onion, chili pepper, a whole lobster and some white wine. He cooks the Maccheroncini separately for just one minute and then tosses it with the lobster sauce. “All this in no more than a minute. Serve it and enjoy!” he says.

Americans are familiar with the name Giuseppe Verdi as the composer of “La Traviata” and “Aida,” among other operas, but today’s Giuseppe Verdi is making vinegars at the Acefificio Aretino in Tuscany in the beautiful medieval city of Arezzo. Cibo California is offering the Verdi brand vinegars in a wide range of products for which it is the exclusive importer into the U.S. These include balsamic vinegar, red and white wine vinegars, organic red and white wine vinegar, red and white wine vinegar made with IGP Chianti wine in Tuscany, apple vinegar, and, very specially, blood orange wine vinegar made with blood oranges cultivated in Sicily. “This is something different, something unique,” Cannas says. “I tried it with a smoked salmon carpaccio and very thinly sliced sweet onions, a little radicchio, and a little lemon juice. It’s delicious.”

Cibo California is also importing a range of innovative high-quality products made with white and black truffles from Tartuflanghe, which is recognized as one of the world’s leading producers of truffles from Italy, according to Cannas. “Tartuflaghe is the master. We are talking about a very high-end product, the Louis Vuitton of the truffle industry,” he says.

The company based in Alba, Piemonte, is recognized as a leader, not just for the quality of its truffles but also for the elegance of its packaging, both for its retail and foodservice products. “This is a company that does a lot of research. They are not following the market. They are anticipating the trends in the food industry worldwide,” Cannas says. “It’s more expensive than the average imported truffle products, but in two or three bites, you see the stars, the best expression of an extensive line of truffle specialty products.” Tray the Parmiggiano Reggiano Cream with Truffle, or the Truffle Butter or the Acacia Honey with White Truffle!

Delizie di Sardegna and Sarda Affumicati are Cibo California’s source for bottarga, both from tuna and mullet. Bottarga is salted, cured fish roe, with mullet bottarga traditionally being produced in Sardinia, while tuna is used in Sicily. Most people prefer mullet bottarga for its flavor, which is less fishy than the tuna bottarga, Cannas says. “Bottarga is extracted from the fish and cleaned and covered with salt and put in a special drying cellar for a very slow drying process. In the last century, this process was done just under the sun,” he adds. “Today, bottarga is made in a drying system that produces an even better quality, flavor and consistency. Then it’s vacuum-packed and shipped all over the world.”

The bottarga is offered as the baffa, the egg sacs which have been extracted and processed whole, as well as grated or powdered in 40-gram jars. The baffa is vacuum-packed and sold at weights between 70 and 200 grams, with the best seller at around 100 grams.

“Add it to pasta to add a special flavor to any kind of meal. Over pasta, rice or soup, on top of a cioppino, drop a few drops of olive oil infused with grated bottarga,” Cannas says. “Or the bottarga is fantastic grated, a little spoon on top of grilled pork chops. This is the Sardinian way. Just use a little sprinkling of the bottarga to finish the meat after grilling.”

“With the baffa, you just slice the bottarga very thin, slice fresh artichoke heart, mix those together, add extra virgin olive oil, little bit of salt and two-three drops of lemon. This is all. You are in paradise,” he says. “That is a delicious appetizer that is offered in every restaurant in Sardinia. Instead of artichokes, you can use celery and add some cherry tomatoes.”

For dessert, Cibo California is importing biscotti and cookies from Grondona Pasticceria Genovese, a very traditional baker-biscottificio in Genoa since 1820. The pastries are made with simple ingredients of the highest quality, including, Cannas says, a lot of butter. Grondona products are made with La Madre Bianca, the company’s mother yeast, in which baker’s yeast and beneficial bacteria have been nurtured for almost two centuries. The process for feeding, tending and dividing the yeast has been kept a secret through four generations of the Grondona family – the art is rare today even in Italy, according to Cannas. “They are starting right now to enter the U.S. market, and we have been able to become exclusive importer for western U.S.,” he says.

