A series of commitments last week, in Apulia and Salento, lead up to a lunch on Sunday 4th October at Cosimo Russo's restaurant, named after him, in the historic centre of Leverano, in the province of Lecce, tel. +39.375.5351682. On top of Bavette, mussels, focaccia and caciocavallo podolico, I also tasted Paccheri rigati with tomatoes, ricotta, lemon, fassona meat and porcini, tossed in the pan.

You can tell a real cook, and a great chef, from a recipe that for some reason you don't feel it's really to your liking. I'm not a fan of paccheri: they are hard to cook, they stick at the bottom of the pan and break too easily, and they are not easy to eat, because they are big. You should cut them in two, but I like a large bite, and I won't do without it, even if it would be best to break them.

Russo conquered me because the cooking of the pasta was far from al dente. It stopped much earlier. Pasta al chiodo [chiodo is the Italian word for nail] rather than raw, and a persistent flavour that for once didn't leave me puzzled.

You had to chew these paccheri at length, but they were so well finished in the pan that their flavour and sauce never failed. Bravo Cosimo!

Paolo Marchi
(the portraits of the chefs are from Brambilla/Serrani and Onstage Studio)

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Monograno Felicetti 
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Newsletter 82 del 09 october 2020

Dear {{NOME}},

A series of commitments last week, in Apulia and Salento, lead up to a lunch on Sunday 4th October at Cosimo Russo's restaurant, named after him, in the historic centre of Leverano, in the province of Lecce, tel. +39.375.5351682. On top of Bavette, mussels, focaccia and caciocavallo podolico, I also tasted Paccheri rigati with tomatoes, ricotta, lemon, fassona meat and porcini, tossed in the pan.

You can tell a real cook, and a great chef, from a recipe that for some reason you don't feel it's really to your liking. I'm not a fan of paccheri: they are hard to cook, they stick at the bottom of the pan and break too easily, and they are not easy to eat, because they are big. You should cut them in two, but I like a large bite, and I won't do without it, even if it would be best to break them.

Russo conquered me because the cooking of the pasta was far from al dente. It stopped much earlier. Pasta al chiodo [chiodo is the Italian word for nail] rather than raw, and a persistent flavour that for once didn't leave me puzzled.

You had to chew these paccheri at length, but they were so well finished in the pan that their flavour and sauce never failed. Bravo Cosimo!

Paolo Marchi
(the portraits of the chefs are from Brambilla/Serrani and Onstage Studio)

Identità di Pasta celebrates the World Pasta Day

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The double postponement of the congress created a happy consequence: the 11th edition of Identità di Pasta this year happens on Sunday 25th of October, exactly on the World Pasta Day. Riccardo Felicetti, supporter since the start of both events, reminds us of this.

«We're very happy of this coincidence», the CEO of the homonymous pasta factory in the province of Trento explains, «while in Milan with Identità di Pasta we will write an important chapter, this year the Ipo,  International Pasta Organization, chose to have a delocalised edition: the event will take place all around the world and the heart of the day will be Al Dente. Institutions, stakeholders, chefs, restaurants and pasta lovers are invited to describe through a dish their passion for pasta and for Mediterranean living. Chefs and restaurants from all over the world are invited to present a recipe inspired by the new Mediterranean Diet, which this year celebrates the 10th anniversary since it was nominated a ‘Unesco Immaterial World Heritage’».

«Italians have restarted from the ingredients of the Mediterranean diet, they have trained at home, organised social meals to feel closer. This resulted in the #VivoMediterraneo movement: a collection of principles and daily actions that unites food, exercise, conviviality and sustainability. Values made current in an evolving environment».

Monograno Lab with 6 signature chefs

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Like every year, Felicetti will participate in Identità Golose with the Monograno Lab, the restaurant where important chefs will cook in turn. In detail: Saturday 24th October Carlo Cracco (Cracco, Milan) at lunchtime, and Ivan Milani in the afternoon. Sunday 25th October Cristiano Tomei (L'Imbuto, Lucca) at lunchtime and Luca Natalini (Al Point de Ferr, Milan) in the afternoon. Monday 26th Andrea Berton (Berton, Milan) at lunchtime and Davide Caranchini (Materia, Cernobbio) in the afternoon. 

