By George Ganchev – Hedonique, Founder of Wine & Food Society
Photo Copyright: Wine & Food Society
Cheese is mentioned in the Old Testament, but the earliest records of it are even more ancient. A legend tells how a merchant took a long journey through the desert. He took with him food and milk that he poured into dried sheep’s stomach. When he decided to quench his thirst, a trickle of water flowed out of his fur, and something nasty was glowing at the bottom. Sucks, but tasty – that’s how the merchant discovered the cheese. The truth turned out to be different. During excavations in Croatia, scientists discovered the most mature cheese in the world – at 7,200 years old, the find was found from the remains of brine cheese on rhytons and sieves used by Neolithic farmers.
East of Croatia in Bulgaria, the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, since ancient times, cheese has been made mainly of sheep and goats. What distinguishes the dairy delicacy made here by everyone else in the world and lends it a lasting taste is Lactobacillus bulgaricus. The bacterium is found freely in the nature of Bulgaria. It feeds on lactose and produces lactic acid, thanks to which the milk is stored, with the help of which the famous Bulgarian yogurt is produced.
After The World War II, under the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, Bulgaria was obliged to pay Greece $ 45 million, the current equivalent of which exceeds half a billion dollars in reparations. By the end of 1964, Bulgaria had paid up to the last cent that huge sum in cheese and lamb. Due to this, a huge amount of Bulgarian cheese is sold on the international market as Feta. The difference between cheeses is huge in texture and taste. The original Greek Feta is made from goat’s milk and is soft.
The traditional Bulgarian cheeses are:
White brined cheese made from cows, sheep, goats, buffalo and mixed milk. It is characteristic for it that the ripening period takes place in brine (water and sea salt).
Cashcaval is a kind of yellow hard cheese that has undergone a process of pre-ripening – chederisatsia. It is made from sheep or cow’s milk or a mixture. Minimum ripening period is about 60 days. A distinction should be made between Bulgarian yellow cheese – cashcaval, and yellow cheeses known in Europe.
One of the forgotten treasures of Bulgaria, which in its authentic brew is made only at home, but has excellent taste and can last for years thanks only to salt and the local bacteria is Krokmach or Katak. It is made from sheep’s milk boiled in a water bath only in July, August and early September. Served with red roasted pepper and leaves unique memories of the palate.
Another forgotten treasure, but in the top twenty of Europe, is the Green Cheese of Cherni Vit / Central Stara Planina /. It has recently undergone its Renaissance thanks to Mr. Tsvetan Dimitrov, who revived the tradition of this one-of-a-kind delicacy. It is prepared from the milk of 2 local breeds of sheep – Teteven and Karakachan, in a certain period of the year. Thanks to one of the three European molds – Balkan and local bacteria is born something that can not be described, just to try.
Photo Copyright: Luca Cinì – A Wine Story, Luca Cinì
When we think of Italy, we picture Rome with the Colosseum, Florence, Venice and many other tourist attractions. But on a recent trip to Rome, our eyes were opened to the Italian culture. One, yes, deeply intertwined with its ancient roots, but more notably one with food and wine a core part of its essence. So on a hunt to find a piece of Italy in Phuket, we came across a small Osteria at Boat Avenue. As soon as we walked through the front door, we were taken back to our experience in Italy. Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Luca Ciní, owner of Luca Ciní – A Wine Story, to find out his story.
What is your “Wine Story”?
It’s the story of my life; many stories throughout my life that brought me to where I am now. Everything started when my Grandma used to give me pieces of bread dipped in red wine, telling me not to tell anyone because it was our secret. She wanted me to taste the wine, as her way of telling me that wine is such an important part of our culture. That was her message to me.
Years later, my mum would tell me adventurous stories of my uncle Ugo, an amazing cook, who in the 60s would drive to Bordeaux from the Veneto region in Italy, to attend a wine dinner, and return the next day. It was a great passion for good wine and good food, which is definitely in my DNA as well. What role has food and wine played in your upbringing and family?
Food and wine is a part of our Italian culture. We used to have dinner or lunch with family, with parents. My mum is still a good cook, so I’ve been spoiled by delicious food. She learnt to cook three different styles, from three different regions of Italy. Veneto, where she’s from, Abruzzo, where my dad is from and Marche, where my parents live and have lived for many years.