Likewise, Grondona recipes are based on almost 200 years of tradition. Today, the company is operated by Orlando Grondona and his family. His son, Andrea Grondona, is in charge of the export division. “I took the airplane, I go to Genoa and I spent two days with Orlando and Andrea, the son. They are two wonderful human beings. Orlando is a lovely person, a genius, a master in the biscotti and cookie industry, not just in Italy but in the world. He is also a master wine expert and collector,” Cannas says. He is importing four Grondona products: the Baci di Dama in 100-gram packages, super-delicate and rich with real butter, honey, 14 percent chocolate and 17 percent hazelnuts; Canestrelli Antica Genova in 100-gram packages, in the shape of stars, 25 percent butter, lemon juice, Madagascar vanilla pods and packaged with a small packet of icing sugar intended to be sprinkled onto the cookie just before eating; Cuori Mori, heart-shaped and rich with butter, 9 percent chocolate and 3.5 percent cocoa; and Pandolcini Antica Genova, a miniature version of a cake that’s traditionally bought on the way home from church on Sunday to be served with Sunday’s lunch. It’s made from wheat flour, butter, 30 percent sultana raisins, orange peel, apples, pears, pineapples, 2.3 percent pine nuts, fresh eggs and lemon juice.

Cibo California is currently seeking account executives and distributors for southern California and other areas in the western U.S. Anyone interested in evaluating local distribution agreements for both foodservice and retail products is invited to contact Cannas at 949.230.6866 or email

Candy Companies Agree Not to Advertise to Young Children

The Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), in partnership with the National Confectioners Association (NCA), has announced a new self-regulatory initiative that promotes responsible advertising to children. Under the Children’s Confection Advertising Initiative (CCAI), participating companies agree to not advertise directly to children under age 12. CCAI is modeled after the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), another CBBB-administered self-regulation program.

Six companies that make popular brands of candies are the charter participants of CCAI: Ferrara Candy Company; Ghirardelli Chocolate Company; Jelly Belly Candy Company; Just Born Quality Confections; The Promotion in Motion Companies, Inc.; and R.M. Palmer Company. They have pledged to not engage in confectionery advertising that is primarily directed to children under age 12 or to advertise their candy in school to children from pre-kindergarten through 6th grade. They join six other confectionery companies – American Licorice Company; Ferrero USA; The Hershey Company; Mars, Incorporated; Mondelez International; and Nestlé – that are CFBAI participants that do not advertise directly to children.

“CCAI follows the same principles as CFBAI, but is designed for small-to-medium size confectionery companies and has fewer administrative requirements than CFBAI,” said Maureen Enright, director of CCAI and deputy director of CFBAI. “All CCAI participants are making the same commitment – to not engage in child-directed advertising. CFBAI will independently monitor compliance and will publish periodic compliance reports, as it does for CFBAI.”

“Better Business Bureau has always felt that smaller companies can be just as much a part of the self-regulatory success story as major corporations,” said Mary E. Power, President and CEO of CBBB. “This latest initiative is yet another example of how responsible companies can join together to efficiently regulate themselves. We are delighted to build on CFBAI’s success, we appreciate NCA’s partnership on this effort, and we look forward to working with them to grow the program.”

“America’s leading confectionery companies are committed to marketing their products responsibly, and participating in this program further solidifies that commitment,” John H. Downs, Jr, NCA President and CEO, said. “The candy companies that are members of CCAI and CFBAI make the majority of the candy on store shelves in the U.S.”

CCAI’s core principles are available at

27 Complete Chocolate Boot Camp

RCI Chocolate Boot Camp Class of 2016

RCI Chocolate Boot Camp Class of 2016

Twenty-seven chocolatiers participated in Retail Confectioners International’s Chocolate Boot Camp® held February 22 through 25 at Fascia’s Chocolates in Waterbury, Connecticut. Students in the course varied in age and experience, yet each of them graduated with a better understanding of working with chocolate.

“As part of a 102 year-old business, the last thing we want to do is become complacent,” said Michael Crudden, Vice President of Operations for Rosalind Candy Castle in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. “Through my experience at Chocolate Boot Camp, I am able to take back new knowledge and ideas that will help us grow as a company.”

The four-day course incorporated both lecture and hands-on lab sessions, so that students could apply what they were learning. For example, they learned about the science of tempering chocolate in the lecture portion and then were able to see and be involved in the process through the lab sessions. Many students came in with a basic understanding of tempering and walked away with a comprehensive knowledge of not only what tempering is, but also the different methods to temper chocolate and how that affects the end product.

Chocolate Boot Camp was taught by five confectionery and chocolate experts who have more than 150 years of combined industry experience. Lead instructor Randy Hofberger, with R&D Candy Consultants, has been an instructor at RCI’s Chocolate Boot Camp since the first course was offered in 2003. “Everyone feels like they’ve learned something they can take back to their business and that is the best part for us.”

