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Back to Basics

Pane. Pasta. Pizza.  When my daughter began to speak, these were her 3 favorite words... and I think we can assume that they are probably the 3 favorite words of most Italians, as they sum up the fundamentals of the Italian food culture.  And their common thread?  Wheat... now, where would Italian food be without their own amber waves of grain?

Granarium:  Il Pane Buono KM 0

I recently stumbled upon a new bread bakery practically in my own backyard, in the little village of Cantalupo, between Cannara and Bevagna.  But it is not just a bakery, Granarium is a full circle, family-run farm and flour mill which produces it's own bread from it's own grain, start to finish - the first and only of it's kind in Umbria.  Their motto is:  Il pane buono a Km 0, or Good Bread at 0 km - real locavores!

The idea had been milling

around in the heads of the Lucarelli family for a while, and when they found an abandoned stone mill (which they refurbished) from 1929, they knew it was kismet.  The stone mill that they uncovered is from the Dolomites, which not only is no longer produced (the mountains are now protected from quarrying), but is stone of the highest quality as, during the grinding process, it does not heat up the grain which can produce an "off-burnt" odor.  The grinding of the flour is controlled manually, by hand, to test for texture and odor.  To contrast the antique mill, the Lucarelli's have installed a modern wood-fired oven, where the wood is burned in a separate small oven and then the heat and "smoke" are transferred to the main baking oven, so that the flavor, but not the ash of the wood is imparted into the bread. the Granarium flour millChecking the flour grindGrinding Farro Flourthe first step of the milling processModern wood-fired oven

Some Granarium fun facts:  they only use the wheat that they produce for their flour (a rare thing these days);  they are in the conversion phase of being certified organic for grain production; they grow an heirloom variety of Italian soft wheat which, even though produces less grain, is a higher quality product; and what I found most interesting of all - they are one of the few flour mills (in the world) that produces a true integrale, or whole wheat, flour.  Most mills separate the bran into about 15 parts which produce different kind of flours and by-products.  Then, these flours are remixed back together to produce "whole wheat" and other types of flours.  But not at Granarium - the first grind is whole wheat and the second is their white flour and that is that - what you see is what you get!

I am now a regular at their store, located at the mill, which in addition to producing breads, pizzas, and sweets daily, sells their own flours, cereal grains, and olive oil.  They only produce whole grain and "type 1" flour, which is less refined than the traditional "type 0" and "type 00" flours traditionally used for pasta making - I am anxious to try them out to use in my cooking classes this year.  A quick tour of Granarium will also be a featured stop on our cycling tours of the Umbrian Valley!

On a recent visit, Gian Piero, who runs the mill, told me that so far, the highest compliment that they have received has been the statement “questo pane sa di grano!”  This bread tastes like wheat!  I agree!

the bakery store at Granarium

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