By: Journalist Margaux A. Cintrano
Photo Copyright: Annalisa Totero, Rob Southey, Corrado Passi
Author, Doctor and Travel Tourism Operator, Corrado Passi, was born in Cremona, in northern Italy, however, grew up in the enchantingly historical romantic city of Verona where he studied Medicine and Oral Surgery and managed his private practice for many years.
A passionate traveller, he decided to set up a Travel Tourism Agency, Unparalleled South African Tours, in Capetown, South Africa, wherein he creates personalised tailored travel services for Italians and foreigners alike .. Also a prolific, author and pеnner of uncountable books, his two latest books are Capetown and Oltre la Vita Felice .. Both are available in Italian .. This summer both books shall be available in English.
Margaux: Firstly, where were you born and raised ?
Corrado: I was born in Cremona, in the northern side of Italy, but I grew up in Verona, Veneto, where I got my Degree in Medicine & Surgery and where I managed my private practice for many years.
Margaux: What and who were the catalysts for your decisions to study medicine, which sector of medicine and then relocate to Capetown, South Africa ?
Corrado: I did not decide to study medicine driven by a specific passion: at that time I was more into literature and philosophy… At that time, I was specifically involved in oral surgery and oral implantology. In 2003, during a Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, I wondered if this city would have been a nice place to live and to make a radical change in my professional life. And it was. So I decided to move to Cape Town with my life partner, Natalia, and her child, Filippo, and I started becoming involved in the tourism industry – writing in my free time as much as I could. It was a very hectic, very energetic and satisfying period of my life.
Margaux: Tell us about Unparalleled South African Tours ?
Corrado: I’ve always been a traveller, so I decided to set up a Travel Company, Unparalleled South African Tours (Pty) Ltd, a tourism and travel consultancy company (Tour Operator) which provides people wishing to experience South Africa for leisure and business with personalised travel services, strictly tailor made: consulting and travel planning, transfer from airport to accommodation, a wide, complete range of accommodation establishments (from B&B/guest house to luxurious lodges, villas or apartments), half or full day sight-seeing tours, tailor made tours, self-drive tours, business travel and business networking, car, motorcycle 4×4 hire, escorted, guided tours, off the beaten track tours with experienced guides and sensational safaris.
Margaux: What has been the inspiration to pen three books in such a short time ? I am aware that you have recently published two books and you are working on a third book also to be published in 2018 .. Could you tell us briefly about the 3 books ?
Corrado: I started writing when I was a high school student, and I kept doing it for almost twenty years, but only when we moved to South Africa I realised that I would have liked doing it professionaly. The first book, “Cape Town” (Edizioni Polaris, Jan 2017), is a Guide about Cape Town and the Western Cape including many fictional stories narrating of many different people; “Oltre la vita felice” (Edizioni Polaris, Dec 2017) is a novel about a trip made by a south african woman – a professional – after she looses her child, who died in a car crash; the third, which will be published by June 2018, is set in Italy during the years of terrorism (early ‘80s). All these books have been written in a ten-year period of time, but I decided to publish them only four years ago. At the moment, I write every day, on a regular basis, for three or four hours per day – I’m currently working on my next book, of which I prefer not to release any further detail until it will be on the way to be published.
Margaux: Could you tell us about your latest projects for 2018 – 2019 ?
Corrado: I’m currently very busy writing and travelling to attend evening events, reading and presentations of my books in Italy, managed and planned by my Italian publishing company, “Casa Editrice Polaris”, and it takes a lot of time and energy. “Oltre la vita felice” and “Cape Town” will be translated into English by the end of 2018 and I’m communicating frequently with the professional translator who is in charge of it.
Hopefully I will probably complete my next book by the end of 2019/early 2020, and this is the main aim, I want to achieve by that time, my most important project.
By: Journalist Margaux A. Cintrano
Photo Copyright: Pierchicdubai, Massimo Vidoni
Engimatic, intoxicating and seductive, are three words used to describe these culinary gifts defining the Ingredients, the white truffle, the black winter truffle and the black summer truffle. Massimo Vidoni, The Truffle Man of Italtouch in Dubai, is going to tell us a little bit about these amazingly extraordinary gourmet treasures.
Margaux: Massimo, it is such an honor to have an Interview from you. Could you please tell us, what or who were the catalysts, that motivated your profound interest in Truffles ?
Massimo: When, I was a child, I had discovered the art of truffles, when I accompanied my uncle. The early morning preparation and going to the mountains, with the dogs, is where my profound interest really started.
Once the dog pointed to the location where there could of been a possible truffle, it was like a gold rush for me, being well versed in how difficult it was to find truffles. I had started to think of the commercial business end of trading, buying and selling this bespoken gift of Mother Nature and I had gotten hooked !
It has always fascinated me, how people spend so much money for a mere few grams of truffles. So, I had begun to bring truffles to Chefs and Restaurateurs, who would be the real promoters and skipping the “middle-men”. It is a grand pleasure to collaborate with professional Chefs.
