Fusilli alla Siciliana

Fusilli alla Siciliana

I do go to Sicily and have never seen this recipe there, but whether it is authentic or not (I would like to find out what you think), I truly love it and everyone that has had it has complimented me for it. It is the lengthiest recipe in my arsenal so far. I have to allow two hours for it, but it is definitely worth it. If it shouldn’t be called Fusilli alla Siciliana, what should its name be?

Ingredients:

1 pack of Fusilli
1 About 25 pitted black olives – more ok
5 anchovies (fillets)
4 cloves of garlic
1 Red Pepper
1 Eggplant
1 Tablespoon Capers
1 kg Roma Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Parsley
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil – more ok
5 Minced Peperoncini (small red hot peppers) – less ok
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Peel the eggplant and cut it in small cubes (1/2 inch max). Sprinkle some coarse salt and apply a weight over it. This will rid any bitter taste. I don’t overdo this step.
  2. Char the red pepper’s peel by placing in over a flame. Otherwise bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until the peel separates. Eliminate the peel. I do this at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Clean the anchovies (remove any bones).
  4. Wash the tomatoes and cut up. I always boil the tomatoes, peel them and cut up. My method requires that I purchase more than the suggested 1kg. It is also time consuming but worth it!
  5. In a large pan sauté the garlic in the olive oil. The recipe says to eliminate the garlic, but I leave it in.
  6. Add the eggplant cubes and let them cook a little while.
  7. Add the cut up tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes (medium heat).
  8. When the 15 minutes are up, add to the sauce the chopped red pepper, the capers, the anchovies, and the chopped olives. Cook for another 15 minutes.
  9. This is a good moment to boil the water for the fusilli.
  10. Before removing the sauce pan from the fire, add the minced parsley and minced pepperoncino.
  11. Mix the drained fusilli with the sauce and serve in deep pasta dishes. Eat while hot!

How Your Feedback Helps: Two Examples

Too often, a company will post an insincere comment about how they value their customers’ feedback, etc., but in reality, when you offer your opinion or suggestion, you get an apathetic “Uh-huh, OK.” in return.

At Marcopoloni, we want to let our customers know that we really DO listen, and DO take your feedback seriously! Here are just two examples from this week of how your feedback helps:

Case  #1 – the Aching Shoulder

A few days ago, a gentleman who had purchased our Storia Leather Messenger Bag called to tell us how he absolutely loves his new bag.

“Do you sell a matching leather shoulder pad to go on the strap?” he asked. He carries a lot of things in his bag, and with a 1.5-hr commute, his shoulder can understandably get pretty sore. I had to tell the gentleman that unfortunately, Dionigi (the folks in Italy who make the bag) currently does not make any leather shoulder pads, but I thought it would be a great idea, and that we will see what we can do about it.

So I told Daniele about this exchange, and he has initiated a dialogue with Dionigi to discuss a potential new product design. Now, it’s not like we would have a new shoulder pad to offer anytime soon – these things take quite a while to plan, design, model, test, and produce – but it is an exciting project nonetheless. I hope to some day be able to call our Storia owner with some good news.

Case #2 – an Elderly-Friendly Coin Purse

This morning I took a call from a nice woman needing to return Gianni’s Tacco leather coin purse that she had purchased for her father. “The coin purse is beautiful, but it’s just not going to work for my dad,” she said, sadly. Her fear was that without a solid wall to stop the coins from spilling, her father, at 91 years old, may tilt the coin purse too far and the coins would all fall out.

This made sense to me … the coin purse she had purchased does have a soft lip that helps prevent the coins from falling out, but I can see how she would be worried for her elderly father. In fact, we had evaluated a few of the high-walled coin purses in the past, but decided against them because our Tacco coin purse was so popular, and we saw no need to offer an alternative. I immediately discussed this case with the team, and we all agreed that thanks to this kind woman who took the time to explain all of this to us, we now see a clear reason to carry the high-walled coin purse. I hope she will check back with us soon!

New Professional Messenger Bag by Giudi

Friday I completed writing the product description for our new CENTRO professional messenger bag. When I write product descriptions, I want to make sure to spend a few weeks with it by my side every day at work so that I can develop a feeling and appreciation for the item I am going to write about. The CENTRO soon struck me for its professional appearance. Then I noticed that the leather was still very much alive: despite looking so smooth and professional it hadn’t been pressed down and reduced to a uniform surface. I could still spot and feel wrinkles that, along with its smell, proved to me that this leather once really did belong to a cow.

Then I got to dig a little deeper. I noticed all the pockets; the laptop/netbook/eReader/iPad bottomless partition; the handle; and the larger cell phone pocket that will accommodate my iPhone with its protective plastic case (something that most bags I viewed before did not allow). I soon realized that this bag was very up-to-date with the times. Timeless design coupled with modern functionality make a nice combination in a messenger bag. Finally two more details: the leather strap will be welcome by a lot of customers who demand it, and the bag’s ability to stand on its own is one of my pet peeves. How nice would it be to set the bag down while in line at the ticket counter and the bag just sits nicely, ready to be picked up when it is time to move on? (By the way, this attribute is not guaranteed to always work, but I tried it both when the bag was nearly empty and when it was fairly full with my netbook, water container, and wallet, and the CENTRO stood).

professional messenger bag by Giudi

How Can We Use Less Plastic?

The movie Bag It inspired us to take a look at all the plastic that surround our lives and ask, “How can we reduce the amount of plastic we use?”

In our personal lives, we can start by remembering to bring the reusable bags to the stores – we are often guilty of forgetting to put the bags back in the car after doing the groceries. We can also start bringing our own bags for trips to Target and other non-grocery type stores. Daniele and I usually bring our left-overs for lunch, but we are known to occasionally eat those single-serving frozen meals … and they always come packaged in plastic, sometimes even double-packaged in plastic inside a paper carton. We’ll definitely try to cut down on those.

But what about our business? Do we use plastic irresponsibly?

Asking ourselves this question led to an interesting discovery. We were packaging our products in plastic sleeves, not because it was necessary, but because we thought it made the product look nicer. So for that initial wow factor of opening a product that is covered in shiny new plastic, we were creating unnecessary waste. Besides, our products are artisanal and intrinsically beautiful … they don’t need any help looking good. Out with the plastic sleeves.

We also realized that we use bubble wrap and bubble mailers (those envelopes lined with bubble-wrap material) quite extensively – out of convenience, not out of true necessity. Out with the bubbles. In with 100% recycled kraft paper and 20% recycled newsprints. These changes won’t come without a little bit of cost (more time to prepare the shipments, higher packaging costs) but we are convinced that in the end it will be a sound business decision. And, thinking about our 2.5-yr-old daughter’s future, a moral one too.

These are just the beginning of what we hope will be a path towards more responsible living, and a less plastic business. If anyone out there has any other ideas on how we might be able to use less plastic (and less stuff in general), we’d love to hear your thoughts.