Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Sometimes an egg is just and egg. But if you’re lucky, sometimes that egg comes from the uber egg meister Paolo Parisi.
Parisi’s egg-like head is well known in Italy, where it appears on the cartons that contain his magnificent white orbs. They are some of the most sought after - and expensive - eggs around. Are they worth paying a euro and a half per egg for?
I think they are. Since they’re so expensive, I don’t use them for every day cooking. But when I do have them, I appreciate their unique taste and texture. They come from free range hens that are carefully fed not just corn, but also goat’s milk. This extra protein actually gives the yolks a different - almost creamy - consistency, with a slight taste of almond.
When I have them at home, I make them soft boiled or poached, or sometimes gently sunny side up. At the very most, I add a pinch of salt.
Yet some chefs do get creative, but in a way that highlights the eggs' delicate attractions. Two of the best things I’ve eaten this year have been made with Parisi eggs. The addictive mayonnaise made by Veronica at Tricolore, which tops the burger there. And Marco Stabile's incredible dish “L’Uovo, le uova e la gallina”, at Ora d'Aria which includes a slow cooked Parisi egg, floating in broth.
So, when Paolo Parisi invited me to stop by Casa & Bottega in Rome, where he was cooking up his own eggs, of course I went.
While I enjoy Parisi’s eggs au naturelle, with as few additions as possible, he has a different approach. “Yes, my eggs are perfect. But with the addition of a few careful ingredients, it can be even more perfect.” (Modest, he is not.)
He ever so gently fried the egg over very low heat, in butter. The white was just set, while the yolk remained lusciously runny. He scattered the still hot egg with chunks of cooked guanciale from his own cinta senese herd, a few leaves of fresh marjoram, a dusting of aged parmesan, a drizzle of oil and a few shavings of lemon zest.
Brought to the table by Paolo himself, he instructed Sophie and I to each take a small piece of bread, and gently break the yolk, so that it’s creaminess would coat the rest of the egg, becoming it’s own sauce, blending with the other ingredients.
Yes. He was right. His perfect egg was even 'more perfect.'
While I cook a lot of eggs - making frittatas almost weekly - this idea of simply topping a fried egg with a few choice ingredients had never occurred to me before. Now, with a freshly bought box of his eggs in my fridge, I’m ready to try to expand my egg repertoire.
Alla Parisi of course.
Via delle Macchie 1
Usigliano di Lari, Pisa
Casa e Bottega
Via dei Coronari 183
A very cute place, especially for breakfast and lunch.
The breakfast menu features eggs (Parisi of course, but not always cooked by him. This was a one off event) ,freshly squeezed orange juice, bread from Roscioli and pastries from Cristalli di Zucchero.