Pasta, pasta, pasta

Lots of Piedmont, lots of Italy, from the North and South. The durum wheat vanguard continues

10-02-2013
Matteo Baronetto, chef of the Cracco restaurant in Milan, was the first speaker of the day dedicated to IdentitĂ  di Pasta, also thanks to the longevity with which the establishment in Via Victor Hugo covers the topic in the most creative declinations of fresh and filled, dried or short pasta (photo by Michele Bella)

Matteo Baronetto, chef of the Cracco restaurant in Milan, was the first speaker of the day dedicated to Identità di Pasta, also thanks to the longevity with which the establishment in Via Victor Hugo covers the topic in the most creative declinations of fresh and filled, dried or short pasta (photo by Michele Bella)

Pasta, pasta, pasta: fresh, dried, filled, stuffed, traditional or innovative… However you may prefer it, it is the Italian food par excellence, together with pizza, and just like the latter, it is often debased, trivialised, as Paolo Marchi explains on stage, when presenting the day dedicated to Identità di Pasta. It’s a stimulating match of high and low, celebrated chefs who confer a new nobility to a product that lacks blue blood because «the world of pasta is fundamentally popular», as Giuseppe Prezzolini explained.

Roberto Petza of S'Apposentu in Siddi, Sardinia, in the Marmilla region (photo by Michele Bella)

Roberto Petza of S'Apposentu in Siddi, Sardinia, in the Marmilla region (photo by Michele Bella)

Eight chefs alternate each other on the stage, guided by Riccardo Felicetti: they’re all Italian, because durum wheat pasta, cooked al dente, the culture of first courses itself, are all part of the national heritage. We go across Italy. There’s lots of Piedmont, with Matteo Baronetto from Giaveno – who breaks the ice in the morning - Christian Milone from Pinerolo and Davide Scabin from Rivoli. Baronetto dedicates a Raviolo filled with tongue and parsley mayonnaise, a reference to the traditional boiled tongue with green “bagnet”, to his region; we then move to Trinacria for a Timballo del Gattopardo (Gattopardo Timbale) with Cracco-Baronettian touches (there are also marinated eggs in the pastry…); finally, a new offer, a rigatone with red wine sauce, served with spring peas and marrow dices: there are acid, fat and vegetal elements.

Milone starts from this latter element to dish out two totally green ideas: parsley gnocchi with clams (no use of flour, they’re made with potatoes and parsley juice, bound with methyl-cellulose) and green tagliatelle with geranium juice (the egg-less pasta is made with flour and portulaca juice). The bogia nen triptych closes with Scabin’s genius, who presents some banal lasagne... but out of this world: these are, in fact, the Combal space lasagne (de-hydrated and put in vacuum) designed for the astronauts of the ISS, the International Space Station: they re-hydrate directly in the aluminium pack. Before and after this, there are other pieces of the Italian mosaic.

Frank Rizzuti, the pasta star performer at Sud (photo by Michele Bella)

Frank Rizzuti, the pasta star performer at Sud (photo by Michele Bella)

Roberto Petza’s Sardinia: a sweet pasta that reinterprets seadas by cooking in a honey-aromatised “stock” with oranges a sort of crispy maltagliato (it’s been baked in the oven): it will be served with a fresh cheese ice-cream on a bed of fruit and vegetables. «I want to express the South with simplicity, from my viewing point in Potenza», is, instead, Frank Rizzuti’s programmatic statement: so here are grano arso (burnt grain) strascinati with a condiment that is an ode to the South (dried tomato, buffalo milk mozzarella from Campania, Cetara anchovies, capers, oregano…) and then there’s a reinterpretation of the traditional pasta with turnips, which becomes a raviolo made with (and filled with) turnips.

We move to Rome, with Anthony Genovese: pasta is a dough made in three versions (crispy, with red miso, and with parsley) that go together with snails; then there’s a Chinese inspired dim with a spicy quince apple filling, and paired with lacquered minced roe deer. Luciano Monosilio’s cuisine is also Roman, with his “Carbonara oggi e domani” (Carbonara today and tomorrow) – a traditional dish in comparison with the one from the future, in which pasta loses its main role and becomes... cold and diced! This lecture was preceded by the last northern stop: the destination was Trentino with Alessandro Gilmozzi and his Frutta di pasta (Fruit made of pasta, a sort of rumtopf of carbohydrates with fruit), the perfect, fresh and elegant dessert at the end of the day.