Back from the Starchefs restaurant congress in Brooklyn, I’m reading a preview of the news in this issue of Identità di Pasta and a thought inspired by the event in New York comes to mind. Over there, the American chefs, one on the stage and one in the booths, spoke about two pillars in our pasta galaxy: Carbonara and Cacio e pepe. But not in the version we know. They gave their own interpretation, very different from our own.

For instance, Nathaniel Zimet of Boucherie in New Orleans, offered samples of Carbonara with turmeric, egg yolk, fresh-egg pasta and mature egg yolk, plus a matured cow’s milk cheese and some sort of sprout. I wasn’t born in Rome so it’s easier for me to look at this recipe with some sort of detachment. Still, it is scandalous. How can it be? Zimet calls his restaurant Boucherie, butcher’s in French, but then he offers a bland and trendy version of Carbonara. There’s no bacon, no proper cheese, and then there’s fresh-egg pasta with turmeric. A disappointment.

I’ve never been a fanatic of tradition, quite the contrary, but if you turn a traditional recipe upside-down, the result must be up to the expectations. It’s also a matter of respecting the work of all those who came before you. Especially so if as a chef you’re doing something that is not part of your background.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta. Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

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Monograno Felicetti 
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Newsletter 70 del 01 november 2018

Dear {{NOME}},

Back from the Starchefs restaurant congress in Brooklyn, I’m reading a preview of the news in this issue of Identità di Pasta and a thought inspired by the event in New York comes to mind. Over there, the American chefs, one on the stage and one in the booths, spoke about two pillars in our pasta galaxy: Carbonara and Cacio e pepe. But not in the version we know. They gave their own interpretation, very different from our own.

For instance, Nathaniel Zimet of Boucherie in New Orleans, offered samples of Carbonara with turmeric, egg yolk, fresh-egg pasta and mature egg yolk, plus a matured cow’s milk cheese and some sort of sprout. I wasn’t born in Rome so it’s easier for me to look at this recipe with some sort of detachment. Still, it is scandalous. How can it be? Zimet calls his restaurant Boucherie, butcher’s in French, but then he offers a bland and trendy version of Carbonara. There’s no bacon, no proper cheese, and then there’s fresh-egg pasta with turmeric. A disappointment.

I’ve never been a fanatic of tradition, quite the contrary, but if you turn a traditional recipe upside-down, the result must be up to the expectations. It’s also a matter of respecting the work of all those who came before you. Especially so if as a chef you’re doing something that is not part of your background.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta. Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Felicetti: lights and shadows of 20 years of pasta

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A few days ago we celebrated the World Pasta Day, 20 years after its first edition. We tried to assess how these 20 years went with Riccardo Felicetti of Pastificio Felicetti in Predazzo (in the photo, with French restaurateur Daniel Boulud inNew York): «There have been lights and shadows», he tells us, «On a positive note, the value of Italian pasta around the world has grown. And the same applies to its consumption: there are dozens of countries where pasta is now produced in significant volumes, much more than 20 years ago». According to the latest estimates, Italy, with 3.36 million tons, is the market leader for production (and consumption). Behind Italy, there are countries growing fast such as Turkey – 1.5 million tons and +77% in the past 5 years.

Another positive fact is linked to product perception. «People think of pasta as something easy, fun, something you can make with what’s in the fridge and democratic in its way of matching local and exotic seasonings. Today we don’t discuss just the nutrients in pasta, but its social and sustainable value as well, especially in terms of the low impact that cultivating durum wheat has on our land, compared to breeding animals or growing other products».

Where there is light, there’s a shadow too: «Over the past decade, our industry has been unreasonably attacked, and in a way that I wouldn’t consider spontaneous. Especially in two directions: ‘carbophobia’, the demonization of carbohydrates, and the campaigns denigrating gluten. These two schools of thought have certainly questioned consumers’ certainties, especially abroad».

What happened at the 2018 World Pasta Day

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Time for the World Pasta Day, now an international event, promoted by IpoInternational Pasta Organization, to celebrate pasta around the world.

It’s been a long time from the first edition in Naples (1998) to this year’s in Dubai. Over these twenty years, the WPD was hosted in important cities all around the world, representing the universal character and the wide distribution of this food: Genoa (1999), Rome (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2011), again Naples (2003), New York (2004 and 2009), Barcelona (2005), Mexico City (2007 and 2012), Istanbul (2008), Rio de Janeiro (2010), Istanbul (2013), Buenos Aires (2014), Milan in the year of Expo (2015), Moscow (2016) and Sao Paulo (2017).

