by: Achille Cester
Achille Cester is an entrepreneur who is very connected to the area of Voghera, where he was the local Council member for Culture, and in this role was also the editor of the Voghera home recipe book. His passion for cooking comes from his grandmother, who was a chef, in the years of the Belle Epoque in the hotels of Salice Terme; he completed his degree in engineering with a specialisation in Physics and Chemistry, and a Master’s Degree in Business at The Bocconi University, but he has also cultivated a passion for cooking, participating in and winning with the recipe for "moeche in saor" a small competition called Gastronauta of Radio24. The "fast foodisation" of small city restaurants, and not only, force him to accept the challenge of trying to offer fast culture and fast food but not too fast, taking “zero kilometres” culinary traditions and in doing so, remembering one of the great literary critics and thinkers of the '900s - Filippo Tommaso Marinetti – who had his origins and his "buen retiro" in Voghera.
Miccone of Rivanazzano, Salame of Varzi, Peperone of Voghera, Formaggio Stafforella from Valle Staffora, organic walnut oil.
The futurist, Tommaso Marinetti, used to stay around Oltrepò Pavese. His local "muse" was Giannina Censi, a principal performer of "aerodance", futurist and dance teacher in Voghera until the 1980s. This panino is an homage to the friendship that was built between the two.
Cut two slices (2cm wide) of the miccone bread, shaved Stafforella, thinly, hand-cut slices of salami, and slices of pickled peppers. Warm the bread and cheese; after removing the panino from the sandwich toaster, add the salami, peppers and a drizzle of oil. Cut it in half and serve.
The bread of the panino Mafarka! is a miccone made of “00” flour produced by the Molini of Voghera. The four is produced completely with grains from the Oltrepò Pavese. It is made from a careful selection of first grade ingredients that come from the best farmers in the territory and is ideal for the production of oven-baked products that have an 8-10 hour rising time. It emits wonderful aromas and scents from its freshly baked products. The products are “1”, “0” and “00”, W290 P/L 0,60 12,50% of protein.
The cheese from the Staffora Valley, produced by the F.lli Cavanna of Rivanazzano Terme Cheese Factory (PV), is a soft, raw cheese, made from fresh, whole cow’s milk cheese, pasturised; it is aged 10 to 30 days for the smaller caciotta (cheese round), and from 30 to 90 days for the larger caciotta.
It is cylindrical in shape, with a diameter of 12cm and a 4-7cm rind, an average weight of 0.5-0.7kg for the smaller caciotta; 20cm in diameter, a 4-7cm rind and a weight of 1.5-3kg for the larger size. The crust of the younger cheese is light and white in colour, or smooth and light yellow in the older vintage cheese. The larger cheese is red with a light veil of mould. The smaller cheese is white and soft, with small sections that allow for breaks from the sweet and delicate taste. It is typically milky tasting at the beginning of the season. Later, it becomes soft and compact, from the light yellow colour to the aromatic flavour, it is able to be melted and is moderately tasty. The crust of the smaller caciotta is yellowed, it becomes hard and thick, remaining small in its dimensions, while the larger form becomes red as it becomes older. In both cases, the quantity of fat is around 50%.
For the preparation of the Salami of Varzi, the more prized cuts of meat are used (thigh, shoulder, loin and fillet), as well as the cheek and belly for the fat, according to the established production portions. The cutting of both the thin and the fat parts is completed and then this meat is seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, spices, garlic and red wine. The mix is placed into the pig intestines, after having been washed in water with vinegar.
Following this, the salamis are smoked from one to four days according to the size. They are then dried, this stage lasts for about a week. Finally there is the aging process, which depends on the size of the salami.
What is unusual about the Varzi salami is that it is produced with all the parts of the pig, even the more “noble” parts, which other producers often use for cured ham or similar products.
Each piece varies in weight from approximately 0.5 to 2kg, and the aging period varies from 45 to 180 days. Attached to the product is the caption “Salame di Varzi” followed by Registered Designation of Origin (denominazione di origine controllata) together with a seal of the producer.
The peppers from the Voghera gardens are square shaped (height, width and length are similar 8-12cm), with also longer and rounder variations, with 4 ribbed sections to each pepper (3 but not 5 are acceptable), with the possibility of one section being slightly longer and hooked. Light green in colour and yellow/ orangey yellow when matured later. The pulp is thin and not watery, voluminous, resistant to transport and preservation, in particular to pickling.
The flavour is sweet, pleasant and delicate, with only a mild pepper taste.
The Voghera peppers became very well known throughout the area from 1920 to 1950. The market was not only Italian but also European and American.
At the beginning of the 1950s, a disease compromised commercial production and only in 2006 did a selection of seeds that were found occur. Small quantities of peppers began to be produced, but the smaller market space began to slow their dissemination.
After four years of experimental research, wanted by a group of producers and merchants, and conducted by a pool of scientific researchers from the ITA Gallini of Voghera, The Istituto di Patologia Vegetale dell’Università di Milano and from the CRA (Centro Ricerca Agraria) of Montanaso Lombardo (LO), for the second year it was possible to sell a reasonable quantity of the product. The characteristics are those of the historic product: ability to be digested easily and persistent fragrance, if conserved, also for long periods of time.
The Organic walnut oil from Pontecurone (AL) is cold pressed using mechanical methods. The oil from our Lara walnuts maintains a delicate flavour.
We select the best Lara walnuts, which contain a low acidity content, in order to obtain this precious condiment that combines perfectly with pasta, salad, meat, salami, cheeses, vegetables, fish and other items according to personal taste and imagination. As a result of the cold pressing of the walnuts, the organic properties are able to be maintained, unaltered, which is different to the process of heated extraction in which, due to the process, allows the production of more oil, but results in the loss of quality of the properties of the walnut. Originally used in Piedmont and Valle D’Aosta, walnut oil is an ingredient that is vital to the preparation of the local bagna cauda dish; sweet and delicate, it delights even the more demanding palates and affords a refined touch of flavour to all dishes.