The four of the unseen beer

Cedroni, Usai, Monosilio, Salomone. On Monday February 10th in Milan, they will show the B side of the glass

06-02-2014
by Andrea Cuomo
Turbot cutlet with lager breading, a “classic”

Turbot cutlet with lager breading, a “classic” by Moreno Cedroni. The chef of Madonnina di Senigallia will open the Identità di birra day on Monday February 10th, at 10.15. He will be followed by Luciano Monosilio (at 11.05), Daniele Usai (11.55) and Luigi Salomone (at 12.45), the winner of the third edition of Premio Birra Moretti Grand Cru (photo credits www.klatmagazine.com)

In the beginning it was a guilty and adulterous fling. Then the two lovers came out into the open. Now the wedding plans are at full swing. Chefs and beer. Not just the other way of matching a dish, the B(eer) side of the glass. But also a way in which contemporary chefs interpret the hopped and malted drink as an ingredient. A shady ingredient, full of character. Sometimes a difficult one, in fact. Perhaps not very Mediterranean, someone whispers. But somehow flexible and fascinating.

The wedding between signature cuisine and beer will be certainly celebrated on Monday February 10th in Sala Blu 2 at the MiCo, during Identità Milano’s Identità di Birra section, in collaboration with Birra Moretti. Some chefs who have been studying the topic for years, will present a «hopped» version of their cuisine. Among them, Moreno Cedroni of Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia, someone who is at ease in avantgarde, like in a pair of old shoes. “Before it became popular – he says – when as chefs we weren’t even induced to include beer in the list, I was already offering my clients my Turbot cutlet with lager breading and the Sea bass with potato purée and black truffle and aubergines with a dark beer foam”. A match, that between beer and fish, that is pure hard-core.

Daniele Usai of Il Tino in Ostia (Rome) (photo by www.necessitafotografica.com)

Daniele Usai of Il Tino in Ostia (Rome) (photo by www.necessitafotografica.com)

“I like the delicate scent of nutmeg that beer gives to marine raw materials. But nothing else. After all, beer needs to be used with sense and sensibility. It’s a bit like with truffle: in small quantities, it makes the dish stand out, but it’s easy to spoil everything”. According to Moreno, however, there are no doubts: beer has the dignity of an ingredient in its own right. “Its characteristics stand out in a dish. First of all, the bitter note. Then the richness and fullness of its flavour. Not forgetting the effervescence which is so important when making batter”. In Milan, Cedroni will prepare an aperitif, a main dish and a dessert made with beer. “I won’t say more, but those who know me, know that I will do all sorts of things!”.

Another chef to work with beer is Daniele Usai of Tino in Ostia, Rome. He often surprises his clients by offering them a craft beer as a welcome, perhaps together with some raw fish or an oyster. “In this case – he reveals – the match works very well with Morbraz, a fresh beer made with desalted ocean water, fresh and light and naturally rich in marine scents”.

Ostia however, means sea. “Some types of beer are a natural match for fish. In fact I believe you can create a tasting menu in which the whole fish based meal is paired with beer”. Among the creations Usai will present in Milan, there’s a risotto in which beer “will also serve for the cooking. This is why I chose one that wasn’t too alcoholic and rich in hop, so as to get all its aroma without surcharging the dish with the bitterness of the hop flower”.

Luciano Monosilio, Pipero al Rex, Rome

Luciano Monosilio, Pipero al Rex, Rome

And then there’s Luciano Monosilio of Pipero al Rex in Rome, who still feels he’s in the foreplay stage of his flirt with beer. “I have a few dishes in the menu, such as the Tongue carpaccio with beer gelatine. What I like of beer is in fact what others are afraid of, namely its bitter note. This is why I use those made with lots of hop”. If anything, Luciano worries that his clients are not used to order it as a pairing with a gourmet dinner. In Milan, the bearded under 30 chef will present a courageous lamb-scampi match together with the complicity of a Double Malt beer and a smoked salmon with a Grand Cru. “It will be a blast”, he sneers. We have no doubt.