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The “Fichi Festival” in Calabria. Among the starred dishes, the slices of pizza and the recipes to reproduce

by Giovanna Pizzi

The first edition of the “Fichi Festival”, promoted by the Consortium for the Protection of Figs of Cosenza Dop, was more than a success. Two days of culture, art, masterclass meetings, tastings and shows in which the fig, a prized product of the Calabria region and of Cosentino in particular, was the appreciated protagonist.

Figs from Cosenza DOP
Figs from Cosenza DOP

This is journalistic news.

For me, however, it was a beautiful experience, a formative adventure, a moment of knowledge and comparison. An immersion in the dynamics that regulate, limit and enhance the Calabria of food and communication. And again, above all, it was an opportunity to bring together from Castrovillari to Gioiosa Ionica, from Lamezia Terme to Isola di Capo Rizzuto, demonstrating that we can walk together, important Calabrian food and wine activities and restaurants that, in this cases, have married an idea: to put under the magnifying glass and tell with their art a product of excellence, figs in fact, which after bergamot, always in my opinion (of course), are one of the most fascinating of the Calabrian land. For their impromptu character, since they are not there all year round, for the territorial specificity since they are not found everywhere, because they sweeten the end of summer, especially if they are tasted directly under the fir tree and also and above all for the memory that certainly awaken in every Calabria, and not only, the idea of ​​”cannizzi” with figs put to dry by the grandmother.

Padduni and ficus
Padduni and ficus

In short, “the fig is cool”!

And those of Cosenza DOP, which exclusively concerns dried figs, are more so: in addition to the territory and the microclimate which determine their taste, the secret lies in the hand of the man who selects them one by one to obtain only unpollinated figs. those that are sweeter and have smaller seeds.

But let’s come back to the way in which an event built around the town of Cosenza, whose province is affected by the designation of origin, involved an entire region with its restaurants, pizzerias, pastries.

Farmer's snack.  Bread and figs
Farmer’s snack. Bread and figs

And which ones especially!!

First of all, four Calabrian “Stars” aimed straight for an off-menu to offer in their starred restaurants during the two days of the festival and prepared a fig dish dedicated to the event.

Fig Festival.  show kitchen
Fig Festival. show kitchen

Who am I? From south to north:

-Riccardo Sculli at the “Restaurant Enoteca Gambero Rosso” in Marina di Gioiosa Ionica who reworked a great classic with the “Memory of a closed pitta”;

-Luca Abbruzzino at the fish-cocktail-bar “Brezza fish & cill” in Soverato who delighted all those who asked, during the two days of the festival, with the “Carpaccio of grouper, figs, orange, capers and basil oil” ;

-Luigi Lepore from the homonymous restaurant in Lamezia Terme who prepared “Roasted figs, ivy and chamomile”;

Roasted figs - ivy and chamomile
Roasted figs – ivy and chamomile

-Nicola Annunziata from “Pietramare Natural Food” in Praialonga who prepared “Podolica between Calabria and Campania” accompanied by fig ice cream.

(But how wonderful these dishes are!!!)

And again, 3 of the best pizzerias in the area, included in the authoritative 50 Top Pizza guide, also prepared a special casserole for the occasion. From north to south, this time:

-Filomena Palmieri in his pizzeria “Da Filomena” in Castrovillari and “Forno Filomena” in Cosenza, cooked

“Ficu miu”: Potatoes in silane, creamy gorgonzola cooked with Dop figs from Cosenza, stretched black pork bacon and fig molasses;

Ficu Miu pizza
Ficu Miu pizza

-Daniele Campana from “Campana Pizza in pan” in Corigliano Calabro created

“Don Cataldo”, a pizza with Cosenza Dop figs infused with gaglioppo, blue goat cheese and ‘nduja. And to do so, he used, in addition to the Fichi di Cosenza DOP, the Gaglioppo Cirò Riserva ’98 Cataldo Calabretta, the Santanna di Maria Procopio goat’s cheese, the Cervicati Bio black pork ‘Nduja and the Campotenese fior di latte.

Pizza Don Cataldo
Pizza Don Cataldo

– And finally from “Kalavrì”, in the three localities of Catanzaro Lido, Tropea and Roccella Ionica, the “Fichissima” was proposed: Fior di latte di Agerola, blue goat cheese always Santanna, raw ham 18 months, walnuts, oil of extra virgin olive from October from Olearia San Giorgio and Fichi di Cosenza Dop.

Very cool pizza
Very cool pizza

Anyway, no pizza and figs? precisely.

In fact, even the pizza is stupid! that of “Mammarè. Pizza and Chiuriti” in Bisignano.

But that’s not all!

The event also saw the participation of 8 pastry shops from the province which delighted the palates of their customers with a dessert based on figs and I would like to highlight the participation of the ice cream parlor “Barbarossa, il Pirata del Gelato” in Villapiana, ( please go!) with the “Fichi informati” ice cream by master ice cream maker Gaetano Vincenzi. While the patisseries that got involved were: Massimiliano Tagliaferro confectioner, Corigliano-Rossano; L’Etoile pastry shop, Fuscaldo; Colosseo pastry shop, Rogliano; Cicciù pastry shop, Praia a mare; Pasticceria Ellisse, Castrovillari; Malù pastry shop, Villapiana Lido; Scionti Francesco pastry shop, Taurianova and Napoleon pastry shop, San Marco Argentano.

