We often do things without really understanding why. This usually happens because that’s how we’ve always done something, so much so it seems impossible that a different choice can be made. Most of the times this is really the case. Most of the times, nobody will make a different choice because it clearly is not right, it leads to nothing concrete and positive. But in some cases it’s just that nobody ever looked at things from a different perspective, under a different premise.

I particularly enjoyed one part of Riccardo Felicetti’s piece below: «I only have one wish, for the 9th edition [of Identità di pasta]: I’d like speakers – especially the Italian ones – to feel free of limits and stereotypes. I’d like them to lead us beyond pasta the way we know it and appreciate it and perhaps the way we’ve chosen to “freeze” it for centuries to come».

When we speak of dry pasta in Italy, as well as of rice and risotto, there’s always the same dogma: it has to be cooked al dente. It’s a must. However, we’re also the only people on earth who believe in this. Could it be that everyone else all wrong? According to us, yes, they are. However, if we look at Italy carefully, from one end to the other, there are many cases in which pasta and rice are hardly al dente, but we love those recipes all the same. How can it be? How can it be that a truth, when it comes to dry pasta, doesn’t apply to different delicacies? We’ll speak about this – and much more – on Sunday 4th March at Identità di pasta in Sala Blu 1.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta

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Monograno Felicetti 
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Newsletter 65 del 28 february 2018

Dear {{NOME}},

We often do things without really understanding why. This usually happens because that’s how we’ve always done something, so much so it seems impossible that a different choice can be made. Most of the times this is really the case. Most of the times, nobody will make a different choice because it clearly is not right, it leads to nothing concrete and positive. But in some cases it’s just that nobody ever looked at things from a different perspective, under a different premise.

I particularly enjoyed one part of Riccardo Felicetti’s piece below: «I only have one wish, for the 9th edition [of Identità di pasta]: I’d like speakers – especially the Italian ones – to feel free of limits and stereotypes. I’d like them to lead us beyond pasta the way we know it and appreciate it and perhaps the way we’ve chosen to “freeze” it for centuries to come».

When we speak of dry pasta in Italy, as well as of rice and risotto, there’s always the same dogma: it has to be cooked al dente. It’s a must. However, we’re also the only people on earth who believe in this. Could it be that everyone else all wrong? According to us, yes, they are. However, if we look at Italy carefully, from one end to the other, there are many cases in which pasta and rice are hardly al dente, but we love those recipes all the same. How can it be? How can it be that a truth, when it comes to dry pasta, doesn’t apply to different delicacies? We’ll speak about this – and much more – on Sunday 4th March at Identità di pasta in Sala Blu 1.

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta

Riccardo Felicetti: escaping stereotypes

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After reading the list of speakers at Identità di Pasta I was surprised, once again, by the prominence of the people who will discuss this extraordinary product.

I only have one wish for the 9th edition: I’d like speakers – especially the Italian ones – to feel free of limits and stereotypes. I’d like them to guide us beyond pasta the way we know it and appreciate it and perhaps the way we’ve chosen to “freeze” it for centuries to come.

In fact, I believe that it was starting from this very congress, many years ago, and through the ideas of some enlightened chefs, that pasta has received adequate consideration.

Riccardo Felicetti
(in the photo, with journalist Eleonora Cozzella, the moderator of all the 9 editions of Identità di PastaCarlo Cracco and Luca Sacchi)

Carlo Cracco, one opening after the other

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Just like last year, Carlo Cracco – at the helm of his restaurant in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan since the 21st of February – will open the day dedicated to pasta (at 10.45 am). Sous-chef and pastry-chef Luca Sacchi will join him – he’s also the author of a lesson part of Dossier Dessert on the 3rd of March, the opening day.

The chef from Vicenza has been in love with pasta for many years now: just think of his Fried Rigatoni, cream of broccoli and mussels (2003), Rigatoni, lettuce and liquorice and butter with grated oil, Spaghetti with red pepper and salted anchovies (2012) or the series dedicated to marinated egg, from the origins to our days. These dishes have made the contemporary history of pasta.

