1/31/2013 05:51:00 PM

Erbaluce Chef, Charles Draghi, Cooks in the 'Italian Vernacular'

Pappardelle, speck, beets and sage at Erbaluce
If you're curious about what constitutes authentic Italian cuisine, Charles Draghi, chef-owner of Erbaluce in Park Square, responded with a soliloquy on his Facebook page. As a chef who focuses on Italian regional cooking, he does not employ cream or butter in his cooking, Draghi’s cuisine is often misunderstood - and yet it’s probably the most Italian you’ll get anywhere - except in Italy itself.

His family is from Alessandria in Piemonte, just over the border of Lombardia.

“I cook the opposite of the way most chefs are trained,” Draghi told us. “Most cooks are trained in classical French," which we all know means healthy doses of cream and butter in many sauces. “When cooks come into my kitchen, they say, ‘It’s radical’, the way I cook.”

“I cook in the Italian vernacular,” says Draghi. A good example? A dish he has on the menu that’s pappardelle with speck, sage and beets.

He pan fries the speck (smoked prosciutto), tosses in sage, adds beet greens and then diced roasted beets, and tosses it all with housemade pappardelle. It’s a dish from Trentino, a northwest province of Italy.

“People who go to northern Italy to ski, they’d recognize this combination.” We think this calls for us to schedule a trip soon to make sure this is accurate...

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