Spirito di Squadra

In Italy, we always have been impressed when attending sagre or local food festivals by the coordination and group effort that pull together these astounding communal events. Teams of friends or neighbors cook and serve hundreds of portions of hot polenta, or platter after platter of porchetta, or pour cup after cup of local rustic wine, usually while a dedicated local band of musicians play in the background.

We were in solidarity with all of them this past weekend as RITROVO® offered up many of its most beloved cheese-friendly condiments and accoutrements at the Seattle Cheese Festival, hosted by our long-term retail partner Delaurenti. Hundreds of local Seattle food lovers and weekend tourists thronged the Pike Place Market to sample our RITROVO SELECTIONS™ Aged Balsamic Vinegar, Feudo delle Ginestre Montepulciano Grape Jam, Colli Etruschi Olive Oil, and Radici of Tuscany Chianti Red Wine Jelly.

Part of our successful team effort was our special guest Kent Miller, who flew up from Modesto, California to serve his Toasted Almonds with Truffle & Salt™ and Controne Hot Pepper Almonds — both RITROVO SELECTIONS™ — to crowds of admirers. Kent is a great partner to RITROVO® and his stamina must come from all the hours he spends caring for almond trees under the hot California sun.

The rest of our team–including Glenn Greenwood, Joe Flaherty, Jacey Frango, and Catie Digregorio–held the crowds at bay with delicious food bites, including fresh burrata cheese sprinkled with RITROVO SELECTIONS™ Truffle & Salt™ and served with Tavolozze al Tartufo Crackers and a creamy DOP taleggio cheese that paired perfectly with the spice of Radici of Tuscany Chianti Red Wine Jelly. In the afternoon a veritable pilgrimage line of tasters formed just to sample a spoonful of RITROVO SELECTIONS™ Aged Balsamic Vinegar. Hundred of others swarmed around to dip a precious cube of Pane di Matera IGP—graciously flown over for us by our friends at L’Ultimo Forno—in a bowl of bold-green Colli Etruschi Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Without our team and two amazing volunteers -Yvonna Durantes and Jason Cheung (the latter from Pagliacci pizza) plus a surprise assist from former staff member Brad Meyers – we would not have survived the day.

At the end of it all we took a RITROVO® moment to show our gratefulness for everyone’s spirito di squadra: we shared a toast of sparkling wine and a plate of delicious homemade gluten free macaroni and cheese brought by our own home chef and warehouse manager, Joe Flaherty. Naturally he used Miller Farms Truffle & Salt Almonds and from another of RITROVO®’s local partners – Ballard Family Dairy – Truffle & Salt™ Cheddar Cheese.

Viva la nostra squadra e buon appetito.

Gluten-free Truffle Mac & Cheese


½ bag Il Macchiaiolo 100% Rice Riccioli – Gluten Free
1 cup grated Ballard Family Dairy Truffle & Salt™ Cheddar Cheese
1 cup natural sour cream
½ cup organic vegetable broth
½ medium shallot minced
½ cup Miller Farms Toasted Almonds with Truffle & Salt™
3 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano reggiano
½ cup La Bella D.O.P. Riviera Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation: Coat 9” round glass baking dish with 1-2 Tbsp. EVOO. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°.

To make topping: Chop almonds finely in a food processor or crush in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or other heavy object. In a small mixing bowl, add Parmesan to almonds. Mix well. Add 2 Tbsp. EVOO. Mix well. Set aside.

Pasta: Cook rice pasta 3-4 min in plenty of salted water. Stir once to ensure that pasta does not stick together. Do not stir further. Pasta should be just al dente. Gently fluff pasta with a spoon and drain. Immediately quench in cold water to stop cooking and drain. Gently toss and drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp. EVOO. Set aside.

Sauce: Sauté minced shallot in 2-3 Tbsp. EVOO until soft and golden. Set aside to cool in pan, retaining EVOO. In a large mixing bowl whisk vegetable broth into sour cream. Add grated cheddar. Stir in cooled shallot and EVOO from pan. Gently fold in pasta.

Pour into glass baking dish. Sprinkle with topping. Pat lightly. Cook on middle rack of oven for 20 minutes or until bubbling at edges and topping is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4 polite dinner guests or 2 hungry warehouse workers.

Gluten-free Truffle Mac & Cheese