With the flood of tourists coming to Italy every year, there is a certain expectation that is placed on how Italian food should be prepared. People come to this country to be wowed by a culinary experience that should, if done right, changes the way the look at Italian food all together. Italians took-up this challenge with honor. Or, at least, once upon a time. The Italian economy has limited cashflow, limited expendable income, and it has forced restaurants to be lean in their inventory practices. The traditional way of Italian cooking is in a dramatic decline. In all my years of traveling around the country, I have found one place that still does everything with all the poise of Italian culinary tradition. Ristorante Gualdo.
Below are the three traditional culinary techniques championed at Ristornate Gualdo:
- Pasta by hand. With the copious amounts of pasta factories around Italy, there is really no need to make pasta by hand anymore. However, when made by hand, the pasta comes alive like nothing you have had before. At Gualdo, every morning the family comes together to had make the pasta for the lunch hour. The role the tortellini by hand, twist the tailgate into balls, and make sure what ever dish served during lunch is perfectly prepared. Then, after lunch, they repeat the same process for the dinner hour. It’s a remarkable sight.
- Wood-fired meats. Sausage, pork ribs, stake, and every other meat for the restaurant is cooked over a traditional wood burning fire. Italy commonly had pizza ovens in the south and several places in the north, but to find a wood oven just for means is very rare. The flavor is unique gives each meat special flavor have yet to find any where else in Italy. They keep the fire burning most of the day and late into the evening.
- Truffles. One of the great things about Emilia-Romagna is the accessibility to truffles. I must admit that I have not had much exposure to truffles until I had them at Gualdo. I found the black rock-like mushrooms to be strange and odd at first, until it was cooked into the pasta. The chef knows exactly how to bend the flavor to her will in each dish. Each truffle is picked from the hillside surrounding the city and they add an amazing freshness to the meal. It’s some of the best stuff I have every had. As more tourists are unfamiliar with the ingredients like this, and economy limits family budgets, luxuries like truffles I fear are going to fall out of vogue for cheaper alternatives.
As I travel around Italy, it becomes harder and harder to find places who invest the time to prepare food by hand. Ristorante Gualdo gives a traditional experience with some of the best ingredient the country has to offer. It’s a must see next time you are around Emila-Romagna.