That mazzolin of parüch | The mountain relives in the industrious peace of Contrada Bricconi

Once upon a time there was a bréc perched on the slopes of the Bergamo Alps, in the municipality of Oltressenda Alta. After passing the hamlet of Nasolino, bend after bend, you reach the ancient farmhouses that make up the small village of Valzurio, a bucolic oasis where you can breathe a feeling of absolute peace.

In this dream context (re) arises Contrada Bricconi, thanks to the visionary passion and tireless work of Giacomo Perletti, Matteo Trapletti, Giovanni Pizzamiglio and Paolo Tocchella: after the abandonment of the last family of farmers, in 2011 Giacomo won the municipal tender for the management of the late medieval complex, with the the desire to redevelop that precious cultural heritage, the junction between man and nature. The project is futuristic: a 4.0 farm where the stable, barn and dairy are built with cutting-edge technologies.

A remarkable example of Alpine architecture that in 2020 deserved a mention in the architectural competition Constructive Alps. The need to respond to the functional and economic efficiency needs of a fledgling production and hospitality business meets the desire to enhance the mountain landscape and architecture: in this way the new is grafted with wisdom and respect on the pre-existing one, with a view to of continuous evolution and eager synergy with local communities.

This futuristic and at the same time deferential enterprise towards ancient traditions finds the perfect crowning point in the restaurant inaugurated in June, entrusted to the expert hands of Michele Lazzarini. After nine years of militancy alongside Norbert Niederkofler in the three-star restaurant St. Hubertus, it was a real love at first sight to make him understand that it was the right time, but above all the right place, to return home (Michele is a native of Gandellino, a town not far from the Contrada). The occasion of the lucky meeting is the award ceremony of CARE’s The ethical Chef Days 2018, project conceived by Niederkofler to bring together companies and professionals in the food and wine sector with the aim of promoting an ethical and sustainable approach to cooking, respecting the rhythms of nature and local communities: the passion of Giacomo, founder of Contrada Bricconi invited to withdraw the Social Responsibility Awardoverwhelms the then head chef of the restaurant in San Cassiano in Badia to the point of encouraging him to share that daring but very concrete adventure, which finds its sublimation in an extremely coherent cuisine, based on territoriality and seasonality, in full “Cook The Mountain “.

The farmhouse is on two levels for a total of about thirty seats: on the ground floor, the rooms that until 2014 housed the first three Alpine Gray ones open onto the entrance, where the counter dedicated to the display of agricultural products stands out. the result of hard team work. The Bergamo salami is made from pure pork raised with the whey of the dairy; the cheese is made with raw and whole gray Alpine milk using the farm’s starter to enhance the native bacterial flora; the “hot milking” stracchino is produced according to tradition: the freshly milked milk is promptly coagulated for a creamy result, with a clear scent of hay. Upstairs a single room, with an enchanting terrace overlooking the valley, allows you to peek into the kitchen where the brigade operates frantically, animated by contagious enthusiasm.

Inside, as on the outside, everything is extremely material: wood and stone blend in a perfect balance between minimalism and warmth. The round wooden tables, well lit by designer pendant lamps, have no tablecloths, while the napkins carefully placed on the ceramic plate are by Beltrami, a small company founded in 1965 in Cene – a village in the Val Seriana not far away – today ambassador in the world of made in Italy.

The cutlery set is arranged in a beautiful wooden box: at each course the guests are free to choose them as they wish, in an atmosphere of conviviality that blends with the rural context without subtracting elegance from the experience. When the belly of Bergamasca Giant Sheep arrives, the dining room staff proudly deliver the authentic Bergamasco shepherd’s knife, handcrafted in Premana, in the province of Lecco: a work knife with a wooden handle and a metal collar on which it rests the blade at the opening, suitable for the duties of sheep farming and mountain life. Everything is positioned with the intention of telling a story, past and future.

On the menu, refined in its simplicity, the logo, credo and leitmotif of the entire project is engraved: the curved lines that reproduce the pastures intertwine with the edges of the mountain slopes to represent «the mountain that lives again». The single path is “justified” with the intention of avoiding waste: the careful choice of dishes responds to the availability of the company’s products and the other farmers, breeders, winemakers, artisans and fishermen involved.

Alpine culture becomes the plot of a cohesive narrative that the dining room staff do not shy away from telling. Salami con la panna, a typical Camunian dish, is reinterpreted: the accompanying polenta becomes corn taco (of the ancient Bergamo variety of Gandino), ready to wrap – strictly with your hands – a delicious bite of salami paste topped with a reduction of cream. The self-produced centrifugal butter, lightly salted and whipped to perfection, is served with a hot loaf with a brown crust, mixed with organic flours from Mulino Giudici di Cerete, also in Val Seriana.

The parüch, typical mountain grass similar to a wild spinach, becomes a velvety that accompanies a potato dumpling; the balance is given by the acid note of fiurityexemplary testimony of the will of the cheesemakers not to waste anything of milk production: the “ricotta flower” taken before the ricotta itself is formed and stored in a wooden cup (“basgiòtt”) Was a precious commodity for peasant families, especially dedicated to the elderly and children for its excellent protein intake. The grilled trout comes from the breeding of an elderly gentleman from Gandellino, who has refilled his tanks fed with spring water to make his own personal contribution to this innovative project.

The wine list offers a “journey of knowledge” of Lombard wine peculiarities, starting from Bergamo, the land that welcomes them, to Mantua, where Lambrusco is praised as a “deeply peasant, simple, true product”. There is no shortage of agricultural beers such as Smoking Ganja served as an accompaniment to the BBQ aubergine: a light beer from the Luppolajo craft brewery, in which the smoked oak malt notes are combined with the resinous ones of the hemp buds in cold infusion.

The gastronomic experience becomes almost the pretext for an ultimate goal far more noble than mere culinary satisfaction: the kitchen becomes a messenger of agricultural culture, a past, present but above all future heritage, which Contrada Bricconi is committed to preserving and feeding on a daily basis.

That mazzolin of parüch | The mountain relives in the industrious peace of Contrada Bricconi –