Tag: Paolo

Spices: Paolo Griffa's choices and good advice – Italian Cuisine

Spices: Paolo Griffa's choices and good advice

A fascinating world, with a growing availability of products of foreign origin: the chef of the Petit Royal explains how to enrich dishes and drinks. "The important thing is to use them in moderation and do lots of experiments"

There are many spices. Millions of millions, maybe not: but hundreds of them yes. And it is a fascinating world, full of flavors and nuances: especially as regards the spices that come from afar. Why some like sage, bay leaf, rosemary, parsley, basil, oregano, the precious saffron they are an ancient heritage of Italian cuisine. Whether for the availability in the area or because they have always been protagonists in regional dishes. From sage for the Brescia spit to basil for pesto, from saffron for yellow risotto to parsley for sauces. Or, again, the chili, who became the king of southern cuisine, as soon as he passed through Spain from Latin America. The real turning point dates back to the 16th century with the opening of the spice route – thanks to the Portuguese – who brought pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon to Europe from the Indies: an immense commercial value, since they were not only used to flavor the dishes, but also to make medicines.

The spice boom

Given the prices, they enter the kitchens of the rich – in Italy, the first to enjoy it are Venetians and Genoese because of their relations with the Portuguese – to give the extra touch and subsequently become more accessible. Even if they will be reserved for dishes that are not traditional, but imaginative. In recent years there has been a real boom in spices which in Italy is due to three reasons: the greater propensity to leave the Mediterranean to go to the East (from China to South-East Asia), discovering a different use, the increasingly presence wide of places that celebrate (well) the ethnic cuisine and the contamination thanks to the haute cuisine where ginger and its surroundings have entered into many recipes. The second case is the one that resulted Paolo Griffa – executive chef of the Petit Royal, the starred restaurant of the Grand Hotel Royal and Golf in Courmayeur – to become passionate about the theme.

Kimchi and Tajine

"My family has always loved authentic Chinese cuisine and since I was a kid it was a reward for me to go with them to taste it," says Griffa. «So I started to appreciate the flavors of their spices and in my career I have always tried to deepen my direct knowledge. Between trips to the East for work and pleasure, the 30 years old from Piedmont he tasted everything and even took a specialized course in kimchi, the foundation of Korean cuisine based on fermented vegetables and spices that is indigestible to many Italians. «I use it for some dishes of the Petit Royal, obviously balancing it with extreme care, as it is right to do with any food that does not belong to our classic repertoire, he explains. An example that explains more than many words is the Vegetable tajine, cumin and mint lassi sauce, lemon and cinnamon couscous, which opens our service. It is a beautiful mosaic of rolled and boxed vegetables that is part of a gastronomic journey that explicitly refers to the works of art mentioned, in this case the PaperArt by Russian illustrator Yulia Brodskaya. The secret? The sauces, where thirty spices have been used.

The 500 spices of Griffa

Griffa has an extraordinary passion: in his pantry there are almost 500 spices («In 50 gram bottles, while the original bags are in a wardrobe that I personally keep as if it were my treasure, he whispers) and uses them in many dishes. "I try to find the right nuance in those spices that are little used or underestimated in our cuisine, for example juniper or cumin, but the list is very long. The top remains the mixes: even the rarest ones can be found in specialized stores or in e-commerce. Just try one made with peppers on a meat dish, even if only grilled, to understand the difference compared to simple black or pink pepper. But it also applies to raw prawns: a touch of one spice or another totally changes their taste ", underlines the chef of the Petit Royal.

Also ideal for cocktails

Of course, there is no point in having hundreds of spices and herbs at home. Griffa, who has chosen the most interesting for us, considers fifty to be useful to cover all preparations: from a raw appetizer to dessert, without forgetting mixology which is enjoying more and more spicy influences. "Apart from those on which there are historical recipes or that an Italian knows how to dose by nature, you must always have a light hand: add a pinch of spice, taste it, maybe add a little and try again. A very fun exercise, in my opinion . Here are the choices of the Piedmontese chef for the readers of "La Cucina Italiana" and the tips for using them well in everyday cooking.


Fresh and with the peel, it is rich in enzymes used to make ginger bugs (a sort of "mother yeast" with which any other liquid can then be fermented) or to make herbal teas. If cut in half and toasted in a pan, it can be added to broths for a citrusy taste and oriental overtones. Dry it can be used in biscuits and cakes, aromatic and with digestive properties.


In Italian it is called sumac and has its chosen land in Sicily, where they have rediscovered it. It makes sense to use it for meat and fish marinades, because it gives a purplish pink color and releases fresh scents. The flavor is slightly astringent and sour.


Its more tender leaves can be used in moderation in salads, while the dried pods can be used to flavor roasts or to marinate meats, but also large fish. Interesting use in confectionery for sorbets or jams. However, use it sparingly.

Timut pepper

There are many peppers, each with particular characteristics and colors. That of Timut differs for two peculiarities: the hints of grapefruit and citrus, not very spicy, and the pink pigment it releases. If it is perfect for seasoning fish, it becomes very interesting when used in pastry to flavor cakes and creams.

Tonka beans

On the market there are seeds, dried. They have a very intense and characteristic scent, they can be a valid substitute for vanilla in creams and desserts. The intensity is accentuated when grated and added to a hot mixture.


It is a berry produced from the bushes of the same name. It can be harvested green with a slightly woody astringent fresh flavor or when ripe when the color becomes bluish purple. Perfect for flavoring meats, especially game, but also loved by the world of mixology.


Many consider it just a food supplement, but it is also very interesting as an aromatic ingredient. It can be used pure in salads or muesli, or dissolved in water for an herbal tea or, again, in milk to make a custard that lends itself to accompanying desserts.


