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It's time for new oil: 2021 oil guide – Italian Cuisine


AND new oil season. Given the tensions in the world, it would be nice if it were always time for olive trees. For Christians and Jews – we know this since childhood – the twig is biblical symbol of peace and well-being. But the tree is also important for Muslims: in the Koran it is considered a source of light in the heavens and on the earth, specifying that it is neither in the West nor in the East but exactly in the center of the cosmos, where it symbolically expresses the conjunction and the balance between Earth, Heaven and Underworld. None plant is so rooted in history and culture. «The peoples of the Mediterranean – wrote Thucydides in the 5th century BC. – they began to emerge from barbarism when they learned to grow olives and vines ". However, it is not necessary to disturb ancient myths and stories to talk about the miracle ofcooking oil. Meanwhile, because olive juice (this is nothing more than an extraordinary natural fruit juice) is the healthiest of foods, obtained solely and exclusively from the simple pressing of the olive.

new oil
Photo Alessandro Moggi.

The numerous Italian varieties

What makes it exceptional – and always different – are the variety of which Italy boasts the primacy as a demonstration of biodiversity that our long and narrow territory gives us: 533 native cultivars against, for example, just 70 in Spain, world leader in terms of quantity of oil produced, and 52 in Greece, the home of the first olive trees. We have the record in Europe of Dop (42) and Igp (7). Each variety – transformed into extra virgin olive oil – has a clear identity and, we could say, its mission in enhancing this or that dish. As with wine, you should have the practice of combining food and oil well, because the right drop can enhance a recipe or, on the contrary, turn off some flavor.

We see only the most used cultivars. Ligurian oil – il Taggiasco, especially – is very soft, light, ideal for not overdoing delicate preparations. Versatile is the Tuscan Frantoio with a beautiful green color with yellowish notes, with an intense medium-strong flavor that refers to artichoke and thistle on a dry almond base. Tuscan and at the same time Apulian is the Leccino, with vegetal scents and dark color, faint in bitter and spicy flavors; it is recommended on fish and white meats. Let's stay in Puglia with the bitterness, the sensations of toasted almonds and the spiciness of the very common Coratina; ideal on cooked vegetables and meat. In Sicily I have always been in the race Nocellara del Belice in the West and the Tonda Iblea in the East; in both cases it is an exaltation of intense flavors and aromas: wild herbs, sometimes citrusy with notes of green tomato for the Nocellara; harmony between freshly cut grass, artichoke, almond and natural aromas for the Tonda Iblea. Both are extraordinary in enriching first courses or enhancing peasant soups.

What are the adjectives to describe oil?

Round, sweet, harmonious, fruity, are positive adjectives for oil. But we also learn to appreciatebitter and spicy. They are marked flavors only in the best extra virgin, because they show a good presence of polyphenols, the natural antioxidants that are more than good for our body. Bitter and spicy also tell us a lot about the producer's abilities: 1) if it is late in harvesting, the olives will be too sweet because they are excessively ripe; 2) the correct extraction of the oil is carried out with cold milling to preserve the integrity of the olive; 3) in the blends we try to insert cultivars rich in polyphenols.
Quality negative are instead rancid (oxidized because exposed to air), dusty (stale taste), vinous (due to the fermented olives before pressing), moldy (when the olives have remained on the ground for too long).

The 2021 budget

Without prejudice to the skill of farmers and oil millers, what does the 2021-2022 oil campaign? This year too, the quality should be good for exactly the same reason that the quantities in many areas will be scarce: the persistent drought has not made the olives ripen, but has prevented the development of the oil fly and other parasites. Overall the Italian production should grow by 15% (315 million kilos, compared to 273.5 million last year), but with the country split in two: South well, North very badly, so-so Center. Puglia will be the queen of the vintage, with 140 thousand tons, almost half of the national production; Calabria and Sicily paired at 30-35 thousand tons, stable compared to 2020. Basilicata, Molise and Abruzzo are doing well, with double-digit growth. And here the good news ends. The further north you go, the more the drops are consistent: -20 / 25% in Campania and Lazio, -30 / 40% in Umbria and Tuscany, -80% in Garda and Trentino, -40% in Liguria; Sardinia is saved with a -10%. In short, olive growing Italy smiles, but does not celebrate, as does Portugal (a record year). Spain is disappointed, Greece assumes the worst harvest since the war; Turkey is satisfied as in 2020. Morocco and Tunisia, on the African Mediterranean coast, return to the levels of two years ago after the bad last season.

