GOURMET GRANNIES

By Tess Prince and Carlos Risco Photography by Gonzalo Azumendi September 2016 LIFESTYLE Read in PDF format N12/2016
GOURMET GRANNIES They are wisdom behind the scenes. The cooks are not seen and safeguard the flavours and recipes. We went into their kitchens.

PRASUNA COPPINI

LA PALOMA


There is a true sense of family, passion for food and zest for life when you enter the kitchen at La Paloma, one of Ibiza’s finest foodie institutions nestled in the San Lorenc countryside. Prasuna’s eyes sparkle at this morning’s deliveries from Sicily and Tuscany, laden with capers, parmesan and Capocollo Toscano. “It was my mother who passed on this love for cooking,” she says. “We lived in Florence and she had an amazing ability to disappear into the garden and later produce a delicious dishwith whatever she’d find.”
After a lifetime of traveling the world discovering different cuisines, Prasuna and her close-knit family are Ibiza royalty, her menus the talk of the island. “Good home cooking is all about combining amazing flavours and I love to mix things up. If certain ingredients work together from different cultures then why not?” Paccheri with smoked aubergene and fresh anchovies in tomato sauce, risotto with aromatic herbs and burrata, turbot with saffron sauce and her fresh homemade pasta with prawns with pesto and pistachio ensure a full diary day after day. “People ask me what my secret is,” she laughs. “There is no secret, I simply stick to a few golden rules. Less is more, always try and go local and never forget the first essential ingredient…love.”

ANTONIA CARDONA

RESTAURANTE ES VENTALL

Situated down a tiny San Antonio side street, Es Ventall has now been a west coast hidden treasure for three delicious decades. While many visitors to Ibiza follow the billboards and head to the glitzy beach restaurants and VIP eateries, this pride of the island continues to produce some of the best food you will ever taste on the white isle. One of Es Ventall’s most endearing features is the whole ‘family’ vibe, from the cooking all the way down to Antonia’s granddaughter on waitress duties. “Having my loved ones around me in the kitchen coupled with their amazing enthusiasm has helped me to improve my restaurant every year,” she smiles. “It is such a happy environment to work in; everyone rallies around and we are always throwing ideas about to improve our service.” Es Ventall was also ahead of its time by being one of the original restaurants on the island to grow their own produce - now many others follow suit with the demand for field-to-fork dining. Dominating Antonia’s kitchen is the restaurant’s impressive wood-fired stove where food provenance and seasonality has always been her primary focus, a key to their ongoing success. “We are also very lucky in Ibiza to have everything on our doorstep with the excellent fishing and hunting enabling us to make every dish a gastronomical delight.” Her wood oven cooked lamb is a dish of legend in Ibiza while locals journey from the other side of the island for her Sofrito Payés and Bullit de Peix. “I admire so many other restaurants here and it is always so humbling to see them come here to eat!”

SONIA GATTI

MACAO CAFÉ

At the age of 80 and as clear-sighted as ever, Sonia Gatti continues cooking Italian pasta by hand in her son Luca’s restaurant, the Macao. She cooks alone, because, as she says, “they couldn’t put up with me and I couldn’t put up with them”. So every day, during the months of the season, this slim Italian lady devotes herself “with all her love” to preparing her superbly cooked fresh pasta. She started cooking late in life, but good taste came naturally to her, inheriting her love of and respect for cooking from her father. “He was a gourmand. He knew an enormous amount about cooking. I was with him at Cipriani in Venice in ’41, just after the start of the war, and I was used to living well with him. Later on I married a Tuscan restaurateur who had one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Milan.” Sonia knows that some of her dishes are beyond dispute. “I am good at risotto. Nobody makes it the way I do. And bolognese too.” For her, the key lies in the ingredients; if you have good meat, good wine, good tomato then all you have to add is care and affection. “"e secret is love, patience and character.” And she practises what she preaches. Her tagliatelle ragù takes her four hours to make. And it shows. Sonia pauses in the process of making pasta, which she stretches and manipulates with affection and efficiency. “"is Rolex was a gift from an Italian client to thank me for my tagliatelle ragù. He told me: ‘today is a special day for me because I have bought a beautiful yacht and this watch is for you, for the wonderful tagliatelle you have cooked for me. I have never had any as good anywhere else’.” For this chef, so young at heart, all cooking is full of surprises –both new trends and traditional cuisine – and she declares that she never fails to learn something new every single day. She doesn’t know how to make pizza and has never tasted paella, but she knows the key to success and practises it every day, in the solitude of her kitchen, kneading,with love and determination what others will savour later. Grazie, Sonia. For many years.

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