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10-01-2024

Peter Brunel dedicates an entire menu to Gabriele D'Annunzio (who was also a gourmet)

For some time now, the chef from Trentino has been reinterpreting D’Annunzio’s food obsessions: cannelloni, boiled eggs, farmyard animals, sandwiches...

Cannelloni, the most delicious part of the menu de

Cannelloni, the most delicious part of the menu dedicated to Gabriele D'Annunzio at restaurant Peter Brunel in Arco (Trento). On the right, the scrap of paper with which the writer urged his cook Albina to keep cannelloni ready "at every hour of the day and night".

'When I was 12, I came across a documentary on TV made by Piero Angela on Gabriele D'Annunzio. I clearly remember the image of the Vate in a biplane flying over Vienna. It was August 1918, the end of the First World War. He dropped thousands of propaganda cards on the Austrian capital, with a message that closed with Viva l'Italia! That’s where my fascination for him begins.'

The attraction grew so strong that today, at 48, Peter Brunel has dedicated to the writer and poet from Pescara the most important tasting menu of the restaurant he has led since August 2019. The establishment that bears his name, hidden in the greenery of Arco, among the gentle hairpin bends that slope towards Torbole, the Trentino shore of Lake Garda.

'I first got the idea back in 1999, when I was cooking at Villa Negri, in Riva del Garda. We all know that D'Annunzio spent the last years of his life at the Vittoriale in Gardone Riviera, on the Brescia shore. But he loved to cross the lake to arrange his love escapades or even escape from creditors. I would have liked to dedicate a menu to him even then; but I was afraid that people would identify me with a certain political message. Besides, D'Annunzio was such a complex character that it makes no sense to attribute labels to him.'

 Over time Brunel did not set aside his passion and devoured books on the Vate. 'He didn’t just love cars or dressing up,' the chef points out, 'he was a true gourmet. He often organised dinners with many guests: a proof of this is the 10-seat table that you can still find at the Vittoriale. At the top of the table is a stuffed turtle, a symbol of gluttony, a sin the animal evidently died of.' D'Annunzio was also a forerunner of intermittent fasting: 'He alternated between big binges and complete fasts that could last even a day, more than a century ago.'

There is a precious book that sums up our author's passion for fine food. It is called 'La Cuoca di D'Annunzio' (D'Annunzio's Cook), is published by Utet and recounts his relationship with Albina Lucarelli Becevello. 'The only woman with whom he lived in absolute harmony,' summarises the volume, 'There are dozens and dozens of notes to Albina to whom the Vate entrusted his unpredictable culinary requests at all times of the day: veal chops and omelette, cannelloni and chips, cold partridge, biscuits and chocolate, but above all hard-boiled eggs, certainly D'Annunzio's favourite food. He was so fond of them that he compared their effects to those of a 'divine ecstasy'. D'Annunzio used to call Albina Suor Intingola,' recalls Brunel, 'because he made dishes so delicious that it was necessary to finish them off by pulling up the sauce with bread.'

The 'Il Priore' tasting menu (160 euros) is the most important of the three at Peter Brunel's restaurant (the other two are 'The chef's great classics' and 'Japan-Trentino-Nikkei'). A set of delicious dishes, beyond the historical value they evoke. 'This is already the second edition,' the chef/patron explains happily, 'and I still can't get over how much our guests love it.' On the 14th of February 2024, when we reopen after the holidays, we will find the dishes of the third edition. The menu illustrated below is 'volume 2'.

Menu "Il Priore", Peter Brunel, December 2023

Peter Brunel's restaurant, opened in August 2019, one Michelin star

Peter Brunel's restaurant, opened in August 2019, one Michelin star

A detail of the dining room. The restaurant, rich in objects and tastefully furnished, 'dedicates 50 per cent of its space to guests and 50 per cent to those who work here', Brunel proudly explains

A detail of the dining room. The restaurant, rich in objects and tastefully furnished, 'dedicates 50 per cent of its space to guests and 50 per cent to those who work here', Brunel proudly explains

The beginning and end of the tasting menu 'Il Priore', dedicated to Gabriele D'Annunzio. 
Left, Andrea Gardin shakes Alto Garda - La Busa, a cocktail that sums up in its name the natural pit (that’s what 'busa' means) that includes Torbole, Arco, Dro and Riva del Garda. The Vate did not disdain aqua-vitae, here combined with sugar syrup with lemon juice, plum and plum purée from Dro, and Trento Doc.

To the right, maitre Carlo Chinelli prepares strong coffee from the Neapolitan cuccuma, beloved by the writer, as a final act. Peter Brunel's restaurant expresses a huge passion for coffee: you can order it prepared with Syphon, Kemex, French coffee maker, moka, cuccuma, Turkish coffee and espresso, 7 splendid extractions

The beginning and end of the tasting menu 'Il Priore', dedicated to Gabriele D'Annunzio. 
Left, Andrea Gardin shakes Alto Garda - La Busa, a cocktail that sums up in its name the natural pit (that’s what 'busa' means) that includes Torbole, Arco, Dro and Riva del Garda. The Vate did not disdain aqua-vitae, here combined with sugar syrup with lemon juice, plum and plum purée from Dro, and Trento Doc.

