Years ago I read a review of a New British restaurant in the heart of London, in the Daily Telegraph. Everything was so-so, a nice mediocrity that would have pleased only future fans of the zero km philosophy: «Nothing special, but how about being able to say you ate English food for once?».

See, I don’t think that pasta, in order to be the best in the world, must only be made with Italian wheat. Raw materials are not good just because they were grown in Italy, as Coldiretti wants people to believe. Indeed there are many fake Made in Italy products around the planet, but there’s also some rubbish arriving straight from here, which might soon be considered good just because they bear our flag.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta, photo by Brambilla/Serrani

Translated by Slawka G. Scarso

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Monograno Felicetti 
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Newsletter 62 del 01 november 2017

Dear {{NOME}},

Years ago I read a review of a New British restaurant in the heart of London, in the Daily Telegraph. Everything was so-so, a nice mediocrity that would have pleased only future fans of the zero km philosophy: «Nothing special, but how about being able to say you ate English food for once?».

See, I don’t think that pasta, in order to be the best in the world, must only be made with Italian wheat. Raw materials are not good just because they were grown in Italy, as Coldiretti wants people to believe. Indeed there are many fake Made in Italy products around the planet, but there’s also some rubbish arriving straight from here, which might soon be considered good just because they bear our flag.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta, photo by Brambilla/Serrani

Translated by Slawka G. Scarso

World Pasta Day 2017

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Last October 25th was the World Pasta Day 2017, the 19th edition of a yearly event whose media relevance continues to increase after the debut in 1998. I would like to use this space to express a thought: even though carbo-phobia is widespread, pasta is and will be for a long time the food Italians love the most, and not only Italians.

This because it has many features other food lacks: it can be shelved for a long time, and in different conditions, it has character, versatility, as it can be matched with all sorts of sauces, it is sustainable because wheat cultivation has a very low impact on the environment, it is healthy because it has nutrients difficult to match. On top of this, it doesn’t go against any ideology or religion. In fact, it is a synonym of conviviality and brotherhood.

Focus in Sao Paulo were on these features. Facts are our best defence. I followed the day from Italy, celebrating with some lovely spaghetti.

Riccardo Felicetti

(In the photo, Riccardo Felicetti (right) with Paolo Barilla. They’re respectively outgoing and new-president at Ipo, the International Pasta Organisation)

Spaghetti al cartoccio by Davide Oldani

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«The idea for this recipe comes from the Eighties», Davide Oldani of D’O in Cornaredo (Milano) told the audience at Eataly Chicago, in impeccable English. «I was cooking in Milan then and people thought you opened a restaurant to make money and not to make good food. There was much more risotto because pasta was something from the South. Cartoccio, cooking all sorts of things wrapped in foil – meat, fish, vegetables – was very popular... Today I present my new take on pasta in cartoccio»

So he starts to cook. «Let’s put lots of water in a large pot, with a touch of salt. We dip the spaghetti completely and cook for 7 and a half minutes, less than what stated on the pack. This is because I like spaghetti cooked as the string of a violin, much closer to al dente than to well done». In a separate casserole, he cooks the sauce: «Let’s warm up some strong-flavoured Grana Padano 24/27 months. We whisk it away from the stove. We add grated horseradish, lemon zest and powdered coffee».

Once the seven minutes are over, he drains the pasta and puts it on a cold plate. A touch of olive oil and then he warms it with a hair-dryer. He pours the spaghetti in the sauce, adds some more lemon zest, some slightly spicy horseradish («an idea inspired by Apulian orecchiette»), black pepper, her rolls it as a nest on the side of the plate. In the middle he puts the sauce, adds black pepper, lemon zest, some more horseradish, Grana Padano and powdered coffee. He covers it all in edible foil and voilà here’s the cartoccio.

The audience gets mezze maniche, easier to handle. «Next to the dish I also add a spoon so people can collect any sauce left».

Fusilloni with 5 types of basil by Caterina Ceraudo

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Fusilloni Felicetti in herb infusion, powdered roasted anchovies and smoked oil. With this dish Caterina Ceraudo (Dattilo, Strongoli) charmed the United States, both in New York at the Dine Around event, and in Boston in the final act of our trip to the United States. 

«I managed to bring from Italy 5 types of basil that my dad agreed to plant in the vegetable garden», explained Caterina during her lesson at Eataly Flatiron, «There’s citrusy Greek basil, mint basil, lemon basil, Neapolitan basil, with large leaves, and classic small-leaved basil. I use them with Fusilloni Felicetti with aromatic herbs: one species only, with different concentrations of flavours».

The basil pesto is put first in boiling water then in water and ice: «This way we fix chlorophyll and aromas». «We make the fusilli so the starch becomes a gel, and the pasta is easier to digest». Then she continues «Retrograding starch is a trick that allows us to make pasta salad even with overcooked pasta».

Then come the anchovies, roasted with their bones and powdered with the Pacojet. «I love using each ingredient as a whole: by burning the woody part of the basil, I make basil oil». The cooking of the pasta is completed in water with lemon and chilli pepper. The only fat comes from the almonds.

