14 March 2017
14 March 2017
Otto and fourteen, the perfect combination
There are fourteen cows. In summer, they graze high up in the mountains. They belong to Otto Pitscheider, a farmer of San Cassiano.
Preparing a dish for Otto Pitscheider is a privilege: because his organic beef is a rare delicacy, a flavour that most people have forgotten.
There are fourteen cows. In summer, they graze high up in the mountains. They belong to Otto Pitscheider, a farmer of San Cassiano. Or to be more accurate, of Sura Cianins, a tiny hamlet, high up. This is where you will find Otto's barn, the place where he takes care of his cows, with love and dedication. These are grey alpine cows, of course. They are bred the ancient way, with no tricks. Otto is a quiet person, who rarely speaks. People who know me say that I'm rather secretive but compared to Otto I become an extrovert. This is probably why we understood each other at once. We met during the "A Taste for Skiing", the gourmet cuisine event that encourage skiers visiting Alta Badia to taste and discover the best local specialities. During the winter months, Otto runs Ütia Bamby, located on the ski slope of the same name that leads from Piz La Ila porta to San Cassiano. In his own simple manner, he asked me to cook a dish with his special meat. In fact, a striking feature of the refuge is the possibility to taste the organic meat of his maso (farm). Mid November, Otto starts butchering, a little at a time, because you never know what will happen when it snows. Meat is hung for two or three weeks until it is high and ready to be cooked. And served in the Ütia: this is the only place where you will be able to taste this meat. Otto does not sell it. It is for his clients only. One of the good things of Otto is that he uses everything, every cut of meat, from the parts that are considered of better quality to the others. At the refuge, you can taste goulash, ragout, fillet and tagliata. It has been a privilege for me to handle raw material of this quality. Last winter, for the Ütia Bamby, I prepared a dish that ‘embodies’ by origins: Seared organic beef Carpaccio, turnip parsley cream, artichokes preserved in oil and rye bread wafer, which is known as puccia. This dish is an expression of my Ladin roots, with its turnips, Otto's organic beef and la puccia, but also of my roots from Puglia, with artichokes in extra virgin olive oil and mint, a Mediterranean tradition. As wine, the Pinot Nero of Alto Adige: its rich aroma of red and black berries, spices and violet is the perfect complement to beef Carpaccio. Otto was particularly satisfied by the dish and asked me to repeat it for the season to come. We have still not decided. There is still time. We'll decide when larch trees will don the colour of the setting sun. We know each other well so there will be no discussions. Because our motto, despite it being implied and understood, is a word is enough to the wise.