We all know about eating cold pizza the day after, but how about leftover lasagna? That's leftover lasagna so good you'll want to brush your teeth with it. Yes, we're talking lasagna-flavoured toothpaste, one of the latest creations to come out of Ristorante 1978 in Rome, where 23-year-old chef Valerio Braschi lets his creative imagination run free on the plate.
Named Lasagna 2021, the dish was inspired by the Roman chef's childhood love of lasagna and comes complete with a trio of accessories: a fresh tube of lasagna that the diner must pierce to open, a toothbrush made of egg pasta, upon which the lasagna toothpaste is squeezed, and a final mouthwash rinse or broth made of 60-month-old and 180-year-old Parmesan. The chef says the dish "may be a little extreme for purists," but all the flavours are still there.
At age 18, Braschi was the youngest chef ever to win Masterchef Italia, where he became known for his offbeat creations. Now he is free to express himself at the helm of his own professional kitchen, where he entertains paying customers with his fun creations.
The idea for Lasagna 2021 came on the back of his recent lollipop lasagna creation and stems from his childhood. "When we woke up after the holidays the first thing we did was taste the leftover lasagna, perhaps cold from the fridge. The next day the lasagna is still better, cold from the fridge, for breakfast it is pure magic. Breakfast with lasagna is something I still do today" he told us.
The unusual idea to use tubes came about when his business partner dropped round with a box full of empty tubes and some pliers to close them and challenged Braschi by saying, "I've given you the tools, now you can create what you like with them."
Image: Lasagna 2021 courtesy of Ristorante 1978
Lasagna 2021 is one of the ten dishes on Braschi's Valerio 2K21 tasting menu. The restaurant's customers have already had the opportunity to test the chef's inventions for themselves, and the feedback has been resoundingly positive if not a little perplexed.
My Santarcangelo is another of the creations featured on the tasting menu. It features a photo of Santarcangelo, the chef's hometown, and a roast pepper, onion and sausage cream, capturing the typical flavours of the city - in particular, those that are used in the most famous 'piadina'. A sommelier brings a copper saucepan to the table and serves a spoonful of the cream, encouraging the customer to lick the plate while taking it in their hand, "as if it were piadina," Braschi explains.
Image: Santarcangelo courtesy of Ristorante 1978
For those looking for the ultimate lasagna toothpaste experience, the time is unfortunately not now. Ristorante 1978 remains closed under current Covid restrictions, with Braschi and his business partner deciding not to do take-out and delivery in the hope that they can reopen to the public from February 1st. In the meantime, the chef is working on new dishes that will be part of the May-June menu.
Despite the difficult time that the restaurant industry is going through, the young chef has appreciated the ongoing encouragement he has received from his customers. “When we called them to cancel the reservations they all asked us to rebook immediately. This was a real pleasure, even though we couldn't give them a certain date.”
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