Cuisine with its own character and professionalism in which olive oil is a vital element and the main guest.
Touring along the olive oil route in the south of the province, we had the chance to enjoy the excellence of one of the traditional restaurants in San Rafael. Sitting at one of its tables, we were ready to taste their delicious dishes and we would approach its kitchen to investigate the inclusion of olive oil in the tempting gastronomic innovations served in the venue.
As we tasted an olive oil pâté on a piece of home baked bread and waited for the main course, we had a look at the menu. We were surprised by the wide range of regional products and Mediterranean trends.
At the end of the meal, we met the person in charge of the kitchen: chef Fausto Guarneri. As he was quite busy, we made arrangements to meet him the following day and have a chat with him.
Scallops flambeéd in cognac
Troutstuffed with fish mousse
Chocolate mousse in olive oil
The best of the provincial cuisine
With an excellent predisposition and a slow but a convincing tone, Fausto answered some of our questions.
- Let's talk about olive oil in your kitchen.
- It is highly praised on the Mediterranean shore, where it has been used for a very long time. Here, it has been introduced into the traditional cuisine very gradually and it has reverted the concept that it was heavy to digest and not healthy.
And he added:
- Something similar to what happens with wine consumption is happening: in the past, it used to be a drink obtained from grapes. Now, people dare and they speak about varieties, origins and special vintages.
- Does the fact that you are immersed in an olive growing area have any influence?
- Yes. Even though our menu has always had an international hue, we have resolved to adapt it to local produce. We consume extra virgin olive oil, especially of an ancient and famous trademark produced here in San Rafael.
Health organizations assert that many common diseases in the big cities can be fought through an appropriate diet, which includes extra virgen olive oil.
- Before starting to enforce this change, I experimented myself by tasting olive oil and I learned about its features.
- How long ago did you include it in the desserts?
- A year ago. I started replacing the fat ingredients in cakes and pastries and watched the results until I got to the chocolate mousse we serve confidently today.
- What about acceptance?
- The customers are becoming more and more familiar with this product after learning about its origin, how it is produced and that it is healthy. Soft, fruity and young oils are used. We can recognize the taste of green fresh apples in it. We try not to use those made from ripe olives, which are stronger, aromatic and match salty dishes.
- Fausto, is it convenient to use olive oil for deep frying dishes?
- Yes, in fact it is used in all processes. The rabbit confit is made through deep frying at a very low temperature, which highlights the flavors. When we cook trout in the oven or on the griddle, the piece gives out the aromas of the fish and the olive oil as it gets hot. Afterwards, a touch of raw olive oil completes the presentation.
Time to Applaud...
Chef Fausto Guarneri and his work team at Sud Restaurant were awarded with the Olivo Gourmet 2008 Prize, according to the certificate displayed on one of the walls in the venue.
- Would you tell me a little bit about it?
- We took part in a gastronomic event organized by the Olive Growing Chamber in Mendoza. The conditions were to present a complete menu containing olive oil in each of its courses.
- What menu did you present?
- As a starter, a soup of black beans with a broth made of fish and clams sautéed in olive oil and sweet-and-sour sauce. The main course was a rabbit confit with vegetable texture (black olives flour, candied tomatoes and sweet-potato chips). And for dessert, chocolate mousse in olive oil with orange sauce.
- What a hit!
Fausto did not hide his pride before the excellent experience and he promised to make an effort in the creation of new dishes for the next presentation.
A fantastic panorama of what a young chef and an excellent product can make today to show off good eating and rescue the best of the provincial cuisine.
Mónica Pons Eduardo Epifanio
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