For us Italians, the passion for food and wine starts from our family homes. In my hometown, Senigallia and the surrounding areas, the food and wine offering is of high quality – the quality of the ingredients and raw materials. We Italians are quite spoilt for food and wine. You can’t escape from it.
Were you ever in the kitchen cooking with your mother?
I used to be in the kitchen, yes. I was quite curious about my mum cooking, so I would watch her and learn. As a result, later on in my life experience and living abroad, I’ve always been able to cook good food for myself and friends. Thanks to the skills I picked up from my mother, and my grandmothers – learning at home.
What are the most important aspects of Italian food?
I’m not a chef, so I will answer as a food and wine lover. For me, it is the quality of the raw material and the attention to detail. We Italians have always paid much attention to detail. In the arts, in music, painting, architecture, sculpting as well. I will say also, the most important thing is tradition and authenticity.
We’re still cooking dishes we’ve been cooking for thousands of years, so we still have those recipes from all those years ago. Each region, each province, and in each province, every city has its recipes and its style. We have hundreds of recipes that have been inherited since centuries ago. So food and how to cook food is part of our tradition and our history. You can imagine how vast the tradition and history of Italian food is.
Another important thing is that each dish is perfectly paired with a wine from the same area. So it’s a natural, perfect pairing. This is what we are doing here at Luca Ciní – A Wine Story. Making traditional style food from the ancient recipes, using the best raw materials possible, and pairing the right dishes with the right wine.
How would you describe Italian cuisine?
The flavours are given by the product that we use. You don’t have to add many things to add to the flavour of the food. When the products are already good, they already have a great flavour.
In my hometown, for example, we have great seafood. You can cut open raw fish and add a few drops of good olive oil and salt, and it’ll be great. You could do the same with a tomato – add a drop of olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and it’ll taste great. The flavour is in the quality of the ingredients, so the concept is that we don’t want to change the natural flavours of our food.
What series of events led you to settle in Phuket and launching Luca Ciní?
Everything started 20 years ago, more or less. I was tired of my previous job and started getting more and more connected to what was at that time, and still is my biggest passion – wine. I started going to a very good wine bar after work with a good friend of mine, who is now a chef. It was the first wine bar in my hometown serving high-quality wine by the glass, with appetizers.
My curiosity for wine was growing, so I decided to attend sommelier classes. I attended three levels of Italian Sommelier Association to become a sommelier, and three months of wine marketing at the Gambero Rosso school in Rome. I quit my previous job and started a wine distribution and representative agency with a partner in my area. We were selling very prestigious wines within our territory.
I then opened a wine shop in my hometown. That’s when I received a call from a friend of mine in Hong Kong, whose company was looking for a manager in the wine industry. This was the beginning of 2011 when I decided to move to live and work in Hong Kong. I found the wine market was oversaturated and it led to a stressful lifestyle.
On a short trip to Koh Samui, I fell in love with Thailand and decided to change lifestyle. I chose Phuket because it was a more connected and internationally oriented destination. After a few months of trying to figure out what to do, it became apparent that the calibre of the wine offering, five years ago, was low. I thought it was an open market for good quality wine. Along with my passion for selling wine, the good amount of interest in high-quality wine and the recently opened Boat Avenue, Phuket made an ideal location to start the shop.
The Osteria concept may be foreign to some. Could you explain it?
Osteria is a very common concept in Italy. It has been around since ancient Rome, where they had shops selling food and selling wine as well. They were set up in strategic locations; selling refreshments and food to travellers. They quickly became a meeting and aggregation points, and often featured music, although easy food and wine were the main focus.
Over time the style has changed, and now my Osteria is a place where you go dressed casually, enjoy good wine and traditional food – food sometimes not on the menu, because chef Bruna will find something special in the market on a day, and create a special dish for that week. This is also the main difference between my Osteria and a restaurant. The food on offer isn’t strictly what’s on the menu.
In summary, the concept is quite simple. A relaxed atmosphere, good food, good wine and good music.
For someone interested in understanding the process involved in pairing the right wine with a dish, how does it work?
