Food is the new Fashion. There are a lot of similarities: the excitement that comes with a new season; the new, celebrity ‘designers;’ foodies or fashionistas; the mix and match of an unexpected combination that can blow your mind. The iconic Pitti Immagine group held their annual gastronomic catwalk last week in Firenze, the 7th Pitti Taste.
Walking around the exposition is like the Giro d’Italia; every stop has a different story. I focused my sampling on one of the most exciting trends in food: the organic and biological movement. I choose Green. But at Taste, the food isn’t the only star; you get a unique chance to interact directly with the VIP’s (the very important producers!)
Rita Salvadori loves spicy peppers. A decade ago she decided to make her passion her living. Today she manages a biodynamic farm in Cecina that grows 30,000 plants. A stand with an amusing progression of 13 hot pepper varieties grabs my attention. And I am not alone; a line of the fearless are sampling Peperita’s spicy oils; the hottest three take your breath away. Rita explains that her oils are not meant to make food spicy. They should be combined with the right ingredients to create an exciting new piquancy.
Next I meet two brothers from Sant’Antonio Abate, near Naples. Gianluca and Tobia Manfuso were born to grow tomatoes; the family still gathers for the harvest every year. I sample some of Inserbo’s bio ‘passata di pomodoro’ [mashed tomatoes]: aromatic, freshly sweet and no additives. Gianluca makes sure I don’t walk away empty handed: Inserbo’s pomodorini campani interni, a recipe for spagetti al pomodorini and my first sentence in Napolitano: “a pummoral a muzzarell e maccarun.” I also leave with an invitation to the farm. ‘Vedi Napoli, e poi muori,’ Gianluca says smiling.
Fattoria Di Maiano is a legendary and well-respected farm located on the hills of Fiesole. The family’s impressive history did not stand in the way of thinking ahead and transforming their 15th Century farm into an organic business. I try their signature product: ‘Laudemoi’ olive oil. Light, spicy with a fruity hint of artichoke that leaves ‘la bocca pullita.’ Exquisite!
Chiara Innocenti serves her Tuscan wines with her distinct smile and enthusiasm. I join the crowd that assembled at her counter. Only a few years ago, Chiara left her job to dedicate herself to the vineyard. Together with her college friends Francesca and Andrea di Benedetto, they converted an abandoned winery into a biodynamic company. Today they produce a Tunia Chiarofiore white, a San Giovese red, a Cabernet and Vin Santo. There’s already an open bottle on my kitchen table.
At Macelleria Savigni I meet Nicolò Savigni. He was an organic producer before it was trendy. He raises his Cinta Senese pigs in the wild, and gives them food that is only grown in Italy. You can taste the difference. The salumi is delicately spiced and fresh. For Nicolò, this ‘bio’ movement is a perfect mix of innovation and tradition; and we get the benefits.
Next I am off to Sicily and dairy producer Casalgismondo. I meet Raffaello Maugeri. When I ask him why organic, he fondly remembers his mother. She wanted to respect nature and to think differently about agriculture. The farm’s star product is the ‘Piancentinu Ennese’: a saffron and black pepper spiced pecorino; it’s not a surprise it’s a European “DOP” product, a benchmark of quality.
My last stop is a Laboratorio Cascina Langa: an attractive looking counter showcasing toasted hazelnut products. I am handed a wooden spoon to dip into their organic savory hazelnut paste. Rich, intense and creamy! This could become my new morning ritual.
Bio, organic, green … whatever you want to call it, it will remain in the permanent collection of great food. And after a Taste, you know why: simple, pure and from the heart of great producers.
Further reading on Pitti Taste
To read the article in Italian