Crosta & Mollica Bread Snacks Review
Tate Test by Iain P W Robertson
We all do it. If you travel anywhere, you will make unfortunate comparisons between home-grown produce and that purchased abroad. I have crunched some of the crispiest Iceberg lettuce in Los Angeles, luxuriated with some of the most aromatic tomatoes from Jerez and enjoyed some of the tastiest artisan breads in both Belgium and France.
Yet, in my book, some of the most delicious flatbreads, breadsticks and other bread specialities are produced in Italy. I can recall sitting in a delightful back street restaurant in Turin, in the company of around twenty Torinese, watching a football match on the eatery’s television set, supping a deep bowl of gorgeous, steaming minestrone and cracking grissini (breadsticks) into it (just as the locals do).
When I returned home and tried to acquire similar breadsticks, my goal was seemingly unattainable. Having sampled virtually every shop-bought alternative, from Tesco to M&S, and even the products of a well-known Italian chef, I struggled to achieve the commensurate balance of flavours. Therefore, it was with some delight that I acquired two packs of Crosta & Mollica speciality breads, now retailed here by the London-based company.
Yet, while the firm has a Paddington Street address in London, it also operates from Mercatello, Italy, and works closely with artisan bakers from Liguria, Piemonte, Campagnia, Puglia, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and the Italian island dependencies of Sicily and Sardinia. As a measure of its breadth of bread talents, there are Italian chefs based in the UK that rely strictly on Crosta & Mollica for a true taste of home on their menus and tables. In many ways that is as potent a message as might ever be needed.
Firstly, those wonderful Grissini are produced in Piemonte, northern Italy, from ground maize and extra virgin olive oil, twisted and stretched into their traditional stick forms. The taste is sublime, from first crunch to last morsel. The texture is light and crispy and you do not require diamond-cutter teeth to break them. Each pack weighs 140g and contains around 18-20 sticks, enough for most dipping or snacking needs.
On the other hand, the Rosemary Linguette Flatbreads come from Liguria, the mountainous region in the north-west of Italy. Produced from wheat flour, olive oil and with only a hint of rosemary and salt, with a smidgen of yeast and malt flour for additional consistency, they too are hand-stretched, prior to being baked on a hot-plate to achieve a delicious crunchiness that melts into a delightful palate pleaser. There are around six flatbreads to each 150g pack. As with the breadsticks, they are perfect with cheeses, soups and antipasti, as well as snacking.
Until such, surprisingly fresh, flavours can be acquired from similar products made in the UK, Crosta & Mollica is now my preferred snack-bread brand.
Crosta & Mollica Linguette (150g/£1.99), Grissini (140g/£1.75) and the rest of the range are available from Waitrose and other good food retailers.