Julius Caesar, in a secluded village on the Alps, was the first to say these words: it’s best to be first in a corner of Gallia, than second in Rome. These words came to my mind while reading the news from Riccardo Felicetti below, titled: Enough with individualism, please. The pasta producer from Trentino says: «It’s time to say enough with individualism. Entrepreneurial education, product development and productive collaboration among colleagues should once again be the foundations of our daily work».

This basically applies to every field of life in Italy. It seems that many people, most people, pay more attention to finding their small area of power than to working hard to give strength to Italy as a whole. No space for coming second, they’d rather collect the crumbs, as long as it’s something that belongs to them alone. As for us, instead, we agree with people like Felicetti, who agrees with Lunelli and Cotarella in terms of dining room service, and with all the cooks, pastry-chefs, pizzaioli who join forces to give strength to that part of Italy that is trying to go around the world creating a system that can be useful to everyone.

Paolo Marchi

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Monograno Felicetti 
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Newsletter 79 del 03 january 2020

Dear {{NOME}},

Julius Caesar, in a secluded village on the Alps, was the first to say these words: it’s best to be first in a corner of Gallia, than second in Rome. These words came to my mind while reading the news from Riccardo Felicetti below, titled: Enough with individualism, please. The pasta producer from Trentino says: «It’s time to say enough with individualism. Entrepreneurial education, product development and productive collaboration among colleagues should once again be the foundations of our daily work».

This basically applies to every field of life in Italy. It seems that many people, most people, pay more attention to finding their small area of power than to working hard to give strength to Italy as a whole. No space for coming second, they’d rather collect the crumbs, as long as it’s something that belongs to them alone. As for us, instead, we agree with people like Felicetti, who agrees with Lunelli and Cotarella in terms of dining room service, and with all the cooks, pastry-chefs, pizzaioli who join forces to give strength to that part of Italy that is trying to go around the world creating a system that can be useful to everyone.

Paolo Marchi

Riccardo Felicetti: enough with individualism, please

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At the end of 2019, I’m determined to face the challenges of the year to come. I do so, however, being aware that the basic reality is not very encouraging: too often, Italian enterprises are almost only focused on the advantage of their owner, there’s no farsightedness, a view that will make them really grow. Except for some excellences, our businesses are under-capitalised and uncapable of facing global challenges, a trend that goes in the opposite direction compared to what happens in other countries. Hence those who have a positive view of the future, are no longer accused of being a helpless optimists: people go beyond, and say they are helpless utopians.

Yet, in the pasta industry, the numbers of the past few months have been rather encouraging because they are a sign of a significant recovery. The increase in consumption must be more and more supported by a general realism, the opposite to what I often see or hear. It’s time to say enough with individualism. Entrepreneurial education, product development and productive collaboration among colleagues should once again be the foundations of our daily activity. 

Riccardo Felicetti

Inedito, four-handed pasta from Camanini/Perdomo

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The first course in the photo is called Inedito and has a double, prominent signature: Matias Perdomo and Riccardo Camanini, the authors of a special four-handed dish served at Identità Golose Milano on the 18th of December. The starting point was Camanini’s spaghettino unto in rosso, which the chef thus described: «It’s something that has remained in the taste memory of Italians. Today, if you offer spaghetti with tomato sauce, clients have a precise idea in mind: fresh tomato. But taste has a sociological origin: thirty years ago, we were used to another flavour, which is what I’m rediscovering: tomato purée, oil, mirepoix. We’re giving it new dignity», recovering it from oblivion. 

But there’s also a touch from Perdomo: «I added elements to this structure, so as to blend our styles. Hence, I thought of tuco, which in Uruguay [where Matias comes from] is ragù, a sauce of tomato and meat. It comes from the Genovese tocco, and it’s a testimony of the influence of culinary cultures brought by Italian migrants to South America. To make tuco, in Uruguay we often use the asado left over from the previous night. Hence the synthesis: on top of Riccardo’s pasta I grate some veal asado, the ribs, of which I collected and then solidified the juices. On top of that, I honour Italian pasta tradition by adding caviar – a noble food – but made by soaking and then spherifying pasta with agar-agar. We then cook this caviar made with raw pasta, so it can absorb the smoky aromas».