Retail Confectioners International provides educational opportunities across the country for confectionery retailers. For information about upcoming courses and events, visit

CocoaPlanet Opens Craft Manufacturing and Tasting Room

CocoaPlanet opened a craft manufacturing facility and chocolate tasting room in the heart of California’s wine country. Situated on Broadway just blocks from the historic Sonoma Plaza, visitors to a region famed for artisanal food and wine will now have the opportunity to see CocoaPlanet chocolates being made and sample the company’s award-winning chocolates at their freshest.

The elegant, mid-century modern tasting room features a glass-walled observation area where visitors can see the all new craft manufacturing line while enjoying French bistro style small plates, hot or cold drinks and a variety of desserts based on CocoaPlanet chocolate. CocoaPlanet will also host wine and chocolate pairing events each month with local wineries from the region.

Pearls of Flavor Give You More Taste, Less Sugar
CocoaPlanet distributes drops, or “pearls,” of flavored fillings throughout premium dark chocolate (64 percent cacao), giving More Taste, Less Sugar[TM] than traditional filled chocolates. The chocolate’s structure is designed to readily deliver flavor throughout your palate using much less filling. The result is that each single serving chocolate has less than 100 calories, eight grams of sugar or less and net carbs of nine grams or less.

Flavors include Salted Caramel, Deep Dark Truffle, Vanilla Espresso, Mandarin Orange and CocoaMint™. CocoaPlanet chocolates are made with all natural and mostly organic ingredients, including Fair Trade Cocoa certified by Fair Trade USA. They are Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free tested and Kosher OU-D certified. Three of the flavors (Vanilla Espresso, Mandarin Orange and CocoaMint) are vegan.

How Did it Come Up with This Idea?
Founder Anne McKibben was inspired to provide a new taste experience along with fewer calories and sugar. No one in the industry could think of how to realize her vision for a new way of combining flavored fillings with chocolate.

After much research and prototyping, she invented the new technology used to create CocoaPlanet chocolates. Her patent-pending invention suspends pearls of flavor within premium dark chocolate. The result has only 15 percent filling versus the 60 to 80 percent of sugar-based filling found in most flavor-filled chocolates. The perfect balance of flavors means more taste, less sugar – a better, healthier experience that evolves the concept of flavor-filled chocolates.

A superb eating chocolate, CocoaPlanet can also be prepared as a hot chocolate. Simply steam or microwave four to six ounces of milk or milk-substitute, drop in the chocolate and stir. Voila – the chocolate melts along with the flavored filling to create a splendid hot chocolate.

About CocoaPlanet
Based in Sonoma, California, CocoaPlanet Inc. uses ethically sourced chocolate produced using sustainable practices, enabling cocoa farmers a better quality of life.

For more information, visit, call 707.721.1275 or email

Bixby Bars Honored with Good Food Award

Recognized for its dedication to handcrafted natural and organic craft candy snack bars, Bixby & Co. announces it is a recipient of the prestigious 2016 Good Food Award™ in the confections category.
BixbyBixby founder Kate McAleer accepted the award in San Francisco on January 15 for its Nutty for You organic craft candy snack bar. The awards ceremony featured 800 people including farmers, chefs, journalists, and activists united to honor exceptional food crafters, including such luminaries as Alice Waters, Nell Newman and Slow Food Founder Carlo Petrini.
The Good Food Awards, a collaboration between the nonprofit Seedling Projects and a broad community of food producers, food writers and passionate food lovers, celebrates companies and products that represent the forefront of American craft food. The organization requires that products not only taste delicious, but also are respectful of the environment, and connected to communities and cultural traditions.
“We’ve always believed that great taste and socially responsible production should go hand-in-hand,” said Kate McAleer. “We’ve made responsibility, innovation and quality the centerpieces of our business, and we are happy for this recognition.”
Bixby Bars – Everything BUT Traditional
Bixby barUnlike other chocolate bars, Bixby Bars are noted for their protein and fiber content,dedication to the highest quality ingredients and distinctive flavor profiles, such as Birdie (dark chocolate, sweet currant, hazelnut and Maine sea salt); Whippersnapper (blueberry, black pepper, dark chocolate and walnut); To the Nines (white chocolate, goji berry, cardamom, pistachio and almond); Nutty for You (dark chocolate, peanuts and Maine sea salt); and others. To view all of Bixby’s unique flavors, visit
Manufactured in a historic refurbished ice factory on the waterfront in scenic Rockland, Maine, the organic Nutty for You bar was singled out by the Good Food Awards for its superior taste, nutritional value and commitment to social responsibility. According to McAleer, the 1.5-ounce Nutty for You bar has five times as much protein (5g/serving) and four times as much fiber (3g/serving) as most standard candy bars. In addition to its organic certification, the Nutty for You bar also is certified Kosher, Non-GMO Verified, certified Gluten Free, and Rain Forest Alliance™ certified. All Bixby Bars are made without corn syrup, palm oil, artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives or additives.

