Anthony Genovese: A Foodie Italian Valentine’s Day
"Rome is magical at all times of year, but especially on St Valentine’s Day"
Although his origins are deeply rooted in the sun-baked mountains and dramatic coastline of Calabria in southwest Italy, chef Anthony Genovese spent much of his early childhood in France, where he first embarked on his culinary education.
After attending the Ecole Hoteliére de Nice at the age of 16, Anthony worked in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants across France, including in Monaco, Marseille and Nice.
The bond with his homeland eventually lured him back to Italy, where he embarked on what he looks back on as his first important professional experience, at the three Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri in the heart of Florence.
The turning point, however, came in 2003. Together with his friend and colleague Marion Lichtle, Anthony decided to open a new restaurant of his own in Rome. Il Pagliaccio drew inspiration from travels, both in the decor and in the cuisine, yet is ultimately a celebration of Italian gastronomy. Over the past ten years his adventure in the capital city has garnered Anthony two Michelin stars, while his quest for new ideas which simultaneously impress and surprise the lucky guests of Il Pagliaccio continues to thrive.
In his first ever appearance in UK press, OX Magazine had the pleasure of asking Anthony a few questions regarding La Festa di San Valentino, as well as the privilege of including a fabulous recipe from the man himself. Enjoy.
Hi Anthony. What is particularly good about Valentine’s Day in Rome – and Italy in general?
Rome is magical at all times of year, but especially on St Valentine’s Day – it’s a beautiful place to be. Everyone knows Italians are in love with love, and of course the tradition began in Italy many centuries ago. We call it ‘La Festa Degli Innamorati’.
What is your attitude to food sourcing and cooking?
A lot of our dishes, though rooted in Italian culture and ingredients, pay tribute to Asian techniques and draw on my culinary experiences across the world. We use a thoughtful blend of herbs and spices to connect the flavours of the Mediterranean with the East, taking the diner on a journey between the two cultures.
Could you define the philosophy at Il Pagliaccio?
The name Il Pagliaccio means ‘The Clown’, and this refers to the mastery of different emotions the circus character can provoke. Our philosophy is all about stirring emotions of joy, curiosity and nostalgia through the dishes we create, as well as just pleasing guests with delicious food.
Where do you take inspiration from?
For me, it’s all about travelling the world and looking around you, constantly learning from new cultures and places and never being afraid to learn more. I’m an Italian, born in France, and with a deep love of the Orient, so our new ‘Parallels’ menu, which is the latest incarnation of our tasting menu at Il Pagliaccio, really reflects this meeting of cultures.
Pane, Funghi e Burrata recipe
Harking from the home of the original San Valentino, this recipe, translated as ‘bread, mushrooms and burrata’, is a wonderful dish for those looking to serve up something a little different for loved ones on Valentine’s Day.
200g fresh mixed mushrooms: porcini, button, closed cup and oyster
15g trumpet mushrooms
a sprig of thyme
a clove of garlic
Clean the stems of the mushrooms carefully, slice them lengthways and sauté them with shallots, garlic, thyme, and season to taste. Save a small handful of raw mushrooms to garnish the final dish.
500g mixed mushrooms (use all the mushrooms previously selected)
100g double cream
50g chicken jus
2 cloves of garlic
Sauté the shallots and garlic, add the mushrooms and sauté them. When cooked, add the chicken jus, then remove from the heat and pour in the cream. Blend everything and pass through a strainer to remove any bits. Set aside.
500g chicken stock, ideally homemade
½ tsp mace
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp of whole cloves
½ tsp of nutmeg
Add all the spices to the chicken stock and leave it to infuse for one hour.
Burrata ice cream:
220g whole milk
2g neutral stabilizer
17g milk powder
6g white sugar
220g fresh burrata
35g buffalo ricotta
Add all the ingredients to a pan and gently bring them to 85°C, stirring regularly. Add to your ice cream maker until frozen, or alternatively put in the freezer and stir thoroughly every 30 minutes until frozen.
100g cardoncelli mushrooms
Cut the mushrooms finely, lay them on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, cook in the oven at 140°C for 20 minutes.
Four chunks of crusty brown bread
To assemble, place the mushroom cream on the base of a shallow bowl, insert a cube of brown crusty bread soaked in a little chicken broth, then add a small selection of finely sliced raw mushrooms, seasoned with chicken jus and vinaigrette. On top of this, carefully place the sautéed mushrooms and mushroom chips, before pouring the rest of the broth over it, and finally adding the burrata ice cream.
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