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Carnia: small frontier world … culinary – Italian Cuisine

Carnia: small frontier world ... culinary


A corner of Italy, among the most contaminated from a culinary point of view: an incredible advantage for those who love dishes that look to the North, but not only. Among Cjarsons, Frico and Toc 'n braide here is our selection of places without fail

Let's tell the truth. There Carnia is one of the least Italian areas of Italy: beautiful and green, nestled in the Carnic Alps, north of Udine. Even for the Friulians it is a world apart, the Carnians speak another language than those of the plains, influenced by the neighboring Austria and Slovenia, as well as by the nearby Veneto. It is Central Europe, even more than South Tyrol because Slovenian, Hungarian, Bohemian and Jewish influences are linked to the clear Habsburg influences thanks to the fact that Trieste – the old port of the empire and the Adriatic threshold – is not so far away. And, as always, this being a frontier place is a great advantage for the kitchen. It is no coincidence that the Carnia hosts three Chioccioline, the highest recognition that Slow Food assigns to the places that best defend the tradition and local products. In the specific case: the rare Sauris ham, the mountain cheeses, the apples, the honey, the berries …

A thousand and one Cjarsons

The poetry of Carnic cuisine is represented from the sweet and savory combination of the Cjarsons (but also Cjalsons and Cjalzons according to the areas) which in Friulian language means calzoni. They are a widespread preparation in the plains, but this is where they find their essence: they can be of different shapes (round, half-moon, felucca, boat) and the sizes may vary. It's all wonderfully subjective, each family adopts the one they prefer or even creates their own. But what changes a lot – and creates infinite variations – is the filling (pistùm or pastùm) which is sometimes sweet and sometimes salty. In reality this is due to history and is closely related to the life of the cramârs. Until the 1900s, these brave men armed with crassigne (a sort of wooden backpack divided into small drawers in which they kept the goods) crossed the Alps on foot to sell in the Germanic countries the precious merchandise that they managed to grab in Venice or Trieste. Once back home – after months away – it was a big party. And what eventually remained on the bottom of the crassigne drawers, ended up in the filling of the Cjarsons that the women prepared to celebrate.

A filling of the most varied

They could be spices, sultanas and dried fruit (plums, figs), but also biscuits and cocoa, candied fruit, herbs (mint and lemon balm) and the filling obviously changed every time from year to year from house to house. On the contrary, the salty version is rich in smoked ricotta, boiled potatoes, roasted onion and herbs. Tradition has it that in Carnia they were prepared for Christmas Eve as a lean dish, on the plain, however, it was Easter tradition. Each recipe, each version, takes its name from the countries or valleys of reference, but there is no Carnic family that does not have a codified recipe, handed down from generation to generation and preserved as a precious heirloom to be transmitted to descendants.

Cheese (good) reigns

Carnia is also one of the lands of Frico, little or not known outside Friuli. It seems that the first recipe, from the 15th century, is attributed to the famous master Martino, cook of the Patriarch of Aquileia. Born as a sweet dish, to which sugar or cinnamon was added, today the Frico has become salty, of which there are many variations. However, they can be traced back to two main types: the soft one, a sort of cheese omelette with potatoes and onion, and the crunchy one which is prepared with grated cheese left to set on a high flame. The traditional triptych is completed by the Toc ’in braide (literally dipping in the farm) usually proposed as an appetizer. It is made with a very soft polenta where a sauce (toc) consisting of a fondue of milk and cheese is placed in the center: it is seasoned with corn flour browned in butter. Poor cuisine in execution, very caloric and absolutely delicious: long live Carnia (free or Italian whatever it is) and the ten places in our selection where you will find yourself very well.

Sot la Napa – Prato Carnico

A well-kept place, inside a 17th century house, where mother and daughter do not derogate from traditional cuisine: smoked trout, duck blecs (it's an egg pasta), frico with polenta. The raw materials come from the family organic farm, many wines are natural.

Riglarhaus – Sauris

The wooden and stone chalet that houses the family-run restaurant is very beautiful, with a regular counter and hearth. In high season, when you can enjoy the terrace, in addition to the very classic carnici, there are other specialties such as mues, made with cream cheese and corn flour

Green Frasca – Lauco

A lot of wood, a lot of hospitality in the Gressani family restaurant. Local products are enhanced, but you can also have fun with some clever 'contaminated' recipes, see the interpretation of radicchio and beef fillet with breadcrumbs and almond sauce. Large cellar.

From Alvise – Sutrio

The expression of the Carnic school, with pleasant tweaks in a contemporary key that earned him the Slow Food Chiocciolina. From the Cjarsons to the rack of lamb, everything is taken care of. Apple strudel and tiramisu in Tolmezzo's sweet closing recipe. Five rooms available for a stop.

