Massimo Bottura at Al Mèni

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On the notes of the Italian anthem, the best chef in the world Massimo Bottura enters the doors of Al Mèni’s big top, received by friends, family and the numerous fans. He takes with him the Italian flag and all together sing the Italian anthem, with an hand on the heart and eyes full of tears.

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A solemn moment, full of pride, in which the chef is consecrated by his family and his land. As the SlowFood president said, the prize to Osteria Francescana as the best restaurant in the world is the price for having had the ability to start from our roots, our land and always looking at the future. This is a start not an end, we have to continue what we are doing, exalting our products, never looking back.

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Now it’s really easy to eat well abroad, there are good restaurants all over the world, but what distinguishes Italy is the quality of the raw materials and their use. We have such an incredible good variety of them that the ideas become fundamentals to exalt their qualities. Here the chef plays an important role, he is the person who combine materials and genial ideas. Massimo Bottura is the expression of this, he is the person who waits FIVE different parmesan stages to create the dish  “Cinque stagionature del Parmigiano Reggiano” in which it combines these different stages with different textures and temperatures, being able to express through it the flow of time.  What is his secret? His secret is to devolve few time to poetry, a time in which he can imagine and create in order to get the inspirations that make people dream.

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The Osteria Francescana is not only a restaurant, it’s a family. There are people with the same passion for cuisine and who do what they chose to do, believe in it and all together create bites of passion through their land and their contemporary minds.

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Massimo Bottura and Takahiko Kondo with Alberto Faccani and the other cookers who managed the food truck which re-interpreted traditional Romagna street food

Al Mèni is an event organized by Massimo Bottura himself, with the aim to collect some of the greatest chefs of the world paired with young talented emergent ones, all together to express the gastronomy of the future, combining the extremely good Romagna ingredients with different shades of international cuisine.People from all over the world came to see this amazing show. It lasts for 2 days and is divided in two parts: a first one with a market of local products (oil, fruits, flours and sweets), some of them certified by slow food, and food trucks in which we can find street food dishes revisited by international chefs or typical local meals. One of them, owned by Mo.Ca.,  offers ice creams dedicated to the chefs of the event as the one named after the Mexican chef Emilio Macias with avocado, cactus and dust of toasted crickets.

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The second part is the soul of the event: the 8 and 1/2 big top, with at the center an enormous stage with kitchens in which the chefs perform. Here people can see their favorite chefs cooking and working, running from a part of the kitchen to another, without stopping a minute, even for breathing. Many important names performed in Al mèni’s stage: Aurora Mazzucchelli, Maria Grazia Soncini, Gianluca Gorini but also Emilio Barbieri and the foreign Emilio Macias, Rosio Sanchez, ex baker in the Noma of Copenhagen, Takahiko Kondo, Sous chef of Osteria Francescana.

 

I had the chance to see four “players” and taste four amazing dishes.

The first was the Leonardo Pereira’s one, a porridge of fermented millet with snails, it can sound terrifying but i have to admit it was one of the most surprising dish i have ever tried, incredible texture and really nice flavor, something that you don’t imagine but hits your taste buds. The chef Takahiko Kondo created “Lomagna Libela” a reinterpretation of the classic “Piadina” and the result was amazing, he was able to find the perfect proportion between the layers of piadina and the filling. Three layers of crust with pork belly, miso sauce, pickles and the Japanese XO sauce, which was revisited by adding to the fish base parmesan aged for 36 months.

Gianluca Gorini prepared incredible mussels with tomato gazpacho, really fresh and tasty, the perfect dish for a hot summer day.

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Cozze al Pomodoro by Gianluca Gorini
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Quesadilla Andina by Emilio Macias

Finally I tasted Emilio Macias’s quesadilla, that was a surprising explosion of flavors. A cheese fried quesadilla that was lighted by fresh herbs and cilantro.

It was a really amazing experience, known dishes with unexpecting flavors that lighted up my day.

Victoria Oliva

 

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