SOLO PRIMI PIATTI
Trofie/ Ligurian pesto
Andarinos de Usini/ Tomato sugo, Fiore Sardo D.O.P.
Sa Fregula Sarda/ Bottarga di muggine
Balanzoni Bolognesi/ Mortadella, Parmigiano Reggiano D.O.P. and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P. Extra Vecchio
Orecchiette Baresi/ Tomatoes, pork sausages, peperoncino and Caciocavallo Podolico
Su Filindeu/ Lamb broth
Trofie made by machine is good. Trofie made by hand is something else. The traditional, laborious hand-forming technique known as ‘strofinare’ may well disappear because all the hard work is now being replicated by machinery. Those formed by hand the traditional way keep the old ways alive and reconnects any native Ligurian with their once humble origins.
The format is largely eggless with some variants in the past that would utilise 'farina di castagna' during lean times with experiences in food shortages while today, it is more commonly found made with soft wheat flour and water.
The dressing of Pesto alla Genovese or Ligurian pesto is used to present this dish in its most classic way. The mortar made from the white marble of Carrara 'il marmo bianco di Carrara' used to produce the pesto characterizes the final result of the pesto with a certain refinement.
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Andarinos de Usini
Considered to be a complex shape from the town of Usini in Sassari (a northern province in Sardinia), attributing to the time intensiveness required in shaping each piece. The technique also requires time to grasp in ensuring the perimeters of its ornate form are correctly met so that its cultural ties are respectfully represented.
In Usini, Sardinia, Andarinos are made with local semola of durum wheat or some variety of heritage grains and prepared over a glass surface adorned with ridges to imprint the same design on the surface of the pasta. Each Andarinu sports 4-5 elegant curls which are formed patiently by practiced hands of the women in the town. There are no known machinery designed presently to mass produce this format as it can only be realized by tactile nuances of the hand.
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Sa Fregula Sarda
One of the many rare shapes from Sardinia, fregula are made painstakingly by "growing" the finely milled granules of flour (semola di grano duro) into tiny balls of pasta by hand. This is achieved with the randomized but purposeful "wetting" and "drying" cycle where the moistening of the flour granules is first achieved by the addition of water (wetting) and followed by flour (drying) which results in a new layer that forms over the moistened granules. As this cycle is repeated, layers of flour and water build over time and each granule is grown until the desired size is attained. It is the rapid movements of the hand and the intuition of the fregula maker that determines the consistency of the final product.
Although machines are capable of producing this tiny format, traditions are kept alive with the use of traditional methods and tools. A scivedda (enameled terracotta dish) is the main piece of this traditional production, which is used widely across the island for the preparation of bread, pasta and traditional pastry.
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Balanzoni are not quite as distinguished as tortellini and lasagna, but they are just as delicious and appreciated. These tortelli adopted the name from the famous Bolognese “mask” of Dr. Balanzone (the Doctor), and were consumed during carnivals.
Il Dottore (in Italian) was born in the city of Bologna, and is a commedia dell’arte (professional street theatre) stock character during the renaissance, typified by the use of ‘masked’ characters. Il Dottore (the Doctor) plays the function of the vecchi or “old men” and are scripted as obstacles to young lovers. In character, Dr. Balanzone was known to be a renaissance and learned man, who enjoys bursting into eloquent speeches that demonstrate his boundless array of knowledge. He is never short on advice, and always keen on sharing his opinions in a verbose way because he simply loves the sound of his voice.
Dr. Balanzone is represented in this filled pasta of Mortadella, Ricotta and Parmegiano Reggiano. This filled pasta of Bologna approximates the shape and size of tortelloni and made with Sfoglia Verde agli Spinaci (egg and spinach pasta).
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This is the most typical product of the Italian south and in particular, the gastronomical emblem of Puglia. There are many versions of throughout the provinces of Puglia, and they all use different names: cicatelli in Foggia, chiancarelle in Taranto to the maccheroni of Bari. The name translates to "little ears" and exist as a very accessible staple when paired with everyday ingredients like tomatoes, cime di rapa (turnip heads) and cacioricotta. Heartier versions are reserved for Sundays after mass where the pasta would be dressed in a very deeply flavoured sugo di carne with a side of braciole (involtini).
The technique required to made orecchiette by hand is time consuming and also technically challenging which could take years to attain a certain level of proficiency. Although machines have become extremely advanced in order to replicate the quality of handmade orecchiette, the full spectrum of hand control is much more reliable in creating that perfect form: tiny, high and concave with a very rough exterior.
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Su Filindeu (or Fili di dio in standard Italian), literally meaning the threads of God, is a variety of Italian pasta prepared exclusively in the Sardinian province of Nuoro. It is the world’s rarest and most endangered pasta variety - allegedly, only a handful of women are in possession of the knowledge and skill today to produce it. It is this reason that Su Filindeu is listed as some of the most endangered foods at risk of extinction - the Ark of Taste initiated by the Slow Food Foundation has listed Su Filindeu among its ranks of endangered traditional foods.
Although the dough is made with very basic ingredients: durum wheat semolina and water, the tactile gestures are highly nuanced and the recipe, non-existent. Su Filindeu is extremely time-consuming and hard to prepare that for the past 200 years it used to be a sacred dish, served only to those who complete a 33km pilgrimage from Nuoro to the village of Lula for the biannual Feast of San Francesco (St. Francis). Upon arrival at Santuario di San Francesco, the pilgrims are awarded with a bowl of Su Filindeu, cooked and served in a rich sheep broth with a generous portion of local sheep’s milk cheese.
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