For its' 10th anniversary, the haute cuisine Italian food congressLe Strade Della Mozzarella 2017 (LSDM), sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna,celebrated in style in London following on from it's Milan step and before returning home to Paestum, Italy in April.
Bringing a taste of Italy to the British capital, the moving mozzarella tour brought the theme of the Mediterranean and its food to life, where the Neopolitan pizza was naturally the birthday cake of choice and prized Mozzarella di Bufala the crowning glory.
The two-day food itinerary unfolded with a number of talks, masterclasses and demonstrations filled by Italian guest chefs and rounded out with a special half day of events at Hotel Baglioni, celebrating Italian cuisine and the culinary traditions of Southern Italy.
Italian chefs Roberto Petza from Sardinia, Accursio Craparo from Sicily, Angelo Sabatelli from Apulia and Salvatore La Ragione from Campania were just a few to present their riffs on fresh mozzarella recipes, from savoury to sweet dishes, with each exclusive recipe shared below to try at home
Sardinian chef Roberto Petza was responsible for opening this year's edition of the congress: as a young man Petza chose cheffing over carpentry and currently resides over his Michelin-starredS'Apposentu restaurant in a small Italian village of just 660 inhabitants, as well as pizzeria - Sa Scollaand cooking school: Siddi.
At London's Hotel Baglioni Petza put a creative spin on a traditional Sardinian dish creating "Mozzarella in the fields: Vegetable rollwith mozzarella" using dried pasta that had been transformed through a process of soaking and fermentation, including added yeast. The dough was filled with chopped mozzarella and a mixture of wild herbs and vegetables harvested from the fields surrounding his restaurant, with untranslatable names! Finally, flower petals, wild herbs and concentrated orange juice were added as the dish was plated.
Who better than Campaniachef Salvatore La Ragione, to draw London's attention to one of the key ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine: the tomato.
"In an island like Capri, with an international clientele and multilingual staff, we have to have a cuisine in which you understand everything and which tells the story of our territory," explained the chef. "But we know that culinary simplicity is often the most difficult way to go; the perfect example being 'spaghetti with tomato sauce." His secret? Using the right tomatoes, Corbarino and I Sapori di Corbara, small and not very acidic tomatoes that bake faster and emulsify perfectly with olive oil and garlic.
In London, Salvatore presented a complex yet elegantly simple dish, showcasing another variety of tomato, this time: datterini tomatoes. Seasoned with a few drops of balsamic vinegar and a few thyme leaves, he reinterpreted the classic eggplant parmigiana - a reassuring symbol of Southern Italian home cooking - along with eggplant pulp, marinated prawns, mussels and herbs.
They call Craparo "the chef of the two Sicily's" because the chef manages to put the whole essence of the island, in its many facets, as well as experiences that led him across Italy, into his dishes.
In London, the chef from Modica, whose restaurant also bears his name, created a type of arancini - using couscous instead of rice, giving voice also to the Arab influences of Sicily - and with seasoned spring vegetables, enjoying their freshness after the winter wait.
"Needles" of leavened dough were formed and the mozzarella transformed first into a sheet and then into many "wires" that covered the arancini, sat on a fresh and acidic tomato coulis and basil pesto with lemon peel. To accompany the dish, bartender Mattia Cilia created an original cocktail reproducing the idea of a Margherita pizza in a liquid version, with tomato juice plum, mozzarella and whey Polugar wheat an ancestral Russian distilled grain.
In 2007, after having travelled around half the world, Angelo Sabatelli returned to Puglia and Mediterranean cuisine, but without forgetting the lessons learned abroad, and above all the great technical knowledge.
Closing the London session on a sweet note, Sabatelli presented an incredible dessert with an unusual take on olives, one of Puglia's most iconic products - transforming them from a savoury to a sweet ingredient thanks to a marinade and candied fruit, and almost turning them into blueberries. The two elements, which might have appeared similar but polar opposite in flavor, were accompanied by ice cream and a buffalo milk cream and extra virgin olive oil - which again combined two very different worlds, in this case that of the animal and the plant - along with "fake spaghetti" with a crispy texture similar to meringue, served with cream of olives and juniper berries.
Dal is one of those recipes that goes all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Unlike dishes such as biryani, brought to India by the Moghuls, it is one of those foods that has always been there. It is therefore a building block of Indian culture.