We receive a lot of food via UPS in this house. Companies with good intentions send us their cookies or pancake mixes to make, hoping that if we like it, we’ll tell you about it.
We don’t tell you about most of them. In fact, I’d say 90% of the food we get ends up at the food bank or in the hands of friends. We’re picky. We hope you know that means you can trust us.
Last week, a box of goodies arrived at the house again. At this point, I don’t expect much.
This time, however, we want to sing it to you here. This box full of food made up part of Lu’s dinners for the week, our pastas late at night, and is still drizzling on top of our risottos and flatbreads.
Lucini imports foods from Tuscany to the United States. “Our passion is creating authentic, handcrafted gourmet foods inspired by the culinary traditions of Italy.” Well, as you may know, Danny and I spent our honeymoon in Italy and we are still smiling at the memory of our meals. (I also sigh at how easy it was to live gluten-free there. We’re still working for that here.)
One of our favorite bites of food during la luna di miele was a chickpea crepe. Now, granted, it was spread with truffle butter, rolled up and dolloped with chestnut honey, but still. It was outstanding. (Being with Judy Witts Francini as our food guide didn’t hurt either.) Never having eaten anything like it before, Danny and I both talked about it for weeks. In Florence, or at least at the restaurant in Florence where we ate, that crepe was called cecina. In the rest of Italy it’s farinata.
They make something similiar in the south of France, apparently. There, it’s called socca. It’s street food, cooked on big cast-iron pans, sometimes in wood-burning ovens, meant to be eaten immediately. David Lebovitz posted a recipe for socca on his blog last year and I have made it frequently after reading his guidance.
However, it wasn’t until this week that I realized I have not been eating quite the same food as what we ate in Florence. I had to make it from a mix to have that Italian feeling again.
Lucini makes a farinata mix they call Cinque e’ Cinque, which refers to the five cents the chickpea crepe cost on the street in the early 1900s. The chickpea flour is milled until it is extra fine. The flavors are wonderful — bold without any musty bean taste. And the directions, specific and clear, yielded a great crepe every time.
My only note about the mix is that the instructions call for making a full batch and pouring that into a hot pan. We preferred pouring half the prepared batter into our hot cast-iron pan for a thin crepe that still had body, instead of a thick frittata. But that’s no problem. You get twice as much mix for the same price!
Every Lucini food we tried was wonderful. The red sauces come in easy-rip pouches. With that kind of packaging, you’d expect them to be thin and tasteless. Instead, these sauces come roaring out, full tomato slow simmered with good olive oil and salt. Pasta was easy and delicious this week.
The Lucini olive oils taste of olives warmed by the sun. And we loved the fig and walnut balsamic vinaigrette.
We will definitely be buying these mixes on our own. That’s why Danny and I feel comfortable recommending them to you. We think you’ll love them too.
Of course, they’re all gluten-free.
The good folks at Lucini were thrilled we wanted to tell you about their foods. They will send a box full of sauces and oils, plus a few versions of the Cinque e’ Cinque mix to one lucky reader here. Just leave us a note about why you’d like to try these foods and we’ll pick a winner at random this weekend. Also, you can enter a contest to win a year’s worth of free Lucini foods by clicking here.