Archivi tag: chef

Stop #14: Morgan’s pickles, a vegetable garden in a jar @ Malo (Vicenza)


We said goodbye in autumn with Marangoni’s chocolate-covered fruit and now, after many months and some vicissitudes, the Travelling Delights are back at their best, with a north-bound trip looking for Morgan and his magic Pickles.

As soon as we get to the headquarters of the company, Luciana, Morgan’s wife, welcomes us with lots of energy, smiles and words. In the small office, also used as company shop, surrounded by colorful jars filled with vegetables, we meet the man who gives his name to the pickles. The passion which moves him clearly shows through his blue attentive eyes, even before than through his words.
In the warehouse used for the various activities, he begins to tell us his story.

L'ingresso del magazzino

The hall of the warehouse

Morgan was born in Friuli as a chef, he travelled the world to better himself and at some point of his life he stopped in Veneto where he opened the restaurant “5 Sensi”. It’s not hard to imagine him cooking and studying new original recipes, changing them at the last minute in order to follow his inspiration. The role of the chef, as he often states, is full of fantasy, and needs both passion and technique, but leaves an edge of freedom where to express one’s flair.

Polipo con giardiniera di Morgan tritata

Octopus with lentils, polenta chips and pickles

One day, Luciana suggested Morgan to prepare some jars of pickles: she used to make them at her place with her roommates during the electronic ingeneering studies at university. She gave her husband her recipe, and he immediately challenged her saying that it was good but he could makeit better. So, after many tries, the recipe of Morgan’s pickles was born, and they began to sell them in a small shop at the restaurant.

Giardiniere in fila

Morgan’s Pickles (La Giardiniera di Morgan)

At some point, Morgan and Luciana noticed that some clients came back from all over Italy not only to eat at the restaurant, but mainly to buy some jars of pickles! In that moment, the spouses understood that it would have been right to give them the space they deserved… so, complicit some circumstances in favor of this decision, the restaurant was closed and Morgan’s activities moved to the industrial area near Vicenza.
Since he didn’t want to abandon completely his activity as a chef, he maintained the “5 sensi” alive and it continues to produce, among other things, a high-level catering service for ceremonies and private events.
Simultaneously, Morgan’s pickles evolved giving birth to many other products, each of which is based on the same philosophy but has got specific characteristics.

Giardiniere esposte

The small Morgan and Anna’s pickles (Giardiniera di Anna di Morgan) and two other kinds of pickles

But what is this philosophy? First of all, at its base there’s the choice of excellent products and their respect. The vegetables (peppers, carrots, cauliflowers, fennels, green beans, onions…) come from small and big companies of the area, some of them are organic and they follow as much as possible the periodicity. The first thing that happens, immediately after the arrival of the loads, is the tasting: everything, before being put into the productive chain, passes through Morgan’s teeth so that he can evaluate the product and make sure it’s tasty and crunchy.

Paola e Morgan alle prese col cavolfiore

Morgan and Paola cut the cauliflower

After it, the vegetables are cleaned and precisely cut by hand by some diligent guys, very young and accurate in their job. It’s important that the final size of the vegetables is the right one to allow a perfect final product.
The following step is the steam cooking, that happens separately for each vegetable. Right after it, the vegetables pass through the blast chiller, so that their color and consistency stay the same.
In the end, they are potted in specific percentages and left to macerate in their seasoning, then pasteurized – in other words, the jars are put into big ovens for some hours, in order to make their hearts reach the temperature of 85/90°. In this way you provide for the complete lack of chemical additives and preservatives, which is a characteristic of these pickles.

La pulizia dei peperoni

The guys who clean and cut peppers

Apart from the processing, aimed to the preservation of the vegetables’ properties, the secret of Morgan’s products is obviously the seasoning in which they macerate… every kind of pickles has its own seasoning, obtained with different percentages of vinegar, oil and spices – and the recipe is clearly secret.

