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November 09, 2016
Founded in the small town of Pernumia, just to the south of Venice, artisanal bakery La Casa Del Pane produces a uniquely Italian speciality – grissini, aka breadsticks. More than just your average cracker, these snacks originated in Turin back in the 14th century and have since become a popular appetiser, often served alongside ham, cheese and various sauces for dipping.
But La Casa Del Pane didn’t always produce the grissini that they are now so famous for. As owner Luca Menoncin explains, the bakery had spent “years researching, refining and developing new kinds of bread, pizzas and cakes… using ancient production techniques that required a long processing time – sometimes over ten hours.” One night in 1991, the bakers experimented with a new creation, "Grissini Stirati a Mano" (hand-rolled breadsticks) – an experiment that was eventually to become their most famous product. “Twenty-five years have passed since then, and now we mix tradition with modern technology to produce our grissini,” Luca says proudly.
When asked about his breadsticks’ distinct flavour, Luca cites an unexpected element, believing that their flavour comes “not only from the process used to make our sourdough, but also from our climate, which is particular to the surrounding Euganei Hills in Pernumia.” The cooking process is not one that can be rushed either; after 12 hours of natural leavening, the dough is worked together with sourdough and selected natural ingredients for flavouring. After being resting for a certain period of time, the grissini are then hand-worked to perfection by La Casa del Pane’s team of master bakers.
And masters they are, as it takes many years to be entrusted with creating La Casa del Pane’s signature products. “Our production techniques are rather specific and require a proper knowledge of the manufacturing process,” Luca says. “Only after years of practice resulting in proper certification can our employees achieve the title of “Master Baker of La Casa del Pane”.”
And these artisans aren’t sharing their secrets with just anybody! “While our master bakers are proficient in handling the dough, the specific details of our recipes are a secret,” Luca continues. “Actually, only three people know the combination of ingredients and timings needed to create these delicacies. The recipes don't exist in written form; rather, they are passed down by the original inventor to someone really trustworthy.”
This secrecy and dedication to their craft has clearly paid off. The bakery’s “Le Delizie” range of grissini can now be found in shops and restaurants across three continents, proudly flying the flag for Italy’s artisanal food producers and showcasing the company’s original ethos of making a simple product created with love and care.
And while La Casa del Pane is clearly proud of its history, Luca and the team are also conscious of both the evolving needs of their customers and the provenance of their food. Interestingly, all of the bakery’s delicious breadsticks and crackers are naturally vegan and are available in a variety of flavours, such as spelt, extra-virgin olive oil and rosemary. The crisp “Grissini al Sesamo” (sesame breadstick) is also fat-free, putting paid to the myth that all diet foods need to be boring!
Meanwhile, our favourite La Casa del Pane variety available here at Profood is leavened for twelve hours and made with high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, creating a distinctive and delicious snack that’s addictively moreish. Pass the dips please… we’re ready for a breadstick party!
Kate Farr is a co-founding writer and editor at Editors' Ink HK, a blogger at Accidental Tai-Tai and a mum to two little boys. With a husband who's an enthusiastic amateur cook and two young sons with big appetites to feed, mealtimes play a central role in Kate's home life. Motto: "Diet? What diet?' Follow her on Instagram.
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