Tag: house

The House of games (culinary) is only that of Giancarlo Perbellini – Italian Cuisine

The House of games (culinary) is only that of Giancarlo Perbellini

He doesn't look for the covers, but he knows how few the kitchen and the tastes of the public, not just stars. Its premises between Verona and the world prove it. But it is in the "bomboniera" of Piazza San Zeno that "Perbe" expresses his vision, certainly particular

There's a beautiful film by David Mamet, great American author, who calls himself The house of games (1987). It is the film that marked the passage of the author from the screenplay to the director and confirmed the skill of Joe Mantegna. A successful thriller, but above all a story full of tension, surprises and deceptions. Maybe it's a stretch, but for us the home of the culinary games currently is Casa Perbellini, not (only) for the name of the sign that is not the first nor will it be the last to have a call of intimacy. Not even because, something even rarer, it is structured as a house on the ground floor, which overlooks on the splendid Piazza San Zeno in Verona: entrance from a small door, a hallway with a small counter, the open plan kitchen-living room, the new pastry area. It's the House of Games because Perbellini – one of the most classic Italian chefs in history and character – has decided to overturn so much, if not all. And here we go back to the film. There is the positive tension of a whole brigade composed of young people. The continuous surprises in the ability to create very Italian combinations, but not classic. Deceptions in a playful sense: you expect something from a dish and discover exactly the opposite.

Pastry chef was born

For the use and consumption of the few who do not know him, Giancarlo Perbellini – Veronese della Bassa, born in 1964 – raised in one of the great families of Italian pastry, he dedicated himself to cooking since his youth. After the inevitable apprenticeship between Italy and France, he opened his first restaurant in 1989 in Isola Rizza, winning in three years the Michelin Star and repeat it in 2002. In 2014 he moved to Verona, creating a new format for the star category: a "home" where haute cuisine is made, paying for what it is worth. It is not a place for "bistronomies", nor even a modern tavern, nor the umpteenth "local second" of a great chef. And it is "cuisine du marché" because the shopping is done in the morning, seasonality is total, there are no freezers or cold rooms. All with a smile, but also with a strict professionalism in the open kitchen and in the dining room, where, not surprisingly, the person in charge Barbara Manoni he won the Michelin Guide award for best service in 2019. And the cellar – Perbellini's historic passion – is fabulous, with authentic rarities.

Off to young people

Five seasons after the opening, immediately greeted by the double star, the chef from Verona put his hand to the restaurant: without changing its nature, he substantially renewed the brigade, not because the previous one was scarce (indeed), but because of the need not to stop. The new sous chef, returned from important experiences, is the Marco Stagi from Bergamo. «I chose it because it sees the kitchen as opposed to how I see it, in terms of education and history. Ours is a meeting of opposing visions that then become complementary and this, in my opinion, is the secret to evolving. The kitchen of Casa Perbellini is immediate, of great emotion and I want to maintain this spontaneity through ever-increasing simplification and the search for essentiality. Marco is the right person: the current card is the first one made together and it is a tangible sign of the change underway . Realized by a greater offer in the pastry shop and from new menu for vegetarians which is called Verdurando and costs 124 euros.

Italianity, but not traditional

There was talk of culinary games. The main one is linked to the menu Who chooses … test where the brigade prepares a series of dishes whose ingredients are the ingredients chosen by the customer. Three or four in rotation, in our case cod, celery, almonds. A menu – in full integral – served at 132 euros per person. And then there is the Assaggi tasting (156 euros) which together with a few classics – the best known is the Sesame wafer, sea bass tartare *, goat cheese with chives and liquorice sensation – expresses the top of Casa Perbellini, the new creations and the revisitation of recent ones. Dishes, like the ones we show you in our gallery, where it is hard to find something that is not Italian, but not necessarily the regional tradition, the usual family madeleine.