Ancient and new lands of oil

Ficus, Olea and Vitis – handed down by Pliny the Elder – were in the center of the Roman Forum. Two thousand years later, 189 olive trees planted between the Arch of Titus and the Colosseum and grown organically give us thePalatine oil, a very respectable fruity extra virgin olive oil. The new frontiers of Italian extra virgin olive oil are on the one hand the recovery of the ancient territories and, on the other, the planting of new olive groves, taking advantage of climate change. The case of Piedmont is significant: for some years the thermal rise has been pushing many young people to plant olive groves in the areas of Pinerolo, Monferrato and Canavese. The cultivated hectares are still just 250 with a production this year of about 800 quintals of oil from the Leccina, Frantoio, Pendolino cultivars. Picholine, a French variety that resists the cold well, is also being tested.

Cover photo by Sergio Ramazzotti.

The joyful mystery of the Michelin Guide – Italian Cuisine

The joyful mystery of the Michelin Guide


Years and decades pass, but the Red remains elusive. Unfulfilled predictions, curious and often questionable choices, apparent imbalance between historic venues and novelties. Ultimately, its strength is to go on a different course, incomprehensible to many. Let's set some minimum posts

Net of any doubt, discussion, controversy, it must be emphasized that now more than ever there are three essential elements of every Revelation Star (once it was called the presentation of the Michelin guide…). The first: in a country made up of previews, background and publication of current accounts, the Red not only manages to hide everything until the last minute, but also afterwards (which, we repeat, is incredible in Italy). The second: cheerfully sbertuccia every prediction, especially of the insiders, so much so that we wonder why someone has not created a racecourse-like totalizer on the percentages of double or third star. The third: even the most expert critics and gastronomic journalists – as far as they claim to understand – have not understood the method of assigning especially the single star, not to mention the double. All talking about the infallible method to conquer it, some even suggesting it scientifically, and here too on Monday in Franciacorta, a good 50 percent of the new stars were known only to those who frequent or work in the local area. How do we put it?

The reality is that the Michelin follows its own inscrutable course. There are objectively a number of young and old chefs who are doing a really good job and recognized by the other guides, but also by the traveling gourmets. The Lido 84 case of Riccardo Camanini is the perfect example: you go through the Five Cappelli dell’Espresso and the Three Forks of Gambero Rosso (the top of their respective publications), but leave a place to a star that for the The Best World's Restaurant it is 15th – the best in Italy – appears to the most absurd, grotesque, delusional. Instead, believe us, he is alone Michelin. With less emphasis, however, it is a situation that concerns chefs like Carlo Cracco, Andrea Berton and Matteo Baronetto who are doing very well. Someone even brings up that they are together with Camanini Marquesans, forgetting that Davide Oldani (two stars) is and this year one of the last students, Fabrizio Molteni, won the Macaron in a good restaurant in Sirmione, La Speranzina. While the chef who replaced him at the Albereta in 2011, Daniel Canzian – good and experienced – has not yet been awarded, despite the fact that he works very well in his restaurant in Milan.

We plant it here, because the list would be boring (and it does not concern only the Marquesans obviously). It is to underline the joyful mystery that no one is able (really) to reveal and in 2021 the plus of the Michelin: because no one discusses the famous 30 percent more bookings in a newly starred venue together with the chef's emotion and enthusiasm. But it's how to get there the theme. The only buoy of the course that is well anchored – because it is underlined by Michelin – is the consistency of performance: it is not enough to make a bang, but once you have reached the level deemed right, there is no failure. And this explains why there are eternal clubs with a star that are vintage (by the author, mind you) compared to those born in the last decade. Quite right? Wrong? And the Michelin. On the other hand, here is the search for under 35 and under 30 – respectively sixteen and five among the newly starred – which on the one hand is meritorious, but at the same time penalizing for many good professionals between 40-50 years of age who (we are not afraid to say it) propose kitchens and work in superior rooms.

In this case, there is less mystery: it is called a very subtle balance between appearing conservative (almost reactionary) and showing oneself revolutionary, even with the idea of ​​the Green Stars, deserving, but linked to a cauldron of aspects that in reality by now characterize a sea of ​​clubs in Italy. We quote verbatim: "In awarding the recognition, inspectors take into consideration many factors: the production of raw materials, respect for work and the support of local producers, waste reduction, waste management, actions aimed at minimizing the use of energy resources and the impact of the structure on the environment, the sustainable training of young people are just some of the themes ". More of everything. Having said that, it will be the months (indeed, the years) that follow that will give weight to the choices of this edition that promised epochal fires – but we were the ones who thought so, as always – but it only fired good firecrackers. Or rather, he exhibited them with the usual style: there are champions who have been chasing the second Star for five or ten years and here is a very serious professional, but objectively not from the saloon like Giovanni Solofra, if he wins it starting from scratch with the Tre Olive trees of Paestum. It is the charm of the Michelin, the mystery that fascinates on the one hand and angers on the other. But in the meantime, we're here to talk about it. Again, so chapeau.

