Biafora-Rossi: Sila and Aspromonte at IdentitÓ Milano

Calabria as a food destination? There will be four chefs at the congress: Abbruzzino and Ceraudo and two ômountainö chefs too

24-01-2017

Antonio Biafora and Nino Rossi will hold a lesson as part of IdentitÓ di Montagna at IdentitÓ Milano. They will present Sila and Aspromonte respectively, on Monday 6th March. Hereĺs the programme

Photogallery

In the photo gallery from Tanio Liotta, our two dinners (a few months back, the ingredients are not wintery) at Antonio Biafora’s Biafora in San Giovanni in Fiore (Cosenza) and at Nino Rossi’s Qafiz in Santa Cristina d'Aspromonte (Reggio Calabria). We start with Biafora, who has a remarkable skill in presenting the local area by recalling traditional elements in a modern way, with continuous variations in flavour and an intelligent use of contrasts.  Breaded lamb brain with raspberries: a brave start, and a delicious dish
Baccalà («A fish from the Sila»), film of cruschi peppers, anchovies, olives and fried skin
«My grandmother’s roll», with peperonata on top
I believe the bread basket at Biafora was one of the best ones in 2016: traditional Calabrian pitta, chestnut bread (which used to be the poor people’s bread) hard, made with toasted chestnuts, a little flour and then milk; and the more classic bread, also made with sourdough, 48 hours of maturation and 10 of leavening

Now even the New York Times agrees (as also reported by virtually every Italian publication, specialised or not): Calabria is one of the 52 food destinations that the prominent newspaper selected for 2017. “Some of the best meals in Italy aren’t found in Rome or Tuscany but in the southern region of Calabria. The toe of Italy’s boot is making a name for itself in food and wine circles, led by places like Ristorante Dattilo, Ristorante Ruris in Isola Capo Rizzuto and Antonio Abbruzzino in Catanzaro”.

Identità Golose has long recorded this evolution, just think of Gabriele Zanatta’s features in 2015 (Pietramare quant'è buono, Tutto il talento di Luca Abbruzzino and Ceraudo, leone del Sud) and those from this year (Storia di chef e pescatori by Giuseppe Gatto and Michele Rizzo, The story and the cuisine of the Abbruzzinos, but also Il giovane Sud che cresce and the article on one of the fathers of the local restaurant scene, Enzo Barbieri) signed by myself – and in fact I also included a dish from Luca Abbruzzino in my perfect menu for 2016, where a dish by Antonio Biafora was also shortlisted. The next edition of Identità Milano, from the 4th to the 6th March, will faithfully represent this incredible evolution: there will be four chefs from the boot’s toe – not counting in fact Matteo Aloe on the stage of Identità Naturali: he’s from Calabria but works in northern Italy, and in London – participating in as many lessons: a double one for Caterina Ceraudo within Identità di Champagne and La Nuova Cucina Italia, a session that will be opened by Luca Abbruzzino himself – whose family was even awarded by Guida Identità Golose 2017. Then there’s the duo formed by Antonio Biafora and Nino Rossi: at Identità di Montagna they’ll present a less known gourmet side of Calabria, respectively from Sila and Aspromonte, where their restaurants are located. Great stuff.

Group photo with the young Calabrian chefs at Cooking Soon: left to right Gennaro Di Pace, Antonio Biafora, Emanuele Stringaro, Emanuele Lecce, Caterina Ceraudo, Luca Abbruzzino, Nino Rossi, Bruno Tassone

Group photo with the young Calabrian chefs at Cooking Soon: left to right Gennaro Di Pace, Antonio Biafora, Emanuele Stringaro, Emanuele Lecce, Caterina Ceraudo, Luca Abbruzzino, Nino Rossi, Bruno Tassone

Cooking Soon, promoted by Giovanni Gagliardi of Vinocalabrese.it and by journalist and video-maker Manuela Laiacona, is a project uniting all this fresh energy in Calabrian cuisine: «We believe that there is strength in numbers and this is why we decided to create a team with the mission of exporting a new model of gastronomic promotion. We want to represent a fermenting revolution taht feeds on creativity, creating a network with small producers, looking at the future with confidence and with the goal of telling the world all the good things this region can offer. It is our task to convey our culture and history. Sharing the same dream thus becomes unavoidable. Making people taste and discover it is our duty».