Well, when a customer selects a dish, I can suggest the right wine to go with it. Many factors are involved. This is something that was part of my training, but also part of my 35 years of experience.
What was your vision for your career when you started in this industry?
I always travel – physically or in my mind. With my previous job, I wasn’t satisfied. When I started working with wine, my desire was always to work abroad. It’s always been one of my dreams – to work abroad with wine and food. Anyone who knows me would tell me that they knew I would have never lived and worked in my hometown forever. Sooner or later I was going to leave and do something somewhere else. The wine was the right tool and the right reason for me to be able to achieve this vision.
What industry similarities and differences have you found between Phuket and Italy?
I could see at the time that the wine market was not mature, and this was a positive thing. In Italy, I had a wine bar and wine shop, but there are many competitors and the market is saturated. It’s always been different here; like a mission. A mission for me to bring Italian wines, food and culture, which are all tightly connected to Phuket.
The market then was ready to receive this challenge, so I think I did it at the right time. I saw a gap in the market so the opportunity was there. Several people, five or so years ago thought my idea to open a wine shop selling only Italian wines was crazy. I remember them telling me that. Maybe I was crazy, maybe I knew what I was doing – but I’m passionate, so it worked. If you have passion, professionalism and knowledge, and do it the right way – with some luck it could work.
Right after I opened, many other wine bars opened, and the wine knowledge grew and more and more Italian wines were imported and more high-quality wines came into the marketplace.
Have you seen growth in the knowledge and interest in wine since you opened?
Definitely. There has been, in the last five years a lot of interest in western cuisine but more specifically higher quality, authentic Italian food and wine. My clientele consists of local expats and a large contingent of local Thais, this is my biggest achievement with the shop, I think. What has been the highlight of your journey here in Phuket?
There isn’t one highlight. Every year there is one improvement, or event that tells me that I’m doing the right thing here. Things like the growth in the interest of the clients, the renovation of the shop, having a great staff and the addition of new staff.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my manager Iddy, who has been with me since day one. She’s a very important part of the shop and has always supported me in achieving what we have here. I’d also like to thank Bruna, my amazing chef (even if she prefers to be called cook). Finally, I’d like to thank Thailand, and Phuket, my home, for allowing me to fulfil my dreams.
What can our readers look forward to in the coming months from Luca Ciní?
We’re always working to keep the atmosphere quite vibrant. We organise exclusive events, private events, events at my osteria, events at villas. We try to have an event every month. We bring food and wine producers from Italy and organise wine tastings with them. We have one coming up in November, but for now, I won’t tell you anything else. You’ll have to wait and see.
Valerio Bellini´s first contact with Balsamic Vinegar was completely by random. He hails from a family of wine producers and started producing Balsamic vinegar more than a century ago. Valerio´s relocation to Reggio Emilia brought him closer to the world of Balsamic Vinegar and his rediscovering of the grapes that he recalls from his childhood. Feretti Corradini, the artisianal vinegar factory is a union of two families who have been carrying out the long laborious process of creating one of the region´s best Balsamic Vinegars.
Margaux: What are your goals for 2020 ?
Valerio: In July 2019, we had started to enlargen the vinegar factory, in the Via Emilia between the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia. By next spring we will be ready with our larger space and a brand new tasting room, created specifically to allow friends, enthusiasts and customers to taste our vinegars with a view of our vineyards! The reception area will become the foundation of our work, and we are already planning to hold events directly in the vinegar factory and in the external spaces. We feel the need to pass on the our tradition and above all the history of a product that the world envies us for.
Margaux: When we were at Extraordinary Food and Wine 2018, in Venice, you had given me a vinegar tasting. Can you tell our readers, about the different vinegars that you produce, their uses and where you sell them ? Do you have an online shop ?
