For those who travel in search of luxury food (from the beginning of June you can go back to doing it), the Mokambo ice cream shop is an essential stop. Here you can taste the King's Scepter, a 70 euro cone made only with Iranian saffron ice cream
Feeling real at the table is possible. Gualtiero Marchesi taught it to us with his Rice, gold and saffron. But a gold leaf alone, without exceptional raw materials, is nothing. Franco, Giuliana and Vincenzo Paparella know that well in their ice cream shop Mokambo, to Ruvo di Puglia, in the province of Bari, they created the King's Scepter, a 70 euro cone made with saffron ice cream, cream and edible gold. And it is not the latter, the most expensive ingredient.
Mokambo ice cream shop: from the Bourbons to the fourth generation of Paparella
The history of Gelateria Mokambo begins in 1910, when Luigi Marseglia, first apprentice, then head of pastry of the Caffè Gambrinus of Naples, moved to Ruvo di Puglia, to follow his Apulian bride. "He is the madman who infected us with this disease," says Franco Paparella. " Here he opens his Caffè Gambrinus, one of the symbolic bars of the last century in the city, and takes under his wing Vincenzo Paparella senior. Just him, on November 8, 1967, in Corso Carafa 56, opened the Bar Mokambo, where the recipes of the white art of Marseglia live. Franco and Antonio, Vincenzo's two sons, work in the restaurant. At his death, the brothers split: Antonio remains in the Bar Mokambo and Franco embarks on an adventure in the world of catering. In the nineties the bar closes, but the shared nostalgia for that exceptional ice cream does not subside. Galeotto was Facebook. A user publishes a post in which she remembers that place and its delights. The message falls under the eyes of the brothers Giuliana and Vincenzo Paparella, Antonio's sons, who began to fantasize about reopening the family ice cream shop. But the key was to convince Uncle Franco, passionate about women and engines, but above all a skilled ice cream master, to get back on track. They make it and reopen at the end of summer 2016, "a winning business choice!", Jokes Giuliana. Vincenzo takes care of marketing, his sister "steals" the profession from the long-time master and takes care of the service and production, while still today Uncle Franco – as anyone who enters the world of Mokambo calls him – shies away from photographers and does not like limelight. But he makes an ice cream that marks the taste buds on fire.
Eight "other times" ice creams and ingredients
In the wells there are eight flavors (listed by Giuliana strictly in chromatic order): Crema del Re 1840 (the recipe of 1840 handed down by Luigi Marseglia and awarded by King Ferdinando II of Bourbon), Crunchy almond nougat (with local fruits, «Ruvo it has always been a territory suited for the cultivation of almonds ", explains Giuliana), Pistachio di Bronte DOP, Hazelnut of the Langhe PGI, Gianduia PGI, Pure Chocolate (obtained from twenty different cocoa beans, selected around the world; it is proposed the single origin taste or created with a blend of beans), Truffle (i.e. the spiced variant of chocolate). Some flavors revolve throughout the year: there is the superior Coffee, the Granita di Limoni di Sorrento PGI (available from May to September), the Gelato di Gelsi rossi, the one with quince, and Nonna Lena, made with dried figs , almond flakes and 100 percent pure chocolate nuggets). Each cone is garnished with cream («rigorously fresh, of animal origin), almond grains, Pistachio di Bronte DOP, home made Meringues and cocoa beans in combination with those used for the chocolate flavor available in the cockpit in that moment.
From the Recipes of Marseille to the Book of Ciocca passing to Iranian Saffron
In the early years of the century, Luigi Marseilles himself collaborated with the sending of some of his recipes to the drafting of the volume The modern confectioner and confectioner, written by Giovanni Ciocca, probably one of the most famous pastry chefs of the 20th century. Some of these recipes included the use of exclusive ingredients such as saffron, in fact, in that period common only in the kitchens of the most important families. The diffusion of this ingredient "to the general public" dates back to 1860 thanks to the introduction by the cavalier Giuseppe Alberti of the Strega liqueur. It is in fact this spice that gives the characteristic chicken color to the Benevento liqueur.