Carlo Passera

Buratti and Spaghetti in the style of the maître d'hotel

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«The season between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the right time to do something on a whim», Alberto Buratti, chef at Koinè in Legnano (Milan) for five years now says, «We wanted to make a dish with caviar as the protagonist, but with an unusual pairing. For us it must be served cold, on something cold, or if anything at room temperature. Instead of the usual toasted bread, blinis, and the like, we chose another flour-based product, an emblem of Italy: pasta».

«We used smoked spaghetti, to give an extra “flavour” to the mix. As for the sauce, we took a classic pairing for caviar and, in fact, a typical pairing for everyday pasta in north Italy: butter. The latter is whipped with a percentage of water and some chopped herbs, in the style of the maitrè d'hotel butter, a classic pairing of the paillard, a traditional dish. Then we place the whipped butter on the base of the plate, and then the spaghetti, just drained and mixed in a bowl so as to lower the temperature slightly, and finally the caviar».

Smoked spaghetti in the maître d'hotel style and caviar 

Recipe for 4 people

Ingredients
for the mixture 
280 g smoked spaghetti 
100 g unsalted Italian butter 
a small bunch of fine herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage)
120 g caviar 

Method 
Let the butter soften outside the fridge. In the meantime, chop the herbs finely. Whip the butter in the mixer, gradually adding 12 grams of water. When it’s ready (white and fluffy), add the chopped herbs. Keep in a fresh place.

Boil the pasta in lots of salted water. Drain it in a steel bowl and mix it so as to somewhat lower the temperature and avoid that the spaghetti will stick. Place 1/4 of the butter on the base, roll the spaghetti and place them gently on the butter, finish with 30 grams of caviar.

Emporio Armani’s eliche with guinea fowl in Milan

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Guinea fowl is an emblem of the holidays that start with Christmas. Ferdinando Palomba, Neapolitan chef at Emporio Armani Ristorante in Milan, makes a stew and pairs it with a first course with eliche pasta, adding typical autumn ingredients.

Eliche, guinea fowl stew, mushrooms, hazelnuts and black cabbage 

Recipe for 4 people

Ingredients
300 g eliche
140 g porcini
15 g hazelnuts
50 g hazelnut paste 
1.200 g guinea fowl
50 g celery
50 g carrots
50 g onion
50 g leek
100 g white wine
2 g bay leaves
5 g sage
3 g thyme           
1.000 g peeled tomatoes

for the black cabbage sauce 
250 g black cabbage
30 g extra virgin olive oil 
10 g shallot

for the black cabbage discs 
100 g black cabbage
1.000 g water

20 g salt
1.000 g ice water
20 g salt

Method
for the guinea fowl sauce 
Clean the vegetables: celery, carrot, onion and leek. Cut them in a brunoise and stew them slowly. Make a bouquet with the sage, bay leaves and thyme. Divide the guinea fowl into four pieces and brown it in a pan with white wine. Add some high-quality peeled tomatoes and the fond of the guinea fowl. Cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes over a moderate heat. Pull the meat. Reduce the jus and strain the mixture so as to have a smooth sauce. Add the guinea fowl to the sauce and keep aside.

for the black cabbage discs 
Blanch the black cabbage in boiling salted water, cool the leaves and cut them with a pastry cutter with a diameter of 2.5 cm. Put in the dehydrator for at least 12 hours.

for the black cabbage sauce 
Cook the black cabbage in the steam oven for 20 minutes. Season it in a pan with oil, salt and chopped shallots. Blend and sieve in a fine chinois. Leave to cool.

Serving the dish
Cook the eliche pasta for 11 minutes in salted water. Let the guinea fowl become lukewarm in a pan. Brown the mushrooms with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and parsley. Meanwhile, mix the hazelnut paste with some cooking water and brush it on the plate.

