Le ricette della nonna
SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA
(per 4 persone)
400 gr di spaghetti,
100 gr di guanciale (o di pancetta magrissima),
1 cucchiaio di olio extravergine d'oliva,
30 gr di burro,
40 gr di pecorino e
40 gr di parmigiano grattugiati e mescolati,
sale e pepe nero appena macinato.
Cuocete al dente la pasta in abbondante acqua salata. Intanto fate soffriggere in una casseruolina il guanciale tagliato a dadini con l'olio.
Battete le uova in una terrina con metà formaggio, sale e pepe. Fate scaldare il burro in una casseruola, quando avrà raggiunto un bel color nocciola versatevi le uova, mescolate velocemente, unite la pasta scolata, il guanciale e il resto dei formaggi, fate saltare la pasta per qualche secondo fuori dal fuoco e servite.
La pasta dovrà risultare ben cremosa e legata. I cuochi inesperti possono aggiungere qualche cucchiaiata di panna liquida.
SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA
(Spaghetti with egg and guanciale) (serves 4)
400 gr (14 oz) spaghetti, 100 gr (3.5 oz) guanciale (or very lean pancetta), 1 tbs extravirgin olive oil, 30 gr (1 oz) butter, 3 eggs, 40 gr (1.4 oz) each pecorino and Parmesan cheese grated together, salt and freshly grounded pepper
Cook the pasta al dente in abundant salted water. Meanwhile, fry the guanciale, diced, in a small pan with the oil. Beat the eggs in a bowl with half the cheese, salt, and pepper. Heat the butter in a saucepan. When it is a nice nut colour, pour in the eggs, mix quickly, add the drained pasta, the guanciale, and the rest of the cheese. Stir the pasta in the pan for a few seconds off the heat, and serve. The result must be smooth and creamy.
Timorous or inexperienced cooks usually cheat by adding a tablespoon of cream to the egg mixture.
From Oretta Zanini De Vita, "Il Lazio a Tavola: Guida gastronomica tra storia e tradizioni"/ "The Food of Rome and Lazio: History, Folklore, and Recipes"
(trans. Maureen B. Fant), Alphabyte, Rome, 1994.
Great Wines of Italy
Unlike food, wine in Italy in the last 25 years has changed dramatically. The Italians have realized that they could make great wines only if they paid extraordinary attention to their vineyards. They stopped using so many fertilizers and chemicals.
Unlike food, wine in Italy in the last 25 years has changed dramatically.
For one thing I think the biggest change to have taken place is that Italians realized that they could make very great wines only if they paid extraordinary attention to their vineyards.
They stopped using so many fertilizers and chemicals. When they decided to give up hopes of growing huge quantities of grapes per acre they discovered that even ordinary grapes like Trebbiano could produce tremendous results. So this has really sparked the revolution in Italian wine quality.
Certainly as far as red wine is concerned Italy can make the world's greatest red wine both for everyday use and for very special occasions.
People like Angelo Gaia set the example by no longer fertilizing, no longer using chemicals, but producing very small quantities of grape bunches per vine and that is really the secret.
Of course other changes in red wine have taken place. Once upon a time, not too long ago, actually a quarter of a century, there were so many old musty stinking barrels in Italian cellars. Today most of those have been replaced by clean new barrels or stainless steel, and the very important trend in some wineries of using small French oak barrels, called "barrique", they way they do in California, Australia, South Africa, wherever international style red wines are being made.
The leading region in innovation was Tuscany. It found itself at the end of 1960s with an almost-catastrophe on its hands, nobody was buying Chianti wine, it was an awful wine, harsh, short-lived, too light-colored.
They completely revamped their approach to winemaking and wine cultivation.
The producer that got the most credit for the revolution in Tuscany was Antinori, but with historical movements somebody may get the credit for leading them but a lot of influences contribute to the overall results. There were other producers doing the same thing.
Piero Antinori is an extremely far-sighted, intelligent, hard-working and perceptive wine-maker.
He's really a hands-on owner. That's unusual in Tuscany where the owners are signori (gentlemen). Piero Antinori is a signore but he works hard. He had a very gifted enologist, Giacono Tachis, and together they dedicated themselves to improving the wines. There were others, some smaller, like San Felice, that also did some very innovative things.
