CBerlin, Germany (Gastrosofie). „Cristo si è fermato a Eboli“ exclaims Carlo Levi in his eponymous book, which was filmed in 1978 by Francesco Rosi, leaving viewers of moving images that no longer take a look at books, with Eboli a name to describe the situation that the author was working on when in political exile at Basilicata. He wrote about the misery of the peasants up to the ridiculous figure of the fascist mayor. When Levi died in Rome in 1975, he was buried in the cemetery of Aliano, according to his will. In the 90s of the last century Aliano, which is called in the book for reasons of discretion Gagliano, was proclaimed the Parco Letterario Carlo Levi (Carlo Levi Literature Park) and his book in the school of the place required reading.
Mimmo Bianco, one of the owners of the Berlin restaurant Al Contadino Sotto Le Stelle, whose home page is Al Contadino, comes from this poor country of old Lucania: „It all started with a family lunch when we sat together with our mothers and friends from Lucania, nowadays mainly Basilicata. I, son of two gourmets, and my in-laws, whose parents are all farmers met after our first culinary experience in Berlin, which we had in the restaurant ‘A Muntagnola ‚, because there we put the Italian cuisine in Germany to the test.
During the meal we had lively conversations about the topic of food and especially remembered the culinary experiences that we had made over the years with the Italian cuisine.
Our memories were full of flavours, remembering the taste of a ripe tomato, the lard that ripens in the kitchen for a whole winter, so you can eat it later on a toasted slice of bread or homemade sausage, made with a traditional technique, which is called ‚a coltello‘ and by which sausages together with lard (’sugna‘) are preserved in clay jars to protect them from the influence of light. Other memories came to mind, such as the thought of that meat sauce prepared in the early hours of the morning and left to simmer on the stove until lunchtime, then served with homemade pasta. We also came to those sweet-toothed people who gather around the grape-pot to enjoy around 11 am bread with sauce as a small snack.
And so we decided at this Sunday lunch that we wanted to open a restaurant – because we wanted to offer all the flavours and culinary moments that are remembered throughout life. We’ve been doing this since 1997, always looking for food that best assures the preservation of the traditions that our families have passed on to us and whose guardians we are now.“
They and others watch over the gastronomic core elements of their country in the kitchen with the basic products olive oil and tomatoes, cheese and cold meat, but also offer all kinds of seasonal items from other Italian regions. Basilicata is known for all sorts of old crops that make a pasta that is famous all over the world, but also wonderful wines are made there. That the cuisine from old Lucania is a simple one but with unadulterated flavours, that Mimmo Bianco reported us Gastrosofen and offered delicious food and wonderful wines.
First we had a Zuppa di Ceci e Castagne, a chickpea and chestnut soup. Delightful also the Caponata di Melanzane called dish, which consists of stewed eggplant in sweet and sour tomato sauce with raisins, pine nuts, celery and roasted almonds. For those who want to taste cheese, we recommend an artichoke carpaccio with citrus vinaigrette and soft goat’s cheese.
Then follow homemade noodles. If you have the choice, try them all. Especially the good ravioli filled with grouper on pistachio pesto, or Fettucelle from bitter cocoa served with wild boar ragout or, or, or. And then the main courses!
How about a veal shank that has been cooked for a dozen hours at low temperature and served with saffron risotto?
If you still can, choose a mixed plate for dessert. Dessert misto della casa. For the wines please let the landlord choose, he knows his cellar best. It is situated like the restaurant on the ground floor and is partially glazed from floor to ceiling, so offering best views onto good wines.
Al Contadino Sotto le Stelle
Auguststraße 36, 10119 Berlin
Phone: 0049 (0)30 2819023, E-Mail: email@example.com
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 6 pm, closed on Sunday
Christopher Prescott based on a text by Stefan Pribnow.