Emanuele Scarello is chef at the Michelin starred Agli Amici restaurant in Udine, in the Northern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Fine Dining Lovers interviewed him to better understand which is the relationship between the territory, local ingredients and culinary tradition.
How does territory influence your style of cuisine?
In the first place, territory influences your behavior: the climate, the landscape and the tastes that I encounter every day comfort me, and are the “ingredients” of my life. I live in the center of a region that has, in just barely 50 km, the sea to the south and the Alps to the north. In the winter, I ski; in the summer, I fish.
Just a few steps from my house and my restaurant I have gorgeous meadows and beautiful vegetable gardens where I can pick the best produce every day: herbs, sprouts and amazing vegetables. My emotions derive from here, and this allows me to serenely create a delicious dish.
What local ingredient could you not live without, and why?
There isn’t just one particular ingredient: every season has its special taste. When cooking, I could never do without Godia potatoes, from my hometown. These potatoes are of the Kennebec variety and I use them in a variety of ways.
Using the recipe you’re sharing with out readers as an example, the Frico (cheese fritters with potatoes), how have you combined tradition and innovation in this dish?
The ingredients are traditional: lard from the pig’s cheek, differently aged cheese, onion. The innovation comes from how these ingredients are combined and from their consistency: the contrast of soft and crispy is much more defined. The flavor is authentic, but the dish is much lighter.
Which of your recipes best expresses your connection with the territory, and why?
It’s hard to pick out just one recipe. I like to extract aromas in water and use the infusions to garnish fish or ravioli. But maybe my dearest dish is the Zuppa di Friulano, with gnocchi and sea urchins. It represents that tastes and scents of the land we love.
Italian writer Ippolito Nievo called the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia as a “small summary of the universe”. In just a few kilometers you go from the sea, with its sandy and rocky coastline, to the plains, to the hills, and then there are the Alps. This is a truly unique land, and we appreciate it more each time we come back from travelling.
When we fly in, we see the Gulf of Trieste, which tastes like sea urchins. Then the hills - il Collio - appear, where the great white wines come from. Among these wines, we’ve chosen the Friulano, which adds an interesting, fresh note to the dish. And then we get home to Godia - our town is famous for the quality of its Kennebec potatoes, which are traditionally used to make gnocchi. And gnocchi is a comfort food, so its sweetness contrasts well with the soup’s consistency. The dish is perfect with a drizzle of Bianchera olive oil.
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