Matias Perdomo, the Uruguayan who loved pasta

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The opening of the 11th edition of Identità di pasta will be handed to the chef of Contraste in Milan. When thinking of the match made by the Uruguayan chef and dry pasta, his lesson at Gastronomika in San Sebastian from October 2014 comes to mind: Matias turned out to be the best speaker of the night. He ended the lesson by explaining: «Cooking must be based on tradition, looking at the future while living the present». The same motto has characterised all his signature dishes over these years, from Raviolo col tuco to Pasta, beans and foie gras. Dishes that result from travels, or from happy oppositions, noble and poor.

Martina Caruso, what with durum wheat and tuma

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The young Aeolian cook will debut on this stage (though not at the congress as she has already been a speaker on other past occasions). It's a right she has deserved in the field, most recently at Identità Golose Milano. How could we forget the Pacòte Monograno Felicetti, flying squid, crispy chards and Tuma Persa that she presented during a lesson in via Romagnosi? «A declaration of love for pasta», Marialuisa Iannuzzi later wrote, «a dish which, through its humble ingredients, evokes old flavours, the wildness of the island, a sip of silky sea thanks to the Tuma Persa, the material contact between earth and roots».

Davide Guidara, Sicily at its best

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Another debut (this one is absolute) and another Sicilian at work with durum wheat pasta. That this young man has talent is confirmed by his Fusilli, donkey and goat's cheese, «an idea of pasta that is not (just) a full dish, but bites you can enjoy because of their essential and neat character», Carlo Passera wrote a while ago. «The Sicilian terroir. He wants you to fully understand every local ingredient», this is the overall concept. Which will return in Sala Blu 1.

Carlo Cracco's 9th time out of 10

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The last lesson before the lunch break will be handed to a veteran of "Identità di Pasta", who, if I'm not mistaken, has held as many as 9 lessons out of 10 editions. His tenth speech will continue a thread from the past, described by a memorable series of first courses: Rigatone with mastic resin and raw porciniFusillotto with smoked butterHomage to Gualtiero Marchesi 2018Spaghettone Il Valentino with red cabbage, cocoa grues and salmon roeSpaghettino provola, lemon and capers … We could go on and on.

Pascucci, sea and fusilloni

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The first lesson of the afternoon will feature the author of one of the noblest sea cuisines in Italy, continued for three generations now among the dunes of Fiumicino. Please note we used the word "sea", and not "fish/seafood" cuisine because as he explained a while ago in Via Romagnosi, «the sea has many meanings, and it is most of all a place that embraces the earth and influences the very diverse surrounding territories». His recent fusillone Mare di plastica is one of the most intense dishes of 2019. Let's see what he will present now.

Valeria Piccini, delicious Maremma

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It may sound strange but there's a debut at “Identità di Pasta” even for her, an iconic representative of the culinary scene of Maremma, 2 Michelin stars for over 20 years. "At home or in my restaurant, pasta is always present", she often confesses. That she has a talent for pasta is proven by the appearances with which she has turned Via Romagnosi upside down over this year. Among the most recent happy examples: Fusilli al ferretto, lamb ragù in bianco, apples and coffee, a delicious Tuscan-Apulian experiment. 

The lasting mark of Andrea Berton

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Pasta and leeks (presented during a lesson at Identità Golose 2015). Kamut spaghetti with wild herbs and sea snails. Last but not least, Spaghettino Monograno Felicetti, hazelnuts and Grana Padano which charmed the audience of Identità Golose Milano, «a dish that makes waiting for the winter more pleasant, and blends technique, softness and aromas», Marialuisa Iannuzzi wrote. Should we add more on the instinct of the chef from Friuli for dry pasta? A permanent mark in his habits which his maestro Gualtiero Marchesi first left in him many years ago.

Cristiano Tomei, provocations from Lucca

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By popular demand, after two editions, Cristiano Tomei returns in Sala Blu 1. In March 2018 he debuted with determination: «You should never cook pasta risotto-style! We must give it back its dignity, and return to drain it and then season it quickly in the pan. If we're no longer capable of doing so, it means there's something wrong». A return to the origins that resulted in the magnificent Rigatoni, squid, lemon zest and aromatic herbs and a provocation, Spaghetti with bread, butter and jamMore recently, he surprised us with Spaghetti in bianco with meat sauce, a sort of Pasta with pasta. That is to say the utmost enhancement of durum wheat.