Among the young forerunners of this rebirth there’s Biafora e Rossi, who, as we mentioned, will be on the stage of Identità together. We recently wrote about the latter and his Qafiz in Santa Cristina d'Aspromonte (see L'Aspromonte prende il volo). Here’s instead the story of the former. Three words would in fact be enough: intelligent, passionate, balanced.

Cooking Soon rejoices thanks to the acknowledgement given by the New York Times

Cooking Soon rejoices thanks to the acknowledgement given by the New York Times

His story is deeply rooted: Biafora in San Giovanni in Fiore turned 40 last June, «my grandfather Antonio had a tavern close by and he would come to build a wall, or the tables, as soon as he finished there», says Antonio Jr. Antonio Sr. was part restaurateur, part carpenter, plumber, bricklayer, while grandmother Serafina ran the kitchen. She would feed local workers with simple dishes, then looked after the animals («My brother Luca and I were born surrounded by rabbits and pigs») and she’s still tending the vegetable garden.

A story of sweat and sacrifices: the current hotel-restaurant Biafora, which since last year also has a nice spa and is a real and very enjoyable resort, was built brick by brick, «my father Giuseppe built the rooms in 1988. Since the early days of the millennium we also came to help». ‘We’ means Antonio jr, born in 1985, and Luca, born in 1988, the former in the kitchen, the latter in the dining room. Their strength, on top of their work, is Sila, a culinary goldmine: «We always have plenty of aromatic herbs even though the best plants grow in the spring. There are mushrooms almost all year round. And some truffle. There are excellent small local suppliers: for instance, we get goat’s milk from a man who lives 200 metres away».

Brothers Antonio and Luca Biafora with Vittoria Nanula, who now works in Paris

Brothers Antonio and Luca Biafora with Vittoria Nanula, who now works in Paris

Biafora is sold out especially during the summer, when many people visit San Giovanni in Fiore, 1,250 metres above the sea level, to escape the heat: we work a lot during those months and invest what we earn to improve. We have hired a bricklayer and two maintenance men», soon we will also renovate the restaurant, «the gourmet part will be more cosy and elegant, four tables plus one in the kitchen». The desire to grow, part of Antonio’s DNA, continues: «until I turned 25, I worked in the dining room, then I thought I wanted to run our hotel but I was missing the kitchen experience». Hence he attended Alma and then worked with Frank Rizzuti and Francesco Bracali, until he returned, five years ago. And he’s never left the kitchen since.

He changed the restaurant’s appearance, «we used to offer a set menu: an entrée of cured meat, my grandmother’s historic soup, then lasagne and goat meat. I introduced a different style: we lost our historic clients, especially those from Crotone. However, people from Cosenza arrived… In other words, we work, especially during the weekend, and with the help of events and ceremonies», which over there are a very important tradition that helps a lot. «We, the people of Calabria, didn’t know our own land well», ends the chef. Now he will present it with Nino Rossi at Identità Milano. The photos are from Tanio Liotta, from Calabria, of course, and portray the two dinners they prepared for us through images.


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Photogallery

In the photo gallery from Tanio Liotta, our two dinners (a few months back, the ingredients are not wintery) at Antonio Biafora’s Biafora in San Giovanni in Fiore (Cosenza) and at Nino Rossi’s Qafiz in Santa Cristina d'Aspromonte (Reggio Calabria). We start with Biafora, who has a remarkable skill in presenting the local area by recalling traditional elements in a modern way, with continuous variations in flavour and an intelligent use of contrasts.  Breaded lamb brain with raspberries: a brave start, and a delicious dish
Baccalà («A fish from the Sila»), film of cruschi peppers, anchovies, olives and fried skin
«My grandmother’s roll», with peperonata on top
I believe the bread basket at Biafora was one of the best ones in 2016: traditional Calabrian pitta, chestnut bread (which used to be the poor people’s bread) hard, made with toasted chestnuts, a little flour and then milk; and the more classic bread, also made with sourdough, 48 hours of maturation and 10 of leavening
Red prawn, melon and thyme soup
Trout from Sila, peach, liquorice and mint
Steak tartare with thigh of podolica meat, wild anise, foam of beer and celery
Fusilli, garlic, oil, chicory and hare marinated in ginger: a fantastic dish
Stroncatura (traditional pasta from Calabria) with onion, its ash, sardine, plankton sauce with chilli pepper and extra virgin olive oil
Venison, marinated lettuce, kiwi and smoked oil: delicious
Watermelon processed with osmosis with a spirit made with wild anise and mint
Biafora knows how to dare: Xylitol ice-lolly, mousse of lemon and Timut pepper