How to eat at the Osteria Francescana di Bottura – Italian Cuisine

Together with fifteen chefs of the past, they are the authors of the new revolutionary menu of the most beloved chef of the moment. How and what to eat at the three Michelin stars

There are at least three excellent reasons for wanting to go toOsteria Francescana in Modena from Massimo Bottura. Which are the same ones I've been going there for since I met him about twenty years ago. One: he is one of the greatest contemporary chefs, capable, to say the least, of making tortellini on the little finger as his grandmother used to do, as well as crunchy foie gras. Two: the challenges amuse him. Give him a banana peel and a leftover bacon and he returns with a carbonara he never tasted before (he did it at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Three: when no chef had thought of it yet, he invented the Refettorio, the event that involves cooking and art to offer a beautiful and good table to those in need. And then of course there is him, who while he gives you some very good things to eat, makes you reflect on how you can see in Covid time given for think and create, not just a disaster.

(ph Nicole Marnati)

New menu at the Osteria Francescana

So now there is yours at the Franciscan new menu of which we talk a lot: seventeen courses born from the interpretation of as many recipes by the chefs who have made the history of Italian gastronomy from the 1960s to today. Title: "With a little help from my friends". The friends who gave him "a little help", a little / big help, are the beloved Beatles who inspired him with the psychedelic cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ", in addition to having lent him the title of the menu, and the boys of his brigade, a formidable mix of ethnic groups, with which he immersed himself in those mythical recipes and four months later he emerged with his interpretation of the cuisine Contemporary. But be careful, because “interpreting” here does not simply mean rethinking with a contemporary mentality but daring to have total poetic license.

Let me explain. The "Onion Dark"(Fourth course of the menu) dated 1990, by Salvatore Tassa– an onion emptied, baked and filled with a puree of its pulp – has become a sheet of dough mixed with onion, rolled and toasted in the oven: "To honor the onion", says Bottura, "poor food that has fed generations". Because a food can also be an ideological manifesto.

The brown background of the Risotto by Nino Bergese (course n.9), former chef of the Royal House who landed in Genoa in the 1960s – that is, kilos of fine meat reduced to a few ladles and then thrown away – becomes a light broth of toasted rice. Because today luxury is no longer waste.

A sumptuous dish like the "Sirloin of San Domenico"From 1975 (course n.7), larded with smoked bacon and cooked with butter at the maître d'Hotel, also from Bergese undergoes an even more drastic treatment: the veal becomes a slice of aubergine, the pancetta pulverized vegetables, the butter a herb sauce. It used to be a dish for rich carnivores, now it's a vegetarian delicacy. Sometimes the leap is conceptual.

In 2005 Fulvio Pierangelini invents the Scallops stuffed with mortadella “But for me stuffing means ravioli and ravioli means container of ideas”, says Bottura. And here (course n.6) some ravioli mixed with mortadella, steamed like Chinese dumplings, placed on a circle of green apple, served with a smoked fennel chowder. And so, for thirteen other dishes.

But don't expect scenographic presentations: here the technique is at the service of sublimation of the raw material, not the cook's ego. The courses, in their naked elegance, leave you astonished only when they arrive on the palate.

In the end, you will have had a challenging experience, even mental, suitable for those who want to see at what point is the continuous evolution of a chef who never ceases to amaze us. Three, four hours at the table, 290 euros, plus 190 if you choose the pairing with wines. But if you would like to get to know it in a more relaxed way, you can always choose to eat à la carte with the entire Botturian repertoire in the Franciscan style. Or book in one of his other personifications. For which I refer you to the next chapter.

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