If you’ve not bought it, but eat out and LOVE pasta, then I guarantee you will have tasted La Tua Pasta who sell their exquisite handmade pasta to restaurants and hotels – it’s that good, some chefs pass it off as their own. Translated, the company name is as perfect as the taste, ‘your pasta’.
There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh pasta, quality ingredients, rolled, shaped, stuffed or filled. I’m not talking about the plastic wrapped stuff either, most of which isn’t handmade and has to be boiled within an inch of its life, it’s also made with ingredients to last months. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the store-cupboard favourite made with durum wheat, it’s just not the same if you can get fresh made with eggs and 00 flour. Picture a plate of freshly made gnocchi, boiled in well salted water, served in a simple sage and butter dressing with freshly grated parmesan. Heaven. Nothing complicated about it, a simple marriage of well-matched, good quality ingredients.
I went to meet Italian-born Francesco and his French wife Caroline, the team behind La Tua Pasta at their Park Royal factory where a rather delicious, just-cooked waft of pumpkin greeted me, along with a very pregnant Caroline. Although she was super busy, she made time in her incredibly busy schedule to give me the guided tour. Francesco was collecting the children from school due to nanny sickness so it was very clear to me that juggling a small family and business isn’t easy. The pumpkin by the way, I later discover is to become a stuffing for a tortellini.
La Tua make the usual favourites and some less obvious, then there are the seasonal treats – imagine crab-filled pillows for an early Summer treat. Take the ravioli for instance, fillings run as long as the table used to cut the pasta. From slow cooked meat, four cheeses to the more adventurous porcini and potato to seabass and monkfish. Again, gnocchi any which way you can imagine bog-standard potato, then spinach, then basil then there are the filled varieties with gorgonzola and walnuts, tomato and mozzarella and mushroom.
The company was founded in 2006, a very different looking one to that today and one that has come quite a long way in just five years. In the early days, Francesco made the pasta himself, he also knocked on hundreds of doors, working hard to establish a clientele, a few opened and then a few more. Word of mouth spread and soon La Tua was supplying top-class hotels and top-end retailers like the Four Seasons Hotels and Selfridges. In 2008 the company moved to their current trading estate home, where the pasta is produced in two specially adapted kitchens by a host of staff from all around the world. Quality is at the core of what they do. Not necessarily the most expensive of ingredients Francesco tells me but the best on offer for a price to keep the product affordable to all.
I can see why the company is so successful both Caroline and Francesco are friendly, enthusiastic and absolutely believe in what they’re trying to achieve and so very proud to show off their products, and rightly so. Working flat out whilst I was there, Caroline is expecting their third child and I wonder whether she will ever show signs of slowing down, although she totally assures me she will and does.
If you don’t fancy eating pasta in a swanky restaurant then you can always sample it at Borough Market. Here you’re served generous portions of fresh egg pasta, boiled to order. There could be anything on the menu from vegetarian options potato gnocchi or a tortelloni basil and mozarella, for the meat lover tortellini osso buco, or wild boar tortellini. The pasta comes draped in a red tomato sauce and fresh parmesan. Other markets where you can find this pasta to cook at home are Broadway, Duke of York Square, Tatchbrook and Barnes Farmers Market. La Tua Pasta has a fabulous website where you can order if you live nowhere near London.