Top tomatoes are ‘the perfect ingredient’

A small producer of tinned tomatoes in Southern Italy on the coast Fondi near Spellonga fits the bill for producer of ‘the perfect ingredient’.

The care taken at every stage of production is what really makes Simeone’s tomato products extra special! All his tomatoes are picked by hand. This is the first quality assessment as other producers of tinned tomato all use machines. It also ensures very little soil going to the factory. Using only his own tomatoes also ensures the variety is correct for the desired flavour and consistency.

Once they reach the factory, washing and grading takes place three times. This is overseen by hand and great care is taken to remove any green or damaged tomatoes. The rejected tomatoes are then cooked very slowly at only 60 degrees to ensure the flavour is not lost after being pressed; these make up the sauce for the tins. Once the best tomatoes have passed all the rigorous inspections, they are then graded again and put into tins with a fresh piece of basil placed in the bottom of each tin.

During our recent visit, we were lucky enough to sample the tomatoes and Simeone’s fired pizzas made in his wood burning pizza oven.

First we tasted the plum tomatoes, chopped and passata, straight from the tin. What was really apparent on opening them was the lack of water – just a thick tomato sauce and so tasty. Once we delved into the tin it revealed large, succulent, tasty tomatoes. We were then served them with a little seasoning and a little oil – stupendous!

Onto the pizzas and the blind test – here that the tomatoes really came into their own. There was no water loss, because there is none. It meant the pizza base remained firm and crispy. We sampled three pizzas, and all three were very good but the rustic chopped tomato won, hands down for all of us. It really was a taste explosion of freshness with a sweet acidity blended into the mozzarella and crisp base topped off with a hint of basil. Margherita again proves to me that if you are using the best ingredients then food can be simple and amazing!

Yet another visit that makes all the effort worthwhile.

December 2012