As for Dubai, «this year’s goal for Ipo, the International Pasta Organization, a sort of United Nations of pasta», said Felicetti while flying to the Emirates, «was to establish the role of pasta not just as a healthy food, but as a tasty product too. Pasta is good for you, but above all, it tastes good». The choice of the location has a high symbolic value: «The metropolis in the United Arab Emirates is a bridge between Europe and the Middle East; like Italy, it’s an area traditionally inclined to mix flour or milled wheat with water». And it’s a corridor for Australia and distant countries too: «Pasta is destined to increase its production abroad and as Italians we should continue to set the example, to act as a compass for the world».

Identità’s Hub and Spaghetto Genova, Naples...

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The Identità Milano Hub in Via Romagnosi 3 also celebrated theWorld’s Pasta Day in its own way. Five days after the meeting in Dubai, on October 30th, from 6.45 pm with an event open to the public (seats are limited). Resident chef Andrea Ribaldone, together with journalist Eleonora Cozzella, presented the evolution of Spaghetto Milano, a much appreciated recipe from the days of Identità Expo.

«The base for the sauce used with Spaghettone Monograno Felicetti Matt is again overcooked and processed rice», said the Milanese chef, «To this we’ll add a sauce with basil, Pecorino, Parmigiano and pine nuts, and a topping of potatoes for the Spaghetto Genova [in the photo taken by Onstage Studio]. Or some sauce of tomato and oregano with a topping of buffalo milk mozzarella and dehydrated tomatoes in the case of Spaghetto Napoli».

The options are virtually endless: «We’ve already presented Spaghetto AostaSpaghetto Trentino...». All these interpretations will be available in the next few weeks from the Hub in Via Romagnosi.

Spaghetti/1: Alfio Ghezzi’s Insolito Trentino

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In the photo (from Onstage Studio) there’s a picture of the first course with which Alfio Ghezzi, chef at Locanda Margon in Trento, two Michelin stars, charmed for three nights the guests at Identità Golose Milano. It’s called Insolito Trentino: and the explanation comes straight from the cook: «The sparkle came from something that Massimo Bottura said at the Identità Golose congress a few years ago. ‘Are we sure that tradition is always respectful of the territory?’, he wondered. I thought of the cuisine of Trentino, and how often strangolapreti or canederli are made with mediocre or not local ingredients ».

This thought resulted in these spaghetti with no tomato sauce, cooked with 4 excellent ingredients that became local icons only in the last century: spaghetti Monograno FelicettiTrentingrana, which is Grana Padano made by the Consorzio with milk from Trentino, Garda Trentino PDO extra virgin olive oil and Trentodoc Perlé from Cantine Ferrari, the winery where I work. «A ‘differently-traditional’ dish that invites us to question things, without crystallising the past».

Spaghetti/2: Gianluca Gorini’s pre-dessert

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«I’ve always been an anarchist, even as a child. If everyone went in one direction, I went the very opposite way. I’ve always been a maverick», says Gianluca Gorini of DaGorini in San Pietro in Bagno di Romagna (Forlì-Cesena). It’s a good premise to present his Spaghetto alla genziana, served not as a first course but as a pre-dessert.

Why so? «Because this is a mouthful of eupeptic spaghetti. Twenty grams, precisely, mixed with gentian butter. A sour butter, made with shallot and a reduction of white wine and vinegar. In this we melt the butter, with small pieces of gentian root».

«I make an infusion for some 15 minutes. Then I strain it and mix it with the pasta», points out Gianluca. He finishes the dish by adding a good dose of grated goat’s milk cheese – from Rita Rossi’s farmin Cascia, in Umbria – and some candied bergamot zest. «You can only dominate the bitterness of the roots with dairy products and the freshness of citrus fruits», adds Gorini. With this small amount of spaghetti he paves the way for digestion. And offers the possibility to scoop the sauce with some bread.

