Farmers’ Markets are about to be full of them, so here’s one way Locanda uses spring’s bountiful fava bean.
— Pizza Bianca* | 1 loaf
— Fresh Burrata | 2 balls
— Parsley Leaves, picked | ½ cup, loosely packed
— Mint Leaves, picked | ½ cup, loosely packed
— Fresh, Tender Fava Beans, shelled | 2 cups
— High Quality Extra Virgin Olive oil | 1 cup
— Coarse Sea Salt, such as Maldon
— Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
*This recipe is delicious with Locanda’s Pizza Bianca, which is available for purchase at the restaurant. But you can substitute another favorite bread instead.
Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat, or substitute an oven preheated to 500°F.
Meanwhile, place the diced Guanciale in a saucepan, cover with a quart of water, and bring it to boil. Turn down the heat to a medium boil, and cook the Guanciale until it is soft, juicy, and tender, anywhere from 10-15 minutes. Strain the Guanciale from the water and reserve the cooking liquid for later use.
Picture this, it’s 8am. The fog is rolling back from the hills way out in the Northwest corner of Marin County. And about a mile from the beach, in dairy country, an ex-tech professional sits milking a water buffalo. Four years ago Craig Ramini, Rancher/Dairyman/Cheesemaker/CEO of Ramini Mozzarella, said goodbye to 20 years in Silicon Valley and headed north “to do something remarkable.” That something turned out to be buffalo mozzarella and some damn good buffalo mozzarella at that. Often an item on the menu at the Pizzeria Delfina in Pacific Heights (and the main ingredient in Delfina’s Buffalo Milk Granita), we’ve been so excited by what Craig is doing up in Petaluma that we had to have him share his story. He indulged our curiosities below:
How was it walking away from a 20 year career in technology?
It was a very good career. I made some good money. My wife and I had a very nice life. We travelled. We could buy things. And it was kind of fun. But it was also kind of conventional. I mean a lot of people do that. And I felt the need to do something remarkable. Just absolutely remarkable… I got to this point and I said, I don’t know what the business idea is but I’m so serious about this that I’m literally going to quit all of this. Health clubs. Golf courses. Social life. Job. I’m quitting everything until I come up with an idea. And I spent about 2 months in my house in Tiburon with this huge blank white wall, and I basically did a self facilitation. It was very introspective found these clusters of thoughts and ideas around what was likely to make me happy… And it was funny, one of the clusters centered on this whole human-animal connection thing. Whenever I was in Africa, like on safari, and I was around big dangerous animals. I really had a good time. I couldn’t even explain it.
There was another one that went way back into my past, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about how happy I was as a young person in my grandfather’s restaurant back in Connecticut. He was from the NE part of Italy and had his own restaurant… My family would visit often and I would hang out at the restaurant and have the run of the place.
And then other one was during my time in the Silicon Valley, whenever I had contact with these bold entrepreneurs - guys who invented like companies like Google or Facebook - I was really inspired. I was like that’s the kind of person I want to be. Bold.
So I just said ok, I still don’t have the business idea, but I know what it needs to entail. And then - this was the lynchpin moment - my sister-in-law, who grew up in Southern Italy, conveyed to me that she was disappointed that Americans couldn’t make buffalo mozzarella. And that they had to fly it here, and it usually took too long to get here. And I just went, holy shit that’s it. Big animals with horns. You’ve got to milk them. And nobody else is doing it. It would take the mind of an entrepreneur to pull it off. And it’s Italian food. Some of the best Italian food ever. I mean it’s wonderful stuff, buffalo mozzarella. And I said, that is it. And I’ve been driving hard ever since. Pedal to the metal.