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A Taste of Anatolia from Ana’s Apron

By Lorrie Baumann

Paul Theroux was riding the Trans-Siberian Express three days east of Nishni Novgorod, the apple blossom land described by Amor Towles in “A Gentleman in Moscow,” when on page 471 of Theroux’s story about the trip, he was offered manti by a passing stranger. Theroux described the manti as steaming meat-filled dumplings. “I knew the word because I’d heard manti  for dumpling in Turkey and elsewhere,” Theroux wrote in “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.”

DSCN0352Some of this came back to me when I stopped in front of Kader Ucar and Hasan Ertas (wife and husband) at the Winter Fancy Food Show. They were standing in front of a banner identifying Ana’s Apron, and what they had on a table in front of them was a little plate of Ana’s Apron Manti, which Ucar, who is Ana’s Apron’s President, described as traditional Anatolian-style manti. Anatolia is the Asian part of Turkey, she further explained.

Ucar is also the Founder of Palo Alto Pasta Co., which owns the Ana’s Apron brand. It’s a woman-owned and operated business located in California’s Bay Area. Ten percent of the company’s profits are dedicated to children’s charities around the world. “’Ana’ means ‘mother’ in Turkish, and I founded this company with tremendous support from my mother. We are using her artisanal old recipe in our Manti pasta, and she now lives permanently with us. We wanted to name our Manti brand after her to show our gratitude to what she has done for us. You can almost always find my mother at home with her apron on cooking amazing Anatolian dishes for lunch and dinner,” said Ucar.

The Manti are little filled dumplings about the size of a marble and the shape of a tiny purse, and they’re available from Ana’s Apron in four varieties: Spinach & Feta & Olive, Five Cheese, Beef & Onion and Chicken & Thyme. They’re similar to Italian tortellini, but they’re based on recipes that Ucar and her family have been making for seven generations. “We sell it the way we eat it in our own family. Some of our most frequent customers are families with young children. Our Manti pasta is a small bite size, so even a three-year-old can eat it without any parental help at the table. Kids love our pasta!” Ertas said.

Ana’s Apron packages the Manti for sale in 10-ounce pouches that serve two and sell for about $6.99 from the grocer’s freezer case. The product is also available in 3-pound pouches for food service and in a family pack.

They’re prepared by dropping the frozen dumplings into boiling water for two minutes and then traditionally served topped with plain yogurt and then tomato sauce on top of that. For customers who are buying their tomato sauce in a jar instead of making it themselves, a simple marinara would be an appropriate choice, Ucar confirmed.

The Beef & Onion variety provides 36 percent of a daily value of protein per serving, and the Spinach & Feta & Olive variety is also rich in protein as well as iron, Ucar said. Shelf life in the grocer’s freezer case is nine months, and Ana’s Apron is currently distributing the products in the Bay Area, with production capacity ready for expanded distribution beyond that. “We’ve been working on it for the last eight months, and we’re ready to take on bigger orders,” Ucar said.

For more information, visit www.anasapron.com.

La Piana Imported Balsamic Vinegars Now Available in Northeast

Italian Foods Corporation’s imported La Piana® balsamic vinegars of Modena now are available in the northeastern United States through Shaw’s and Big Y.

Shaw’s is now carrying the La Piana Bronze Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Silver Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena at its 155 stores in five New England states through Chex Finer Foods of Mansfield, Massachusetts, according to Francesca Lapiana-Krause, Italian Foods General Manager. Big Y has added the Bronze Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, also through Chex Finer Foods, Lapiana-Krause said.

The vinegars are imported from the Modena region of Italy and made from the juice of Trebbiano grapes grown in the region. These produce a rich, sweet and pleasantly acidic balsamic vinegar with intense, but well-rounded, flavor, Lapiana-Krause said. La Piana Bronze Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena has a density of 1.18 and a sugar level of 400 to 430 grams per liter. The Silver balsamic vinegar has a density of 1.25 with sugar at 540 to 570 grams.

Italian Foods Corporation also carries Gold Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena with a density of 1.32 and sugar at 750 grams along with a line of Romantica vinegars and balsamic pearls. Suggested retail prices of the vinegars, which come in 8.4-ounce decorative bottles, are $16.47 for the Bronze, $22.65 for the Silver and $36.04 for the Gold.

More information about Italian Foods Corporation is available online at http://www.ItalianFoods.com and https://www.Facebook.com/LaPianaItalianFoods or by calling 1.888.516.7262.

Nonni’s Foods Brings Out Biscotti with Flavors of Spring

For the first time ever, Nonni’s Foods is introducing a new limited batch of spring biscotti flavors. Inspired by the freshness of the spring season, White Chocolate Cherry Biscotti and Limoncello Pistachio Biscotti hit select grocery stores nationwide beginning in March. The seasonal flavors are only available for a limited time.

Spring Box Limoncello Pistachio“Spring has officially sprung at Nonni’s, and we are thrilled to introduce these new flavors and limited batch product line inspired by the season. Our holiday flavors tend to perform well and we know our consumers look forward to them, so we wanted to give them something new during the spring months, too,” said Patricia Wong Bridges, Senior Brand Marketing Manager for Nonni’s. “Our goal is to consistently offer unique, innovative and on-trend biscotti flavor creations that get consumers excited.”

Fresh from Nonni’s artisan bakery, each cookie is made with wholesome ingredients including real eggs, butter, fruits and nuts, giving the biscotti a light, crunchy texture that is delicately sweet. “As the weather warms up, we hope consumers find these flavors to pair seamlessly with their iced coffee or tea for that perfect morning treat or afternoon pick-me-up,” said Bridges.

Each box of Nonni’s Biscotti contains eight individually wrapped biscotti and retails for $3.29. At only 110 calories apiece, Nonni’s offers the sweet flavors of spring in a guilt-free indulgence that is perfect for snacking or sharing.

New Seasonal Flavors: 

  • Nonni’s White Chocolate Cherry Biscotti are filled with cherries and white chocolate, and delicately drizzled with white chocolate icing. 
  • Nonni’s Limoncello Pistachio Biscotti are made with real pistachios and tangy lemons, dipped and drizzled in gourmet white chocolate.

The superior combination of quality care and ingredients makes Nonni’s Biscotti the seasonal treat that consumers desire. These treats are individually wrapped in portion- controlled packs that seal freshness and maintain the highest quality flavor, and can be enjoyed as an indulgent snack or post-dinner dessert. For ordering information, retailers can call 877.295.9604, or visit www.nonnis.com.

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