We didn't do it on purpose to have Identità di Pasta, part of Identità on the road, one month ago, on the same day as the World Pasta Day, which, as per tradition, happens on the 25th of October. But it was the cherry on the cake for all of us who were working on the conference with endless energy and ideas.  It's those details that make you smile and are ever more important this year.

I'd like to thank all those who accepted our invitation. A special thanks goes to Riccardo Felicetti who supports this important action in favour of dry pasta and to Eleonora Cozzella who is its image and living encyclopaedia.

Please note: all the recipes celebrated here are also on the platform of Identità on the road. Enjoy.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Carlo Passera and Gabriele Zanatta. Translated by Slawka G. Scarso​

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Monograno Felicetti 
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Newsletter 83 del 09 december 2020

Dear {{NOME}},

We didn't do it on purpose to have Identità di Pasta, part of Identità on the road, one month ago, on the same day as the World Pasta Day, which, as per tradition, happens on the 25th of October. But it was the cherry on the cake for all of us who were working on the conference with endless energy and ideas.  It's those details that make you smile and are ever more important this year.

I'd like to thank all those who accepted our invitation. A special thanks goes to Riccardo Felicetti who supports this important action in favour of dry pasta and to Eleonora Cozzella who is its image and living encyclopaedia.

Please note: all the recipes celebrated here are also on the platform of Identità on the road. Enjoy.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Carlo Passera and Gabriele Zanatta. Translated by Slawka G. Scarso​

Identità di Pasta 11 on the World Pasta Day

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25th October 2020. Paolo MarchiEleonora Cozzella and Riccardo Felicetti introduce the 11th edition of Identità di Pasta. You can view all the lessons on our digital platform

«If today we're here celebrating the 22th World Pasta Day», journalist Eleonora Cozzella said introducing the eleventh edition of Identità di Pasta, «we owe it to the great effort made by Identità Golose. This will be a completely different edition. We'll do our best». «I'm thrilled», Paolo Marchi replied, «It is now necessary to connect the keyboard with the brain. The sense of responsibility and building a new future: this is the theme of the edition, which is now as important as ever. We would like it to be an inspiration for everyone».

«The World Pasta Day», added Riccardo Felicetti of pastificio Felicetti in Predazzo, Trento, «is an idea of the Ipo, the organization of Italian pasta producers, who were eager to promote its main characteristics: quality, the fact it can be produced everywhere, regardless of religion, and with no limits in terms of diet. It's a good, healthy, genuine product with no side effects. An industry which in the past 10 years has more than doubled the global production, with one fourth of the world volume produced in Italy. If pasta is now back in the menus of the great restaurants, it's partly thanks to this format conceived with Identità Golose over ten years ago. Thanks to all the supply chain which has hung in there, and buona pasta to everyone».

Andrea Berton what with minestrone and dessert

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 The first of the two dishes prepared by Andrea Berton (Berton, Milan), author of the first lesson of the day, focused on durum wheat Subbiotti, «An unconventional pasta», the chef from Friuli pointed out, «which we cook in a soup made with Grana Padano stock and vegetables, especially courgettes and pumpkins. Once the dish was finished, he completed it with a savoury meringue, placed on top, a sort of contemporary take on the piece of Grana placed at the bottom of the minestrone». A 'well-ordered minestrone', which had the (few) guests in the room sigh of pleasure (in the photo).

Second recipe: Spaghettini in a dessert version, that is to say with a cream of ermelline almonds blended with the Pacojet (and seasoned with sugar syrup), some chopped fresh basil, basil sauce and frozen and grated banana at the end. The spaghettini are cooked in salted water, and then mixed with the cream of almond and served at room temperature. Both dishes by Berton will soon enter the menu in Via Mike Bongiorno.

Valeria Piccini, the strength of recuperating ingredients

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With Valeria Piccini (Da Caino, Montemerano – Grosseto), author of the second lesson, it was a sort of trip down memory lane, and into the flavours of Maremma, «that is to say the part of Tuscany that has remained wild», the cook explained. The first dish for Identità di pasta was Spaghettone Felicetti from Senatore Cappelli wheat, «the most modern of ancient wheat varieties», Cozzella points out. The seasoning was focused on entrails, which are very popular in the area. It's a sort of pasta in bianco sui generis: «Except we've replaced the butter with an emulsion made with the fat from a beefsteak and some water of Grana Padano. It has a delicate aroma of embers, which recalls comforting flavours for the heart». Heart? «Indeed, because we took a beef heart, blanched it, dried it for 4 days and then grated on top at the end, like bottarga». A dish with zero waste, and lots of flavour.