Valerio: High quality handcrafted products, using only local raw materials without artificially forcing refinement times which can vary from 50 months of the youngest product to over 50 years for Family Reserves. The limited quantities bottled annually are synonymous with absolute craftsmanship, the pursuit of product perfection without getting involved with modernity and fashions. The Reggiana tradition of balsamic vinegar has been recognized since 1040, where at the court of Matilde di Canossa there were the presence of some casks of this precious condiment. We are proud to be producer partners of the CONSORTIUM FOR THE PROTECTION OF TRADITIONAL BALSAMIC VINEGAR FROM REGGIO EMILIA, where we confer our best reserves that will be bottled in the 3 classic labels, ARAGOSTA LABEL (minimum 12 years of aging), SILVER LABEL (about 20 years of aging) and our GOLD LABEL EXTRAVECCHIO (over 25 years of aging) We produce in larger quantities balsamic dressings with aging of 50 months or 72 months for daily use in combination with cooked or raw vegetables, or cheese and meat. The most refined vinegars are used exclusively, a few drops of product can enhance the taste of the dish! We don’t think only of the classic combinations with Parmigiano Reggiano or strawberries, an omelette or a risotto are also a great match, as well as red fruit. I love strawberries and raspberries with our Extravecchio !!! The younger products lend themselves to short cooking, to flavor roasts and braised, great dishes of local cuisine. Just last week I made arrangements with an image and web agency, with whom we started talking about e-commerce. Another goal for 2020, in order to allow customers who visit us to buy their favorite balsamic vinegar at any time!
Margaux: What interests most people today are the culinary uses of a product. What are some of the uses of your balsamic vinegars ?
Valerio: Our products are designed for daily use, salad and vegetables for our younger balsamic, shellfish and important meat for the most refined. The balsamic lover is a person who would put him anywhere, even outside the usual patterns or historical combinations. And the various balsamic vinegars lend themselves very well to these improvisations! Margaux: Of course, we do not expect you to give away your secrets, however, just very briefly, how is the balsamic vinegar aged and are there any other ingredients added to the process ?
Valerio: Only 3 ingredients: Cooked must of local grapes, the slow passing of the seasons …. the cold winters and the torrid summers, barrels of different wood essences. There are no secrets, the top floor of the vinegar factory (the environment most sensitive to temperature changes) completes the work. Ah, I forgot …..
So much patience, to get a balsamic of good viscosity and ample bouquet you need at least 15 years of aging, 15 years of care on the part of the conductor and 15 passages in barrels of different capacities and wood essences (oak, cherry, juniper, chestnut) to capture of each of them the particularities and have a complete olfactory and tasting bouquet
Margaux: If money were not a problem, tell us about your gastronomic dream trip and why you would select this destination.
I have traveled the world very little, I admit that I still have some difficulties with fear of flying and unfortunately my spare time is also scarce. However, I promised my family that the future will certainly be more “eventful”. I wouldn’t want to be biased or too tied to the territory. However, when it comes to gastronomy I think of our region, Emilia Romagna as a land of traditions and its dishes are famous, all over the world! I’m imagining an ideal tour in these areas. I have friends who produce fantastic wines and not just Lambrusco, and we both know Flos, Cecilia Lanzani and Denis Beggi, who have a small local saffron cultivation company of the highest quality. And then the first fruits! Emilia is experiencing a Renaissance or comeback, with its variety of products, exceptional raw materials, and special people who know how to create unique excellences in the world! It will be a pleasure to welcome you to our lands, where tradition, friendliness and hospitality are truly a foundation for us!
Thank you very much Valerio. A true pleasure.
The Top Photo: Extraordinary Food & Wine 2019 – Founder Fausto Brozzi /Center/
Photo Copyright: Gigi Montali, Verza Salumi
The origins of salumificio verza date back to the early 1900s, when his mythic grandfather Antonio, known as “Verza” used to butcher cattle and pigs bred in the valley. This ancestor, would preserve the meat in caves, filled with snow and ice, that he himself would collect in his cart from the Fiorentini Highlands. Following in his family traditions, the butchery trade, which had begun, in Velo d´Astico, Italy in 1968, continues today with the same passion, tradition, and quality of cured meat products.
Margaux: Tell us, what or who were the catalysts, that inspired you to enter into the world of Salami and Charcuterie.
Federico: The Toniolo’s family has a long tradition in butchert which started in the early 1900s from grandfather Antonios. In 1968 the young grandson Antonios Toniolo founded Salumificio Verza, adopting his family’s nickname for the company. So there are two Antonios in our family history that have inspired us to enter and continue this Charcuterie tradition.
