Old Italy in New Santa Barbara

Sapna Marini Shah Brings Her Umbrian Goods to Sell at Foragers Pantry in Public Market

<b>UMBRIAN EATS:</b> Sapna Marini Shah now imports Italian goods from her husband's farm to Santa Barbara.
Paul Wellman

Raised amid the orchard-covered foothills above Goleta, Sapna Marini Shah always loved the idea of an agricultural life, but it took a few years of work in New York City’s high art world to make that happen. Specifically, the Laguna Blanca and San Marcos High grad Shah met her now-husband Emiliano Marini, who owns a sustainably minded, 750-acre organic farm in the Appenine Mountains of Italy’s Umbrian region, and together, they now import various grains, beans, and other products to the United States.

Shah, who now splits her time between Goleta and Italy, will be showing off a few of these products on July 5 at the Foragers Pantry inside of the Santa Barbara Public Market. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect:

Paul Wellman

Spelt Farro: “It’s an heirloom grain that goes back 5,000 years,” said Shah of this great option instead of rice or even pasta, and it makes for a nice risotto, as well. “Most heirloom grains only go back 300 years.”

Barley Coffee: “Everybody drinks it in Italy,” said Shah of this coffee alternative, which has a nuttier flavor and is often served espresso-style with a slice of lemon. “It’s great for the digestive system.” It can be a little bitter, said Shah, but her version is “really smooth.”

Garbanzo Beans: Shah said her beans are healthier and tastier than most because “the cooking time is faster, so the skins stay on, and there is a higher protein content.” They make for a great hummus or as the base of their own simple salad.

Tea: A line of very aromatic teas combine Shah’s Persian-Indian background with ingredients such as rose hips and lavender that come from her husband’s Umbrian farm. “Tea has always been a big part of our lives,” said Shah. “Our emphasis is more on the fruit and florals and spice and less so on the tea itself.”


Sapna Marini Shah will show off these and other products on Saturday, July 5, 2-6:30 p.m. at Foragers Pantry in the S.B. Public Market (38 W. Victoria St.). See marinishah.com.


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