We created RITROVO® almost fifteen years ago, upon our return to the United States. Six years of living, working, and studying regionally focused, Italian foods had led us to the perfect stateside career: specialty food importer. The term seemed to say it all – evoking the exotic, alluding to the transformative, and hinting at the lucrative.
And we love what we do. Nevertheless, we have learned that importing specialty foods is a demanding, multi-faceted occupation. It requires a can-do attitude, in a variety of capacities, to complete the voyages of every RITROVO SELECTION™. Our many roles at RITROVO® include:
Passionate Travelers and ‘Interculturalists’: We have traveled tens of thousands of kilometers throughout the Italian countryside and elsewhere to explore new possibilities. We also do this to connect with our producers and their families, where they work and live, in their own language. This deepens our connection with them and enriches our collegiality. It also fortifies our commitment to each other’s success and rekindles our passion for what we at RITROVO® do. All the while, it increases our knowledge of Italy’s cultural and culinary diversity.
Food Researchers and Developers: Our goal is to preserve the essential nature of regionally based Italian foods, even as we determine how they may be adapted to the sensibilities of U.S. and other specialty food markets. This year our interest in gluten-free products led us to commission bean grower Michele Ferrante to produce a 100% chickpea flour. We have packaged this in a RITROVO SELECTIONS™ label for our chefs and consumers. We are now proud to represent Italy’s Baslicata region with our new L’Ultimo Forno Senatore Cappelli “00” flour, pasta, and cookies. We hope to add to our line rare Lamon beans from the Veneto region later this year.
Whenever we can, we explore areas beyond Italy’s boundaries to re-contextualize our knowledge and ‘rediscover’ new products. In November, for example, we toured the Slovenian countryside to better understand its terroir and history, especially the area of Slovenia near the legendary salt pans of Piran. This has led to a special relationship between RITROVO® and Soline Piranske as well as to our offering of a spectacular new vinegar from indigenous Refosco grapes.
Product Inventors: This year we finally brought to fruition our many years’ attempt to create a Truffle & Salt cracker. We found the perfect cracker, Tavolozze, in the Veneto region and paired Casina Rossa and Figuli of Veneto into a new best-selling product. This follows on the heels of creating two successful truffle & salt cheeses and Miller Farms-RITROVO SELECTIONS™ Truffle & Salt Almonds. January 2012 also debuts our RITROVO SELECTIONS™ Truffle Balsamic Vinegar.
Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs: At RITROVO®, we identify and explore new opportunities such as truffle and gluten-free products, Slovenian products, and expand our range through joint ventures with people like Miller Farms of California, Xocolatl of Portland, and Mt. Townsend here in Washington. Our private label program for olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pasta sauce has taken off during the past year.
Writers and Communicators: We endeavor to communicate our passion and knowledge back to our customers in various ways. We have done thousands of product demos and made countless, direct contacts with our customers. We also maintain our informative catalogue and our website. Added to this, we write blogs, recipes, a newsletter, and blurbs for all the great products that we import and represent.
And we couldn’t have done it without you: our wonderful customers and suppliers.
To you all a heartfelt grazie mille and Buon appetito
Ron Post and Ilyse Rathet