For almost 30 years Francesca Litta has been happily creating taste sensations in Paliano, today managing the agriturismo farm, the Polledrara.
She had started in the 80s working in the Park la Selva in which time she operated two restaurants. In 1984 one of the two restaurants had to be outsourced and, looking into the eyes of her husband, together they decided to embark on the adventure of managing a restaurant sourcing local produce, attracted by the pleasure of knowing the raw material, to touch it and to transform it.
Today the restaurant has evolved tremendously as Francesca and her husband were sensitive in understanding the changes and following them with greater attention to the territory and locally sourced food. So they opened a small restaurant in the center of Paliano in order to give greater prominence to small local agricultural production.
It was a natural approach to the philosophy of also adopted by Slow Food and one that would increase their desire to learn and discover the particularities of Paliano and Ciociaria. Francesca today represents the Slow Food in the area “Cesanese Territories”.
One of the products that they have rediscovered is the cabbage called “Cavolaccio” and the bean “Suricchio”, crops that were going into disuse. To facilitate this search and recovery of the agricultural products of great quality, in 2007 they opened the ”The Restaurant Polledrara” with adjoining agricultural land to grow vegetables that they use directly in their dining room.
This is our personal contribution we make to encourage local production and regain the relationship with the land.
In their Ciociarian farm Francesca and her husband married the local food with another original project, that of the “Philosophy of taste”, born from the encounter with their friend Massimiliano Massimo . The object is to discover through taste the meaning of life and to make the right choices in life as at the table. A more correct way of living and of eating to live, to find more pleasure and happiness in life.
From these lessons of philosophy I learned to stop, I serve food to reinvigorate the demand for pleasure. People need to enjoy for a few hours a week to think about and experience the taste of food.
The last argument of Francesca, in fact, is that we must be attentive to all the news coming to us about food. Certainly climate change suggests that we could reduce the quantity of meat eaten: and to consider the harm posed to the environment by factory farm. This does not change the fact that man has always eaten meat since the dawn of his existence, but to consider the importance of meat in an overall balanced diet, one based on taste buds and serenity when eating. Maybe there is an argument for lighter fare, more vegetable protein and more vegetables.
“The word education is the most important of all. It is important that we caterers also work in this direction. People who want to know, want to know what they are eating, from where the products come. For every hour we are confronted by alarmism or easy assurances, by yourself, with the desire to know more, you can become conscious consumers. Eat less but to choose the material of first quality and, to do this, you have to be aware.”
An autumn Ciociarian recipe
This autumn the farm produces excellent pumpkins, potatoes (Francesca grows the varieties of purple potato), field onions, dandelion, wild chives. These and many herbs compose our dishes. According to Francesca there are many Ciociarian recipes that deserve attention. What immediately comes to mind is “Lamb Garofolato”, which takes its name from the cloves and other spices with which it is cooked.
The recipe for Lamb Garofolato is simple: take an entire piece of meat (for instance a leg or shoulder) and before cooking let it for several hours with seasonal herbs such as fresh thyme and rosemary, garlic and fresh onions, a little salt and pepper. Today this method of cooking is not used much but it really is a nice way to cook meat. The meat should always be served with seasonal vegetables.
Another autumn dish and typical of the local area is the “Pataccacce Paliano”. A homemade pasta course consists only of flour and water. This pasta can be topped with mushrooms and chestnuts or with broccoli with or without squash.
Chestnut Fettuccine with porcini mushrooms
Prepare homemade fettuccine by mixing eggs, chestnut flour and a pinch of salt.
Cook the chestnuts on a bed of smoked bacon and then stir-fry the mushrooms with chestnuts previously cooked. Cook the noodles in plenty of water. After being drained, stir it into a large pan with the mixture of mushrooms and chestnuts.
Garnish the dish with pomegranate seeds ……and enjoy
About the Interviewed:Francesca Litta
Chef and representative of Slow Food “Territori del Cesanese”