Italian producers were not selling as well as they should have, they were in deep economic trouble, but they were smart enough to realize tht the only way they could compete in the market was to improve the quality. We still have great big wine producers, the big industry, who were princpipally responsible in those early years for the kind of Italian wine that people bought abroad. The jug wine, the Soave for £ 6 a bottle. We still have some of those, but what has happened now is that people are buying the quality wine. Quality producers do not have a lot of trouble selling their wine. When Italian wine is produced to a certain standard of quality it stands out.
It stands out because Italian wine is idiosyncratic, it has a flavour you can only get from an Italian wine. You cannot get the flavour of a real Chianti in any other place in the world. Or the flavour of a Barolo or a Barbaresco, or a Dolcetto, or a Rifosco. Italian wines have an individual character and you can scour the world and you come up with Carbenet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and such but you cannot come up with these standbys that are so Italian. Italian wine like Italian food has a very distinct, satisfying character.
The region that had the greatest natural potential was Piedmont because it had the greatest number of varieties of great grapes. They also had the greatest tradition in Italy for making prime wine, but they had also gotten stuck in a rut. They had stopped really tasting their own wine. Since they were Piemontese, and had this great old reputation, they felt they were good enough. But it was time to change, and the one man who helped turn turn them around was Renato Ratti. Unfortunately he died tragically of lukemia just at the very height of his powers. He was the first to go around and tell people - look, you are making bad wine. This is what you need to do to make good wine. Then Angelo Gaia, from Piemonte, came along, and he's been an enormous force. He was able to establish a price structure for Italian wines that even some first-rate Bordeauxs can't equal. He can sell a Barbaresco for £ 100 a bottle.
In the end wine is a business, you don't do it for idealism or because it's a religion. When you, the Italian winemaker, see that some wines are getting these prices and they are aquiring renown all over the world you look at what you are doing and see if you can't make it better yourself. A legion of young wine makers have followed Angelo Gaia's example, cutting down yields, making fresher wine, not keeping it in stinking old barrels for such a long time.The whole secret of a good wine is that since wine is made from a fruit the wine should always taste of a fresh fruit. A wine that tastes old is never a great wine. And a wine, even if it is a great wine for long developing, if it is not appealing as a young wine it is never going to be good. It develops its character but it never changes its intrinsic fruit quality.
There have been enormous changes from the beginning of the seventies to this last decade. The two regions that are the locomotives of Italian wine making are Tuscany and Piedmont. If you want to include white wines there is Friuli. There is some good wine made in the Veneto, not as much as there could be because they produce a lot. Allegrini, for example, makes a wonderful Valpolicella, and then there's a wonderful man named Pieropano who makes a great Soave.
I'd like to mention that Italy has extraordinary dessert wines. Dessert wines are perhaps the finest manifestation of the winemakers art. To make a really well-balanced cool clean-tasting sweet wine is a very great achievement. Vin Santo is a peculiar wine, because it can be sweet, or not sweet. There's no control over what is going to happen, it may turn to vinegar, it may turn into a sweet wine, it may turn into a sherry-like wine. It is cemented into a barrel for four or five years. It's a less constant wine, it varies from producer to producer and from year to year.
Each part of Italy makes a great dessert wine, from the very far north all the way to Pantelleria which is in the latitude of the north coast of Africa. Ideally a dessert wine should be drunk before coffee and before dessert, then enjoy the dessert, or skip it altogether. You can't really appreciate it completely when your palate is covered with the sweet of the dessert. The sweet wines are also delicious with ripe cheeses, like a very ripe gorgonzola or a very ripe brie, or some of those very ripe goat cheeses from Piedmont.
To conclude, if you have an unbiased palate and you are looking for flavour, for freshness, for fruit, you will probably find it more easily in an Italian red wine than in any other red wine. White wine is a subject apart. If you are looking for a white wine something like a California Chardonnay, or some of the white Burgundies, Italy doesn't do that particular kind of white wine well. But it does beautiful clean, fragrant, aromatic white wines like Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigios, Soaves, Italy does those very well. They are fresh and light.