Michelin Guide 2022: the new stars of the South – Italian Cuisine


The 2022 Michelin Guide has announced the new stars and Southern Italy is the winner. Lots of news, including the only woman – and also very young

The Michelin Guide 2022 has announced its new stars. Among the novelties of the “Rossa” 2022, the southern Italy today shines more than ever. From Campania to Calabria, these are the southern chefs who have conquered a space in the Olympus of haute cuisine.

What a beautiful fresh air

Just 6 months after opening, Aria Restaurant to Naples got his first Michelin Star with the chef Paolo Barrale: «Such recognition is a source of immense joy but at the same time represents a gauntlet: we must always give our best to make a difference. A bit like it happens with children: there is a specific responsibility to follow them in everything and make them grow in a healthy and diligent way ", commented the young Sicilian chef. The Aria project, signed by the JCo Group, is a goal that Barrale shares with his entire team, from the brigade to the staff in the dining room (and in the family): "From Mario Stellato, my sous chef, to Giacomo who introduced me to the splendid family that is the J co Group, to Ilaria and Maurizio, to Letizia, Danilo, Angelo, Mario R., Luigi and Gianluigi. Thanks to Serena De Vita, our restaurant manager, to Mattia, Marcello, Chiara, Andrea, Mirko and Camilla. Finally, thanks to my friends and customers of all time but above all I want to say thanks to Marina, my only and irreplaceable life partner .

And there are those who doubles

We always stay in Campania, this time with the restaurant Krèsios from Telese Terme, in the Benevento area, which wins its second Michelin star. After the first obtained in 2013, always reconfirmed, the chef and patron Giuseppe Iannotti doubles and consolidates Krèsios among the most interesting gastronomic realities of the moment. “I'm also happy for my kids, whom I let down and who knew nothing. Perhaps this was the hardest thing for me: looking them in the eye and not being able to share all this, ”commented the chef. And he added: "We never stopped, even in the most difficult moments, we never got scared. Rather we have continued with our heads down, with the awareness of having responsibilities and we have continued to do what we know, to create new paths and invent solutions. This is the strength of Krèsios: to undertake unexplored paths and create new routes, when the known and comforting ones have closed. It is the strength of a group that for me is my family. We have cleared customs for a method: finally in Italy you can only do one tasting itinerary, ours is in the dark .

The twist

Surprisingly, the double star arrives without going through the route (i.e. without any mention) also for Giovanni Solofra of the restaurant Three Olives from Paestum (SA) that with tears in his eyes the first person he thanked is Roberta, his wife. Awarded for its sensorial and territorial gastronomic interpretation, for its proposals hyenas of surprises, the fine technique and the minuteness and precision of the combinations, often intriguing.

My Calabria

Going further south, the recognition of the prestigious guide also goes to Antonio Biafora for his Hyle, to San Giovanni in Fiore (CS) which wins its first star. And to think that the young chef has begun his adventure first in the kitchen of the family restaurant, "where I performed the first service during a graduation party, and the second in Caserta, at the kitchens of the Grand Hotel Vanvitelli. As soon as I got there I asked to start immediately, in front of me I had: parsley, potatoes and tomatoes . When the quality is recognized by the basic ingredients and by the skill with which to know how to combine them harmoniously, the rest is only a matter of time.

Fresh from the star too Luigi Lepore of the restaurant of the same name in Lamezia Terme (CZ) which, after the important experiences at the Trussardi alla Scala in Milan, at the Caino in Tuscany, at Il Comandante in Naples, among others, in 2019 began to write a new e, to do so, he chose his home, his Calabria. But with an innovative format, with broad horizons and, at the same time, with firm roots in the material cultures that characterize the territory's identity. Despite the "hiatus" of 2020, he is today celebrating his "coronation".

All the new 2022 Michelin stars in Southern Italy

Luigi Lepore – Luigi Lepore Restaurant

Hyle – Antonio Antonio Biafora

Aria – Paolo Barrale

Giuseppe Molaro – Contaminations Restaurant

Savio Perna – Li Galli

Francesco Franzese – Rear Restaurant

Nicola Somma – Cannavacciuolo Countryside

Fabio Verrelli D’Amico – Marter1aPr1ma

Alessandro Bellingeri – Osteria Acquarol

Stephan Zippl – 1908

Graziano Cacciappoli – San Giorgio

Jorg Giubbani – Orto by Jorg Giubbani

Sergeev Nikita – The Arcade

Richard Abouzaki and Pierpaolo Ferracuti – Background

Emanuele Petrosino – Bianca on the Lake

Fabrizio Molteni – La Speranzina Restaurant & Relais

Alex and Vittorio Manzoni – Osteria degli Assonica

Salvatore Camedda – Somu

Claudio Sadler – Gusto by Sadler

* Young of the Year Award to Solaika Marrocco del Primo, from Lecce

Congratulations!

Opening photo Krèsios (ph Marco Varoli)

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