Cristina Viggé

Spaghetti/3: bone marrow and clams from Tokuyoshi

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Should you pay a visit to Yoji Tokuyoshi these days, you might enjoy a lovely omakasemenu, a tasting journey from Japan to Emilia, the two extremes between which the young man has spent a great part of his existence. The dish in the photo perfectly sums up these trajectories. Underneath the truffle, there are hidden some marvellous Spaghetti Mancini with bone marrow and clams. «The idea comes from my childhood soul food», says the chef from the restaurant named after him in Milan, «ramen gyuukotsu, made with broth of cow’s bones, which are very popular in Tottori, where I was born».

«At first, I wanted to serve them in a broth like the one used for ramen. But then Italians are not very fond of spaghetti in a soup. So I removed the broth, leaving the greasiness of the clarified bone marrow, which I add when serving them at the table: I remove it from the bone and cook it at low temperature, for 10 hours at 65°C». And there’s the clams too: «Spaghetti with clams are my favourite. In this case they add verve to a dish that would otherwise have an excessively timid flavour».

To give more energy, though it’s not depicted in the photo, it’s served with a small bowl with a broth made with roasted potatoes, rosemary and garlic. It’s a “liquid side dish” adding taste on top of taste.
 

Crazy about Panino’s Emilia Ramen

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In less than a year, Emilia Ramen (in the photo) has become a very popular cult dish at Panino, the small delicatessen owned by Giuseppe Palmieri and Christian D’Asmara in Modena. The idea for this recipe came in New York: «I go at least once a year», says Palmieri, «because it energises me like no other city. When I go there, I always dine at Ippudo, a Japanese restaurant that makes superb ramen, with 3 different locations in Manhattan, and elsewhere around the world. It’s a very casual place, full of energy. I find a strong resemblance with my restaurant».

The Emilian-style ramen thus make very distant worlds meet in a bowl: «The broth is half made with porcini cooked in a vacuum, and half made with reduced capon broth». It’s a fusion that results in a crazy-good blend. The pasta is not ramen but Tagliolino all’uovo stretto, typical of Modena and Bologna, «It’s slightly larger than capelli d’angelo, and is chosen for its texture».

The picture is finished with the pork belly from Emilia, cooked at low temperature, then sliced and warmed up in the oven, with sliced carrots and courgettes tossed in the pan with soya and a drop of Balsamic Vinegar. «People adore it», says Palmieri. Indeed, the photo above gives a good idea.

Magic taglierini from Takeshi Iwai

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Another post, another news (the third in this issue) on the very fertile connection between Italy and Japan (or Japan and Italy). This time the protagonist is Takeshi Iwai, a very underestimated Japanese chef at the helm of Ada e Augusto, a small and lovely delicatessen hidden between the large spaces of Cascina Guzzafame in Gaggiano (Milano). 

The photo is divided into two parts because the mise en place of the dish – and of almost every dish by Iwai we’d say – is a complex composition: there’s the main dish surrounded by additional delicacies. The Taglierini above are called thus because it’s a cross between tagliolini and tagliatelle. It’s the right format for this tsukemen (=bowl) made with a carpaccio of porcini mushrooms. The small bowls contain a sauce of porcini fried in soya sauce and fond brune; fried bread, stracciatella and radish and forest oil.

The taglierini must be dipped in these and then sucked in the Japanese fashion, with the unpleasant sucking noise. A magic explosion in the palate.

Sweet Pasta e ceci from Luca De Santi

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A “Sweet Pasta e Ceci”? How hard can it be? This is precisely what Cesare Battisti and Luca De Santi write in the dessert menu at Ratanà: a first course served at the end of the meal. «I love chickpeas so much», says the latter, who’s the pastry-chef of the two, «that every year I try to make a dessert using them: Chickpeas and strawberries, Chickpeas, nerume and truffle… I love them because they are high in nutrients and they have a mineral flavour».

In this dessert, they appear in two ways: as a cream of black chickpeas, and as a chickpea cake. And this time, there’s also a debut in the history of the restaurant in Via De Castillia in Milan, with pasta. The Tubetti Mancini are cooked in two ways: puffed and cooked in citrus and herb water and then cooled down and mixed with hazelnut oil from Guido Gobino.

Chickpeas and pasta, plus seasonal fruit: prickly pears, both as a purée and fresh. A seemingly weird mix that finds its magic once in the palate. A kaleidoscope of notes, temperature and textures that stressed out the chef as he was creating it: «It took me 3 weeks to find the right fluidity». Mission accomplished.