A complete network

But not for a form of culinary sovereignty. On the contrary: Perbellini is one of the Italian chefs who travels most around the world and loves ethnic cuisine. «But because by dint of looking out and no longer having our ideas, it seems that we can no longer do without soy sprouts and yuzu. I believe that we must promote our cuisine as much as possible, in the world but also at home, since foreigners have never been so interested ". The chef preaches well and scratches better: beyond La Pergola restaurant in Bahrain, is engaged with various partners in a galaxy of venues in Verona: the excellent Locanda dei 4 Cuochi, the pizzeria Du de Cope, a place dedicated to fish such as Al Capitan della Cittadella, the lively Tapasotto for author's stops and Dolce Locanda that reflects the ancient passion for pastry.

The success of the Milanese Locanda

And then there is Locanda Perbellini, in Milan: for many the best bistro under the Madonnina: direct dishes, but always with the touch of an author, informal and quick service, the right value for money that even holds in the most expensive city in Italy. Total success, which comes from the variation of the work done to the parent company. Where behind the simplicity that you bring to the table, there is a very modern rewrite of the concept of bistellato – or in any case of the local for gourmet – that will surely find imitators. All the more thinking that many restaurants at the same level seem to be "blocked" by recognition and are not making progress. Perbellini, on the other hand, seems to be able to revolutionize his cuisine, maintaining its balance and innate class. A sleight of hand, in conclusion. Or, better, of talent and wisdom.

How to get ahead in journalism

I spent almost all of my adult working life feeling like a fraud. I wanted to be a journalist because of a television series in the 80s called Press Gang, to which I was completely addicted. I wanted badly to be the Julia Sawalha character: brilliant, tough, uncompromising. I was a terribly unfriendly child, very angry, resistant to organised fun, terrified of humiliation – in this cold and unbending fictional telly character I saw how some of my unfortunate personality traits could be handy.

But it became very obvious very early in the postgraduate thingummy I did in journalism after leaving university, that I was never going to be a good journalist.

Please, by the way, do not laugh at me for having done a “course”; people do these things nowadays because it’s so hard to get a job in newspapers. In fact, unless you are incredibly brilliant or insanely hard-working (with a private income), getting a job in journalism these days comes down to luck. When pompous parents tell me that their blobby children are “thinking about” going into journalism I laugh nastily and say “as if it’s that easy”.

Anyway, the course director declared to us on the first day that journalism is “not about writing. It is about information. It is about being nosy. It is about being a gossip. It is about always wanting to be the person who knows things first.”

My heart sank. I am none of those things. I am terrific at keeping secrets and I’m always the last to know everything, I don’t pry, I feel sorry for people and do not want to put them through the media mill even if they’ve done rotten things. I think pretty much everyone is entitled to a private life.

I struggled on, experiencing full-body cringes whenever I had to make awkward phone calls, hating every second of interviews, fighting with sub-editors over ultra-mean headlines to interviews with people I had thought were perfectly nice. I edited quotes so that interviewees wouldn’t get into trouble.

Years ago, before the media was in such a terrible state, I probably would have been able to swing some sort of “mummy” column when I chucked in my job and smugly retreat home with purpose. But those gigs are few and far between these days. My husband has a friend who in the early 90s earned £80,000 from writing two weekly columns. £80,000!!! Those were the days.

I resigned myself to never making any money again, and took to the internet and here we are. The internet being, as it happens, the reason that newspapers and magazines are in the toilet. But you certainly can’t beat the internet, so I joined it.

So much so that I threw open the doors of my home the other day to some of the editorial staff of a website called What’s In My Handbag.

They wanted to photograph the contents of my handbag, focusing particularly on my make-up, which they would then use to do something or other. I don’t really understand how it works. But I’ve always wanted someone to come round to my house and talk to me about make-up, so I screamed “YES!” when they emailed to ask if I wanted to do it.

Browsing their website the night before, I saw with rising panic that other handbag interviewees had prepared exciting banquets for the website’s photo shoot staff, or at least plied them with exotic breakfast liquers.

It was a full week since my last Ocado order. I had no eggs, no milk, very little butter not at freezing temperature. It was 10.30pm and I had just returned from a night out, the remains beside me of a hastily-scoffed kebab from E-Mono, London’s finest kebab house (I am not joking).

I suppressed a luscious burp. My mind started to race. These bitches would be expecting treats!! My mind first turned, as it always does, to in what ways I could throw money at the sitution. Could I beg my husband 10 minutes’ grace in the morning while I ran up the road to Sainsbury’s, bought 25 assorted pastries and then try to pass them off as being from an artisan bakery?!

