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All (Mozzarella) Roads Lead to Paestum: the 2014 Event Report

All (Mozzarella) Roads Lead to Paestum: the 2014 Event Report

Famous chefs from all over the world gathered in Paestum, Italian province of Salerno, for the annual congress dedicated to Buffalo Mozzarella DOP.

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What is territory? What is a great product? What does culture of gastronomy mean? These are simple questions an event that has been going on the gourmet calendar every year has been trying to answer: Le Strade della Mozzarella (Mozzarella Roads). Three days of meetings, discussions, contaminations, rielaborations of an Italian symbol: Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania DOP, a unique one of a kind product.

Italian and international chefs coming from parts of the world met at Paestum to honor the white pearl, its texture and history. For Spanish Quique Dacosta is normal to play games with mozzarella. Where he is from in Alicante is very similar to Southern Italy and the products are almost the same: tomatoes, olives, fish, lemons. It’s not difficult for the Michelin-star chef to experiment with cheese that has the flavors of his land. “I worked on five dishes pretending mozzarella came from my region. I tried to make it my own without thinking it’s Italian or Spanish.” The chef suggests a war pof shrimps (typical of his land) and bufala. To make them together he used tomato juice and mozzarella gel in a serum. He added the small shrimps on top and mustard seeds cooked in water that look like vegetable caviar. He topped everything with bufala yogurt and voilà.

It’s Josean Alija’s turn, his restaurant Neruo is located inside of the most beautiful museums in the world, the Guggenheim in Bilbao. What he does with vegetables is highly appreciated by food lovers all around the planet. He likes to explore the subject, study it, experiment and try, always trying to get to the bottom of things: “I didn’t really know mozzarella”, he explains, “so I studied it. We chefs know that we are not inventing anything knew, but we try to tell a story that ends up on a plate. We want to learn, innovate, that’s the only way to renew the idea behind cuisine”. Thanks to his research, he came up with an explosive finger food: a small caprese as an appetizer on a stick. It all starts with the millk you get from twistig the mozzarella, cooking it sous-vide and injecting some tomatoes with their juice. A simple idea that turns into an explosion of taste, the power of both the mozzarella and the tomato.

Another chef who took inspiration from an Italian dish is Parisian Jean-François Piège, from the Thoumieux restaurant, a chef who lives and breathes French culinary traditions with modern ideas. He created his version of the pizza (“not the real one, I don’t want to sound ridiculous”, he comments laughingly). It’s more like a choux of pasta that rises at high temperature. The chef injects an oil, garlic and oregano marinade in it. A slice of mozzarella di bufala on top with tomato powder and olives. A micro- portion of flavors that explain better than words Italian cuisine. Parisian style.

There is another contribution from Paris: it’s the much criticized chef Simone Tondo whose Roseval was elected best bistro in France. He comes from Sardegna, a magical island which cuisine is not necessarily that of the sea. “Our tradition starts with meat – he explains – Fish came after we got rich thanks to the success of Costa Smeralda. I try to work on impossible encounters, difficult balances to create”. His dish is ricotta and fish, land and sea. He says his recipes is Sardo-Parisian: ricotta of bufala, a drip of rasberries and anchovies, a rhubarb cedar base to take out the acidity. Seared mackerel on top. A short circuit of sweetness and strenght.

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