Paola alle prese con le verdure

Paola cutting vegetables

But Morgan’s genius also gave him the idea to dedicate a kind of pickles to every important person of his family. The first one was Luciana, sweeter and “well rounded” than the usual pickles; than it was the turn of Giada, dedicated to the firstborn: fanciful and colored, characterized by a cap which is blue like the girl’s eyes; then Anna was born: it’s still in the testing stage, it has a small and roly poly jar like she is, with a fresh and strong flavour thanks to the ginger and whole chili peppers. The only missing one is the pickle dedicated to the little Giovanni that – they say – will be the craziest one.

Giardiniera Giada di Morgan

Morgan and Giada’s pickles (La Giardiniera Giada di Morgan)

In addition to these, the other specialties are the purple onions, the “pioppini” mushrooms, the white asparagus and the chicory from Treviso… so there is really something to suit everybody’s fancy and every match!

Giardiniere esposte 2

A wall of colors… purple onions, carrots and pioppini mushrooms

Yes, because what Morgan wants to communicate with its work is that pickles are not only something to eat in winter with boiled meat, but on the contrary it’s a great way to include vegetables and their colors all year round, turning them into appetizers, matching them with meat and fish or using them as a salad seasoning.
Morgan put the vegetable garden in a jar, and gave it a new life.

Assaggio di giardiniera Anna di Morgan

A tasting of Morgan and Anna’s pickles (Giardiniera di Anna di Morgan)

We’re sure we made your mouth water, right?
So don’t hesitate, step by La Delizia (in Russi, near Ravenna) where you can find different kinds of Morgan’s pickles… they will satisfy your curiosity and your taste!

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Pubblicato da su 19 luglio 2014 in English version!, Uncategorized


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Stop #9: Friultrota’s fish specialities @ San Daniele of Friuli (Udine)

Our last trip took us to closely discover a reality that we wanted to share with you since ages: the Friultrota company and its delicious products.

In San Daniele of Friuli, in an area that seethes with ham factories, there’s a plant that proudly stands out for its typology, showing at the entrance not a pork thigh but a modern wrought-iron fish sculpture. Its main product is known everywhere as “La Regina di San Daniele” (The Queen of San Daniele), and in the matter of celebrity it doesn’t envy at all its fellow citizen ham. That company precisely is Friultrota, which we visited for you and now we’re pleased to tell you.

The history of this company, and of the family that gave birth to it, is more than ever characterized by that healty craziness and that courage that bring to follow one’s own passions even when the wisdom says to let them go… but, at the showdown, it’s the glaring proof that the hard work, when it’s based on a deep and strong passion, fully pays off.

Giuseppe Pighin, founder of the company and father of the current owner Mauro, wasn’t a well-learned man – as it usually happened at his time – but he was extremely clever. He was curious and had a lot of innovative ideas, that he often followed even if who knew him called him crazy – until when all of them had to change their mind and give him credit for his far-sightedness.

At the beginning, the family business had nothing to do with fish farming: indeed it used to deal with gravel and concrete, and it mainly took place in a quarry located on the river Tagliamento. Little by little, by constantly digging, they formed a small lake where Giuseppe put some trouts, that he later started to raise and fish as a personal pleasure.

Since the fishes began to grow in size and number, in the Seventies the Pighin family tried to sell them on the fresh market, but they were forced to stop because their way of raising the animals – very “domestic” and regardless of the costs – brought them to lose money.

At the end of the Seventies, for a series of accidental coincidences that, in retrospect, have been providential, they met a person who was fond of fish processing and a chef who had been a pioneer in smoking salmon, and who wanted to try with trouts. Relying on their enthusiastic comments and on those of who tasted their fishes and claimed that their quality was definitely superior to the one of other trouts that they previously tried, the members of the family decided to permanently abandon the work at the quarry and to dedicate themselves to the farming and processing of trouts – choosing to follow what they were fond of, despite the uncertain perspectives. 

