My First Focaccia Attempt

My first attempt at focaccia was far from a success.
My first attempt at focaccia was far from a success.
My first attempt at focaccia was far from a success.

It Begins with A Passion

I am constantly trying to expand my Italian cooking horizon. When I try something new I usually fail and this time was no different. My lifelong passion for artisanally made products manifests itself at home with my desire to master Italian cooking. In particular, I love handmade pasta. But before I can deliver delicious creations I have to learn how to make them right, something that takes time and dedication.

Likewise, our very accomplished artisans, go through a similar cycle. A lot of sweat, blood, and tears accompany the introduction of a new product. And the first run sometimes is not the best and later variants surpass it in some way. That is the inevitable value of experience, and, when you think that Imperio Rossi has dedicated more than 50 years to making Murano glass, you realize that experience and dedication mean a lot.

Failure Is Simply Part of The Learning Process

Now, my focaccia was edible, but it was light years away from tasting like the focaccia I enjoyed growing up in Italy. I realized some mistakes and there are some changes I would consider next time. My mistakes were that I didn’t sprinkle the focaccia with a drizzle of oil before putting it in the oven, that I didn’t put enough salt in the dough itself, that I baked it for too long. Next time I am going to make a smaller batch so that I have less to eat in case it doesn’t turn out well. I am also going to knead it for longer after the dough has risen, and I might use a bit higher oven temperature. With these changes alone I expect a better result next time, but whether or not that is enough to make the perfect focaccia remains to be seen.

I have seen my artisans fail in the process of creating the perfect product. Some of the early Campomaggi wallets, for example, had a little too much character built in with credit card slots that were too tight for credit cards or shapes that were pretty far from rectangular. I have seen him make leather jackets that were absolutely awesome, but totally uncomfortable. We now have great wallets by Campomaggi, and I bet that some day we will have totally awesome leather jackets as well. Failure is simply part of the learning process.

Erase The Memory of Failure

What erases the memory of failure is trying again and again and finally getting it right. I am not going to give up on focaccia. Just like with my Tortellini Mantovani, I will eventually get it right.

And when I do get it right, it is going to be so awesome! And that awesomeness is my passion.

The New Caterina Lucchi Bag That Caught My Attention

Caterina Lucchi Bag

Lately, one bag has been catching my attention as I walk into the office every day: the PIOGGIA by Caterina Lucchi. The thought that comes to mind is: “I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.”

Caterina Lucchi Bag
This new Caterina Lucchi bag really caught my attention.

An Original Style?

Granted, I’m not a user of ladies handbags. But I do live and breathe Campomaggi and Caterina Lucchi handbags on a daily basis and Emi loves to wear them every day. Perhaps other designers have explored this exact style before and I am late to the party: even if that were the case, I would not be surprised if Caterina Lucchi’s version is quite original. Besides all these possibilities, I was impressed with the design and I continue to be. The braids are one-of-a-kind and very appealing to sight and touch.

Craftsmanship

The Artisanship is very remarkable, in my opinion, because it is not so easy to produce those braids, especially using buffalo (instead of cow) leather. When I pick it up and inspect it, the bag looks really well made.

Caterina Lucchi Braid Detail
A detail of the braided pattern by Caterina Lucchi. Elaborate and unique.

The braids are the result of an intricate pattern of stitches that does not exactly look simple to accomplish, a testament to the skill of the artisans and to the creativity of the designer who came up with a doable way to accomplish it.

Fine Ingredients

Caterina Lucchi uses buffalo leather from time to time. Italy has a growing population of buffaloes that arrived during the sixth century from central Europe and is concentrated around Naples (these are the buffaloes who produce the milk for mozzarella and scamorza affumicata). Italian buffalo leather is thicker, more solid, and more durable than our beloved vacchetta leather. For this reason it is a bit more complicated to work, but it yields a long lasting product. Caterina’s buffalo leather is still soft to the touch but does feel thicker and, consequently, stiffer than her calfskin products.

A Mature, Independent Personality

Caterina Lucchi is a wonderful woman. Her personality is very strong and loving. Like Emi and I, she can be around her husband a lot and get along. She can also go her own way with her brand, which is very innovative, unique, and vibrant. I know Emi loves her products, and apparently so does my little Chiara who is seven. She spent a week at the office last week when school was closed and she said she liked the PIOGGIA… Perhaps it is a sign that we are going to bump heads when she’s a teenager, but for now she still laughs at all of my jokes.

Chiara Models The PIOGGIA
The PIOGGIA Caterina Lucchi bag modeled by my little Chiara who is 7.

Campomaggi in Via Della Spiga Is A Big Deal

If Via della Spiga means nothing to you let me explain why it is such a big deal for me.

Yesterday, Campomaggi announced that they will open their flagship store in Via della Spiga, 5 in Milano tomorrow. Although I had heard the rumors before now it is official and it is happening for real.

Prodotto Artigianale on The Label

“Prodotto Artigianale” on the Campomaggi label means “artisanal product”. Back in the Eighties, when Marco Campomaggi was making his first bags by hand, I was witnessing the concentration of fashion, style, and luxury in Via della Spiga. That is also when I witnessed the difference between industrial pret-a-porter products and artisanal one-of-a-kind creations: a difference that I now label as the difference between canned-made and handmade. Campomaggi values a product that is handmade to the point that he has ensured the uniqueness of each item is enhanced by his patented distressing processes. If you look at the label, it wants to tell you that his unique soul, rooted in his past, has created each item… artisanally.

Milan Wasn’t Always The Capital of Fashion

Italy always created wonderful artisanal products, and Milan already had luxurious shops in Via Montenapoleone and other medieval streets next to Via della Spiga. But it wasn’t until the seventies and eighties that Italian fashion designers created world-renowned brands that made Italy the place to go for certain styles. That is when Milan became an amazing shopping destination, offering all the best brands in the Quadrilatero della Moda (Fashion’s Rectangle–referring to the area around Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga).

The Rise of The Artisanal Brand

Not all brands were huge powerhouses like Luis Vuitton and Prada. Besides a few of the historical stores, like a butcher, that have survived in the area, some alternative brands also started finding success, especially in Via della Spiga: Fabiana Filippi, Brunello Cuccinelli (which had two stores and Campomaggi is replacing one of the two) celebrate their artisanal roots as the source of their value. Campomaggi fits very well on this stage and the stage will help spread the word about how we need more style that is unique to each one of us.

This is what Marcopoloni is trying to bring to you: a unique style based on superb artisanship coupled with a personalized service so that you can get exactly what is right for you. It is easy to get started: just get to know Emi or me with a quick e-mail about what you wish to do. We’ll personally help you from there.