Aplis – Ovaro

It is a bit like the club house of the tourist center which includes a hotel and residences, surrounded by the greenery of a wildlife park. The cuisine respects tradition (tasting the toc 'n braide is mandatory), but it broadens the horizon especially in meat dishes. Good wines from the region.

Gold Star – Verzegnis

A certainty for fans, historic Slow Food Chiocciolina that follows the route of seasonality. Beyond that its herb Cjarsons are cult of Carnia, there are less popular dishes such as the salad of marinated twigs, the venison, the panna cotta with pollen.

Borgo Pascolle – Cavazzo Carnico

The patrons were teachers: the taste for research remained (the raw materials are all local and largely organic) and the pleasure of telling the good dishes that come to the table. Tradition is safe, but some new ideas peep out like the char tempura with turmeric.

La Fuèo – Rigolato

In the heart of the Carnic Alps, a rural setting well renovated by the patron chef with outdoor tables. From the cured meats and cheeses to the small dessert menu, through the soups and meats in salmì, here we make rigorous cuisine that pays homage to the past and the territory.

To Peace – Sauris

Restaurant-inn with a unique history (let you tell it), managed for over a century by the Scheneider family: the surname also makes sense in the kitchen, because the dishes are partly Carnic and partly German, always in the name of goodies. The selection of grappas is formidable.

Bellavista – Ravascletto

It is the restaurant of a hotel where the terrace with a splendid view makes the dining experience even more pleasant. The kitchen makes good use of local products, even the least discounted ones, for dishes such as blueberry and porcini tortelli or tagliatelle with yellow and mauve cream.

Solidarity gastronomy, José Andrés wins the Basque Culinary World Prize – Italian Cuisine

Solidarity gastronomy, José Andrés wins the Basque Culinary World Prize


The Spanish-American chef founded the World Central Kitchen association, bringing together chefs from around the world and mobilizing them to provide a global response to different emergency situations

He won the Basque Culinary World Prize 2020 (a sort of "Nobel" for solidarity gastronomy) for his important work with the World Central Kitchen association (WCK), and has already divided the prize in money – 100 thousand euros – among the ten other chefs who deserved special mention.

Solidarity that passes through the kitchen

José Andrés, Spanish-American chef, owner of a restaurant chain in the United States, founded WCK 10 years ago, bringing together chefs from all over the world and mobilizing them to provide a global and collective response to different emergency situations. He has supported political and humanitarian causes, he has cooked for free for disaster victims natural, such as Haiti and Puerto Rico, Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas and forest fires in Australia, has spent years promoting immigration reforms and occupational improvements in the restaurant sector. With the great awareness that the kitchen can be an engine for social change.

During the crisis caused by the pandemic, the WCK association played an important role. When the spread of the coronavirus started to intensify, in March, José Andrés mobilized, both in the United States and in Spain. The WCK managed around 150 solidarity kitchens in 10 cities with the support of local chefs, food banks and the Red Cross. It facilitated access to food in the most troubled regions, provided support to staff dealing with restaurant and bar closures, and incurred government spending on ensure food for the needy.

As the owner of a large chain of restaurants in the United States, José Andrés says that "those who work in the restaurant sector can help revive the economy and at the same time rebuild communities".

"After long reflection, we wanted to focus the award on the challenge facing the entire planet due to the coronavirus pandemic," explained the jury president, Joan Roca (El Cellar de Can Roca). «A challenge that chef José Andrés has faced with courage and a titanic effort: his admirable dedication to work, his ability to face humanitarian crises and his current and evident leadership have been a source of inspiration for many people who have joined to the World Central Kitchen initiative worldwide. It is a project that has also made visible the work of the volunteers they have transformed gastronomy into a strong social tool.

Thanks to Andrés' generosity, the winners of the 10 special mentions will also receive 10 thousand euros for their projects. "Each of these people will be able to change the world in many different ways, "explained the chef. "The money will allow each NGO to move forward."

Beppe Palmieri, the best maître in the world, tells his story – Italian Cuisine


Interview with the master and sommelier of the Franciscan Osteria in Modena. That reveals the honors and burdens of a room master. Between rigor, passatelli and zero alcohol. In 25 career years

"This is the historic office of me and Massimo, it has existed for about 15 years. A space only ours .