As complete self-taught apprentices, Giuseppe and his sons started to experiment fish preservation, following their own intuitions, without choosing paths well-trodden by others but venturing into that field in a totally empirical way. Their first “laboratory” was an aunt’s cellar, then they moved to a train carriage internally covered with stainless steel. The sons were guinea-pigs: every experiment they approved was put forward to the public.

The main processing method they used was smoking, but in that way their trouts found themselves in competition with salmon – which at that time was still of excellent quality since it wasn’t an industrial product.

In 1984, despite all the people who told them they were crazy, the Pighin’s took up the gauntlet and started the current Friultrota company. At that moment, thanks to all the experiments and collaborations previously made, they already had the necessary expertise in order to perfectly know what they wanted and how to achieve it – for exemple, their smoking cells have never been the “standard” ones suggested by the suppliers, but they were custom-made based on their needs.

This was for sure a strong point of the company, while the second fundamental one is certainly the quality that from the beginning characterized their farming: indeed it is a low-density breeding (15kg of fish per cubic meter, which is even lower than the standard of the organic production), realized without force-feeding and with good fodder, and respectful of the natural growth time of the animals.
Even the quality of water is vital, because the trouts need it to be extra pure: in this geographical area there luckily is resurgence water, which is taken from the river Tagliamento with a system of canals and goes straight to the farming.

The fish is then fished with non-invasive methods (using a small net which is casted into the water when needed) around two or three times a week, and afterwards it’s immediately butchered in special facilities located next to the lakes, so that it can arrive very soon and already gutted in the close plant where it’s going to be processed.

A vital thing, in this series of steps from the fishing to the final processing, is the speed – less time passes from the first step to the last one, more the fat of the fish maintains its quality and better will be the resulting product. Moreover, in the processing it’s always observed the cold chain: all the operations – cutting, boning, salting, possible spicing – are hand-made in rooms where the temperature doesn’t exceed 12/14 Celsius degrees.

The timing of the different steps, like for exemple the salting or the smoking, aren’t fixed but they change based on the characteristics of fish, like the size or the quantity of fat – this means that every detail is carefully assessed and supervised by staff people provided with a huge experience about. The business is therefore a completely artisan one, so the processing of fish requires around 4/5 days (on the contrary, the industrial one is executed in 10/12 hours). Moreover, as a choice Friultrota doesn’t use colouring nor preservatives… and the final quality of the product fully testifies that all of this attention makes a difference!

In the course of time, for market requirements they included also other kinds of products, such as smoked salmon and chicken breast, trout eggs, herring… always with an innovative point of view. This last kind of fish, for exemple, is processed salting and smoking it less than the classic one (that’s why it’s been called “Aringa Sciocca” – “Bland herring”), and it’s been released from tradition – which consigned its use in the Easter period – making it a product suitable all year long, even during summer – matched, for exemple, with rocket and green apples.

Friultrota series offer a very wide choice of products, for people who love good fish and at the same time love the convenience of ready-for-use dishes – indeed their products are sold already ready for eating them, even if they can be further elaborated (maybe using the recipes that can be found on their website) by whom would like to create delicious dishes.

Their fishes have good full taste, they can be easily distinguished, some are stronger while other more mellow, with such a soft consistency that it melts in your mouth, and their excellence is now multi-awarded.

At this point, all you can do is try them… you can find them at the shop La Delizia, in Russi (Ravenna), so we wait for you!

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Pubblicato da su 26 ottobre 2012 in English version!, Uncategorized


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Tappa #9: Le specialità ittiche di Friultrota @ San Daniele del Friuli (UD)

Il nostro ultimo viaggio ci ha portato a conoscere da vicino una realtà che da tempo volevamo condividere con voi: l’azienda Friultrota ed i suoi prodotti prelibati.

La terrazza di San Daniele

A San Daniele del Friuli, in una zona che pullula di prosciuttifici, c’è uno stabilimento che si distingue orgogliosamente per tipologia, esibendo all’ingresso non una coscia di maiale ma una moderna scultura ittica in ferro battuto. Il suo prodotto principe è conosciuto ovunque come “La Regina di San Daniele”, e quanto a celebrità non ha nulla da invidiare ai concittadini prosciutti. Quell’azienda è proprio la Friultrota, che abbiamo visitato per voi e che ora vi raccontiamo con piacere.

