New ways of eating and shopping in the name of sustainability and biodiversity
Precision farming, new forms of hospitality and eco-friendly catering, hi-tech methods, agronomic gardens for the next generations but also cooperation between producers for the protection of Italian biodiversity: Alce Nero, a historic organic farm, and Radicepura, an ethical nursery, meet about the future. Between nutraceuticals, collaborations with institutions, Europe and universities. Because together the future is better.
Italy is full of farmhouses (real and fake). But we begin to see an interesting evolution, linked to the kitchen: if before the products of the farm, crops or livestock in the perimeter ended up in simple dishes of pure tradition, today they become the protagonists of more imaginative, technical, sometimes even creative menus. Those who demand mixed grill, bulk wine and checkered tablecloth should not be frightened: (r) they exist and (r) they will exist for life, they are part of the culinary history of our country. But for those who want to go further, here is agriculture – a neologism perhaps not brilliant but always quoted by those who practice it – offers increasingly interesting ideas, from South Tyrol to Sicily. Because if the environment is more refined and there are not dozens of seats, the vegetables, meats, dairy products and breads of the company that hosts the restaurant still arrive on the table. In large percentages, regularly higher than what the individual regional regulations provide, because chefs and patrons who blindly believe in their own agricucina do not look for shortcuts on products and hate cunning.
The Blue Hill at Stone Barns model
The absolute number of the trend is US: Dan Barber, 51, settled in 2004 on a beautiful farm – which belonged to the Rockefellers – in Pocantico Hills, 30 miles north of New York. Slowly he made it there The finest “farm table” in the United States, reaching a double Michelin star. At Blue Hill at Stone Barns – which is also a research center for food and agriculture – there is only one tasting menu, but it is not the same for all tables. It happens because everything comes from there (or from associated companies) and nothing is standardized as very little of what is harvested or slaughtered can satisfy every guest. Barber, very socially conscious, has a branch in Manhattan anyway – Blue Hill, also starred. In Italy, the cover man has become the 35 years old Riccardo Gaspari from Cortina: his San Brite – a refurbished farm with class – in December incredibly won the Michelin Star. He was a teenager when he started helping his parents at the El Brite de Larieto farmhouse. "When I read or hear colleagues discussing farms and livestock, I realize that they have never struggled an hour in that habitat.It is not mandatory to do this, mind you, but living them conditions: many first open the place and then take pictures in the greenhouse. Here it works the other way around .
Gaspari, new Michelin star
The turning point at 22, with the arrival in Cortina of a collaborator, the Bolognese Ludovica Rubbini, now a wife and a precious partner in everything, including the management of the Piccolo Brite dairy. Gaspari, for love, became the cook of the restaurant inside the farm where traditional dishes are still served today, lightened. Then in 2016, after a dinner at the Osteria Francescana, the meeting with Massimo Bottura who immediately realizes the potential of the young man from Belluno and offers him a first internship, followed by others. It is the spark to open the San Brite: Riccardo amazes everyone with brilliant proposals such as the already famous ones Spaghetti Monograno Felicetti creamed with mountain pine oil (the photo at the opening of the service), the char with marinated lentils, the apparently simple grilled duck breast. "They are not exercises in style, there is research on the product, study of history and lots of tests. 70% of the raw material is ours, the other 30% I buy from people in the area, whom I have known for a lifetime. To reach the Michelin star I did not distort myself, on the contrary I pushed more on the concept , underlines Gaspari.
The past and experience
It is evident that the phenomenon passes through the hands of young cooks, often with passages in high-level kitchens. They have an edge over those who prepare – with passion, mind you – the usual dishes, on the original recipe. An example above all: at Cascina Guzzafame, the “farm restaurant” Ada & Augusto had at the helm Takeshi Iwai (formerly a pupil of Alajmo, Cuttaia and Genovese) who masterfully used the internal agricultural production for dishes where tradition was totally rewritten. In fact, after the experience in Gaggiano ended, the Japanese chef contributed in just six months to the Michelin star of Aalto Part of Iyo, in Milan, a pure trend. "To review the past correctly, it takes a thought: my vision changed in the stage at the Piccolo Diavolo by Piergiorgio Parini", explains the 38-year-old from Brescia. Riccardo Scalvinoni, historical family of bakers and chefs from Il Colmetto, farmhouse with kitchen in Rodengo Saiano. «After experiences in clubs of all kinds, I decided to do“ agricultural creativity ”. I change paper every ten days based on what we have in the pantry . The dishes pleasantly surprise: potato pie and seasoned apples, linguine with goat garum, dried and grated goat liver (umami's masterpiece), asado with chamomile sauce. "The public? First fearful, now most faithful .
If the North, as always, launches the trend, the Center and the South are aligning themselves: in our gallery, there is a selection of the best places. In Viterbo there is Il Casaletto, a farm that Gambero Rosso has awarded – never happened – with the Three Prawns and the Three Spicchi: the highest award respectively for trattorias and pizzerias. Merit of Marco Ceccobelli who with his brother Stefano took up the baton from his father and ten years ago decided to change gear in catering. “Driven by passion, I started doing more research and touring all the places in the area and beyond, learning a lot from my colleagues,” says Marco, the chef. "At that point we decided to review the environment, the service and the cuisine. It is not about destroying tradition, so much so that I like to talk about our restaurant as an "agri-restaurant", but to make it lighter and better presented. Because if you have quality products, yours or well purchased, it is a shame not to use them well: a top porchetta on a stone-ground flour pizza is worth a starred dish, even if it is served in a farmhouse .
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