Margaux: Could you tell our audience, what are the main types of truffles, where they are from and how are they implemented in the culinary arts ?
Massimo: For me, there are four major categories of truffles, which nature provides all year long.
The “King of Truffles” is the White Truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) from Alba, Piedmont or Tuscany. The white truffle is a wild tuber and nobody to date, has found a way to farm them. The most pungent flavour and the season dominate the kitchen from late September through late December. It is implemented in a wide variety of culinary dishes.
The Black Winter Truffle ( Tuber Melanosporum) grows in Italy, Spain and France. The season starts from late November, and goes through early March. Predominately used in Italian and French regional gastronomy. It pairs exceptionally well with fish and meat. As for its cousin, The Australian Black Winter Truffle, the main nuance, is that it is farmed in the Southern Hemisphere from June to August. It is commonly used in French cuisine.
The Summer Truffle (Tuber Aestivum) mostly found in the South of Europe, and is widely used to garnish dishes worldwide. The season begins from June through September. It pairs extraordinarily with almost anything including pastas, pizzas and potatoes.
Margaux: What are your favorite dishes utilising truffles ?
Massimo: One of my favorite dishes is the White Truffle on a sunny side up egg, or on fresh tagliolini with butter. Another penchant of mine is Black Winter Truffle on Lobster with truffle reductions in a truffle sauce and last but not least, Summer Truffles, on Beef Carpaccio. Margaux: What were the main reasons for relocating from Italy to Dubai ?
Massimo: I actually spent eight-teen years in Manhattan, doing the same thing more or less. I was importing and selling truffles directly to the top Chefs and Restaurateurs. In 2011, I had the opportunity to visit Dubai, and it seemed like “The New Las Vegas”. Amazing hotels, beautiful restaurants, no taxes and nobody doing “truffle trading” properly. After two months, I decided to open Italtouch, Dubai.
Margaux: Tell our readers about what other delicacies Italtouch sources.
Massimo: Trading truffles has made me “popular” in the circle of Chefs and I have maintained an excellent rapport with most of the top chefs here in Dubai. I have added a line of caviar, foie gras de canard, Halal Charcuterie, Balsamic Vinegars, Vegetables, Rices, and Pasta. All top quality standard and are branded Italtouch.
Margaux: If money were not a problem, tell us what is your gastronomic dream trip ?
Massimo: I would fly off to Massimo Bottura in Modena, Italy, Joan Roca in Girona, Spain, Alain Ducasse in France, Rene Redzepi in Copenhagen, Denmark, Daniel Humm & Daniel Boulud in Manhattan, and Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Napa Valley.
Thank you for the opportunity to share what “floats my boat” and my passions and profound interest in truffles.
Chef Mario SANDOVAL – Restaurant COQUE, Madrid Capital
By: Journalist Margaux A. Cintrano
Photo Copyright: Restaurant Coque, Madrid Capital
Executive Sandoval draws on the bounty of local seasonal products which he turns into various tasting crates with upscale taste explosions however, profoundly steeped in tradition with evolutionary twists. The exquisite venue located in Barrio Salamanca, Madrid, houses an excellent wine cellar.
The trilogy of brothers, Sommelier Rafael, Maître Diego and Executive Chef Mario Sandoval obtained three Michelin Status at their former restaurant, Coque, 28 kilometres from Madrid Capital in a small town called Humanes. Several years ago, they decided to move into the Capital.
Chef Mario has written several books, including Whiskey and Food, which includes a gold mine of recipes for the home gourmet in mind.
Margaux: Tell us about your autumn 2019 carte.
Mario: Noquis Boletus Mushroom buttons served in an Iberian Ham broth is a nice warmer. Autumn´s seasonal vegetables from the family garden, Grilled Crevettes (carabiñeros) with a pinch of curry salt and citrus. Portobello with poached egg and a sprinkling of black truffle. Escabechado of Sea Bream. Roast lacquered in our wood ovens, Braised on flame wild squid, and Suckling Piglet (cochinillo)
Margaux: Wow ! Amazingly extraordinary .. And for dessert ?
Mario: Columbian Maracuya Fruit with Rum Candy and also a Chocolate something.
Margaux: To move on, tell us about your 1st restaurant, in Humanes.
Mario: Firstly, Humanes is 28 kilometres from the center of Madrid via railway. Coque had become a quintessential dining point of reference at an international level. I was the youngest Chef at that time to receive a Michelin Star in 2006. I was twenty five years old.
Margaux: I understand that you have also worked with Relais & Chateaux Hotels.
Mario: Yes, I had worked at Hotel Orfile in Barrio Colón. It was an exemplary experience and period of grand growth.
Margaux: 2020, do you have any projects or goals in mind ?
Mario: A second Michelin Star, hopefully .. And to enlargen our organic gardens.