We are all connected under one roof, that is to say Dumpling with smoked pork belly with clams from Goro on a clam chowder with herb oil, a magnificent dish from the latest menu at Osteria Francescana in Modena
We’ve already spent a lot of words on With a little help from my friends,Osteria Francescana’s post-reopening menu. Those lucky enough to dine multiple times here over the years, have found an admirable tasting menu, the result of a harmony between all the elements in the plot. Perhaps the most successful one in the last ten years.
But making lists, something so common these days, is a temptation one must escape: in general, because every ranking discourages reasoning; specifically, because, how can you say that “With a little help…” is better than “Viaggio in Italia” (2013, here the datails) or of last year’s menu, the one with the super Guinea fowl in three dishes?
There is, however, an element that struck us the most in the current menu: its range, so distant compared to the usual trajectories of Via Stella. It’s striking that, after 3 months of closure, the Modenese character passes over in silence. In the current menu there are only some small cameos of Emilia: a 50-year old Aceto Balsamico in the pigeon sauce of Who’s afraid of red, yellow, green and orange, a duronecherry from Vignola in Beppe Palmieri’s Sir Paul cocktail right before that, some Lambrusco di Sorbara in the Strawberry fields risotto and some more minimal details.
Palmieri’s pairing: Sauternes, in contrast with the dish, following a well-established approach. «After years of pairing it with foie gras or cheeses», the maître explains, «it’s strangely been forgotten. We have now presented it in a fresh and contemporary interpretation»
Beppe Palmieri and Massimo Bottura, in September their professional liaison will celebrate its 20th anniversary
Bottura has just received a visit from Alain Ducasse, his old maestro: «What a pity», the French chef said «that the dishes in this menu can be tasted only by a few dozen people each day» (photo instagram)
Wrapped around all this, is a very thin, elastic, gummy dough, an alchemy traced by Choi Jongho, a Taiwanese magician in the brigade in Modena, who didn’t turn down corrupting the dough with a pinch of egg yolk. At the client’s table, over the perimeter of the dumplings they pour a reduced version of clam chowder, a popular soup from New England in the East Coast of the US. With an elegant element: on top of the jug of sauce they add some herb oil. Please note this is added on the surface, not emulsified, so that it won’t mix with the latter and you will notice it first, with its delicate note of tarragon and chives. These are details that make the difference. It’s all finished with some grated lime, without getting to the albedo, which is too bitter. The result: North America, Asia and Italy in the same bowl.
A killer tasting, which closes a masterpiece triptych, after Strawberry Fields, a risotto that makes fun and upturns the Eighties’ version with strawberries and Champagne, and If I'm wrong I'm right, cod treated as if it were a fat fish, and served with a perfected curry drink sauce, so good one should keep a small just on the bedside table, as a source of comfort.
The dumplings are irresistible for us as well as for those who work there: the story goes that Beppe Palmieri himself - who is skilled in anticipating the dish with a Castelnau de Suduiraut «a Suaternes both elegant and vulgar» - will be there, spying during the break between services, watching if there’s something left in the pan. The maître must consider two pitfalls: the clients’ request of an encore, and the wild desires of the rest of the brigade.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
Gabriele Zanatta’s opinion: on establishments, chefs and trends in Italy and the world
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.
Il nuovo menu dell'Osteria Francescana, denominato I’m not there, è una nuova interpretazione di piatti classici del ristorante modenese. Tutte le foto sono di Paolo Terzi
On stage in the Auditorium, Paolo Marchi and Gabriele Zanatta (who moderated the talk) together with the protagonists of Identità Talk: Giorgio Locatelli, Massimo Bottura, Brian McGinn and, remotely, David Gelb. All photos are by Brambilla-Serrani.
Carlo Cracco, Alberto Gipponi, Enrico Bartolini, Andrea Aprea, Massimo Bottura on Wednesday morning at the Hub of Identità Golose Milano at the preview of the Identità Milano congress, which will take place from 28th to 30th January 2023 at MiCo in Via Gattamelata (photo Brambilla/Serrani)