Monosilio’s immortal carbonara...

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Time goes by, continents change, but the Carbonara from Luciano Monosilio of restaurant Pipero in Rome is always magnetic: in the photo, the dish that created long queues at the Dine Around dinner at Eataly Chicago

... and his Tagliatelle with red pepper

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During his masterclass, Luciano Monosilio prepared and explained his Tagliatelle with red pepper extract. «Because», he said, «They call me the king of carbonara. But my mission goes beyond: I want to cook dry pasta, a food many people just boil».

«First of all, we must find good producers. This is necessary in order to take the following, more complicated step: exporting the culture of dry pasta abroad. It’s complicated because it looks like sometimes we lack this concept in Italy too: we still call our dishes with the name of the sauce, carbonara or puttanesca, and rarely with the format of pasta. Yet it’s time to point this out, as if it were a cut of meat or a special vegetable».

He roasted the peppers for the Felicetti Kamut tagliatelle the night before and then reduced them in a juice with egg marinated in miso sauce. «I chose this Felicetti pasta because if we hydrate it in water, the final texture doesn’t change much». The dish is finished with fresh basil, «a slightly bitter note that at our restaurant we make stronger by using chicory».

These are the technical details. Apart from this, the young man charmed with his overflowing fun character, through which he conveyed serious concepts in a colourful English and with laid-back tones throughout the lesson. «Dear American friends, don’t be afraid of carbohydrates: in Italy we’ve always eaten mountains of carbohydrates and we haven’t died yet». «How much salt in the water when cooking pasta? I put none, it distracts from the flavour of wheat». «I’m a testimonial against cholesterol: we must all learn to eat less and better».

Spaghetti al pomodoro, Grueneberg-style

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«Let me say», Sarah Grueneberg, the volcanic chef at Monteverde in the West Loop in Chicago immediately started her masterclass, «that Monograno Felicetti is one of the best pastas on the market. I’d also like to point out that dry pasta and fresh pasta are two worlds apart: the al dente concept only applies in the first concept».

In a sea of words, the idea for the masterclass dish appears: «The first time I tried to make Spaghetti al pomodoro was during my internship at Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull’Oglio. Nadia Santini asked me if I knew how to make them and I didn’t know what to say: in a way yes, I know how to make them; however, perhaps not well enough for their unbelievable standards».

She grates the tomatoes, puts the pulp in a pan with garlic and adds some more tomato, previously blended with rosemary and sage. Aside, using mortar and pestle, she grinds a Middle Eastern mix of spices called Za’atar. Meanwhile, the spaghetti are cooking in water for just a few minutes and then she continues to cook them in a pan while they’re still firm. It’s the beginning of a long risotto-style-cooking: «When Nadia told me that’s how they cook them, I was truly mind-blown».

This is the reason why she’d like to soon visit «Every region in Italy. I believe it’s an incredible heritage».

Spaghettoni croquette by Jonathan Benno

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Spaghettoni croquette with carbonara sauce presented at Eataly Chicago by Italian-American chef Jonathan Benno. «A nibble», he explains, «a first course that became a snack». It’s like a mini-supplì with spaghettoni cooked and mixed with egg, béchamel and pancetta. He puts the blocks in a silicon mould, then into a freezer for 15/20 minutes. He later pulls them out, rolls them in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Then he fries and serves them.

Grandparents from southern Italy, Benno left famous new modern Italian cuisine restaurant Lincoln opened in September 2011 at the Lincoln Center in Upper West and is about to open Benno, on the 27th, close to Eataly. «The restaurant will have a double soul, fine dining and more casual».

Agnolotti, Boston-style

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Agnolotti with stew and brown butter by Michael Schlow, Doretta Tavern in  Boston, cooked at the Eataly Boston dinner on the 14th October (read the articles).

Steamed ravioli by Davide Oldani

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In the photo, Ravioli filled with scamorza and saffron, aroma of ginger, raisins and red wine presented by Davide Oldani on the first day of Identità Future within HostMilano. On the stage of the Milanese fair, Oldani presented one of his recipes - at D'O he serves a more complex version of ravioli, with a local take, which includes a tribute to Gualtiero Marchesi’s super famous Raviolo Aperto (indeed he was one of his pupils) using the fine technology of Rational ovens, real hi-tech machines for fine dining, capable of grilling, roasting, steaming and baking, stewing and braising.

Oldani uses Rational ‘s SelfCookingCenter to steam the ravioli – the dough is only made of water and flour. Then he quickly stir-fries some of them to add a crispy texture. A delicious dish that Oldani made on the stage of Identità Future with his sous Alessandro Procopio.

Accursio Lotà, Pasta World Champion 2017

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In the photo from Ansa, Accursio Lotà, originally from Sicily, chef at restaurant Solare in San Diego, California. Lotà won the 6th edition of the Barilla Pasta World Championship, a contest for international talents cooking pasta. Accursio won with Spaghetti alla Carbonara di Mare, a tribute to the flavours of his region. He won over 19 participants from 15 countries.