A long, long time ago, in what my children would refer to as the olden days, I used to live in share housing. I certainly couldn’t go back to that way of living again, but it was enormous fun while it lasted. We lived in large, older houses with an often floating population of residents and there was always something interesting to do, see or discuss. Visitors were always welcome, the kettle was always on and food, cigarettes and chores were (for the most part) shared. It was an economical, stimulating way of moving out of home and one I frequently commend to my eldest daughter, who has yet to take the hint. There always seemed to be at least one vegetarian hanging around the house who was passionate about wholemeal bread, pasta and brown rice and they were most often the ones interested in cooking – if only to ensure that dinner time eventuated with a meal they could actually eat.
I have carried a great deal with me throughout my life thanks to those early days of share housing – an ability to turn a blind eye to domestic disorder, interest in politics and environmental matters, a very broad taste in reading and music, wonderful, caring and supportive relationships with people who have come to be extended family – and a life-long aversion to brown rice, wholemeal bread and most especially stodgy, tasteless, wholemeal pasta. So when I was recently offered some samples of a new, locally produced brand of whole grain pasta to try I approached it with a serious degree of skepticism and a small amount of low-grade anxiety, but it seems the world of whole grain pasta has moved on quite a bit since those days!
Pangkarra pasta is a product of the food bowl that is the Clare Valley and came about as a result of some lateral thinking from a family which was already growing durum wheat and looking for ways to diversify and thus survive in an increasingly difficult climate for family farms. Formulated after 12 solid months of research, development and multiple tastes testings, Pangkarra has shaken off the old image of whole grain pasta and shown that it can be just as tasty as it’s less wholesome white counterpart. Made from their own 100% durum wheat, currently milled using traditional stone milling techniques in Victoria (but soon to be milled right here in South Australia) and manufactured by L”Abruzzese in the Adelaide suburb of Glynde, Pangkarra is a truly local food. Using the traditional methods of stone milling ensures that the pasta maintains the nutrition inherent in the whole grain as nothing is added or taken away in the process. We are all aware of the health benefits in a diet containing more whole grains but, up until right now, I have been very reluctant to use pasta as a way to increase them in my diet. I’m certainly converted now!
I used Pangkarra’s pasta to make two separate meals which were served up to The Husband (who, to be frank, will eat anything) and the
fussy, ungrateful sensitive and particular teenagers who frequently turn their noses up at anything out of their comfort zone. Not a murmur of dissent was heard at the table and not a scrap was left on their plates – or mine, for that matter. The pasta cooked quickly, maintained it’s integrity, never looking as though it was going to turn into the starchy, indigestible stodge of my memories and was completely delicious – I’m sold.
Pangkarra and Savannah Lamb (see previous post here) are just two members of the Clare Valley Cuisine group and I’d suggest that you keep an eye on this group. The Clare Valley is emerging as a South Australian food bowl of interest and I suspect there is a lot more to come from this area. There is certainly more to come from Pangkarra, with plans to extend the pasta range to include lasagne sheets and spirals and future thoughts heading in the direction of flour products. The current range is available in various stores (listed here), will soon be available through selected retailers in Brisbane and Sydney, with other states to follow.[mc4wp_form id="16750"]