La Regina di San Daniele

La storia di questa attività, e della famiglia che le ha dato vita, è quanto mai caratterizzata da quella sana follia e quel coraggio che portano a seguire le proprie passioni anche quando il buon senso direbbe di lasciar perdere… ma, alla resa dei conti, è la dimostrazione lampante del fatto che il lavoro duro, quando poggia le sue basi su una forte passione, ripaga abbondantemente di ogni fatica.

Riconoscimenti ricevuti da Friultrota

Giuseppe Pighin, fondatore dell’azienda e padre dell’attuale titolare Mauro, era un uomo poco istruito – come spesso accadeva nella sua epoca – ma molto ingegnoso. Era curioso e aveva molte idee innovative, che spesso seguiva sentendosi dare del pazzo da chi lo circondava – fino a quando poi tutti dovevano ricredersi e rendergli merito per la sua lungimiranza.

L’attività di famiglia, inizialmente, non c’entrava proprio nulla con l’ittica: si occupava infatti di ghiaia e calcestruzzi, e si svolgeva principalmente in una cava situata sul fiume Tagliamento. Piano piano, a forza di scavare, si è formato un laghetto nel quale Giuseppe ha fatto depositare alcune trote, che poi ha iniziato ad allevare e a pescare per piacere personale.

Laghetti per la pesca sportiva, situati di fianco all’allevamento

Data la crescita di taglia e numero dei pesci, negli anni ’70 la famiglia Pighin ha provato a venderli sul mercato del fresco, vedendosi però costretta a smettere perchè la sua modalità di allevamento – molto “domestica” e che quindi non badava a spese – la portava ad avere costi troppo alti.

Alla fine degli anni ’70, per delle coincidenze fortuite che, col senno di poi, si sono rivelate provvidenziali, hanno conosciuto una persona appassionata di lavorazione del pesce ed uno chef che era stato un pioniere nell’affumicatura del salmone e che voleva provare con la trota. Forti dei loro commenti entusiasti e di quelli di chi aveva assaggiato i loro pesci e sosteneva che la qualità delle carni fosse decisamente superiore a quella delle altre trote provate in precedenza, i membri della famiglia hanno deciso di abbandonare definitivamente l’attività alla cava e di dedicarsi a quella dell’allevamento e della lavorazione delle trote – scegliendo quindi di seguire ciò che li appassionava, nonostante l’incertezza delle prospettive.

Fil di Fumo

Da completi autodidatti, Giuseppe e i suoi figli hanno così cominciato a fare esperimenti di conservazione del pesce, lasciandosi ispirare dalle proprie intuizioni, senza seguire i sentieri già battuti da altri ma avventurandosi in quel settore in maniera totalmente empirica. Il loro primo “laboratorio” è stata la cantina di una zia, poi si sono trasferiti nel vagone di un treno rivestito internamente di acciaio inox. Le cavie erano i figli: tutti gli esperimenti approvati da loro venivano in seguito proposti al pubblico.

Filetto di trota salmonata agli agrumi

Il principale metodo di lavorazione da loro utilizzato è stata l’affumicatura, ma in tal modo il loro prodotto si è trovato a dover fare concorrenza al salmone – che all’epoca era ancora di ottima qualità in quanto lavorato a livello non industriale.

La saletta per le degustazioni

Nel 1984, a dispetto di tutti quelli che davano loro dei pazzi, i Pighin hanno colto il guanto della sfida ed hanno dato vita all’attuale azienda Friultrota. A quel punto, grazie a tutti gli esperimenti e le collaborazioni fatte in precedenza, avevano già le competenze per sapere perfettamente ciò che volevano e come realizzarlo – ad esempio, le loro celle di affumicatura non sono mai state quelle “standard” proposte dai fornitori, ma sono state elaborate su misura in base alle loro esigenze.