Last year Cracco took us East, making spaghetti with unusual ingredients (in the photo by Brambilla/Serrani): he made a green sauce with butter, matcha green tea, dehydrated fresh powdered wasabi and sansho pepper, not too spicy but rich of citrusy notes. He ended with Fusilloni with a sauce of smoked butter, Grana Padano and Timut pepper, «the soul of "cacio e pepe"», he said, «sheds a ragout effect».

Cristoforo Trapani, tagliatelle, but sweet

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When writing about durum wheat and bronze cutters, one obviously thinks of  Campania, the cradle of durum wheat. Neapolitan Cristoforo Trapani, 30-year-old chef from restaurant Magnolia inside hotel Byron in Forte dei Marmi will speak at 11.30.

«I’ll try to show that pasta can be a dessert too», he told us, «but not a puffed dessert. This is why I’ll make Tagliatella with tomato and mozzarella but in a sweet version. The inspiration comes from crepe suzette, with yellow and red cherry tomatoes, mozzarella water and San Marzano jam. I’ll mix it all with a juice of buffalo milk mozzarella». It’s not the first time that Trapani uses pasta in an unusual part of the menu: very recently, he dedicated an entire menu to durum wheat.

«I come from Sorrento, in Campania, but I did an internship with Davide Scabin, and he’s influenced my work: the Piedmontese chef has widened the borders of this genre. Yet I preserve a technical rule: you boil pasta, you don’t cook it like risotto, or else you might end up eating mostly starch».

Sarah Grueneberg, the queen of pasta in Chicago

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It will be a very first for Sarah Grueneberg (at 12.15) at Identità Milano. She’s the chef at "ristorante & pastificio" Monteverde , in the West Loop in Chicago. The restaurant seats 300 people in the evening, rotating quickly what with loud music, dim lights and the very bright station of a rezdora (a real Italian signora from Bologna) who’s always at work, rolling pasta and filling tortelli and ravioli.

The menu is an ode to durum wheat and fresh egg pasta: there’s Pasta tipica (Sardinian gnocchetti, pumpkin tortelloni, spaghetti alla chitarra) and Pasta atipica (Arrabbiata with prawns or Cacio Whey Pepe). Plus a series of single-course dishes to be shared, following the current trend in the US. 

We last met Sara in October, in the capital of Illinois, when she pointed out that «dry pasta and fresh pasta are two worlds apart: the concept of al dente only applies in the first case». She cooked spaghetti with Za’atar, a middle eastern mix of spices (in the photo by Brambilla/Serrani). After boiling them, she finished cooking them in the pan. «I learnt it from Nadia Santini». Her illustrious teacher.

Cristiano Tomei, risotto-style cooking, go away

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Another debut at Identità di Pasta in Milan will be at 1 pm - the last lesson before the lunch break – with speaker Cristiano Tomei at the helm of Imbuto, part of L.U.C.C.A - Lucca Center of Contemporary Art, one Michelin star.

Just like his “neighbour” Trapani (see news above), Tomei also wants to discuss an idiosyncrasy: «Pasta is pasta, it’s not rice. This is why I’ll explain that I never cook pasta in the pan, like risotto, the way you often see now. I’ll show my idea through 3 different dishes, which will enhance, and not diminish, the flavour of pasta».

A well-deserving follow up to Ditali in oil of minestrone (in the photo), a dish that Eleonora Cozzella listed among the 25 best pasta dishes of 2017, thus explaining her choice: «You know the aroma of minestrone? Not the sulphurous scent of cabbage, or the earthy one of bitter carrots. I’m speaking of the intriguing aroma of fresh and delicate vegetables […] This is what Tomei makes and he uses this elixir to season ditali rigati Monograno in a dish that encloses the typical cuisine of grandmothers in three tablespoons of technical skills».

Salvatore Bianco, tomatoes and more

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Another lesson (at 2.10 pm), another debut, this time with Salvatore Bianco chef at Il Comandante del Romeo hotel in Naples, one Michelin star. Bianco pays lot of attention to Spaghetti with tomato sauce, an emblem of Neapolitan and Italian tradition, and offers classic and creative versions of it: «Pasta offers endless opportunities», he says.

On top of gourmet restaurant Il ComandanteBianco is also in charge of the bistro inside the hotel. This is why he presents multiple variations on pasta with tomato sauce. This dish cannot trick you, because it says a lot of the skills of a chef: if you make it properly, it’s very likely you’ll be good at other things as well.

