Best of northern Italy

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 24 January 2019

Chef Valter Belli, who has travelled from northern Italy to Sorriso, Marriott Suites Pune to create an authentic culinary experience for guests, talks about the difference between southern and northern Italian cuisines and his love for Indian food

Italian cuisine is beyond pastas, pizzas and risottos. It is rich, intricate, full of varieties and deeply influenced by its culture and history. Those who have travelled to Italy and has had the opportunity to taste authentic Italian food prepared by the locals or home chefs swear by its taste. Although the cuisine is popular all over the world, and has been an inspiration for many young chefs to take up cooking as a career, the layman doesn’t know the difference between the cuisines coming from the southern and northern regions of Italy. 

Sorriso at Marriott Suites Pune is bringing the best flavours from the Emilia-Romagna — a region in northern Italy, extending from the Apennine Mountains to the Po River. Emilia-Romagna is considered one of the richest regions of Italy when it comes to its gastronomy and wine-making traditions, and certainly for their love for pasta! Chef Valter Belli, who belongs to a small town from this region, has been invited by Sorriso to give Puneites a taste of northern Italy through some mouthwatering dishes. 

Belli, who loves Indian food, especially the Indian Naan and Paneer, says that he feels honoured and extremely happy to be in Pune presenting his cuisine. The food festival at Sorriso serving delicacies from northern Italy will continue till February 4 where you can get to savour a special menu curated by Belli. “The menu for the festival will include authentic dishes like Antipasto Emiliano (a mix of Italian cold cut, gnocco fritto, erbazzone savory cake and grilled vegetables), Octopus Carpaccio, Barley Pearl with Mushrooms and Chicken Soup, Tonnarelli Pasta with Tiger Prawn, Crispy Pork Bacon on Broccoli Cream, Chocolate Ravioli Pasta stuffed with Pumpkin in Sage and Pine Nut Butter Sauce,” informs Belli. 

Those with a sweet tooth can choose from an elaborate dessert section which will include sweet treats like Siphon Tiramisu and Chocolate and Pistachio Semifreddo and so on. 

The cuisine of northern Italy, which comprises eight regions — Liguria, Val D’Aosta, Piemonte, Lombardia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Emilia-Romagna — is vast in its variety. “We have everything from fish to games,” he says. The difference between northern and southern Italian cuisines is akin to our North Indian and South Indian food. “The southern Italian cuisine has influences from Arabian cooking. Hence they have dishes like couscous and strong flavours in their food. However, northern Italian is closer to French cuisine. Napoleon had invaded Italy some 300 years ago which influenced the way Italian people cooked their food. So north Italian food does not have strong flavours as the south, has a nice presentation and has less tomatoes in the dishes. Our cuisine is more complicated and deeper when compared to the southern region,” says Belli.  

He adds that people of northern Italy use a lot of the fresh produce like pumpkins, green peas, spinach, broccoli, apple, watermelon etc in their cooking. “We grow grains, vegetables and fruits in the valley and use all of them in our cooking. Italian cuisine is different from other cuisines in the sense that we don’t have a lot of ingredients that we prepare in advance. We involve in presso which means we cook and eat immediately — we don’t cook and store — like you do in case of biryani,” says Belli adding that they have 400 different types of cheese which means dairy products are a huge part of their cooking.

You can savour North Italian cuisine at Sorriso, Marriott Suites Pune, Koregaon Park Annexe, Mundhwa, till February 4, from 7 pm onwards

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