To the right, maitre Carlo Chinelli prepares strong coffee from the Neapolitan cuccuma, beloved by the writer, as a final act. Peter Brunel's restaurant expresses a huge passion for coffee: you can order it prepared with Syphon, Kemex, French coffee maker, moka, cuccuma, Turkish coffee and espresso, 7 splendid extractions

Caffè Mulassano in Turin
In 1926 D'Annunzio visited Turin, a city to which he was very attached (he also worked closely with the Agnelli family). He came across this historic café in Piazza Castello the following year when owners Angela and Onorino Nebiolo returned from the United States, where they had learned the art of the sandwich. It was here that D'Annunzio coined the term tramezzino, that snack somewhere between breakfast and lunch. Brunel's version is rather classic and Savoy: tuna, egg, lettuce and olives

Caffè Mulassano in Turin
In 1926 D'Annunzio visited Turin, a city to which he was very attached (he also worked closely with the Agnelli family). He came across this historic café in Piazza Castello the following year when owners Angela and Onorino Nebiolo returned from the United States, where they had learned the art of the sandwich. It was here that D'Annunzio coined the term tramezzino, that snack somewhere between breakfast and lunch. Brunel's version is rather classic and Savoy: tuna, egg, lettuce and olives

Duck and foie gras
D'Annunzio had a great passion for farmyard animals. Here Brunel combines duck with foie gras, to recall his French exile (1909-1914), and also apricots and ramsons, two species that grow in the Vittoriale garden. The dish is finished off with a duck à la press

Duck and foie gras
D'Annunzio had a great passion for farmyard animals. Here Brunel combines duck with foie gras, to recall his French exile (1909-1914), and also apricots and ramsons, two species that grow in the Vittoriale garden. The dish is finished off with a duck à la press

Can-nel-lo-ni
D'Annunzio's gastronomic obsession is here recreated by Brunel with a durum wheat pasta inspired by the author’s his Abruzzese origins (fidelini), stuffed with roast veal (his favourite Sunday dish), bouillabaisse (onion, chablis and cream, again recalling his brief French period) and parmesan and tomato sauce, the return to Italy

Can-nel-lo-ni
D'Annunzio's gastronomic obsession is here recreated by Brunel with a durum wheat pasta inspired by the author’s his Abruzzese origins (fidelini), stuffed with roast veal (his favourite Sunday dish), bouillabaisse (onion, chablis and cream, again recalling his brief French period) and parmesan and tomato sauce, the return to Italy

Rice with Roses (left)
On his first gallant date with Eleonora Duse, D'Annunzio had rice with roses prepared, but there is no recipe for it. Brunel imagined it cooked in a centrifuge of apple and white horseradish, halfway through cooking he added rose petals and then mixed it with butter, oil and Parmesan cheese. A rose essence is sprayed on the table, one of the many essences that Brunel develops in collaboration with a pharmacy

Egg with gold (right)
The speciality D'Annunzio was most crazy about was egg: hardboiled, if possible, he ate as many as four a day. Brunel wraps a poached hen's egg in a gold leaf à la Marchesi, with siphoned potato cream, lake eel and artichoke powder

Rice with Roses (left)
On his first gallant date with Eleonora Duse, D'Annunzio had rice with roses prepared, but there is no recipe for it. Brunel imagined it cooked in a centrifuge of apple and white horseradish, halfway through cooking he added rose petals and then mixed it with butter, oil and Parmesan cheese. A rose essence is sprayed on the table, one of the many essences that Brunel develops in collaboration with a pharmacy

Egg with gold (right)
The speciality D'Annunzio was most crazy about was egg: hardboiled, if possible, he ate as many as four a day. Brunel wraps a poached hen's egg in a gold leaf à la Marchesi, with siphoned potato cream, lake eel and artichoke powder

Cheese
After lamb chops (of which we have no photo), here is another ritual and passion of the Vate: he preferred fresh cheeses to mature cheeses, and spread them on bread croutons. Brunel serves light goat's cheese with honey, mascarpone with hazelnuts and sweet gorgonzola, paired with plum jam

Cheese
After lamb chops (of which we have no photo), here is another ritual and passion of the Vate: he preferred fresh cheeses to mature cheeses, and spread them on bread croutons. Brunel serves light goat's cheese with honey, mascarpone with hazelnuts and sweet gorgonzola, paired with plum jam

Aurum Orange Mondia with ice cream
D'Annunzio loved peeled oranges and seasoned them with Aurum, an orange-flavoured liqueur from Pescara, for which he also posed. Brunel serves orange and Aurum cremoso, adding vanilla ice cream, glazed with chocolate, another passion of the writer

Aurum Orange Mondia with ice cream
D'Annunzio loved peeled oranges and seasoned them with Aurum, an orange-flavoured liqueur from Pescara, for which he also posed. Brunel serves orange and Aurum cremoso, adding vanilla ice cream, glazed with chocolate, another passion of the writer

Packaging and Fiat Tipo 4
To the left, the yellow and red sachet designed by D'Annunzio to contain the chocolate biscuit of a Bolognese company, the same motif that the Pescara-born artist would later apply to the Fiat Tipo 4, presented by the Agnelli family in 1915. To the right, the incredible bonbons served at the end of the meal

Packaging and Fiat Tipo 4
To the left, the yellow and red sachet designed by D'Annunzio to contain the chocolate biscuit of a Bolognese company, the same motif that the Pescara-born artist would later apply to the Fiat Tipo 4, presented by the Agnelli family in 1915. To the right, the incredible bonbons served at the end of the meal

Peter Brunel born in 1975

Peter Brunel born in 1975

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Dall'Italia

Reviews, recommendations and trends from Italy, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose

by

Gabriele Zanatta

born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes. 
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