McCrea’s Candies Named a 2016 Good Food Awards Finalist

McCrea’s Candies has been selected as a Good Food Awards Finalist. The Boston-based maker of small-batch handcrafted caramel secured its spot in the awards’ Confections Category.

Each year, the Good Food Awards celebrate tasty, real food that is responsibly made, and grants awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients.

In further news, USA Today has recognized McCrea’s in its 10 Best “Best Gift for Foodies” competition. The contest features twenty exceptional products curated by a panel of food and travel experts. Readers of the national newspaper vote for their favorites. McCrea’s currently ranks fourth in the competition.

“We are thrilled that both The Good Food Awards and USA Today have recognized McCrea’s Candies as a company that not only produces exceptional caramel but one that strives to do good at the same time,” said Kate McCrea, the company’s co-founder. “It is important to us that we give back to our communities, pay a fair price for ingredients, and are environmentally responsible. All of which helps us on our mission to make world’s best caramel.”

The recognition from The Good Food Awards and USA Today comes hot on the heels of the company’s placement as a finalist in the Martha Stewart Living American Made Awards. In addition, McCrea’s Candies caramels were awarded the Yankee Magazine Editor’s Choice Food Award in 2014 and named Best New Autumn Product at the 2013 New England Made Specialty Food Show. McCrea’s Candies also received Best Candy honors at the 2012 New England Dessert Showcase.

McCrea’s Candies was founded by husband-wife team Jason and Kate McCrea. Building upon backgrounds in biology and chemistry, the McCrea’s transitioned into the sweet science of candy making after double layoffs. Started in a home kitchen, McCrea’s Candies now offers a full line of mouthwatering caramels to retail outlets throughout North America.

The hallmark of the McCrea’s Candies line is its use of striking seasonings to produce provocatively-flavored caramel candies. McCrea’s flagship product features Hawaiian black lava sea salt swirled into caramel to provide a salty-sweet mouthful. Basil and cayenne are combined for a heat and sweet treat. Additional flavor combinations include ginger fusion, curried butternut, and rosemary truffle sea salt. McCrea’s also offers such classic flavors as vanilla, scotch, chocolate, maple, mocha, and coffee.



Gift Ideas from Tortuga Rum Cake Company

Tortuga Rum Cakes editTortuga Rum Cake Company is known world-wide for authentic and original Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes. Baked in the Caribbean from a generations old island family recipe, the cakes are made with the finest ingredients and special oak-barrel-aged Tortuga gold rum. Each cake is hand glazed and vacuum sealed, locking in the delicious freshness and giving the cakes a shelf life of 12 months.

The company also offers Chocolate Rum Turtles with Sea Salt, Caribbean sauces, flavored gourmet coffees including single-serve coffee, rum balls and rum fudge. Tortuga is also now offering homemade Salt Water Taffy with Rum. It is made from a special recipe and with the finest ingredients.

Sweet Salt Water Taffy will bring back memories from your travels to sea side destinations including the Caribbean. Each package includes eight unique flavors that are individually wrapped: TORTUGA Rum and Cola, TORTUGA Rum, TORTUGA Coconut Rum, TORTUGA Banana Rum, TORTUGA Mango Rum, TORTUGA Pineapple Rum, TORTUGA Orange Liqueur and TORTUGA Rum Punch.

The taffy boasts a shelf life of 12 months and has received rave reviews on the delicious tropical, rummy flavors. This new treat is a perfect addition to the delicious gourmet products you offer year-round.

Make the Holidays Merrier by Pairing Brownie Brittle and Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wines

One of the nation’s top wine brands has partnered with award-winning Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle to make this holiday season all the more merry. Starting November 1, Robert Mondavi Private Selection wine bottles will be adorned with a coupon offering consumers $1.50 off a 4-ounce or larger bag of Brownie Brittle with purchase, through December 31 at stores nationwide including retailers like Walmart, CVS, Safeway and Albertson’s. In states that do not allow a required wine purchase for coupon, a $2 mail-in rebate will be offered instead.

