Pity the poor Italian chef, he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Day after day he pumps out great food that is wolfed down by happy patrons but does the Michelin inspector come calling? Does he heck as like.
Italian food is many things but it is rarely pretty on the plate. Packed with flavour, seasonal and local it may be, but no one ever really pointed their Canon Blogmatic at a plate of pasta. But wait.
Nuovo Mondo is a collaboration between Stefano de Pieri, Italian originally of course, and Jim McDougall who was born an Aussie. Together they set out to create dishes that break moulds. Stefano admits he is a conservative chef, marinaded in tradition. Jim, once his apprentice, is brimming with new ideas and together they set out to surprise each other, to create new dishes together and argue amicably in pursuit of the exciting.
The results are seldom complicated but they are visually arresting and read like a dream. You can clearly see the Italian DNA in every dish, but Aussie ingredients, irreverancy and desire for brightness and colour are also clearly there.
Fried bread with a parmesan mousse, potato terrine with anchovy and rosemary, crudo of tuna with frozen white balsamic, cucumber, lime and caviar. And these are literally just for starters.
Mains continue to surprise with duck meatballs and farfalle in a broth, truffle macaroni and cheese, crayfish ravioli with Yuzu butter, the last one of many recipes that bring in the flavours familiar in Australia, less so in Italy. Yabby tails in saffron sauce, braised chicory and fregola seems to meld the two food cultures perfectly while there is still room for Stefano’s Rabbit Papardelle with Sage and Speck and Jim’s deconstructed Tiramisu.
You don’t have to be based in Australia as these two chefs are, to make the recipes. We have it all here in the UK, even if we may have to get some things in jars or frozen. What we can really enjoy is Italian food that is very different to just about anything being served in the country right now.