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DISCOVER OLTREPO' PAVESE WITH ROBERTO SCOVENNA

Da Roberto is located in Barbianello, in the Oltrepò Pavese. With a strong ethos on traditional local cooking, it’s one of the best eateries in the area

 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE AREA FROM A GASTRONOMIC POINT OF VIEW?
The restaurant has been in existence since 1910, so it has a lot of tradition behind it. We live in a farming village with fields of maize, wheat and chard all around. Every farmhouse has its own garden combining plants that bear delicious fruit with others that provide shade in those hot summer days.
Our local speciality has to be Salame di Varzi, but we also have agnolotti di stufato, risottos – typically with salami, because our cured meat traditions are so strong here – and birds like duck and goose. In the summer, we use a lot of greens, such as hops and wild poppies, in frittatas and risottos.

DA ROBERTO IS ALSO THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE COTECHINO CALDO CONFRATERNITY.
Around here, it’s still traditional for virtually every house to have a pig, which you then butcher for your personal consumption. Cured meats last for many months, but sometimes you don’t know what to do with all of those cotechino sausages! We decided to meet up here and then over the course of the year to eat cotechino together. The classic version is served with polenta and a melted gorgonzola sauce, but we do it in lots of other ways too.

WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DO YOU HAVE WITH LOCAL PRODUCERS?
We love cured meats from Luigi Panigazzi, an artisanal producer who still works according to the old method. We have a trusted cheesemaker who sources mountain cheeses from the Oltrepo Pavese for us, then there’s our own kitchen garden for the vegetables. We often share our vegetables with our neighbours: when one person’s salad comes up there’s enough for everyone, same with tomatoes.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU HAVE TO TRY IF YOU VISIT THE AREA?
In the winter it has to be salami, cotechino, agnolotti and duck. We eat lighter meals in summer so usually stick to raw meat or dishes with the tonnato sauce, which is prepared in the traditional method with just tuna, anchovies and cooked egg yolk, no mayonnaise. Then there are our desserts: torta paradiso, with bitter almonds, and ciambelle doughnuts cooked in milk and then baked and formed into a crown using twine.

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“We often share our vegetables with our neighbours: when one person’s salad comes up there’s enough for everyone, same with tomatoes”
Roberto Scovenna
CHEF

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