What does it take to bake a baguette so perfect that the crackle of the crust is music to the ears? Or the perfect tortellini, each one tiny and perfectly formed into a uniform shape, swimming in a delicious broth? Is sushi really just rice with fish, or could it represent years of learning how to make the ideal rice before even being allowed to touch fish? I’ve been asking these questions ever since I first learned how to tell the difference between a great baguette and a mediocre one; or an out-of-this-world sushi experience versus just raw fish on rice.
This month, Luxeat Insider’s theme is the Artisan, someone who dedicates their entire life to their craft. We talk with the author of “Rice Noodle Fish” and other best-selling books, Matt Goulding, one of the first Western writers to really explore the concept of shokunin. We interview grandmother Rina Poletti, who has dedicated her life to perfecting tortellini. We share a top-six sake list curated by Pablo Alomar Salvioni and top it off with my personal selection of the best current sushi masters in Europe.
Hope you enjoy
Matt Goulding: putting words to food
Matt Goulding doesn’t do things by halves, and his recent James Beard award for Dining and Travel writing—specifically for his piece dubbed “Slice of Tokyo: How Japan Became a Pizza Hotspot”, for Airbnb Magazine—attests to this. Before writing about pizza, he learned how to make it, by becoming a certified pizzaolo at what he describes as the somewhat official school of pizza in Naples, the APN (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani). The winning article is about the two things dear to Goulding’s heart – Japan and pizza. But it’s about something else too: shokunin, the ultimate artisan, devoted to mastery of a specific process. The following conversation—which touches on everything from the Italian Nonna to Spanish seafood—is also an exploration of shokunin, and how mastery, Japan and pizza fit together.
The grand tortellini debate or Don’t mess with the Nonna!
There’s likely no country in the world that has exported its cuisine better than Italy. To be honest, we Italians usually consider this fame a double edged sword; on one hand the expertise and the selection of products on which our country prides itself and on the other continued confusion around names and recipes.
Europe’s 15 Best Sushi Shokunin
From London to Logroño- my list of the best and up-and-coming sushi masters in Europe.
For some of these chefs it’s not only a job, but a lifetime quest to achieve perfection.
6 taste defining & defying sakes
Sake, locally known as Nihonshu, is drenched in myth and mystery. The Japanese seem to have a complex code in their DNA that defines the exclusive rules surrounding sake tasting…and their exceptions, in a deep and difficult balance. What for Europeans is black or white, for the Japanese may be a million shades of grey, ranging from the most immaculate white to the darkest black.
Sake pairing, the ultimate guide
Beyond pairings with sushi, sake is the perfect drink to bring out the full flavour of any dish. While sake is definitely not wine… it can certainly be paired with food in similar ways. Check out this in-depth look at the nectar of Nippon and the best foods to create a perfect match.