Thursday, May 12, 2011

The imports arrive


Today a truck hauling a forty foot container pulled up at our back dock. Inside were pallets of food from Italy, Spain, France and about six other countries. We directly import these ourselves, which means we send our order to the food maker abroad. It starts with an email. A few weeks later they get their food to a consolidation point near port. At that point the inscrutable, unfathomable machinery of the international shipping industry takes over. Four to seven weeks later the truck arrives with us.

It's always a very exciting day for me. These are some of our most interesting foods. For many of them we're the sole source in America. And there are always new things on the boat, like this shopped-icefish-and-red-pepper-spread from Calabria

I'm sure we'll either sell none of it or we'll sell out of it in two days. This is one of those no-middle-ground foods.

Joe and Lisa got the honor of checking the container in. That means they get to see firsthand the creative ways the foodmakers package for an ocean voyage. Here Lisa found a case of twenty dollar jars of Sicilian pistacho paste were tossed in loose among stryofoam peanuts. Amazingly, they survived the voyage.

One of the baffling labels that Italians attach to boxes.

No address needed, apparently.

Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian. In fact, it is.

The best polenta I've ever had, sent in bags like on a pirate vessel.

We stopped everything to crack open a bottle of olive oil. This is the first we've tried the latest harvest. At this point the oils are still young. They can have quite a personality. The Castello di Cacchiano from Tuscany was practically vibrating. Tasting it was like slipping a razor blade across my tongue. It's an exceptional beast.