Orecchiette al grano arso/ Cime di rapa
Tortelli di ricotta/ Burro e oro
Spaghetti/ Gambero rosso di Mazara
Su Filindeu/ Brodo di agnello
Australian grainfed for 200 days 1.2KG Porterhouse/ Tbone cooked traditionally over hardwood charcoal. Serves 4-6 persons.
Orecchiette al grano arso
“Grano arso” or scorched wheat is a great example of resourcefulness in the Italian kitchen. In the south, the act of sweeping up burnt wheat left from ‘stubble burning’ (a way of clearing the fields post harvest) and milled into flour for later use was formerly a way of rationing your good flour.
When I was in Bari, I could see that Orecchiette were not only made with plain semola but were also made with grano arso and whole wheat. In Puglia, the typical condiment would be either a straight tomato sauce or with vegetables (bitter greens like turnip tops), anchovies or local meat flavoured sauces.
The orecchiette on menu are made with grano arso and dressed with broccoli rabe, anchovies, pan grattato and EVOO seasoned with hot peppers from a producer in Molise, Italy.
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Rigatoni alla carbonara
The original inventors of this dish, the charcoal makers of northern Lazio, Abruzzo and Umbria were the pastoral creators of this seemingly simple dish. However, debates on the exact recipe down to the minute details are varied but these more or less civil disagreements are over minor variations. Accoutrements such as cream, smokey bacon, mushrooms or anything green would be considered extreme by the less dogmatic and plain psychotic to the average Roman. The cultural identity of the dish is such that it is inseparable from its noodle(s) of choice as there is rarely a contemplation of one without the other within a regional context. The conjuring of the term "carbonara" immediately designates the use of only three pasta formats: Spaghetti above all, followed closely by Bucatini and Rigatoni. The trifecta of eggs, pecorino romano and guanciale (fatty pork cheeks) follow quite ritualistically without contention.
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Tortelli di ricotta
Tortelli di ricotta is one of the simplest but most essential at the dinner table. With its basic composition, the quality relies largely on the freshness of the filling and processing methods. To bring out the best in this filled pasta, the egg dough is rolled out the traditional way with a wooden pin without any mechanical means and closed entirely by hand moments before they are cooked and served in a condiment of butter and tomatoes.
Burro e Oro, directly translated as “Butter and Gold” is a condiment originally from Emilia Romagna where “gold” is simply referenced to tomatoes.
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Spaghetti con gambero rosso di Mazara
The use of high quality durum wheat processed with the use of traditional bronze-die extrusion sheares the surface of the pasta that creates a texture for optimal sauce absorption. Bronze is used widely in the middle to southern parts of Italy and notably in Gragnano of Campania, known for its many producers of the IGP standard Pasta di Gragnano.
Gambero Rosso di Mazara is synonymous with the small town of Trapani, the Sicilian far west. The town name, Mazara del Vallo, is no less famous than the product namesake associated with it. It boasts one of the largest fishing and maritime fleet in Europe, and now famed for the coral red deep sea crustaceans that are prized for it's well-defined flavours and succulent sweet flesh. Caught in mediterranean waters close to the Libyan territorial marine borders, the fishermen of Mazara brave risky encounters, political and environmental. The red prawns are hauled up with trawling nets and processed on board with advanced flash freezing technology below 50 degrees celcius so that the organoleptic properties, quality, taste and freshness of the shrimp are kept intact. To better savor and enjoy its original flavor, the crustaceans are prepared and eaten raw or very briefly cooked.
This dish came together based on my memory of 'Ristorante da vito' in Sassari, Sardinia where the exquisite red shrimps were prepared raw as a starter. While adornments were scant, it was for good reason as the original flavours of the prawn were allowed to fully represent. With an intent to recreate the same in a pasta dish, the flesh is lightly marinated and left raw while the prawn heads are crushed and roasted to extract its flavour into a quick, loose stock to coat the pasta. The use of textured spaghetti against the light bodied sauce is ideal as the long, less girthy strands offer a larger surface area for sauces to accumulate in a single twirl. Bottarga from Sardinia grated over to finish.
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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. Jamie Oliver, with many years of pasta-making experience under his belt failed miserably after 2 hours, while engineers from Barilla were not able to replicate the pasta with their technology.
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. Upon arrival, the pilgrims are awarded with a bowl of Su Filindeu, cooked and served in a rich sheep broth and topped with a generous portion of local sheep’s milk cheese.
I was fortunate enough to meet Claudia Casu three years ago, a pasta maker and my mentor from Sassari in Sardinia, who is an expert where Sardinian cuisine (and Su Filindeu) is concerned—she is the only Sardinian woman outside of Sardinia that is able to produce this ancient pasta. It was through her that my once naive ambition of accomplishing the extremely difficult Filindeu-making technique became a reality.
The Su Filindeu pasta on the menu is produced using only 100% durum wheat, water, salt and most traditionally, with my hands. It is a dish authentically enjoyed in sheep's broth, but a close version is offered instead - a shard of Su Filindeu served over welsh lamb in a clarified broth it was poached in. A drizzle of garlic and rosemary oil to finish.
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