Margaux: Could you please the readers, about the latest products that you have for the incoming Christmas Season ?
Federico: On 21st September we have had the official presentation of our new product “Il Cengio”, a cured meat product dedicated to our territory, with a high level of craftsmanship. This hand made product is composed from seven different anatomical meat cuts: shoulder, bacon, leg, jowl, lard, loin and neck.
Margaux: If money were not an issue, what is your eno – gastronomic dream trip and why ?
Federico: Probably I’m telling you a banality but my eno-gastronomic dream trip would be a trip through Italy, from north to south, to discover all the specialties, the micro production, the typical products of each region and rarities scattered over the territory. If money were not an issue I hope that time was not an issue too. Margaux: We met in January 2019, at the Extraordinary Food & Wine Trade Fair, in Venice. I was very impressed with your “AURUM” and the specialised lamp in which you use to provide a little heat to this luxurious delicacy. Can you give us some more details about this delicacy and the lamps ?
Federico: “ Emotion I “ with black truffle and 23k. edible gold is the first product of our Aurum line. This cured meat product is something special, it’s completely hand made, patent protected and customizable. About customizations, we have already planned some variants for ex. without truffle or with white truffle but in Aurum line anything can happen. Here we don’t talk only about taste, our goal is to bring the person to feel unique, an “Emotion People”. The customer is a central part of the development of his “Emotion One” that can be made even more exclusive through all the ingredients that customer wants; in this way we can really make a product unique in the world. The box of the product, which is an integral part of EMOZIONE I, has been designed to enhance the characteristics of the product and to involve the consumer emotionally. On opening the box, the product is wrapped by the led light coming from the backlit plexiglass board on which EMOZIONE I lays and which acts as a cutting board.
The light makes all the gold particles on the surface of the product stand out and shine. With EMOZIONE I, the aim is to create an experience that goes beyond just the taste, but that also involves the senses such as touch and sight in order to reach the heart and mind too.
Margaux: What are your professional goals for 2020 ?
Federico: Our professional goal for 2020 is to introduce “Emotion I” and the Aurum line into Japanese market. Margaux: I see you also have a retail gourmet boutique. What products do you sell at the shop ?
Federico: In our shop we sell our fresh and cured meat products but also we select the best fresh meat of beef, veal and chicken; our butchers make many meat preparation ready to use in brine, moisturized with olive oil and herbs or vacuum packed with our spice mix but on request they prepared also filled roasts or other meat preparation at the moment following the customer’s needs.
Margaux: Which wines do you suggest that would pair the best with your products ? Federico: For the new product “Il Cengio” we suggest a fruity white still wine as Vespaiolo, Lugana or Monferrato; For Emotion I with black truffle we suggest a red wine like: Amarone, Brunello di Montalcino, Sagrantino di Montefalco, Bordeaux and Saint Emilion.
Margaux: Last but not least, can you provide us with a background history of the company ?
Federico: The origins of Salumificio Verza date back to the early 1900s, when legendary grandfather Antonios, known as “Verza”, used to butcher cattle and pigs bred in the valley. This ancestor would preserve the meat in a cave filled with the snow and ice that he himself would collect on his cart from up on the Fiorentini highlands. Then using this same means of transport, he would travel around the nearby villages selling his products to his customers. Following this family tradition in the butcher’s trade which began in Velo d’Astico, in
1968 the young Antonio Toniolo founded Salumificio Verza, adopting his family’s
nickname for the company.
Today Verza Salumi is a business reality, resulting from a well-known brand, and in all these years it has known how to maintain the same passion, tradition and quality of its cured meat products thanks to a careful selection of the meat, the use of natural casings, herbs, natural
spices and, above all, a slow maturing technique. These are the values and the philosophy that have been handed down to us and that we, in our turn, wish to hand down to future generations.
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.
By: Journalist Margaux A. Cintrano
Photos & Photo Copyright: Gigi Montali, Emanuela Marinello, Denis Beggi, Cecilia Lanzani, Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal – Venice
Margaux: Where were you born and raised?
Fausto: I was born in Colorno in the province of Parma where I grew up and I currently live.
Margaux: Which and who were the catalysts that inspired your interest in the food and wine sector?