Figs from Cosenza DOP
Figs from Cosenza DOP

In short, the first “Fichi Festival” was certainly a beautiful journey: in art, between the pages of books and soft silks, between comics and jewelry, in words and in taste but above all in the fertile lands of province of Cosenza, by bicycle, in reality, therefore not metaphorically, to discover an agricultural heritage and a memory that is expressed in the different ways in which the white-polka dot fig of Cosenza is dried and transformed: ” cross” to the braids, covered with chocolate or make “paddhuni i fichi”, up to the rare molasses, produced with an ancient, very long and elaborate method.

fig cross
fig cross

This fig has in fact particular organoleptic properties, which place it among the most interesting products in the sector. It is very suitable for being dried and processed to such an extent that it has become the reference product of an entire territory where dozens of growers have understood the potential of this ancient crop (in fact, in recent years, 150,000 new plants were planted for approximately 400 new cultivated hectares). Ancient culture but turned to the future with experimental studies that aim to facilitate the culture and absolutely preserve its specificities.

Ah, back to what it was for me, even though I didn’t weigh myself, without a shadow of a doubt… a few extra pounds!

Like, how? Just look at, and perhaps reproduce, the three extraordinary signature recipes entrusted to us by starred chefs Riccardo Sculli and Nicola Annunziata and master ice cream maker Gaetano Vincenzi.

Here they are!

RECIPE by Riccardo Sculli

Memory of a closed pitta

Memory of a closed pitta
Memory of a closed pitta

Ingredients for 4 persons

-Almond cream :

Almond milk without sugar 500gr

Egg white 50gr

Sugar 50gr

Corn starch 40gr

– Fig jelly

Dried figs 200gr

Water 100g

Gelatin to taste

-Citrus reduction

Citrus juice (orange and clementine)

-Walnut crumble

Butter 100gr

Flour (w180) 65g

Walnuts 50gr

– Grape must to taste

– Dark chocolate flakes to taste

– Cinnamon powder to taste

– Coffee powder to taste

-Method

For the almond cream:

proceed as a normal custard using the ingredients indicated in the recipe

For the fig jelly:

blend the figs with the water until they are pureed, add the gelatin and mold to the desired shape

For the citrus reduction:

reduce the orange and clementine juice by 1/3 over the heat

For the walnut crumble:

Using a planetary mixer, combine the butter, flour and nuts. Roast in the oven at 130 degrees for about 1 hour

Plating:

Using a pastry bag, pipe the almond cream in a geometric direction, then, following the pattern, pour in the grape must, fig jelly, walnut crumble, citrus reduction , chocolate shavings and

cinnamon and coffee powders.

A typical Christmas dessert revisited in a light touch, perfect for a meal.

RECIPE by Nicola Annunziata

Podolica between Calabria and Campania

Podolica between Calabria and Campania
Podolica between Calabria and Campania

Recipe for 2 people:

Podolica nuts tortoise shell 250 gr

Wax anchovy sauce 10 cl

Maldon salt 3g

Extra virgin olive oil 10 gr

Basil 20g

Tabasco 10g

Tropea red onion 20 gr

Shape the meat into a tartare and season with the rest of the ingredients, form meatloaves and place in the refrigerator a few minutes before final use.

Figs from Cosenza DOP
Figs from Cosenza DOP

– Fig ice cream

200 gr of Cosenza figs

20 grams of sugar

15 g of salt

Basil to taste

Lemon zest to taste

Pepper as needed

Cut the figs into irregular cubes, season with all the ingredients and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then using an ice cream maker, form the ice cream, place in the freezer until final use.

-Friggitelli gazpacho

Frigitelli 250g

Salt to taste

Sherry vinegar 20 cl

Tobacco 10g

Worchestershire sauce 20g

In a blender, mix everything and make it smooth and homogeneous using a strainer, serve very cold

In a semi-deep plate, place 3 scoops of tartare, the fresh basil to decorate and the fig ice cream, add the very cold gazpacho in a sauce boat.

RECIPE by Gaetano Vincenzi

Dottati Fig Ice Cream

fig ice cream
fig ice cream

Ingredients for 1 kg of ice cream

Whole milk 650cl

Sugar 110g

Liquid cream 135 g

Fig pulp puree 80 g

Fig malasse 20 g

Carob seed flour 5 g

Method

Bring the milk, sugar, cream and carob flour to a boil, stirring often to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan, make sure all the lumps have dissolved and let stand.

Once the base mixture has cooled, add the fig pulp previously mixed with the fig molasses

Our Gelato is ready to be creamed.

Those who own a homemade ice cream maker simply pour the mixture into the appropriate container and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

For those who do not have an ice cream maker the procedure is just as simple: pour the mixture into a metal container and absolutely circular and that the content does not exceed half a liter, then take more than one and place it in the freezer stirring every 15 minutes until your ice cream is ready, the time goes from two to three hours depending on the temperature of your freezer.

Our ice cream is ready, decorate with figs and molasses.

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