Great chefs from Veneto

Cracco gives the initial blessing to a morning entirely dedicated to the North-East of Italy: Cogo, Damini, Lionello Cera and Perbellini

10-02-2015
The morning in the Auditorium hall at Identità Mi

The morning in the Auditorium hall at Identità Milano on day 3 sets the lights on the great protagonists of Venetian cuisine. Left to right, Carlo Cracco (Vicenza), Lorenzo Cogo of El Coq in Marano Vicentino (Vi), Giorgio Damini of Damini e Affini (Arzignano, Vicenza), Lionello Cera of Antica Osteria Cera in Campagna Lupia (Venezia) and Giancarlo Perbellini of Casa Perbellini (Verona). Photo credits Brambilla/Serrani. Translation by Slawka G. Scarso

You again. The day dedicated to Veneto was opened by Carlo Cracco, chef from Vicenza now adopted by Milan. He pointed the flowers of the fiolaro broccoli, that is to say the fetish vegetables in his cuisine, as a flag over the congress. The perfect chance to illustrate some anecdotes on a poor ingredient that was glorified by Gino Veronelli.

The baton, within the congress and the cuisine of Vicenza, was swiftly passed to Lorenzo Cogo, the enfant prodige of Italian avantgarde. He interpreted the theme of the congress, a healthy intelligence, as a post-dinner. Lightness and digestibility, that is, with the help of a nutritionist. “The chef needs to translate scientific achievements into dishes, educate the client to what is good”, the doctor fed him. So here are 3 “instructions” in the shape of as many dishes. Ravioli with capon from Marano Vicentino with pistachios from Bronte dipped in red wine vinegar, following the model of the cold rice for sushi, with the sagebrush in the end inducing to chew, pre-digesting the food and averting obesity but also tasting flavours better, with countless benefits. This was followed by a second tortello with dog-rose from the surrounding mountains, a pre-dessert following Nadia Santini’s sweet pumpkin example, prepared with buttermilk, thus a fermented and healthy product, and mostarda from Vicenza and Grana. And again a dessert in continuity with the savoury flavour: cauliflower and white chocolate cream with chanterelle mushroom ice cream, a meringue made with rice germ and bianchetto truffle. Conceived to optimise the passage through the intestine and propitiate the sense of fullness through insulin and tryptophan.

Carlo Cracco and his broccolo fiolaro

Carlo Cracco and his broccolo fiolaro

After opening Casa Perbellini, Giancarlo Perbellini makes a further return, on the stage of the congress, that is. Territory, for someone from Veneto means first of all polenta, in this case presented in unique pairings, also by recycling. For instance as a mayonnaise made with salted codfish tripe, with a squid ink crumble and crispy scampi, a variation on polenta with salted codfish. A less convoluted recipe than in the past, while the level of elegance remains the same, always democratic in terms of atmosphere and communicativeness. Corn also enters the raviolo inside a crème brûlée that tastes like pop corn. In this case the missing sparkle comes from the sturgeon carpaccio with smoked caviar and sour cream. Sweetness, pastiness, sapidity, smoke, freshness. Postmoderd clin d’oeil and classic aura, but with an “Italian philosophy”.

THE GREAT LAGOON. Lionello Cera

THE GREAT LAGOON. Lionello Cera

Fish is once again the protagonist in the lecture given by Lionello Cera, perhaps the best seafood chef in Italy. His speech was focused on the taste of the lagoon, which he discovered next to his dad, a fisherman, and his mother, a cook, and then further developed alone, as he’s totally self-trained. Here comes the cold broth made with small calamari and iodized water served with wild clams, with crispy, dried and grated sole and powdered mint from his vegetable garden. This is the base for fish that was caught in the best possible way from boats that stay out 18 hours maximum. These procedures, which he fine tuned from scratch, are also present in the risotto inspired by his mother’s light mantis shrimp broth, with the acid addition of tomato vegetal water, the fresh touch of ginger and the variations given by iced wafers made with oyster water, by squid air and the water from 5 different seaweeds.

THE INTELLINGENCE OF MEAT. Giorgio and Gian Pieto Damini from Arzignano

THE INTELLINGENCE OF MEAT. Giorgio and Gian Pieto Damini from Arzignano

Meat claimed a right to its main role on the table thanks to brothers Gian Pietro and Giorgio Damini, who put a large pot of broth to boil on the stove, the typical Sunday aroma, in the preparation of which the less noble cuts of meats are enhanced, giving value to sustainability. “During the war, our grandfather was sent to prison because he would give broth meat to pregnant women instead of giving it to soldiers”, they recalled while pouring the tortellini from Valeggio into the spiced liquid. “Good meat? Before choosing the breed, you need to choose the breeder. If the smell in the barn is wrong, it cannot be good”. In the pot they add the tip of the breast and the belly when the water is cold, while the thigh muscle when the water is boiling – they’re all from the limousine breed – with the addition of capon and the meat used for the pasta filling. There’s no straining, as in the case of natural wines.


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