Toast the Piedmontese hazelnuts in a hot oven. Drain the pasta and add it to the guinea fowl. Mix with some Parmigiano Reggiano and extra virgin olive oil. Place the pasta on top of the hazelnut cream, add the mushrooms, the toasted hazelnuts, the discs of black cabbage. Add some drops of black cabbage sauce. Serve.

Pinchiorri Fusillone cooked as a risotto

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Riccardo Monco and Alessandro Della Tommasina’s fusillone at Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence: cooked in water and saffron, it’s mantecato like a risotto, with butter, sour butter and parmigiano.

Karime Lopez: tortellini forever

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Tortellini in a cream of 36-month Parmigiano from Gucci Osteria in Florence, an interpretation of Karime Lopez of a classic from Massimo Bottura. The filling of the tortellini includes veal, pork, mortadella and Parma ham.

Berton: spaghettini, hazelnuts and Grana Padano

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Monograno Felicetti Spaghettini, hazelnuts and Grana Padano. This is the first course presented by Andrea Berton (restaurant Berton, Milan) at Identità Golose’s restaurantin via Romagnosi, in Milan. This dish livens up the waiting for the winter and joins technique, roundness and a sense-warming aromatic character.

The starting point is a broth with Grana Padano. The cheese, wrapped in etamine, simmers for three hours, after which the wrapping strains a transparent broth from the “spiked” and balanced aroma of the cheese: it’s umami reinforced by a white-wine acidity, plus tarragon, shallot, vinegar and black pepper.

But the true soul of a kitchen comes out when the aroma finds its way among the thoughts, it dominates them with ingredients that take life in the hands of a cook: the smoked butter, for the seasoning, retains this liveliness in the bucolic warmth of thyme and rosemary softly burnt in a casserole tin. So the previous preparations, emulsified with egg yolk, are vacuum cooked for 30 minutes at 75°C. In themeantime, the toasted hazelnuts are blended while hot, so as to extract their essential oils. The final mantecatura of the spaghettini instead is at room temperature.

On the plate, there’s first the cream of hazelnuts, then a nest of pasta, and finally a sprinkle of a Grana Padano bar, puffed in the microwave: the high temperature dries the crust which, once grated, amplifies the delicate presence of the cheese.

It’s a velvety dish: the richness of the egg is nullified, the sapidity of the Grana meets the sweetness of the hazelnuts and the smokiness of thyme and rosemary seems to come from the nuts, rather than the butter. The texture, instead, comes entirely from the puffed cheese and from the cooking of the spaghettini (Senatore Cappelli, the most recent of ancient wheat varieties), a format that Berton associates with creativity and experiments, while for more natural flavours he prefers spaghettoni. In both cases, these are long formats of pasta which, according to surveys, are a favourite among chefs, and among guests who, at home, prefer more docile formats like penne, fusilli, rigatoni.

MLI

Valentina Rizzo’s “pastina al camino”

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"This dish", Valentina Rizzo of restaurant Farmacia dei Sani in Ruffano (Lecce) explains, "represents my childhood, when in the winter, before dinner, I would visit my neighbour who always made pastina with bay leaves for her father. It has the aroma of a fireplace [camino] always lit, of the whisky my dad would drink after the endless holiday meals, the aroma of cotechino, an emblem of the winter holidays and of tradition. It’s a first course that conveys the warmth of the family and the joy of festivities".

Risoni pasta with bay leaves, peaty whisky, cotechino and horseradish 

Recipe for 4 people

Ingredients
for the bay leaf sauce 
200 g milk
200 g cream 
150 g potatoes cut in thin slices 
10 dried bay leaves
salt

for the Ardberg peaty whisky demi-glace 
2 kg bones
2 carrots
2 celery sticks 
4 onions
mustard
salt
300 ml peaty whisky 

powdered bay leaves
200 g bay leaves 

250 gr artisanal cotechino 
risoni pasta
a fresh horseradish root
 

Method
First dry the bay leaves in a dehydrator or in an oven at 70°C, until they are completely dry, avoiding their darkening, then powder them. Preheat the oven at 200ºC. Rub the bones with mustard and salt, bake for 30/40 minutes until they are completely toasted. Meanwhile, in a large pot, stew the celery, carrot and onion (which you have previously cut in half and burnt on a very hot pan) with some oil.