I'm with Giuseppe Palmieri, called Beppe, restaurant manager, maître historian and sommelier of the Franciscan Osteria in Modena, in his "secret refuge" a stone's throw from the restaurant, a place full of contemporary art, a long wooden table, like those of the famous Franciscan Refectors of the Food for Soul project, for their meetings and a wardrobe room where he, very elegant, changes every day before the service. Called "the most famous waiter in the world", Palmieri is practically a legend in the sector. But he mocks "I consciously chose the role of wingman years ago", but without victimization, indeed "the real revolution takes place in the dining room. It is here that the economic success and ideas of a chef are decreed. What makes the difference? The human factor . We at La Cucina Italiana spent a day with the staff of Massimo Bottura's restaurant, (the service in the July issue, co-directed with the chef) twice better in the world according to the ranking World’s 50 Best Restaurant, also meeting him, since 2000 at the service in via Stella, in Modena, in the room taken 5 years earlier by Bottura. Born in Matera in 1975, a strong and determined character, he has a blog with the evocative name Glocal, a manifesto of his vision of food and catering, a book «Room and Kitchen (Artioli 1899, pp. 169, 35 euros), logbook of his experience in Osteria Francescana. Entrepreneur, he managed for 7 years a grocery store selling high quality sandwiches, in Modena, the legendary Geni Alimentari Da Panino, which after the lockdown decided to close but only to look at new adventures and «keep up with the times .

How do you manage a hall from the first in the world?
«It has always been natural for us to look at the collective, there are no groups: for this reason, from the oldest to the youngest we have always placed and related on the same level. I built it immediately: to function, our structure could not be vertical but horizontal, making us equally responsible ".

What does a good waiter stand out from?
«I love to repeat that waiters are made, not born, experience, work ethic are required. Then the leadership and talent actually emerge on their own. A leader is recognized for his sense of responsibility towards his colleagues. I find the term "collaborators" detestable. If you invest in an authentic way on a relationship of esteem and friendship between colleagues in a strong way, great respect is born, there are no subordinates .

Explain yourself better
«If you have a dream, you need others to make it happen: everyone must give something, with the same commitment, with the utmost pride. Then of course, it takes self-discipline and an exceptional psychophysical condition that allows you to go beyond your limits. We must be well, be happy with what we do. If the individual is not aligned, it compromises the work of the whole .

It is said that even if Hell is in the kitchen, Heaven must reign in the dining room. How do you find time to recharge and how do you manage to always transmit harmony, even in your busy days?
"There is a very important moment for me and it is when I come to my" bedroom ", as I call it, right in this studio. Here I change and pick up my clothes. I have a ritual that particularly relaxes me: I rinse my face, always rest the keys on the same place, brush my teeth, choose the dress, polish the shoes, tie my tie. In all, I don't spend more than 10 minutes .

Very short as relaxation.
"It's the spirit of the room, you can't stop."

It is always very elegant: is shape also substance?
«I think so, given my role. Even in what I wear, I want to give importance to my past, and therefore to things that are of a certain age. Let me give you an example: a shirt or a jacket even if they wear out, I am certainly not to be archived: first of all because they remind me of experiences and those lived moments give value. Then because a quality garment, the older it gets, the more beautiful it is. Imperfections give charm .

Is there a dish that you associate with many meals eaten with the staff of the Osteria Francescana? Maybe a holiday recipe?

«I think what I loved most here was the passatelli in broth. When we grant them, and occasions are really rare, that dish takes on the connotations of a kind of comfort. It represents us more than others because it is a great historical recipe from Emilia. Then it has a symbolic value: it is the recovery dish par excellence, although prepared with noble ingredients. Broth is a luxury: to make it good, you need excellent raw materials and a long time. Finally, there is a world in the dough for passatelli: the bread crumbs and another main ingredient for us of the Francescana, or the crusts of Parmigiano Reggiano. Finally, to prepare them you need the contribution of an entire community because you have to collect many ingredients. Usually it works like this: there are those who remember that there are two bags of leftover bread or a little grated Parmesan. Then in 2 or 3 the broth is prepared. It is one of the dishes of our collective in which I have not seen anyone reject the encore. Then, every time there is a comic aspect … ".

Comic?
«Yes: the moment you use passatelli, the rough path from the pot to the chair begins. We see broths falling, people sliding. We laugh. This too is part of the party, of the magic .

In the Franciscan hall, there are incredible works of contemporary art: what do they represent for you?
"Those who make avant-garde re-discuss the classics: here, these works are the proof, the summa. On the other hand, I like to think that we have always lived in rigor. "

In fact, his motto is "low profile, very high performance". It has a military feel to it.
"Exact. From an artistic point of view there is a work that represents me and that I find at the same time a milestone. It has been exhibited for several years right here in Franciscan: Us Navy Seals by Vanessa Beecroft. For the first time a woman managed to photograph these deployed US Navy soldiers. It means breaking a bulwark. The same approach that guides the creation of our dishes .


You are a great sommelier: how does the staff toast?
"It does not do it. In our history of the Franciscan, in 25 years, we have never drunk a glass of wine. We love what we do so much that we couldn't do otherwise. The luxury of a good glass of wine, whether it is a Nebbiolo, a Sangiovese, a Lambrusco or a glass of Bordeaux, we grant it when we are not operating. The secret for those who do our job is concentration in the intensity of the effort. Always".

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