Fausto: The catalyst was basically my grandfather who produced “culatelli”. I didn’t want to produce it, but since Gabriele D’Annunzio thanked him for being the King of Italian charcuterie, one day, I resumed producing culatelli, in a very limited quantity: 200 pieces per year! Who produces culatelli does not produce less than 5000 pieces a year. From that point on, my experience in the field of gastronomy had begun at the highest level, with my friends and contacts, of international importance.
Margaux: Tell us about the creation of Extraordinary Food & Wine Venezia event.
Fausto: The event was born for the need to stand out in the eno gastronomic field from the mass of exhibitors
and the existing fairs in the sector. We have created a unique and elegant event, where exhibitors have been able to communicate with people interested in their products, without rush in an enchantingly harmonious setting, creating a privileged relationship, without neglecting the artistic side, since I consider the art producers themselves not just food or wine.
Margaux: Why the choice of Ca Zanardi, an 18th century Venetian palace for the Extraordinary Food & Wine event in 2018 and The Hotel Monaco, Grand Canal, San Marco in 2019 and 2020 ?
Fausto: Firstly, I chose Venice and in particular Ca ‘Zanardi because it has been the home to the art collateral of the Venice Biennale of which I am the director. I wanted a unique and elegant location in the heart of the most beautiful city in the world like the to exhibit some of the best products in the world. Due to the non central location, I had decided in 2019, to have a more central and easily accessible location, yet maintaining the enigmatic, enchantment of Renaissance Venice right on the Grand Canal, and its fascinating surroundings.
Margaux: Tell us about your dreams, your food and wine projects and the journey you want to take.
Fausto: I do not live by dreams alone, however, from reality for which the project shall continue, to go on with more and more selected products, I am also, considering to present Extraordinary around the world to make it clear that good food and wine is an art. Margaux: Are you going to publish any books in the near future?
Fausto: I published a book 20 years ago: “The Design of Taste in the Taste of Design”, an absolute and unique thing that spoke of the quintessence of marketing, presented also in London, so even today it is a must read for the sector, and maybe I shall write another one. All is possible we’ll see!
Margaux: When is the 2020 Extraordinary Food & Wine Event?
Fausto: January 19th, 20th and 21st, we shall be celebrating our 3rd Anniversary Edition of Extraordinary Food & Wine at the Hotel Monaco, Grand Canal, San Marco.
Margaux: Last but not least, could you tell us what you do professionally?
Fausto: Professionally I work in strategic marketing around the world and I am an artist and I have am exhibited my works all over the world. I have dedicated books, magazine articles and presented uncountable artworks in galleries and museums and additionally have been awarded amongst the 50 most important photographers in the world. I am the director of the collateral of the Venice Biennale and much more.
Thank you very much.
Interview with the founder of Wine & Food Society George Ganchev – Hedonique
By: Journalist Margaux A. Cintrano
Photo Copyright: Wine & Food Society
Margaux: Tell us, how did you get involved in the wine and food industry.
George: My grandfather had a restaurant in Bulgaria before the time of the U.S.S.R. Communist takeover. Over the time, my passions have grown and approximately 10 years ago, I created The Bulgarian Wine Society, and from 2014, Wine & Food Society as an independent trade channel, through which the production of small producers of quality wines and food to reach the connoisseurs on the market of the European Union for now, nonetheless by the quantity they are making.
Margaux: What are your planned projects and goals for Wine and Food Society in 2020 ?
George: We are going to create wine and food selections and make these treasures accessible to the connoisseurs in Europe by placing electronic stores for each country. Due to the scale and the specifics of the regional productions and the policy of the large commercial structures, there is no way oil of high quality, produced in Italy or Greece, to reach the final connoisseurs in Denmark for example…., Wine & Food Society offers a solution to this problem. We start with Italian, French, Spanish and Bulgarian selections, in which will be offered unique products from these countries for the European market for now.
It’s not just a store like those you already know. If you choose a product you get a recommendation with which wine to enjoy it, as well as a recipe for its preparation. For this the chefs are an indispensable part of this project. Our tendency is to recommend recipes from the regional cuisine. Margaux: If money were not an issue, what is your gastronomic dream trip and why ?
