I do like it when I neet someone quite delightful who is also excited about real food and just wish I could spend the whole day chatting, sharing ideas and browsing through recipe books. I met Jo at the Karkloof Farmer’s Market and she charmed me immediately. I simply had to write a story about her and popped around to her home in Howick early one Monday morning. She looked this glamorous at a time of day I am often still in my pyjamas!
“Let’s have a plate of pasta!” says delightful Jo Eleftheriou who is so enthusiastic about good food. No wonder then that her handmade pasta is fast becoming a firm favourite in the Midlands. Her mom, Charmaine, is a great cook of Greek specialities, but Jo has always been fascinated by Italian food. “When I was pregnant, my mom gave me a pasta machine for Christmas and I was hooked,” she says with a grin. “I wondered why we were eating mass-produced pasta when this was so delicious?” She started making pasta in earnest, researching the original recipes and traditional methods. “We’ve always eaten good, fresh food at home, but when my son was born, I realised that many kids don’t actually know the shape of a fish – how can they if they only ever see fish fingers or nuggets? I believe that children should eat what we eat – real food, natural products. It is the easiest thing to pop a little pasta nest into boiling water for three minutes and top with fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes or cheese. My three year old just loves pasta for lunch and because of the egg, it is rich in protein, so a complete low GI meal in a flash. Our mental and emotional well-being is affected by what we eat, so imagine the impact of unbalanced food on a tiny body?”
She soon realised there is no locally made pasta available so the opportunity to produce some for sale seemed perfect. Charmaine and Jo make the tasty tagliatelle from scratch with flour, eggs, fresh herbs and form the ribbons into nests to dry. “I enjoy experimenting and made chocolate pasta for Easter, but our favourite is definitely tricolore – which is a combination of sundried tomato, herb and plain egg pasta nests for a really colourful and flavourful plate.” Their success means they have outgrown their home kitchen and will move next week (mid Oct) into premises behind the Howick Falls Hotel where they can make and sell their pasta and a range of other delicious Mediterranean inspired meals including lasagne, moussaka and ravioli. “Pasta should be so good that it doesn’t need much of a sauce.” concludes Jo. BellaJo Pasta certainly is.
As I was leaving she told me her favourite foodie quote is ‘I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food!’ No wonder I felt I could stay the whole day to chat, cook pasta and share a bottle or two! I’ll have to pop around again sometime.