Add the toasted bones, cover with water and bring to the boil reducing the liquid to a half, removing the foam with the impurities that rise to the surface. Strain everything, keeping only the liquid, which must be reduced so as to make a dark, silky and tasty sauce. Meanwhile, reduce the whisky by bringing it to a boil and let the alcohol evaporate, thus obtaining 100 grams of whisky. Add the reduced whisky to the meat jus, seasoning to taste.

Using a fork, score the cotechino so as to avoid the gut from breaking. Cook the cotechino for 3/4h, on a low heat, starting with cold water and covering with a lid. Once cooked, leave it to cool, peel it and cut into 1 cm dices which you’ll then pour into the whisky demi-glace to glaze them, keeping them warm but without boiling.

Prepare the bay leaf sauce putting all the ingredients except for the salt in a vacuum pack and cooking in hot water at 80°C. Open the pack and remove the bay leaves. Blend at a high speed so as to make a smooth cream, add salt and strain. Bring the water to the boil, add salt and pour the risoni pasta inside (60 g per person). Meanwhile, warm up 50 gr of bay leaves per person adding cooking water from the pasta. Drain the risoni pasta 4 minutes before it’s ready, and finish cooking in the sauce, mixing it as if it were risotto, adding cooking water.

Dishing out
Grate some previously cleaned horseradish on the base of the plate. Place the risoni pasta on top, finish with pieces of glazed cotechino, a drop of peaty whisky demi-glace and the powdered bay leaves.

Trecca’s Carbonara is super-rich

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Carbonara from Trecca - Cucina di Mercato, with patrons Manuel and Nicolò Trecastelli. The speciality: it’s 120 grams, plus egg yolk and egg white in the sauce. 

Caruso’s Pacotè: tuma and flying squid

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Pacòte Monograno Felicetti, flying squid, crispy chards and Tuma Persa. It’s the dish presented at Identità Golose Milano, on a late November afternoon by chef Martina Caruso from restaurant Signum in Salina (Messina). It’s the gift of a memory and the desire to recover the culture of a product.

Tuma Persa (see Dobbiamo salvare la Tuma Persa), is an ancient cheese produced in the Sicani mountains, in the heart of Sicily, basically by only one man, Salvatore Passalacqua who, through constant experiments, has saved an otherwise lost process from oblivion. It’s made with cow’s milk: it’s buttery, soft on the palate, has a delicate spicy-smoky, fresh and flowery aftertaste.

Of course a landslide can have a road waver but it won’t stop the noblest intentions and the most tenacious souls: so after last year’s flood, not too far from Castronovo, everyone joined forces to fill the gaps left by the slow intervention of local authorities, and chef Caruso herself joined the supporters by adopting the #savetumapersa hashtag in her menu.

But what happens when you put Tuma and flying squids together? Anyone who has sensed the vapours of this preparation will agree that this characterful first course first of all has the aroma of home, of the slow and durable process of home cooking: flying squid that has slowly cooked in tomato sauce. Very slowly. The sauce that seasons the pasta is a thick reduction of this (fresh tomato, entrails and filets of flying squid), very thick.

We start by frying chopped parsley, celery and onion in oil. She doesn’t throw anything of the flying squid, and while part ends in the sauce, from the "scraps" she extracts a delicate broth that will soften the grated Tuma Persa added for the mantecatura. On top, she puts the chards, first marinated for three days in sea sorrel, then dried in the oven: it becomes a crispy pastry, burnt bitter herbs, made sweeter and "loosened" by the humidity of the hot Pacòte, a format with a specific meaning. Made with Senatore Cappelli wheat, it’s half a paca, which makes eating it more enjoyable, without the need of cutting the pacchero pasta in two. It’s a strong first course, not sweetened in its shape, but which in its soul hides the reassuring energy of an already-known dish, made in a completely new shape.

Marialuisa Iannuzzi