An authentic recreation of a ubiquitous north-Italian snack
Italians (if you’ll forgive the stereotyping) have a knack for taking something that appears ever so simple, and making it mouth-wateringly delicious. Gastronomica’s Parma ham and stracchino piadina is a case in point.
What begins as a ham and cheese wrap (even the Italian name is better), becomes a beautiful amalgamation of sweet-salty, melt-in-the-mouth Parma, creamy stracchino cheese and fresh peppery rocket, generously bound together in a pillowy, dough-like wrap.
“Parma and stracchino piadina is a very classic dish in northern Italy. They make it in their homes—it is an everyday thing. Go to any hotel in Emilia Romagna and it will be on the menu,” explains stall manager Germana.
Like all of the produce found at Gastronomica, the ingredients are of the highest quality. The Parma ham is aged for either 18 or 24 months, and expertly sliced on the stall daily—“we like to make sure it is all as fresh as possible”. Stracchino is a pasteurised cow’s milk cheese from Piedmont, “similar to mozzarella but slightly more acidic”, and spreadable, rather than sliceable. “Plus, the cheese melts very quickly so it is perfect for the wrap.”
Top quality Italian flour
The wrap itself is not to be overlooked, either—and cannot be, so distinctive is its colour. The piles of flatbreads you’ll see atop the counter are freshly made on site by Federico, using top quality Italian flour and vegetable charcoal powder, which lends the dough its black hue and an ever-so-slightly bitter edge.
“But I cannot tell you more than that—the recipe is secret!” Germana grins. “We did a lot of experimenting to make sure we got the recipe right: the right flour, the balance of water and olive oil. Finally, we found this flour and it is perfect. It’s what makes the piadina so soft,” she continues, expertly making up a wrap before my eager eyes and placing it into what looks like a toasty-maker.
“The flour is a little more expensive than usual, but it doesn’t matter. The customer knows that they are paying for something good and they will benefit from the better flavour that results.”
While sandwiches and wraps with various delicious fillings have been available to Gastronomica’s hungry customers for some time, the black homemade piadina was only introduced last month. “We have customers who come specifically for our porchetta wrap and we hope now that people will come for the parma and stracchino piadina”—judging by the fast-forming lunchtime queue, they’ve already started.