Because this is the best saffron
Saffron is evaluated on the basis of 3 parameters: the coloring power, given by the crocina, the odorous one, given by the safranal, and the bittering one, given by the picrocrocina. The comparative values of saffron grown in Italy and that used at the Mokambo ice cream parlor are clear. The Iranian saffron chosen by the Paparella team contains 233 nm of crocin, therefore it has a more intense color than what is known as cat 1. in ISO3632, which has 190 nm. The amount of safranel in saffron of 1 cat. in ISO3632 it is 70 nm; the Iranian one used by Mokambo reaches 100 nm. So it has a more intense scent. The saffron picrocrocina of 1 cat. in ISO3632 it is between 20 and 50 nm, while the Iranian one reaches 35 nm. "The main difference between made in Italy saffron and what we use is the bitter note, very marked, that metallic flavor of the spice", explains Giuliana Paparella. «The first taste of our saffron ice cream is slightly metallic, but then immediately begins to release citrus and floral notes. If the Italian saffron costs a third compared to the Iranian saffron there is a reason ". The price of the Italian spice stands at around 20 euros per gram, compared to 60-70 euros for that coming from Iran.
A precious friendship
The arrival of the current Iranian saffron in the hands of Uncle Franco and Giuliana is thanks to Giuseppe Ladisa and Yuki D'Innocenzo, two glocal adventurers from Bari, who in their spare time hunt for gourmet and not. During a Sunday in the Murgian hills, Yuki finds the Mokambo ice cream shop on TripAdvisor. "At the time, it only had 15 reviews," recalls the girl of Italian-Japanese origins. «I have read them all, carefully, and I have said to Giuseppe" Why don't we make a jump to Ruvo? ". Fighting skepticism, the two head towards the town of the North Bari area and fall in love with ice cream, the sympathy of the Paparella bros and the sagacity of Uncle Franco. They come back many more times. During one of their tastings, they say they are about to leave for Iran. Giuliana does not miss the opportunity and asks these two customers, now friends, to bring her some "real" saffron. During the trip Yuki and Giuseppe inquire about the production area and keep in touch with the ice cream shop. Having found the right product («because in Iran the level of counterfeiting is very high, explains Yuki), they buy it and deliver it to the ice cream makers, who obtain a truly unique taste. "In Iran they make saffron ice cream with pieces of pistachio or rose water. But they bring in a lot of guar gum, which makes it kind of like a chewing gum, "says Giuliana, who has done much better.
To do it King's Scepter they serve freshly milked milk (from the Altamura area, more precisely from the Santa Maria dell’Assunta farm in the Alta Murgia National Park), eggs, sugar and, of course, saffron. To taste it, you have to book the taste three days in advance, necessary to organize the processing. The infusion of saffron alone is around four hours. "We use the upper part, more noble than the highest pistil (each crocus has three, ed.), The sargol", explains Giuliana. In addition, saffron must be used at a not too high temperature. After a 15-minute freezing in the historic Carpigiani SED L20c of 1972, the saffron ice cream is ready to be mounted on the cone. After filling the bottom of the waffle with cream and three Pistachios from Bronte DOP, add the ice cream and a layer of fresh cream. It would not be a real royal scepter without a little precious metal: in fact, the composition closes with a sheet of edible gold and some flakes of caramelized sugar. The King's Scepter it costs 70 euros per cone. It can be purchased only on order and for a minimum of two cones. An entire bowlishalf a kilo costs between 450 and 500 euros. As with all other flavors, you can also receive it at home. The tasting is elegant, velvety. On contact with the palate, the citrus scents free the imagination: we are in the A thousand and one nights and the Orient can almost be touched, even from a small town in Puglia.
Text Stefania Leo
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