No, think – think!!! I don’t know how it came to me, but it did. Divine inspiration, or something, I don’t know.

The answer was: flapjacks.

No flour, eggs or milk required. Some might say they are a thing that requires no actual cooking. But in that moment, they presented themselves not as a delirious cop-out, but as a lifesaver.

What I did happen to have, which made all the difference, was a box of extremely expensive posh museli from a company called Dorset Cereals, which are filled with all sorts of exciting nuts, grains, raisins and sultanas. I had only to bind the whole lot together with an appropriately enormous amount of melted butter and golden syrup.

I am not going to give you exact quantities for this, because flapjacks are, thank god, a thing you can basically do by guessing.

I got a square, loose-bottomed tin and filled it with museli to a depth I considered respectable for a flapjack (about 2in). Then I melted about 3/4 of a block of butter in a saucepan, added to that 3 generous tablespoon dollops of golden syrup and a big pinch of salt, poured in the museli and mixed it round.

Then at this point I, fatally, panicked and poured over a tin of condensed milk. I mean, the flapjacks were really delicious but the condensed milk made them fall apart in an annoying way and in actual fact, they were a bit too sweet. So leave the condensed milk out, if I were you. I also chopped up some chocolate and sprinkled it on the top, which probably wasn’t neccessary.

After turning out the buttery rubble, (sorry that’s all a bit Nigella isn’t it), into the square tin, I patted it down with a spatula and shoved it in the oven for 20 minutes.

They worked incredibly well, even allowing for the condensed milk over-kill and the girls pretended to like them well enough, while marvelling at how quickly and efficiently I had filed the product descriptions for my chosen make-up.

What can I say? I should have been a journalist.


That's why the untidy house makes us fat – Italian Cuisine

That's why the untidy house makes us fat

That to be healthy and beautiful you need to look after the kitchen – choosing foods that should never be lacking to stay fit, according to the WHO – is certainly now known to all. Much less known is the fact that it is important to look after the kitchen also as a physical space. And not just to the kitchen: to the whole house.

According to science, in fact, it's not just stress, fatigue, worries or boredom that makes us get hundreds of superfluous calories a day (and at night: here, yes and no foods for nighttime snacks). Also the disorderin fact, first of all in the kitchen, it does not help the regularity of food and would rather push us to consume food in a chaotic way, just like the state of our home.

For this reason it is worth refreshing the results of a couple of academic studies – certainly not the only ones in recent years – led by Cornell University in 2016. The first research, conducted by photographing 200 women in their kitchens, found that where there were in plain sight cereal boxes, biscuits, sodas or sugary, the inhabitants weighed on average 9 kilograms more than the houses where the order reigned and all the food it was stored not in sight. The only element that helped the inhabitants not to transgress with highly caloric foods was the presence of a fruit bowl, with apples and other fresh fruit – that according to another, very prestigious university, that of Harvard, it does indeed lose weight.

The same research has also shown how disorder does not have such a strong influence on weight and eating habits men. For women, however, there is a strong psychological connection between the chaos in the kitchen and the inner chaos: the feeling of not having things under control led her to find compensation mechanisms, through the unregulated consumption of food. The speech then, tell the American researchers, also applies to the office: a study has in fact shown how to have a box of chocolates in sight at work increases daily food consumption by 125 calories.

A second study had tested a group of students in different kitchens: on one side, messy and chaotic environments, with food at sight, newspapers, telephone ringing, remains of meals; on the other a clean and organized environment perfectly. The girls had to wait an hour in the room, in total freedom. They had cookies, crackers, carrots before them. Well, those who stayed in the less orderly environment were the ones most likely to look for refreshment in the most caloric food and had consumed a greater quantity of biscuits. The consumption of crackers and carrots, however, did not have significant fluctuations depending on whether you were in the messy room or the neat one. Once again, the researchers could demonstrate that they live inside messy environments makes it more vulnerable to transgressing.

Eva Perasso
2 December 2016
updated January 2019
from Carola Traverso Saibante

Photo credits Flickr / Jamie Anderson

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