Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Simply Nigella: Nigella Lawson Introduces Del Monte Philippines' Newest Brand, Contadina.

 Nigella Bite. Nigella Summer. Nigella Express. Simply Nigella...and she's here.

Renowned food writer and TV personality Nigella Lawson recently visited Manila to launch Del Monte Philippines' latest addition to its brand portfolio, Contadina, a range of premium products known all over the world for its authentic Mediterranean heritage. It's a collaboration built on a shared culinary philosophy, based simply on the premise that using the best and finest ingredients makes all the difference in the final dish. And in one memorable afternoon, Nigella Lawson and Contadina showed just how easy it is to make authentic Mediterranean-style cuisine at home...with the right brand. 

Her books have sold well over 10 million copies worldwide, and she remains one of the iconic culinary personalities of our time. "I am not a chef," shared Nigella, and even admitted not reading a cookbook until she was fifteen. "I am not even a trained or professional cook. My qualification is as an eater," added Nigella. Nigella simply loves to eat. It's her honesty that makes her real, and why she appeals to so many of us. She recalled cooking with her mother as a child, preparing bechamel and mayonnaise, but it was the time she spent in Italy working as a chambermaid in Florence that awakened and nurtured her love for food. Experiencing first-hand how the abundance of fresh and quality produce makes all the difference during those early days in Italy have remained with her, shaping her own personal culinary philosophy. And it's a philosophy that's consistent with the brand equity of Contadina.   

And not surprisingly, Italian and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine remains close to Nigella's heart. One of her bestsellers, Nigellisima, recalls her experiences in Italy, and her own personal love letter to the country that shaped her culinary philosophy. "And so I thought why don't I talk about the way in which it's inspired me and the way which it affects and informs the recipes I cook that are intrinsically Italian, so that interested me an awful lot. It's a kind of love letter to Italian food," said Nigella. A shared philosophy, and a love for authentic and comforting Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, Nigella Lawson and Contadina are a perfect match. 

The brand name Contadina is derived from the Italian word meaning "woman of the fields", translating the care and the quality that women, then and now, devoted to the making and preparation of savory dishes. This was the inspiration behind the founding Italian immigrant families when they established the brand back in 1914 in the US. And to this day, the brand is known as a high-quality, authentic Italian brand, made with the finest ingredients for rich flavors.

And for many culinary enthusiasts who bring passion to their cooking, whether at home or in a professional kitchen, Contadina is the ideal choice. "For my cooking, I have no secret ingredients. I make sure I use the ingredients that are best for me. That's why I'm proud to be partnering with Contadina."

Contadina offers a wide range of products, including olive oils, canned tomatoes, pasta, and pasta sauces, the very heart and soul and cornerstone of authentic Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Contadina's pasta, available in Spaghetti, Linguine, and Penne, are made from 100% Canadian Durum Wheat Semolina giving it a fine texture with just the right firmness and signature golden, creamy color. 

The Contadina Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Pure Olive Oil are made with the finest Hojiblanca olives grown in Andalucia, Spain. With its distinct aroma and subtle yet rich notes, the oils enhances the flavors of any recipe without overpowering the other ingredients. 

The line of pasta sauces feature five variants, the Formaggio, Napoletana, Arrabbiata, Aglio Arrostito, and Pesto Alla Genovese, with all the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean freshly bottled in the glass jars. Contadina's pasta sauces are made with authentic Grana Padano cheese and fresh Italian herbs for rich and authentic flavors.

The line of canned tomatoes include Diced Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes, Diced Tomatoes with Italian Herbs, and Stewed Tomatoes Italian Recipe, each made with juicy and meaty Roma tomatoes from California. The cuts of the premium tomatoes, specially the Diced and Stewed variants, maintains its shape even after cooking. Olive oils, pasta, pasta sauces, and canned tomatoes from Contadina, now you can recreate classic Italian flavors at home.  

After a sumptuous lunch, we get a glimpse of Nigella Lawson, and seeing her up close was an experience in itself. With her casual elegance and grace, Nigella shared with us her encounters with local cuisine, including "several kinds of adobo," sinigang, puto and even pork sisig. And just like her TV shows, we were all captivated by her innate style and class. This time, she was a mere few feet away and not on a TV screen, she was right there in front of us...

Nigella's passion for cooking is immediately felt, and she believes cooking is good for for one's sense of calmness and self. "People always talk about the health benefits of certain foods, but the benefits of cooking itself are never really mentioned," shared Nigella. And I totally get it. Just watching her TV shows works for me. 

Right after, Nigella invited the guests to the open kitchens where local culinary celebrities and chefs where tasked to prepare their own special dishes using Contadina's range of fine products.  

Daphne Osena-Paez (L), and chefs JP Anglo and Kalel Chan (R) had their own respective stations, with guests as their assistants. It was the perfect opportunity to experience first-hand the versatility of Contadina's products.

I was assigned to Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi's station, one of the metro's noted culinary experts and a regular on my blog, as she prepared her signature dish.

Guests assisted Steph in preparing the dish, and since my own kitchen skills are suspect, I stayed clear of the station. As Nigella described it, my only qualification is as an eater. 

But Steph had it all under control, and her dish, a rustic Penne Pasta with lamb and feta cheese, was done way before the time limit. 

Now, it's your turn to recreate authentic Italian and Mediterranean-inspired dishes at home with Contadina, now available in leading supermarkets and groceries nationwide.

For more updates on Contadina and their line of quality products, check out their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/contadinaphilippines/ and follow the hashtags #ContadinaXNigella on social media. 

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