"I remember watching my mum make pasta by hand when I was a child. She learnt from her mother. In the late 80s my mum and dad participated in progressive dinners with their Healesville friends, and people would arrive at our house to see a clothes horses laden with fresh handmade pasta ready to be cooked. People would ask, “what is that?”
Now fresh pasta is well known and deservedly ‘on-trend’ but back then having fresh pasta was just how it was for us as an Italian family. It was natural, normal. The pasta of my grandmother’s era was typically just flour and water. It was a great luxury to have a pasta made with egg – a novelty reserved for special occasions!
I moved to Healesville as a 6-week-old baby. My parents were living in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne and dad craved the mountains and open spaces of ‘home’. He bought a 20 acre property in Chum Creek that came complete with a house, pigs, ducks and a combi van and ‘The Colaneris’ moved into the Yarra Valley. Back then if you wanted Italian grocery, cheese or salumeri you went to Di Pietrantonio’s (Yarra Valley Licenced Grocers) for ‘Alimentari’ in the Lilydale main street. Walking in there smellt just like Italy and it’s one of my favourite childhood memories.
My family came from the Molise region, which is in Central-Southern Italy, south of Abruzzi. I grew up with a pride in my heritage and it’s one I love seeing now in my own children. Dad made his own wine and loved showing people his verdure del proprio orto – vegetable garden. My mum started Yarra Valley Pasta in 1997 when you couldn’t really buy fresh pasta, and it just seemed natural that I join the business. I have a passion for food and wine and had been working at the cellar door at wineries including De Bortoli and Domaine Chandon where coincidentally, dad, a concreter, had poured the foundations (as he has done for many a winery in the Yarra Valley). We set up a cafe to serve our pasta, sold fresh pasta for home, and stocked our shelves with our favourite Italian foods that weren’t easy to find in the area. People embraced us, and they embraced real pasta.
My passion is to see people enjoy pasta with a smile on their face. Simplicity and abundance are words I use often when I talk about ways to eat fresh pasta. I believe the pasta should be the hero. Simple accompaniments like a quality olive oil, fresh herbs from the garden, a grating of good parmesan. Let the ingredients speak. I make a ravioli stuffed with gorgonzla, fig and prosciutto and all it needs is a simple butter sauce with a few fresh sage leaves. My other favourite is a taglietelle with a slow cooked ragu. It’s a simple pleasure to enjoy uncomplicated, quality ingredients.
We are so grateful that we get to share the food we know and love so much with others. There is a warm hospitality in the Italian way and pasta is a natural part of that sharing.
During the Festa di via Verde we will be serving fresh pasta all day with perfectly matched wines at Mac Forbes. That’s going to make everyone smile!"
Lisa Giffard, Yarra Valley Pasta