From the Alps to Aspromonte

Identità di Montagna traced a fine dining journey “at heights” with 8 of its biggest representatives

14-03-2017

Alfio Ghezzi’s Tartiflette alla mia maniera is one of the dishes presented at Identità di Montagna. Here’s Mariella Caruso’s report

Photogallery

ALFIO GHEZZI – Microclimate: the distance that makes people closer – In coherence with the title of his lesson and his philosophy, Alfio Ghezzi presented Tartiflette alla mia maniera [Tartiflette – my style] «a new take on frico, rosti and tartiflette; but I found similar recipes in Norway too», he says. For his tartiflette he uses a cream of potatoes, mortandela and a cheese made by fermenting powdered pasta, previously cooked for 50 minutes at 96°C and then dried in the oven overnight
The main ingredient of the second dish is yak from Val d’Ambiez, which descends from the Tibetan oxen that Reinhold Messner brought to Italy. Ghezzi paired the meat with a rye bread toast with lard from the same yak, powdered black trumpets, smoked paprika and – served in a cup – a broth of yak meat, previously caramelised with honey and herbs
RICCARDO GASPARI with OLIVER PIRAS and ALESSANDRA DEL FAVERO The  “trip” of milk – In the El Brite de Larieto agritourism Gaspari matches fine dining with the raw materials from the family farm
The salami made with pig feet with a surprise – a cube of tongue in its heart – surrounded by a delicious cream of milk serum and toasted hazelnuts, covered with apple granita (adding a unique note to the dish) and rosemary flowers. This is the proof that there are no poor raw materials when you use them properly. The pig feet are cooked in milk, deboned and processed as with a salami, to be kept cold «because it tends to break». The final touch is given by the crumble of porcini and the marinated beetroot

Each mountain has its customs, its recipes. Yet one should not be surprised that dishes change name from place to place but have similar ingredients. It is unavoidable that Friuli’s frico becomes rösti in the Swiss valleys, and tartiflette in the French Alps; the need to preserve raw materials has an unmistakable impact on mountain cuisine. It’s the chefs who shift their ground. Those who don’t stop in front of the rocky mountains surrounding them, who walk past the woods and across the valleys and then return to their homeland with new ideas, intuitions to be developed, or simply the desire to recuperate the aroma they missed while travelling. Travelling and returning is the secret of mountain experimenters.

Alfio Ghezzi from Locanda Margon in Trentino is an extreme experimenter: after discovering other territories, including the sea, he returned home. Last summer he left again, but this time he wanted to look at the Alps from above with a paraglide. «Getting lost is a way of finding your way», he says during his lesson at Identità di Montagna. From Ghezzi’s Trentino to Veneto it’s a short distance, if only you didn’t have the mountains in between.

Yet on the stage of Identità distances disappear. It was then the turn of Riccardo Gaspari of agritourism El Brite de Larieto where the young chef’s fine dining is matched with raw materials from the family farm; Oliver Piras and Alessandra Del Favero came from Veneto for a joint lesson with Gaspari dedicated to the “trip” of milk used for cooking by Riccardo and for brave experiments by the other two.

In Val D’Aosta at La Clusaz in Gignod patron Maurizio Grange and chef Piergiorgio Pellerei “play” like Gaspari with a pig foot and so as not to offend anyone («Especially the ladies») they enclose it in a large raviolo with artichokes. The end is handed to an unusual mountain, not just because from the Alps you get to the Apennine, but because few people think of Calabria as a mountain region. This is where Antonio Biafora and Nino Rossi come from, the former from Sila, the latter from Aspromonte, and they present the unusual transhumance of a land hanging between sea and mountains. (All the lessons in the photo gallery, with photos by Brambilla-Serrani)
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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Photogallery

ALFIO GHEZZI – Microclimate: the distance that makes people closer – In coherence with the title of his lesson and his philosophy, Alfio Ghezzi presented Tartiflette alla mia maniera [Tartiflette – my style] «a new take on frico, rosti and tartiflette; but I found similar recipes in Norway too», he says. For his tartiflette he uses a cream of potatoes, mortandela and a cheese made by fermenting powdered pasta, previously cooked for 50 minutes at 96°C and then dried in the oven overnight
The main ingredient of the second dish is yak from Val d’Ambiez, which descends from the Tibetan oxen that Reinhold Messner brought to Italy. Ghezzi paired the meat with a rye bread toast with lard from the same yak, powdered black trumpets, smoked paprika and – served in a cup – a broth of yak meat, previously caramelised with honey and herbs
RICCARDO GASPARI with OLIVER PIRAS and ALESSANDRA DEL FAVERO The  “trip” of milk – In the El Brite de Larieto agritourism Gaspari matches fine dining with the raw materials from the family farm
The salami made with pig feet with a surprise – a cube of tongue in its heart – surrounded by a delicious cream of milk serum and toasted hazelnuts, covered with apple granita (adding a unique note to the dish) and rosemary flowers. This is the proof that there are no poor raw materials when you use them properly. The pig feet are cooked in milk, deboned and processed as with a salami, to be kept cold «because it tends to break». The final touch is given by the crumble of porcini and the marinated beetroot
Twenty minutes are enough to move from El Brite to Aga at Oliver Piras and Alessandra Del Favero’s, yet Piras (originally from Sardinia, he moved to Cadore following his heart) and Del Favero, a couple at heart and in business, get their inspiration elsewhere. You can tell immediately from their tiramisu, which is not a tiramisu in fact, though the flavours are similar, and is inspired by a trip to Japan and by the discovery of koji, a mushroom used to ferment soy and rice to make miso and sake. Oliver’s and Alessandra’s dessert has a base made with polenta made with barley from Belluno (a Slow Food presidium) fermented and burnt. It is aromatised with an infusion of chicory roots and completed with a koji gelato made with milk from El Brite
MAURIZIO GRANGE AND PIERGIORGIO PELLEREI – Our traditional dishes seen through contemporary eyes – You can travel even by giving a new take on tradition. In the case of Maurizio Grange and Piergiorgio Pellerei, they make a pork foot travel across time
They brown it in a piece with celery, carrots and onions, and then cooked in a jus of veal for 2/3 hours. Then they debone it and transform the foot, with artichokes, into a filling for ravioloni, which they finish in a pan with butter aromatised with herbs. The presentation is on a deliciously hot sauce of cauliflowers and ginger
ANTONIO BIAFORA AND NINO ROSSI – Transhumance: ancestral survival instinct - Biafora and Rossi gave a different meaning to the theme of travel: for the two Calabrian chefs it is a journey of survival. The one the men in Calabria would do when they moved with their animals from the mountains to the sea, and back, in a short transhumance that contaminated flavours
In their dishes, Biafora and Rossi develop the concept of “altitude” through elements from sea, hills and mountain. The first has an impact on the “riunella” (veal tripe rolled in goat gut, glazed in a jus of veal and goat and sautéed in butter) with a desalted sardine, a sauce of cabbage in brine, pine needles and pistachios, and completed it with powdered lemon zest
Rossi chooses a lamb tataki quickly cooked after marinating it in Earl Grey tea (which is aromatised with bergamot), served on a sauce made with barbecued prawn bisque with ricotta made with goat and cow’s milk curdled with bergamot and salt, and a wafer of crespigno