“Die-hard Brownie Brittle fans already know how well our snack pairs with wine—now we’re making it official with our Robert Mondavi Private Selection partnership,” said Founder Sheila G. Mains. “The partnership is perfectly timed with the release of our holiday flavors: Chocolate Chip with Snowflake Drizzle, Mint Chocolate Chip with Dark Drizzle and Salted Carmel with Dark Drizzle, also hitting shelves this season.”

The wine pairing experts at Robert Mondavi Private Selection recommend pairing their Cabernet Sauvignon with Salted Caramel Brownie Brittle, and Heritage Red with Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle.

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle is available in tens of thousands of stores across the globe, including Target, Walmart, Kroger, and Safeway. Brownie Brittle has also been flying high as a snack on United and Alaskan Airlines flights.

The Norman Rockwell Collection from Virginia Diner


Virginia DinerThe Virginia Diner has signed a three year licensing agreement with the Norman Rockwell Family Agency. The license gives the Virginia Diner marketing and sales use of a number of the Norman Rockwell original prints. Scott Stephens, Director of Sales and Marketing with the Virginia Diner states the initial launch has been well received by our wholesale customers. “We recently introduced our Norman Rockwell collection at both the New York Fancy Food Show and the Atlanta Gift Show, realizing record sales from this new product line,” he said.

The complete collection will be available in the fall of 2015 in the Virginia Diner retail and fundraising catalogs, as well as for the company’s national list of retail partners and corporate custom gift customers. “We have incorporated a number of original Norman Rockwell images into our Merry Christmas labels and used various designs to invoke the nostalgia and history of the Diner. There isn’t a more iconic illustration of the holidays than the Norman Rockwell collection,” Stephens said. “We are very excited to be associated with the Norman Rockwell family”.

The full product offering can be previewed by contacting the Virginia Diner at 888.482.6887.


Wide Variety of Confections from Seattle Gourmet Foods

Seattle Gourmet Foods is a food manufacturer based out of Kent, Washington. Growing both organically and through acquisition, today it is comprised of 11 different brands found in retailers around the country. Consisting of a diverse mix of products that include chocolate, breath mints, bakery items, jams, sauces, soups and dry mixes. Every brand and product made contains only the highest quality ingredients. With 160,000 square feet of production facilities, SGF not only has the capabilities to produce its own products, but has the flexibility to provide private label manufacturing as well.

Dilettante Chocolates® is the most recognizable of the Seattle Gourmet Foods’ brands. Founded in 1976 by Dana Davenport, Dilettante continues a family tradition in chocolate and confections that dates back three generations to the late 19th century. For close to 40 years, Dilettante Chocolates has maintained the impeccable quality of handmade truffles, chocolate covered fruits and nuts, TruffleCremes®, sauces, toppings, bakery items and molded chocolate the brand is known for around the world.

Seattle Gourmet Foods editphotoSeattle Gourmet Foods is also one of the premier panning operations in the U.S., with the ability to coat an array of centers, and specializes in double coated products. These are made with custom blends of couverture grade chocolate and uses no compound coating. Under the Dilettante Chocolates brand, there are multiple packaging sizes of this type of product, ranging from a 1.5-ounce. grab-and-go option to several sizes of stand-up pouches to more gift oriented items like 6-ounce candy bags and 16-ounce assortment in a clear tray and lid. All Dilettante panned products are also available in 5-pound bulk bags. Examples of flavors available include Bing Cherries, Fruit Medley® (strawberries, cherries, blueberries and apricots), Sea Salt Cashews, Mint Dropz[R], and Dark Chocolate Espresso Beans. There are also all-natural varieties available in multiple sizes. All of the selections of panned products have a 12-month shelf life.

Another top product for Dilettante Chocolates would be its truffle ganache that has been coated in premium chocolate and individually wrapped, known as TruffleCremes. These come in an array of sizes including 4-ounce novelty boxes, 5-ounce tent boxes, 6-ounce metalized pouches and 10-ounce gift boxes. Bulk cases are also available by request. Flavors include Peppermint, Toffee Crunch, Mocha, Dark Ephemere[R] (dark chocolate), Raspberry, Light Ephemere (milk chocolate), and Coffee Trio containing Espresso, Latte, and Mocha. Seasonal flavors are also available in Candy Cane and Gingerbread. TruffleCremes are all-natural and have a 12-month shelf life.

In 2016, Seattle Gourmet Foods will be displaying multiple brands at the Winter Fancy Food Show, Natural Products Expo West, and Sweets & Snacks Expo. For more information on Seattle Gourmet Foods or on the brands and products produced, visit, email or call toll free at 800.800.9490.

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