Uova di trota

Questo è stato sicuramente un punto di forza dell’azienda, mentre il secondo – fondamentale – è di certo la qualità che ha caratterizzato fin dall’inizio il loro allevamento: si tratta infatti di un allevamento a bassa densità (15kg di pesce per metro cubo, quantità che è addirittura inferiore allo standard per la produzione biologica), realizzato con un’alimentazione non spinta e con mangimi di buona qualità, ed effettuato nel rispetto dei tempi naturali di crescita degli animali.
Anche la qualità dell’acqua è fondamentale, in quanto le trote hanno bisogno che sia purissima: in questa zona c’è la fortuna di avere acqua risorgiva, che viene prelevata dal Tagliamento con un sistema di canali ed arriva diretta nell’allevamento.

Dal Tagliamento all’allevamento, con l’impeto dei giorni di pioggia!

Il pesce viene poi pescato con metodi non invasivi (utilizzando una piccola rete che viene calata in acqua al bisogno) circa due o tre volte alla settimana, dopo di che viene immediatamente macellato in delle apposite strutture in loco, in modo da farlo arrivare in tempi brevissimi già pulito nello stabilimento poco distante in cui viene lavorato.

Guancia di trota

Fondamentale, in questa serie di passaggi dalla pesca alla lavorazione finale, è la velocità – meno tempo passa fra la prima fase e l’ultima, più i grassi mantengono intatte le loro qualità e quindi migliore sarà il prodotto risultante. Inoltre, nella lavorazione viene sempre rispettata la catena del freddo: tutte le operazioni – taglio, spinatura, salatura, eventuale speziatura – vengono svolte a mano in ambienti la cui temperatura non supera i 12/14 gradi.

L’oblò attraverso il quale osservare la lavorazione

I tempi dedicati ai diversi passaggi, come per esempio la salatura e l’affumicatura, non sono fissi ma variano in base alle caratteristiche del pesce, come la taglia e la quantità di grasso presente – questo significa che ogni dettaglio viene attentamente valutato e monitorato da personale dotato di un’enorme esperienza in merito. L’azienda è quindi in tutto e per tutto artigianale, per cui la lavorazione del pesce richiede circa 4/5 giorni (a differenza di quella industriale, che si svolge in 10/12 ore). Per scelta, inoltre, non vengono utilizzati né coloranti né conservanti… e la qualità finale del prodotto testimonia ampiamente che tutte queste attenzioni fanno la differenza!

Petto di pollo affumicato

Nel corso del tempo, poi, per esigenze di mercato sono stati inseriti anche altri tipi di prodotti, come il salmone e il petto di pollo affumicati, la bottarga di trota, l’aringa… sempre in un’ottica di innovazione. Quest’ultima, ad esempio, viene lavorata salandola ed affumicandola meno rispetto a quella classica (è stata infatti chiamata “Aringa Sciocca”), ed è stata svincolata dalla tradizione – che relegava il suo consumo al periodo pasquale – rendendola un prodotto adatto tutto l’anno, anche d’estate – abbinata ad esempio a rucola e mela verde.

Orzotto con fil di fumo e zucchine

Le linee Friultrota offrono una vastissima scelta di prodotti, per chi ama il pesce di qualità e contemporaneamente ama la comodità dei piatti pronti – i loro prodotti infatti sono tutti venduti già pronti per essere consumati, anche se poi possono essere ulteriormente elaborati (aiutandosi con le ricette che si trovano sul sito internet) da chi voglia realizzare piatti sopraffini.

Tagliolini al nero di seppia con Regina di San Daniele

Sono pesci dai sapori pieni, ben distinguibili fra loro, alcuni decisi altri più delicati, dalla consistenza tanto tenera da sciogliersi in bocca, e la loro eccellenza è ormai pluripremiata.

A questo punto, non vi resta che provarli… alla Delizia li troverete, quindi vi aspettiamo in negozio!

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Pubblicato da su 19 ottobre 2012 in Uncategorized, Versione italiana


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