|Vic Tirrito: The Pasta Man|
|Features - Farmers and Markets|
|Written by Lara Zelman|
Over the course of the winter farmers' market season, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the familiar market faces in my neck of the woods (MetroWest Boston). While you might not have seen him at your market, chances are you’ve seen his products. Vic Tirrito, of Fior D’Italia, has a presence in local markets from Vermont to Rhode Island. After chatting with Vic a few times at the markets over the winter, he kindly agreed to answer a few questions.
Vic has been in the food business for a long time. He grew up in an Italian family in which cooking was a constant. His grandparents came over from Italy - from Milan and Sicily. They were making homemade sausage and mozzarella "all the time."
Vic started his career in accounting, working for two years before deciding that it wasn’t the career for him. He was living in New York and decided to go to the Culinary Institute of America. To help fund this venture, he worked as a waiter at a country club and put his accounting training to work teaching math to the other culinary students. After culinary school, he started his own business making pastas and desserts, later adding freshly made mozzarella to his operation.
Vic and his wife moved up to Vermont after his son was born, with the idea of opening a restaurant. When he got there and saw how many restaurants were opening and closing, he started supplying local restaurants with his products instead. This allowed him to spend more time with his family and keep a more regular schedule. Vic has been supplying restaurants for over 25 years now!
About three years ago, he started participating in farmers' markets across the New England area. When I asked Vic what he likes about the markets he said, "They bring a lot more enjoyment to the business." I could clearly see his enjoyment interacting with the customers at the market. In addition to the delicious samples he hands out, he offers tips, stories and recipes to everyone who stops by his table. At the Wayland market, he had regular customers, knowing many of them by their first name. It's no surprise that he sold out at almost every market this winter.
Vic said the markets are not just great for sharing his products and noted that building relationships with the other vendors is a "lucky" side benefit. All of Tirrito's products are made in Vermont, using almost all local ingredients. Through his participation in the markets, Vic has met vendors to source ingredients for these products.
When I asked Vic about where he gets his products, he listed a "who’s who" of the local market scene:
“We get our pumpkins and squash from Springdell Farm in Littleton, most of herbs and vegetables will be coming from Hill Top Farm in Lunenburg. I also get products from Kimball Farm and other vendors at the markets I participate in. Our dairy comes from Thomas Dairy in Rutland, VT and Vermont Butter and Cheese. Our eggs come from Maple Meadow Farm in Leicester, VT. All other products come from other New England states except our flour and imported cheeses."
Talking to Vic, it is clear that he loves business, people, and the local food industry. The next time you visit your local market, keep an eye out for the Fior d’Italia table. You can find it by following the smell of freshly cooked ravioli and a happy crowd. This summer you can find their products at over a dozen markets from Vermont to Massachusetts. Look for them at markets in Natick, Wayland, Westford, Dedham, Arlington, Belmont, Wakefield, Harvard, Bedford, and Chelmsford.
Here’s a recipe Vic recommended for one of his locally made spring raviolis:
Summer Squash Ravioli
1 oz olive oil
1 oz Sweet Butter
2 small shallots, chopped
1 plum tomato, diced
1 tbsp basil cut in strips
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
3 oz dry White Wine
2 oz heavy cream (or Crème Fraiche, sour cream, or yogurt)
1 package Fior D’Italia Summer Squash Ravioli
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and salt and pepper to taste
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and salt it to taste with sea salt. Add the ravioli and stir gently to prevent clumping. In a skillet, heat the oil and butter. Add the shallots. When they're translucent add the tomatoes and stir. Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Add the wine. Allow the alcohol to evaporate then add the cream. Lower the heat or shut off if the ravioli aren't done. When the ravioli are all floating and look like pillows re-heat the sauce and add the ravioli to the sauce with a slotted spoon allowing a little of the cooking liquid to incorporate in the sauce. Coat the ravioli with the sauce. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix and serve.
Lara is a graduate of Boston University and works full time as a marketing manager. Whether it’s family gatherings, vacations, dinners at home, holiday parties, or just a regular weekend, Lara's goal is to make the food a part of the experience. In her spare time she visits farmers markets for interesting ingredients, blogs (www.goodcookdoris) about her adventures in the kitchen, and finds time to fit in a few rounds of golf. She is currently pursuing an MBA degree and working on a plan to make her passion for all things food-related a full-time adventure.