The logic of recuperating was also part of the second dish, which was focused on chestnuts, another emblem of Maremma: «On Mount Amiata chestnut trees are considered as the tree of bread. You'd make flour, mosciarelle… food that helped you pass the winter. We make a cream». There's also a reduced broth, made with a ham bone, and other left-over cuts of the pork. And an extraction of black cabbage, another emblem of Maremma, with the acidity of the bread crust and the flour of burnt wheat. A mix of «Wood, fire, burnt and smoky notes» to thicken the tubetti pasta cooked in the pan (the dish is in the photo above).

Gianfranco Pascucci: in Dispensa, Mari e monti

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The third speaker of Identità di Pasta was Gianfranco Pascucci (Pascucci al Porticciolo, Fiumicino – Rome). «The goal I set every day for myself is to give flavour to each one of the ecosystems on our coast. Make people understand that even a dune has its typical flavours». The first dish presented, made with Penne ritorte, is called In Dispensa because it makes use of what is left over in the pantry but also because it's «essential to use all the ingredients that our region offers». «The starting point is a Bloody Mare [where mare is the Italian word for sea] – that's right, it's written like that– that is to say water of fermented tomatoes infused with mastocarpus stellatus seaweeds. This water basically tastes of sea rocks, adding an extract of olives with a drop of oil. We then mix the pasta in it and add two types of tuna bottarga, the marvellous sardines made by my friend Vito and those made by us, the result of a significant study on mould». Finally, they add collagen with a salted codfish pil pil, in the Basque style. «The dish is not beautiful, but homely. A walk across Italy with the best artisans».

The second dish was called Unico, and was a play with the classic pair “Mare e monti”, that is to say seafood and mushrooms. «The former is represented by an infusion of calamari, slightly toasted with shallots and a broth of chickpeas. And a gel of monkfish: there's the liver cooked at 180°C, the head tossed in the pan, the dried bone. The result is a reduced broth we use as if it were butter. We then add the anchovy colatura to the broth, and some fermented bancha tea». As for pasta, it's kamut tagliatelle, «which we always manage to see in their structure, and this is important». The final touch is given by the mastic tree, and its marvellous aroma, and a touch of bergamot. «The aroma of the sea, of the earth, and of mushrooms».

Matias Perdomo: if pasta turns into caviar

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And then it was time for Matias Perdomo, chef and patron at Contraste in Milan. An Uruguayan in Italian sauce, he's long been in Italy: hence he's an excellent connoisseur of Italian's food tradition and culture, but at the same time he's capable of observing them – and give a new take – from a different point of view, a little detached. And always original, and hence interesting, «you manage to be daring, you explore new horizons», Eleonora Cozzella explained.

Perdomo's passion for pasta comes from afar, from when he was still in Montevideo and ended up working in an Italian restaurant specialised in spaghetti and maccheroni. «Our pasta tradition is acquired, there are some mistakes, to tell the truth. We realised this when we arrived here in Milan», and he uses the plural because he includes his partner in crime, Argentinian Simon Press. The two have a huge respect for this dish, but without the taboos linked to tradition: «Why should pasta always be only a support for sauce, or a container for a filling? While cheese, chocolate, vegetables instead... Why can anything else be blended, broken, overcooked, matured, and processed freely?». So that's how the pasta caviar appeared; pasta with tomato sauce that looks like caviar, which makes the food "noble", respecting the flavours but restating the chef's creative freedom.

The chef breaks the spaghettini Felicetti and soaks them in cold water for 24 hours. «There's the aroma of the pasta, but it's almost a hydrated dough, before the drying». It's blended into a cream with the aromatic notes of dry pasta. From that, we make caviar with a spherification in the style of Ferran Adrià, with a little alginate (for the recipe, watch the entire lesson here). It's then cooked in tomato water, to give aroma and acidity. Then it's the turn of the Latin American roots of the chef: this caviar made with tomato sauce is smoked on the embers. He then seasons it with tomato oil, made first by concentrating and then by separating the fat part of a tomato sauce. Last touches: thyme instead of basil, again a hint at the tradition of the grill of the Rio de la Plata. Then Perdomo-Press prepare an outside container in which they place the Italian caviar: they make it with toasted enkir flour which becomes a sort of disk of polenta, adding some boiling water. Perdomo kneads this dough with his hands, as if with ravioli, which becomes a container in which the pasta caviar is enclosed, and looks like Apulian burrata. Last steps: the "wrap" is tied with a piece of string and dropped in melted wax to seal it. It then stays for 3 to 5 days in the fridge.

