As I spoke briefly about in our last post, as in many before, good ingredients are a key to great food. We make our Fennel Sausage, Sausage Breads, Wild Boar Sausage, Porchetta, and Lamb Sausage with the best Fennel that one can find. Unlike many other eateries, we do not waste time with mass-produced, run of the mill Fennel seed, usually from India. The flavor difference between the two varieties is impeccable. The smooth, delicate, and fine flavor of the Fennel and Fennel Pollen we sell and use in our food is on a whole new level than what one can buy at your local supermarket. The seeds we import, which actually helped me fully enjoy the flavor it is synonymous with, are grown wildly in the hills around Naples in Italy’s famous Campania region. The Pollen, also wild, which is growing in popularity in the United States, comes from the Culinary Mecca of Tuscany.
Notice the size and color difference. It is impossible to confuse the two different seeds. The intense but well- rounded flavor of the Italian Fennel Seeds will change your feelings on the spice altogether. I grew up hating the taste of Fennel just like Licorice and Anise which are in the same spectrum of flavor. I used to pick out the seeds from anything containing Fennel. I remember passing up many a good meal if it had too much, if any at all, of the spice. But, as I got older, I learned the difference between the Fennel I had been experiencing and the real deal.
Now, another new obsession of mine lately is Fennel Pollen. An intense but sweeter version of the flavor of the Fennel Plant, the Pollen has been an important ingredient to Tuscan cuisine for a long time. One of my favorite forms of Salumi is Finocchiona which sometimes combines the Seed and Pollen together creating an extremely succulent and flavorful salame and certainly gives it its name. You can use this spice to dust a roast, chop, or many other cuts of beef, pork, and lamb, or flavor sausage, beans, sauces, etc. I recently made some Wild Boar Sausage Burgers and Lamb Sausage where, for the first time, I added a hint of the Fennel Pollen. It added a delightfully subtle flavor to the combination of the meat with great sharp Pecorino, Peperoncino (red pepper flakes), fresh parsley, cracked black pepper, and a little salt. I controlled myself with the spice as it has the tendency of taking over a whole dish and it came out exactly how I wanted it to. Also, I occasionally add some of this fabulous Pollen to my Porchetta. Normally I stick to garlic, Peperoncino, and fresh rosemary but, since we are always adding a wrinkle to recipes, it changed the whole identity to our very popular, very authentic Porchetta and will definitely be a revisited addition to this famous Italian version of Roasted Pork.
We ONLY sell real Tuscan Fennel Pollen. It is an expensive item but the quality speaks for itself. Many years ago, Italian immigrants planted a lot of Fennel in California. The Pollen that the plants provide is good but, when the original is available, why sacrifice with second best. Do not be fooled by simply ground up Fennel being passed as the plant’s Pollen because it is in no way similar and you can tell immediately.
Whether you are making your own sausage, cooking a nice roast or sauce, or even pickling, use the right Fennel. We sell both the Seed and the Pollen. These exact products are used in our food and no other mediocre replacement is tolerated. Give them a chance and you as well will be hooked to the flavor explosion it brings to your palate.