The Italian producer behind the wonderful new album Generator gives us a lesson in Italian cooking…
Your perfect breakfast would be…
Even though I am not a huge soup fan, there are two soups which actually top my breakfast chart: the Vietnamese “Pho”, a true flavor masterpiece…
and the Mexican “sopa de pancita” – tripe soup, able to bring your brain cells back to life even after the worst hangover.
The most unusual thing I have ever eaten…
Traditional roman food tends to be pretty weird and hardcore, but I totally love it. It is a matter of food culture: I was educated to appreciate it. Our weirdest and tastiest thing is called “pajata”: baby cow intestine still filled with milk, which we use prepare a thick sauce for pasta. It might sound disgusting, but to me it s pure and tasty culinary genius.
The dish that reminds me of my childhood.
In Rome we have a unique kind of pizza, called “pizza Bianca”, which is only sold in bakeries in the morning, not in restaurants. Kids eat it as a snack when they exit school, or after playing soccer. It is salty and oily, soft and crunchy at the same time, whenever I am in Rome the intense smell of the freshly baked pizza Bianca instantly brings my childhood memories back.
Who taught you to cook?
I had three awesome teachers: my uncle from Sardinia, and my two grandmothers, one from Sicily and the other one from Piedmont. I totally loved their meals and I was enchanted by the care and love they put in any cooking gesture. Food has been an essential part of my life since ever.
Your 2 favourite restaurants in your home town/city
Piperno, in the Jewish neighborhood. Pricey but sublime traditional Roman-Jewish food: deep fried brain and artichokes, codfish fillets Agnolotti Di Brasato…one of the best restaurants on earth.
Perilli, another traditional Roman gem in the Testaccio neighborhood.
Some other restaurants from around the world you love
Middle Eight, Beijing, China. Yunnan food at its best. Chinese people definitely do know how to eat well. You can really feel thousands years of experience in their food.
Restaurant Moche, Lima, Peru. I recently visited Peru for the first time and I was shocked about how delicious the Peruvian food is. Arroz con Pato (rice with duck) and Ceviche were out of this world.
Villa Majella, Guardiagrele, Italy. Michelin starred restaurant in the heart of Abruzzo, the best kept secret of Italy. Everybody knows Tuscany but no one gives a fuck about Abruzzo. Big mistake, it is a wonderful region. Everything they cook is sourced locally, the flavors are so intense and so authentic, the wine is so bloody good that you almost want to cry when dining there.
Taco stalls, Mexico City. After three intense Mexican tours I have been totally charmed by the Mexican street food culture. I could kill for a properly made tongue taco.
A DJ or musician that has surprised you with their cooking skills…what did they cook
I am super picky when it comes to people cooking, I usually don’t like anything my friends cook for me. But there is a guy in Berlin, whose DK moniker is Ivory Boy, who I used to call “Nonna”, grandma in Italian. Because his handmade fresh pasta tastes just like the one my grandma used to cook for me. Respect.
Your guilty pleasure food. You know you shouldn’t but you always do…
Mortadella. I have issues when I’ve finished eating it. Seriously, I could eat 1kg and still want more…
What is your signature dish?
Fettine alla pantesca. A must of my Sicilian family meetings. It’s a bit like “cotoletta alla Milanese” or “schnitzel” but it has all of the flavor of southern Italy: I put roasted and crushed almonds in the breading, fennel, sesame and cumin seeds, sheep cheese, garlic, parsley and other Mediterranean ingredients that turn the humble schnitzel into a masterpiece, you simply cannot resist it.
If you could have a master-class with a celebrity chef, who’d you pick and why?
I am a Gordon Ramsay fan, but I’d rather spend a couple days watching any Sicilian grandma working her daily cooking magic.
Dead or alive – 3 famous people you would invite around for dinner…
Marlon Brando, Kate Winslet, Mozart.
A dish you have yet to master…
Pasta cacio e pepe. It’s one of the simplest yet most complicated recipes of roman tradition. There’s only 3 ingredients: pasta, pecorino cheese and black pepper. Nothing else. But to get the balance right, to have it creamy and spicy in the right way, is an art that requires decades to be mastered.
You get in from the club pissed, dive in the fridge and usually come out with…?
I could eat the whole fridge in those situations. In Berlin I like having hummus and pickles in my fridge, I could kill myself with those without dying the day after.
The most expensive meal you have ever had?
I had a wagu steak once in one of Sydney’s most renowned steakhouses. Ridiculously priced. But totally worth it.
Your favourite pizza topping
Sasicce friariell: Neapolitan sausage and wild broccoli with smoked provola. YUM!!
The most disgusting thing you have ever eaten at a festival
Hmm festival food is all disgusting, generally speaking. Plus I don’t go to festivals very often.
The last time you used a cook book for a meal…
Sometimes I rely on cookbooks, especially when I cook Asian or when I cook something for the first time. but I quickly tend to drop the book and develop my own methods.