Ready-to-eat meals are a tricky thing. The convenience is fabulous but you usually have to compromise by eating something loaded with chemicals to extend its shelf life.
Not in this case. Roberto's Kitchen pastas only require heating, or in some cases boiling, and are simply made from flour, free-range eggs, and semolina. A rarity.
Roberto Di Denia has been cooking since he was 5 and is now bringing the tastes of his childhood in Southern Italy to New Zealand homes with his retail line.
Roberto and his wife came here in 2005 and for three years ran a cafe in Kawerau before moving to Hamilton. When they came to Hamilton, he was able to follow his true passion - cooking (rather than serving, manning a till and managing staff) and so he started making home-made pasta and selling it at the markets.
Needless to say, they were a hit and now he has decided to start an online business so people outside of Hamilton can taste it too.
The pasta is soft, fresh and very addictive. I particularly liked the mushroom sauce and the kalamata olive flavoured pasta. The sauce had that gorgeous home-made warming, creamy taste making it perfect comfort food. The blue cheese and spinach sauce was a little strong for my taste, despite being a blue cheese fan, but it's the kind of thing you'd have to try yourself to decide.
What stood out for me is that it is an artisan product, but packed for convenience. I could totally picture myself heating one of the ready meals or boiling up some pasta - a particularly appealing option on a busy work night where you need something fast. It's also nice to see someone catering to vegetarians, who often have limited options for ready-made food.
A couple of the other products in the range do contain minimal preservatives, as Roberto has had trouble finding the right cheese without preservatives. For that reason they are not part of this review, but Claire Turnbull, nutritionist from Mission Nutrition, says they are perfectly safe and that consumption of those extras is all about personal choice. Definitely worth keeping this product in the freezer for a tasty stress-free meal when time is tight.
Hamilton Farmer's Market, La Cave, Hamilton or online.