Benvenuti to the Barilla Test Kitchen! To help our customers stay ahead of what’s next in Italian cuisine here in the U.S., we’ve looked at leading trends happening on the menu in Italy today. Along with my colleagues in Parma and Milan, there are a few main themes we spotted that are modern Italian in the “old country.” We’ll review one in each edition of Foundations. Last issue we looked at “Slow Food in Overdrive” as hyper-local and ancient traditions and products are coming back into fashion.
Trend #2: Making high-end food from humble ingredients
Even more so than in America, Italy’s struggling economy has driven chefs to make the most out of low-cost, high-quality ingredients. A simple but brilliant example is called pasta rissotata, or “risotto-style,” as served at Chef Oldani’s restaurant D’O. Basically this means cooking spaghetti in the sauce, adding a little liquid at a time and letting the starches get super-creamy while keeping the al dente bite.
Other restaurants are highlighting unusual or high-end techniques while using cheaper cuts of meat and reviving what was once considered “peasant food.” Chef Chris Cosentino’s Incanto in San Francisco does this very well. The same thing is happening with fish. “Pesce azzurro” (mackerel, sardines, anchovies), which was once considered too oily, and only good for fishermen, is now showing up on menus. As an added bonus, they’re not overfished either.
Lorenzo Boni, Executive Chef, Barilla America