North America applauds us

Yesterday the first of four events signed by Identità Golose-Eataly celebrating our biodiversity

28-05-2015
The protagonists of last night’s dinner, the fir

The protagonists of last night’s dinner, the first of four dedicated to Italian biodiversity: left to right: Paolo Marchi, Cristina Bowerman, Marco Stabile, Oscar Farinetti, Luca Montersino, Lidia Bastianich, Kelly Jeun, Eduardo Valle Lobo and Sergio Capaldo

For some time now Oscar Farinetti has appeared to be obsessed by Italian biodiversity. He speaks about it, at length, all the time and on every occasion; he invests time, money and energies in spreading this concept, offers plenty of data, which right-wing newspapers enjoy questioning just to go against this “left-wing” entrepreneur supporting Renzi. That is to say for the sake of being biased.

Indeed, Farinetti is doing a good thing, an excellent one. And he’s extremely right. As a great communicator and businessman, he knows that this is the right way to awaken a self-consciousness that is lacking. I remember something Philippe Daverio said many years ago, when he was Milan’s culture councillor: «The soul of Milan needs to be massaged», in order to awaken it (by the way, they’re managing now, with the town all spit and polish and with Expo). See, the patron of Eataly massages the Italian soul, he wants to spread a pride for the country, a sense of belonging that is scarce and has been lacking since the end of the war. He wants to be the Patron of taste.

This is why he surrounds himself with people such as set designer Dante Ferretti (ten Academy Awards nominations, of which he won three) or Vittorio Sgarbi (who would like Farinetti to be a Patron of beauty too) and invites them to events such as the one last night. And he also invites us at Identità Golose to become his partners «because you are the Italian excellence in fine dining», a common law couple, in other words. The reason: «We have the record in biodiversity, 70% of the world’s artistic heritage, we’re the first country in the world that tourists want to visit but we’re only the fifth where tourists go. Germany exports twice us much as us in the food sector! We need to fill that gap».

The new symbol of truly Italian products abroad, presented yesterday

The new symbol of truly Italian products abroad, presented yesterday

This resulted in four events in which Italian food meets the other continents and their representatives, at Expo; yesterday, the first event took place, “North America and Italy”, with Paolo Marchi displaying all his experience and knowledge so as to fill it with quality, inviting three kitchen giants capable of interpreting the possible meeting of Italian raw materials with North American tastes, technique and spirit.

Hence Cristina Bowerman, a graduate in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Academy in Austin, Texas, who could have easily become a writer, and the title of one of her books speaks for itself: From Cerignola to San Francisco and back (she will be at Identità Expo on 5th-9th August); Marco Stabile, so assertive in his Tuscan style that it’s puzzling that he ran a restaurant in Miami for such a long time; and Lidia Bastianich, who emigrated to the US at 12, and in 1971 she founded an Italian restaurant empire – Yankee style. The guests included, on top of the above mentioned ones, the top from North America and Milan, the pavilion managers, the US and Mexican consuls and so on (by the way, did you know that Milan is the town with the largest number of consulates in the world? More than New York).

There was also Riccardo Monti, someone who appears to be finally managing in making ICE, the Agency for the international promotion and the internationalisation of Italian companies, work: for many years it was a national scandal due to its idleness, today it is almost a pride thanks to its new identity as ITA, Italia Trade Agency, of which Monti became president in 2012, creating, among other things, video-marketing initiatives such as this one, with an extraordinary message. And promoting – yesterday the preview – a Columbus egg laid before, the symbol that will characterise real Italian products abroad, “The Extraordinary Italian Taste”, you can see it here, launched with a campaign worth 35 million euros, in Illinois, California, Texas and the State of New York, for now.

Yet, we need to speak about the cooking: and the quality was surprising given the number of participants. After an aperitif with Franciacorta Monterossa and Grana Padano, Bowerman presented an Italian-style ceviche with cornbread and ‘nduja: a sort of triangle between Italy, Mexico and Texas, with the sea fruit from Cafagna, San Felice Circeo (but there were also prawns from Mazara del Vallo), swimming in a very liquid gazpacho, with crispy almonds, chervil, coriander, corn, apples, celery and lime juice, all paired with cornbread from the States aromatised with ‘nduia from Calabria. A crossover with plenty of aromas, freshness and taste.

Marco Stabile’s dish: Risotto americano barbecue style

Marco Stabile’s dish: Risotto americano barbecue style

Then came Marco Stabile, who created a Risotto americano barbecue style: that is to say Acquerello rice in a broth made with Talisker whisky – adding excellent smoky notes – and creamed with pimentòn piccante de la Vera, apple cooked in Cajun spices, onion from Certaldo caramelised in soy sauce and a wild Canadian rice cooked with spices and then fried to create a sort of crispy puffed rice to garnish the dish. Robust and de-li-cious.

As for the meat course «Lidia Bastianich [kitchen director of the efforts of her chefs Eduardo Valle Lobo and Kelly Jeun, that is to say from America to Orsone in Cividale del Friuli] went wild, she wanted to bring the meat straight from New York», said Farinetti, who recommended an Italian excellence that is to say Sergio Capaldo's La Granda, «I asked him not to make me give a bad impression!». The result was sensationally juicy, as proved by this tweet by Marchi, New York style aged rib eye steak paired with spinach and cream and baked potatoes.

The sweet finale arrived with Luca Montersino, who will be the pastry chef in all four events: he merged tiramisù and cheesecake, garnished with a caramel sauce with hazelnut and coffee. Toasts were made with the wines from Fontanafredda, Le vigne di Zamò and Bastianich, while charming Joe was in the room translating too.

Plates were with Rosenthal porcelain,«a German brand we chose because in 2009 it was bought by Italian Sambonet Paderno», said the patron of Eataly. The next event will be on 10th June with Italian-style Asia, interpreted by Enrico Panero of restaurant Da Vinci in Eataly Firenze (working on contaminations between Italy and China), Haruo Ichikawa of Iyo in Milan (Japan) and Barbara Scabin, Davide’s sister, from Blupum in Ivrea, Torino, with an Indian inspired dish.


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