George: Everywhere where there is still regional cuisine, because it is the cultural memory of the mankind.
Margaux: Who are your food icons?
George: My friend – Du Chef Radichev, who produces an unique goat cheese with truffles.
Margaux: Tell us briefly about some of grape varieties cultivated in Bulgaria.
George: In the Bulgarian lands wine has been produced for millennia, but what the modern ones can taste is Mavrud, typical Melnik Vine /the so-called “Shiroka Melnishka Loza”/, Gamfor. From the later created varieties Rubin is my favorite.
Margaux: What are your favorite Bulgarian dishes?
George: Chomlek, it is a dish of meat and vegetables splashed with a red wine, which is cooked very slowly in a crock.
Margaux: Last but not least, what is your favorite food product and how do you enjoy it ?
George: What in Italy is called Prosciutto, in Spain – Hamon, in Bulgaria is Salted Pork Ham from the area of the town of Elena. I like to combine it with Mavrud.
By: Journalist Margaux A. Cintrano
Photo Copyright: Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890, Dеssert Photo – 4 by Claudio Mollo, Photographer
Chef Ernesto Iaccarino is the Executive Chef of the Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890 located in the enchanting village of Sant´Agata Sui Due Golfo on the Sorrentine Peninsula, and possessing breathtakingly stunning views of The Island of Capri. It is a legendary historic restaurant and Relais & Chateaux Hotel, Don Alfonso 1890.
Margaux: When did your passion to become a Chef begin?
Ernesto: I was born and raised on the Sorrentine Coast and at the age of eighteen, I relocated to Naples to attend university. My family has been in the restaurant and hospitality sector since 1890. I was taught by my grandfather and then my father, “first, how to eat, and then how to cook”.
Marguax: What were your first experiences in the kitchen ?
Ernesto: Since I was a child, my family had prepared me and taught me about the quality of the raw materials, ingredients and the basis of fine Italian regional cuisine. For example, the varying types of tomatoes. They told me, “ a tomato is not just a tomato. There are a wide variety of tomatoes,, and they are a profound ingredient of Italian Culture”. They also instilled within me, to know how to use which tomatoes in what dishes. In a fresh pasta for example, the Vesuviani Tomatoes are the best variety. Margaux: A dish closest to your heart ?
Ernesto: Using fresh produce, I have been creating deceptively simply Mediterranean delicacies, since my childhood.
Margaux: What ingredients do you prefer to use ?
Ernesto: If I am making a tomato sauce or a Ragu, the best tomato to employ is the San Marzano. If I am creating a Caprese Salad, or a tomato salad, then the most tasty variety are the Cuore di Bue Tomato. I had learnt from the ground up about our lands and our raw materials. Our land is dotted with lemon groves, vineyards and olive trees.
Margaux: In what direction is Italian Cuisine heading ? Ernesto: My most important gastronomic trip of 2013 was Japan. There, I had really seen how the Japanerse treat their ingredients and respect their food. Japan is a country where the quality of the products are very highly appreciated and honored. Furthermore, we respect the bio diversity worldwide and the exceptional ingredients of the Amazon and Peru, for example. We want to give these indigenious people the chance to farm and by providing them with employment and incomes, so they can maintain the agricultural product growth, or they shall be lost. Italy needs to adopt to this form of preserving the food culture.
Margaux: Do you have a tiny secret to share with us as a prominent Two Michelin Starred Chef ?
Ernesto: “Presentation is essential of course, however, we also believe the most important part of a dish is the taste”.
“It is the most memorable thing we have about a dish, its taste”. With this in mind, I create the unforgettable.
Food styling or dressage is absolutely quintessential but the quality of the ingredients we use is the most revelant aspect. The research is based on the highest quality available ingredients both local and foreign. Last year, I had travelled to Peru and Chile to research new ingredients to use at my restaurant. Margaux: Chef Ernesto, one dish which sums up Don Alfonso 1890 ? Ernesto: At our Restaurant, we specialise in modern regional Italian cuisine, maintaining its identity, however, we want to respect our traditions, our roots, and our culture. The usage of organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the organic vegetables that come from our organic farm, which faces the Isle of Capri, are the key ingredients of our cooking. This is our way of eating.