When someone says “pesto,” do you think of shadon beni or just basil?
Thankfully, DEL MANO thought beyond basil and created a line of pestos in seven bold yet familiar flavours – Shadon Beni, Roasted Melongene, Tarragon Parsley, Basil Caper & Mint, Watercress Feta, Sweet Pepper and Basil Pesto.
Today, we interview the man behind the pesto, Stefan Grosberg who is passionate about showcasing fresh local ingredients.
7 Questions for Del Mano’s Stefan Grosberg
1. Why pesto?
A few years ago, I planted a kitchen garden of vegetables and herbs, including basil. With ongoing bumper crops of fresh basil, I decided to use it to make pesto. Eventually, I was making a lot of pesto so I brought it to UpMarket and was overwhelmed by how much people enjoyed it. One thing led to the next and Del Mano was born.
2. We know traditional pesto uses basil as a base, but how are local vegetables showcased in Del Mano’s pestos?
I spent a few months living in rural Italy which really inspired me to use the food resources around me. Using melongene to make pesto (with basil as a base) made total sense because it’s one of our country’s staple vegetables! We make baigan choka, so why not “reinvent” it as pesto?
3. Name five perfect companions for Del Mano pestos:
Pesto will always have a home in a steamy bowl of fresh pasta. They also make fantastic dips – the roasted melongene pesto on its own and the others mixed with cream cheese or sour cream.
Also, at our house, pesto is the special ingredient on our Saturday night homemade pizzas. You can also substitute the tomato sauce with basil pesto, or even melongene for a treat. I also love topping salads and provisions with the sweet pepper or watercress pestos, and the shadon beni pesto works well with ANYTHING you eat.
4. Where do you source the major ingredients for the pestos?
Most ingredients originally came from my (expanded) organic kitchen garden. As Del Mano grew, I turned to a local supplier in Santa Cruz for the majority of the basil. He uses an aquaponic system and produces some of the best basil I’ve ever used – full, lush and bursting with flavour.
There is another supplier in Santa Cruz practicing traditional organic agriculture that grows sweet peppers and melongene, but in his absence I shop at the market. I actually grow all the other herbs used in the pestos.
5. What did you do before you started Del Mano?
I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, which is a great asset and also gave me the right time and space to develop. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it, but ultimately food is my passion and this is the road I’m going down.
6. Tell us about your favourite local artisan food makers:
In my humble opinion, Isabel Brash from COCOBEL CHOCOLATES makes the best chocolate in the world. I’ve sampled many European chocolates and not many come close to her product!
Trinidad & Tobago also has a growing artisan cheese sector, DOLCE VALLE from Grande Riviere, LA BLANCHISSEUSE from Cascade and ORANGE HILL NATURE RANCH in Tobago. These are all fine products. I also get my bread from a part-time baker, Lisa Williams from LA BOULANGERE ARTISANN.
7. Do you have a favourite local restaurant?
Being a new business, disposable income is scarce, so street food it is! However, the one time I ate out this year was at CHAUD CREOLE (St. Ann’s, Trinidad) for my girl’s birthday. I wanted to go to share in the celebration of “local” – new twists on familiar favourite. Chaud Creole excels at creatively cooking with local ingredients and foods that we take for granted, making us fall in love with them all over again.
More Details on the Pestos & Where to Find Them:
Standard sized jars of pesto are 170 grams (about 6 oz) and are $40 each. Please visit Del Mano’s Facebook Page for more information on pesto flavours and their ingredients. During the Christmas holidays, Del Mano has gift sets featuring pestos (in smaller sizes) packaged in handmade wooden crate.
Del Mano pestos can be ordered directly from Stefan Grosberg or purchased at these retailers: MALABAR FARMS (Maraval, Trinidad); NEW EARTH ORGANICS (Woodbrook, Trinidad); WHOLE FOODS MARKET (Maraval, Trinidad); ARTIE’S PATTIES (Diego Martin, Trinidad); VANILLA BEAN (Cunupia, Trinidad); MARKET MOVERS (an online food delivery service); THE GOURMET GENIE (San Fernando, Trinidad) – sandwiches are available with Del Mano pestos; and UPMARKET (monthly market in Trinidad).