Il Canto - Hotel Certosa de Maggiano

Caracoles al verde
Paolo Lopriore
Pays: Italie
Localité: 53100 Siena
Adresse: Strada di Certosa, 82
(+39) 0577288180
Jours de fermeture: Midday Tuesday and Wednesday, from 01/11 to 31/03. Middays and Tuesday all day, from 01/04 to 31/10
Prix à la carte: 100 / 150 €
Prix menu de dégustation: 90 / 120 €

Anna Claudia Grossi and Paolo Lopriore make an idyllic professional team. Each of them deserves the other. Anna, who is the owner, along with her family, takes care of the palace. Hotel Certosa di Maggiano is a paradisiacal monastery built in 1314 situated in the countryside near Siena, and an utter oasis of fine living. Otherwise she focuses on the disciplined, even stubbornly blind faith she places in the on-sight artist, Paolo, urging him to develop the most avant-garde cuisine in all of Italy. 

This is what Lopriore, a disciple of Gualtiero Marchesi, dedicates himself to – creation, creation, creation. In all honesty, Lopriore is one of the few true geniuses in the world to live behind the rings. And we say live, because on top of imagining the gastronomic unimaginable, he is an artisan that puts himself into each and every dish he composes and who manages to combine fantasy and virtuosity. There are dishes that the guest will not be able to discern whether they are human or divine. The project is so earthshaking, so brilliant… that even the most advanced minds and palates sometimes feel lost. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a unique chef who succeeds in capturing a new concept of taste. An artist of universal renown that paints a distant and very Italian gastronomic universe.

Paolo has infinite talent that materializes itself in minimalist constructions with lively contrasts provocatively expressed in astonishing balance. Pure, immaculate and on many occasions contrapuntal flavors, expressed with incredible sensitivity, with regard to both flavor and color, with dishes that are as exquisite as they are beautiful, and very personal. Compositions that are destined for an experienced gourmet clientele who are crazy about experimenting with new things. And it has everything – everything that can be offered by a privileged human being whose job it is to distil good taste, training, work capacity, modesty, daring, fantasy… and art. It must be repeated, in case there was any doubt: Paolo Lopriore is a GENIUS, a GENIUS who always, absolutely always, intends to give us new and unprecedented sensations.

Are there better potato puree gnocchi in existence than Paolo’s, which are simply dressed with lemon and toasted cumin? Absolutely not. (see Great Dishes). Is there a salad that expresses the vegetables more purely than that of seaweed, herbs and root vegetables, simply dressed with wasabi and ginger confit? Absolutely not. Is there a more delicate, nuanced, beautiful and lucid carpaccio than the monochrome of Norway lobster, impregnated with raw carrot juice and notes of lime, lemon and cumin? Absolutely not. Are there more pure, essential and futuristic macaroni than the titled “Elicoidale, black pepper and pecorino romano?” Absolutely not. Is there a finer historic presentation of pasta than that offered by the “Lumaconi of baked pasta”, majestically paired with tomato, mozzarella and aged parmesan? Absolutely not. Is there greater subtlety to be found than in the temperamental flavors expressed in the royale of garlic perfumed with pistachios purée and adorned with sweet aniseed crystals? Absolutely not. Is there a more daring and assured expression of tripe like that which he pairs in their purest form with caviar, beer and toasted chickpea flour cream? Absolutely not.

If all this is but a dazzling, lively history of Loprione’s savoir-faire, the most recent incorporations to the menu confirm the chef’s grandeur. Like the caviar with tender walnuts, lemon peel –a constant theme, a definition, a real passion in his work– and liquorice –another resource of the chef–, proposed in two versions: sauce and jelly. How many people have ever been able to leap four times in the air with sturgeon roe and succeeded in their attempt? What a nerve! Paolo can handle impossible things, definitely. Like this kind of foamy cod cream in –total– motion, inspired by the buttered cod. Yes, ladies and gentlemen: a foaming and jumpy cream of buttered cod that goes up and down, right and left, lain over a raw brunoise of slightly blanched tender beans, enhanced with a rosemary infusion and some olive oil brushstrokes. A new position for gastronomic Kamasutra. Like the giant, wild and fleshy escargots, served with a green sauce made of the exciting and unique counterpoints of tea, celery leaves, julienned and foamed apple and dehydrated seaweed. Who gives you more? Like the raviolis stuffed with liquid onion broth lain over a liquid mozzarella sauce, simply seasoned with olive oil and oregano. Cheers to essentiality! Extreme and passionate red prawns cocktail, with strong touches of lemon zest, Campari gelatin, watermelon and pine nut chips. Sweet, acid and sour flavours… Paolo really enjoys himself with the latters. Like the lucid version of the brusquetta: wholemeal farmhouse bread with tomato and burnt aubergine purée. More humble, more basic, more genuine and more gratifying than ever. Like the grilled kidney with little strawberries, rhubarb and rose. Full house: this is what Paolo is always looking for; there is no place for half-measures here. Like the risotto, made without butter nor cheese, boiled and thickened with rice flour, impeccably and evenly cooked, al dente, served with capers, toasted pine nuts and olive oil. Rice had never tasted so much like rice and risotto had never been so low fat cooked. This rice is magically pure. Like the duck breast served with tender pine kernels, honey with hints of pine aromas, salted anchovies purée and gentian. Paolo’s Naturalism and contrasts are always heartbreaking. Like the suckling pig – from Paolo Parisi, obviously! –, with its rose and tender meat and its gelatinous skin, deliciously served with black cabbage juice and leaves as unique accompaniment. Glorious simplicity. The squab breast, served skinless and muscularly red, accompanied by a “civet” made on the side using the blood along with a blackcurrant puree and a few drops of Armagnac, invigorating the main ingredient and the sauce. Or the incredible ravioli filled with muscatel, dressed with capers and perfumed with Serragghia oregano–a proposal for posterity where the wine is eaten in its pure form.

Paolo Lopriore has stolen our hearts. We love his cuisine. A cuisine that is beginning to go beyond concepts of even creativity and perfection.