Probably the best ingredients......
The principle motivation for my coming to Picinisco and the idea of opening a restaurant here was, in my not so humble opinion, that I would be surrounded by the best selection of ingredients in the world with which to prepare delicious food.
It is important to emphasise that this is a voyage into the future for me, not a hankering for the past. The challenge is to celebrate what the mountain has to offer without being restrained by the past and the sense of tradition which refutes change. I feel that, just maybe, what is happening in the Valle di Comino is part of a new culture which might be the way forward.
I am now living and working in the most uncontaminated environment I have ever worked in and feel as though I have been unchained from the world of the restaurant industry. I feel free from the freakish demands for innovation and for ever deconstructing or re-inventing the wheel. I even feel that I am tasting things for the very first time.
This is Italy at its best. The cows, sheep and goats roam the high mountain plains in the summer months and the shepherd's culture is celebrated as nowhere else in Italy, with many households making the famous cheeses of Picinisco. The pride which goes into the cultivation of every cannelloni bean, of every bottle of tomato conserve, of the polenta to feed the chickens...
There is a pride which goes into the agricultural life here which results in wonderful ingredients with exceptional flavours.
Over the years I have made contact with many of the producers of the valley and they have become suppliers and friends. This eclectic bunch of people will certainly become subjects of future blog posts and features.
Valle di Comino