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Where to buy durum and semolina near Venice/Santa Monica?

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pastaperfect Jul 13, 2012 10:17 PM

I recently moved to Venice from San Francisco. I used to buy durum (fine) and semolina (coarse) flour at Rainbow Grocery in SF. The only thing I can find anywhere around Venice is semolina in small bags for outrageous prices, but I can't find durum anywhere. I've tried: Whole Foods, Ralph's, Trader Joe's, Rainbow Acres, Co-opportunity.

If anyone knows where to buy both, preferably in bulk, I'd be ever so grateful.

Just to impart the urgency of the matter, I'm a marathoner living without pasta! Help me carbo load, please!

  1. perk Jul 13, 2012 10:48 PM

    Surfa's. Venice and National. Terrific restaurant supply/foodie haven with a nice little cafe.

    1 Reply
    1. re: perk
      p
      pastaperfect Jul 16, 2012 09:04 AM

      Surfa's is amazing! Thanks so much for letting me know it exists!

    2. j
      jsandler Jul 14, 2012 11:23 AM

      I've bought semolina at Bay Cities in Santa Monica. My guess is they probably have it in Bulk also at Sprout's in Culver City.

      3 Replies
      1. re: jsandler
        e
        EricDC Jul 14, 2012 01:19 PM

        Seconded on both counts - Bay Cities and Sprout's would be my top two go-to's.

        1. re: jsandler
          p
          pastaperfect Jul 14, 2012 07:02 PM

          Sadly, Sprouts was a bust. Same selection as Co-opportunity. Good to know they exist, though.

          1. re: jsandler
            p
            pastaperfect Jul 16, 2012 09:06 AM

            Bay Cities doesn't have finely ground durum, but they do have "00" flour which is a reasonable alternative. Sadly, they don't have it in bulk, but the prices aren't as outrageous as the other spots where I've found coarse semolina.

            Also, excellent deli! Thanks!

          2. Mr Taster Jul 16, 2012 09:31 AM

            Sorrento Italian Market in Culver City is very well stocked and without the ridiculous crowds and hassle of Bay Cities. Out of curiosity, what will you be using the semolina for?

            I am personally enamored with Roma Deli in Pasadena but that's outside the geography of your post. I love how the elderly, rosy-cheeked Sicilian owner will gladly guide you to his personal favorites

            Mr Taster

            2 Replies
            1. re: Mr Taster
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              pastaperfect Jul 16, 2012 09:42 AM

              Thanks for the suggestion. I use durum and semolina to make pasta. I've found that combining the coarse and fine works best, but it's very hard to find finely ground durum.

              I prefer to buy in bulk (I go through a pound of each in a week) both for cost and environmental reasons. I would much rather find a local supplied since wheat is wheat and importing flour from Italy is ridiculous in my mind. Olive oil and wine, sure. Flour, I cannot justify.

              1. re: pastaperfect
                Mr Taster Jul 16, 2012 11:02 AM

                I do like to make pasta but I'm not experienced enough to know the nuances of it. I know that when I asked him, Rosario (the Roma Deli guy) recommended a specific kind of white flour for making pasta (I can tell you which one when I get home). For no reason whatsoever, I figured I knew better, and got a small bag of the white flour he recommended and a big big of the fine semolina. I've made pasta with all semolina and combinations of the two, and I've always been happy with the results. But to be honest, I am not terribly critical of myself when I make pasta. The process of making and eating it is so much fun that it dwarfs whatever imperfections I may have in my recipe and technique. As long as it's adequately al dente, I'm a happy guy.

                Recently, we had some Italian house guests, and they made pasta for us. When I took out my big ol' bag of semolina, they said "no no, it's wrong" and they wound up using just the white flour and even some King Arthur bread flour I had. (They did throw in a bit of the semolina for good measure, but just to adjust the moisture level of the dough.) They were mostly concerned that the semolina was too coarse to be used for pasta, but this was a particularly fine grind so they wound up using a little bit.

                Nowadays I primarily use the semolina as dusting for my pizza peel. There's something about the grain of semolina that allows the pizza to roll off the peel, like little ball bearings, but without the painful, hard crunch that cornmeal has. The fine semolina is also less likely to burn than white flour.

                Mr Taster

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