The chef and his restaurant  September 2010
   

Passion for Farming

Chef Massimo Spigaroli explains the abcs of farming.

Royal Culatello

Known as the king of cured meat, culatello has a delicate, sweet flavor, especially when sliced paper-thin.

Massimo Spigaroli’s culatelli are considered to be true works of art. Sought out by food lovers from around the world, Spigaroli culatello can be found on the menus of Italy’s top chefs and on the tables of royalty. Massimo Spigaroli, a skilled butcher born to a family of salumi-makers (his great grandfather made culatello for Giuseppe Verdi and his father for Giovannino Guareschi), is president of the Consorzio del Culatello di Zibello and a consultant to the royal family of England on salumi production. Spigaroli prepares his culatelli using an ancient breed of pig and prepares the meat using an ancient recipe. The meat is aged from 15 to 30 months in a 700-year-old cellar.

S.U.

Farming is no longer reserved just for farmers. Even First Lady Michelle Obama tends to her own vegetable garden. Green beans and radishes grow on the grounds of Buckingham Palace, on the Roman hills of the Campidoglio and even on rooftops of Upper East Side New York town homes. From guerilla gardening to urban gardens, growing ones own organic fruits and vegetables is both healthy and sustainable.

Chefs have also begun to get their hands dirty, growing fresh, natural and local products. Massimo Spigaroli, chef at the famous hotel and restaurant all’Antica Corte Pallavicina, serves his own vegetables and salumi made from the pigs raised on site.

A remarkable kitchen full of colours, an exaltation of the raw materials produced in the vegetable garden of the Antica Corte Pallavicina. This is the secret of Massimo Spigarroli success.

A remarkable kitchen full of colours, an exaltation of the raw materials produced in the vegetable garden of the Antica Corte Pallavicina. This is the secret of Massimo Spigarroli success.

In fact, a large part of the ingredients used at the restaurant come from the organic farm on the property, which boarders the Po River. There are pigs, cows, chickens, an orchard, vegetable garden and vineyard.

The menu at Antica Corte includes many traditional dishes prepared in a modern way, like guinea hen wrapped in culatello and cooked clay from the Po. Chef Massimo Spigaroli has planned a series of events through November to educate customers on how to prepare land for a garden, plant seeds and harvest what has grown.

A luminous and welcoming dining room, a fantastic environment frozen between past and present. The Antica Corte is the perfect place for a week end in the autumn.

A luminous and welcoming dining room, a fantastic environment frozen between past and present. The Antica Corte is the perfect place for a week end in the autumn.

Spigaroli’s salumi, especially the culatello, are made from pigs raised on the property and are aged in the restaurant’s beautiful cellars. By making the salumi on site, the chef is able to control not only what the pigs eat, but how the meat is aged. This, together with the humid climate of the Po Valley, makes for excellent products. There is a small store at the restaurant where you can buy salumi, preserves and wine from the farm. Look for Fortana allo Strologo (a grape vinified like Champage) and Tamburen.

The garden where the vegetables used in the kitchen grow and that Massimo Spigaroli picks himself, and the world famous Culatello cellar.

The garden where the vegetables used in the kitchen grow and that Massimo Spigaroli picks himself, and the world famous Culatello cellar.

For guests arriving from afar, there are six rooms on the property, decorated with 19th century furniture, wood, stone, antique rugs and large fireplaces. In addition to the restaurant at the hotel, guests can also eat at Cavallino Bianco, a restaurant owned by the Spigaroli family for generations.

Antica Corte Pallavicina, Strada del Palazzo Due Torri, tel. +39 0524936539: dinner starts at 45 euro; double rooms w/ breakfast start at 140 euro.

Silvia Ugolotti – Photos by Marzia Gandini

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