The most creative version? Buatta with pasta and tomato sauce, in the photo from Il Comandante: tubetti with a sauce of 3 types of tomato, drops of oil with vegetal notes and a tablespoon of basil granita. The rest, in Milan.

Yannick Alléno: pasta in the least expected place

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With Yannick Alléno (lesson at 3 pm) we’ll have 6 Michelin stars on the stage of Sala Blu 1 all at once: 3 from Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris, plus 3 from at 1947 in Courchevel, on the Alps.

«We use lots of pasta», the French chef recently told us. «Pasta is a real treat for French people, we all love pasta and it is actually true in the whole world. I think that when our customers suddenly discover pasta in one of our dishes, it gives them a feeling of pleasure and warmth, like eating a generous pastry».

While in Italy it’s mostly served as a dish by itself, in France they usually serve it as a side, with meat: «But we are in a constant process of creation; in our dishes, pastas are never found where expected, like in a dessert for example. We rarely use a pasta as it is, we transform it, shatter it, mix it to build something different; pasta is a fantastic material».
We’ll have a proof of this in Milan, during the 5th lesson of the day dedicated to pasta.

(In the photo, the brigade at Pavillon Ledoyen. Close up, Yannick Alléno; to his right, Italian chef adjoint Martino Ruggieri).

Bottura, 3 years after spaghetto/lasagna

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It’s not the first time that Massimo Bottura (lesson at 3.50 pm) tests himself at Identità di Pasta. In 2015, the chef from Osteria Francescana in Modena - 3 Michelin stars and restaurant number 2 in the world, recently also at Gucci Osteria in Florence – was waving the Italian flag of pasta (in the photo by Brambilla/Serrani).

The name perfectly showed the typical metamorphosis experienced in his dishes: The spaghetto that wanted to become a lasagna. He first cooked, then blended this pasta, later adding different mixtures: tomato, spinach and chards, and parmigiano. 

This resulted in very thin layers of dried pasta in the shape of the Italian flag. He then grilled it, so as to give «the slightly burnt aroma you get on the edge of lasagne, the most delicious part». The ex-spaghetti stood out on the plate, with a base of oxtail, cheek and tongue ragout and a delicate cream of parmigiano: «An Italian-style flower-lasagna». Three years later, we’re awaiting for the sequel.

Discovering Alessandro Narducci

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Another lesson (at 3.40 pm), another debut, this time with Alessandro Narducci, chef at restaurant Acquolina, a Michelin star inside the First hotel in Rome.

The dish in the photo, Linguine, clams and parsley, charmed Paolo Marchi during a recent trip to the Eternal City. «It’s super-enjoyable», he said, «thanks to the fact the pasta is cooked in clam water with ginger and a hint of cocoa butter to thicken. Zuppa prima e dopo is a new take on Brodetto, [the typical fish soup] from San Benedetto, with raw fish and broth representing the cooked part of the recipe».

Right after that, Marchi tasted one more pasta dish, Mare e monti, that is to say «Spaghettoni seasoned with sea urchins and ‘nduja (I had a second helping of the Calabrian salami), a rich dish, the perfect ending for a dinner that was prepared also in view of Identità Milano 2018...». 

Antonello Colonna, a recent eureka moment

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The 9th edition of Identità di Pasta will end with another illustrious debutant, namely Antonello Colonna (at 5.30 pm), chef and patron at Open Colonna in Rome and in Labico

Colonna has always focused on fresh pasta. Water and flour with sauce of ciocorione and wild fennel and duck ragout is from 1985. Then came filled pasta: Raviolo with Roman style tripeTortello filled with (not “in”) broth and Negativo di carbonara, conceived in 2001: the egg is in the filling. On the 8th of March 2016, the turning point: «I met Riccardo Felicetti at Identità Milano. We had a chat and that’s when I thought I had to start experimenting, and win my reluctance against what I believed was mostly a trend».

Since last September, dry pasta has a prominent role in the tasting menus both in Rome and in Labico. And à la carte too. «I currently have two dishes: Smoked spaghetti with white cannellini and black truffle and Spelt linguine with mushrooms and chestnuts». Colonna will make them at Identità di pasta.