At Contraste the service team serves what now looks like a small smoked scamorza. They cut the top part and with a tablespoon and serve the pasta caviar, an Italian caviar, to which they add some real caviar at the end, a tribute to Gualtiero Marchesi's Insalata di spaghetti al caviale

Cracco and his majesty the spaghettone

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The second-last lesson of the 11th edition of Identità di pasta was also the only pre-recorded one, with Carlo Cracco (Cracco in Galleria, Milan), a veteran of the format. After a quick mention of his new project with wine (read here), the chef from Vicenza dove deep into the subject: «What I like of pasta is its innocuous tendency: it doesn't move, you just need to boil it, wait for it to cook, and then add the seasoning». The first to be featured during the lesson was Felicetti's Spaghettone, «a format I'm crazy about, for me it's the real emperor of pasta».

The first recipe was both simple and complex: «We start from a gelatinous broth made with scraps of fish grilled on the Green Egg with a touch of boiled ginger. We add a raw purée of tomato, smooth and intense, then a touch of smokiness, some leaves of raw celery, dried cucunci and 3 drops of anchovy colatura which balance the sweetness of the tomatoes. A very aromatic dish, almost a salad, which you can serve at room temperature given its conveyed freshness».

Many of the raw materials that the chef from Vicenza uses come from a farm in Santarcangelo, with vegetables from all around the world, grown following the principles of biodynamics and with a goal of zero emissions, including the use of solar power. A growing sensitivity for sustainability at his restaurant: «The paper of our menu is made for 15% of our food waste». Meanwhile, the aroma of the dish spread across the Sala Ovale in Via Romagnosi, so much so we could almost sense it even remotely. 

Cristiano Tomei, pasta filled with pasta

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Identità di Pasta number 11 ended with Cristiano Tomei, of Imbuto in Lucca. Histrionic as usual: «Durum wheat pasta at the restaurant? It seemed like blasphemy until recently, and instead it is now a monument to Italian cuisine, an incredible source of pride. For me it's always been a bit of a challenge, breaking this taboo». And Tomei breaks at least two. The first: he presents pasta filled with pasta, «in which we reuse leftovers and fix a mistake, like when we overcook spaghetti». The chef makes a purée of pasta out of it, not blended but strained. He draws the aroma of the wheat, given the pasta is of great quality. «Then I add a little flour, I leave it to rest and then I roll it out into a sort of pastry dough». Then the filling, made with pasta. Tomei prepares the broken spaghetti seasoning them with concentrated fish stock. This is very rich in collagen, of course; hence he mixes the broken spaghetti with the spaghetti al dente, he puts it aside in the fridge, the collagen thickens, and he makes a sort of jellified mix  which he cuts into slices and uses as the durum wheat filling for a fresh-pasta ravioli. Then he steams it, as if they were dumplings, on a bed of nori seaweed. «When you open the ravioli, the broth has melted and gives flavour to everything», the result is stunning, Tomei calls it the "pheasant effect". Cozzella tastes and exclaims: «It really tastes so much of pasta. It's like walking through a granary».

The second recipe (in the photo) is pure provocation: pennone Felicetti, «a format that recalls the Eighties», seasoned with flour.» Flour? «Indeed. The pasta is made with durum wheat, I season it with tender wheat flour». Where did he get the idea? «In the Eighties, the old cooks used a touch of flour to make the cream for the pasta allo scoglio. It was horrible, but it was the rule. I thought it over: I'll take some excellent flour, toast it in the oven for almost two hours at 180°C, checking for lumps, from time to time, and so that it doesn't burn». On the side he cooks the pennoni Felicetti in salted water with some chopped garlic and chilli pepper. A few more steps: a little cooking water is enough to make the toasted flour creamy: a pinch of salt and the sauce is ready, bestowing notes of coffee, barley... He seasons the pennoni pasta already aromatised with the chilli pepper and garlic into the pan, and then finishes everything with helichrysum oil and extra virgin olive oil, «but excellent». In conclusion: «Durum wheat and tender wheat coexist very well, they really go hand in hand». 

Camanini and the white taste

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Outside the Identità di Pasta event, Riccardo Camanini of restaurant Lido 84 presented this Pasta e fagioli, a dish that he added to the menu in Gardone Riviera in February 2020, for a week because of the first lockdown. The bright colour, which reminds of pressed grapes, is the result of the process of reduction of the beans, to which he then added the Artic char roe. This was part of a fascinating lesson on the "white flavour". All the details can be found online on the digital platform of Identità Golose on The Road, and are also summed up in this piece by Carlo Passera.