There are different types based on the processes they undergo: the white one with an intense and citrus scent, the more floral and fragrant green one or the black one with more toasted and balsamic aromas. A few pods are enough to flavor the rice cooking water or perfume an herbal tea.

Ras el Hanout

This Middle Eastern mix of turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom, rose, ginger and nutmeg is increasingly loved. Very fragrant, it is often used to season lamb or vegetables. Particularly suitable for orange vegetables such as carrots and squash.

Curry mix

Curry leaves are a spice in their own right, particularly fragrant. But the mixes remain a balanced condiment for each food. In a yellow curry the dominant spice will be turmeric, in the red one the paprika and in the green one fresh herbs and green pepper. It's fun to experiment …

Dukkan mix

Based on dried fruit, peanuts, walnuts or coarsely chopped almonds; or berries such as coriander or cumin, sesame seeds, depending on the final result you want to obtain. Used to dress salads and vegetables, it is also perfect for sprinkling over meat to give it a particular fragrance.

Four spice mix

The best is obtained by mixing aromatic peppers with nutmeg, ginger powder and cloves. Care must be taken when using it, as it has a very intense flavor. It manages to give a special touch to Christmas sweets, as well as perfume the environment.

The high and soft onion focaccia by chef Paolo Griffa – Italian Cuisine

The high and soft onion focaccia by chef Paolo Griffa

The welcome in Val Sapin is a wonderful picnic on the lawn by Paolo Griffa: salad enriched with freshly picked forest herbs, cheeses, including the inevitable fontina, venison mocetta, a gem, marinated salmon trout, lard Arnad … and then an incredible focaccia with onions that you can make at home

A flat bread high, soft, moist at the right point. The chef Paolo Griffa it really amazed me. Because you expect everything from starred chefs but, let's face it, not a certain amount of rusticity that you hope to find in bread, pizza and focaccia. These are the usual prejudices, it is true, and I also fall for it.
In reality, Griffa, in addition to having revolutionized the kitchen ofPetit Royal Hotel in Courmayeur with a surprise starred menu featuring 40 dishes, a concentrate of techniques and products of the highest quality from the Aosta Valley, he also conquered the whole valley during the March lockdown with his direct Instagram and the recipe of her Pizza, to do at home.
That's why I didn't really have to be amazed in front of hers onions focaccia.
And at the first moving lunge I could not help but ask him for it recipe, to do it again at home.

Focaccia with onions by Paolo Griffa

For the polish
1 kg of Manitoba flour
1 l water
1 gr brewer's yeast
Mix all the ingredients and let it rise for 12h at 20 ° C.

For the stewed onions
2 kg white onions
Peel and cut the onions into slices not too thin. Put a little oil in a saucepan and sweat the onions, adding water to cook but they must still remain consistent, they must not be undone.

For the dough:
1 kg of tumbled flour
500 gr Manitoba flour
500 gr durum wheat semolina
650 gr water
60 gr yeast
60 gr salt
210 gr extra virgin olive oil
30 gr malt
Stewed onions

Mix all the ingredients. Leave to rest for 30 min. Form loaves of 800-900 gr per tray (about 4 trays will come). Oil the surface. Let it rise for 1 hour. Spread with your hands. Triple the dough. spread the stewed onions on the surface. Bake at 180 ° C 100% humidity for 15 min. Bake at 170 ° C fan at 3 0% humidity for 3 min. Remove from the oven and immediately remove from the pan, leave to cool on wire racks.

The new issue of Vanity Fair is directed by Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino – Italian Cuisine

The new issue of Vanity Fair is directed by Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino

An innovative multimedia operation halfway between cinemas and publishing that launches a provocation: phase 4

The Oscar award Paolo Sorrentino is the artistic director in the new issue of Vanity Fair, on newsstands from May 20. In the hands of the director, the newspaper becomes a screenplay, a film that writes a stellar cast of actors, artists and personalities as writers. The project is inspired by La Grande Bellezza, the director's masterpiece awarded by the Academy Award in 2014, and is developed following an innovative multimedia operation, halfway between cinema and publishing.

First of all the cover, a crowd of pink flamingos photographed at night on the Spanish Steps by Alex Majoli with Paolo Sorrentino: an iconic and surreal vision that announces the "Phase 4", dreamlike but programmatic moment to think about the future after the lockdown and the first attempts to restart. Everyone is called to imagine their own Phase 4. For Sorrentino, this phase coincides with the myth of the Great Italian Beauty, treasure and opportunity, an ocean of excellence to look at and from which to draw any hypothesis of rebirth. For readers who watch it, it is a call to commitment and imagination: everyone can send their vision of the future using the hashtag # phase4 and describing their dream for tomorrow with a photograph.

The contents of the issue will be enriched by some videos documenting the director's long work, all shot in the eternal city during the lockdown. For this special issue, the city of Rome has exclusively opened some of its major cultural institutions for reportage and artistic performances organized by Vanity Fair together with Paolo Sorrentino, documented in the issue and in the videos. Among these, the Borghese Gallery and the Opera House.

Great personalities of the international star system contributing to the number, who tell personal experiences, suggestions or memories related to Italian beauty: Sharon Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz, Jude Law, Wes Anderson, Jane Fonda, John Malkovich, Rachel Weisz is Woody Harrelson.

Italian fashion is also the protagonist: the designer Alessandro Michele participates in the operation by dialoguing with Achille Lauro on the role of beauty in today's culture.

For contemporary art, however, Marina Abramović he created an exclusive work by answering a question from the director.

Isabella RosselliniFinally, it adds to the stellar cast of the issue by telling the parable of one's beauty: from the memories of parents Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini to success as an icon in the world of beauty and cinema, up to the new commitment as an activist, popularizer and emblem of a new inclusive and feminist aesthetic.

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