Let Eat Bi raises the curtain on the annual programme of its Green Academy with an event entirely dedicated to saffron, the first of a series aiming at promoting local farming and knowledge sharing.The initiative, held on Thursday 21st February at 6.30 pm at Cittadellarte, will be curated by Enrico Covolo (pictured on the left), who has been dealing with this spice for almost 34 years. On this occasion, the farmer (who is also a freelance IT consultant) will detail the various aspects of the so called ‘red gold’: the reclamation of the territory, the farming in ‘extreme’ areas, the system, the harvesting, its use and the beginning of the supply chain. The owner of the company has given us a few anticipations in view of the talk, focusing on the beginnings of his career: “I have been farming saffron for over three decades, – he said – but the product has become much more popular in the last three years”. The spark that ignited the second phase of his activity was the encounter with Dolci Capricci in Coggiola: “Two years ago I started a collaboration with this patisserie, which led to the creation of a new sweet. The shop has in fact started selling a special praline made of white chocolate and our saffron. A novelty which turned out to be a success, sold from the end of September to spring. Our saffron is not only part of the recipe for the praline, but it is also used in panettone, nougat and ice cream”.
In the course of the two years, Covolo and his contacts have developed an actual supply chain, which sees the farmer collaborating with other establishments like the brewery Birrificio Jeb, the farm ‘Il Frutteto di Bersej’, the pizzeria Nerone, the ice cream parlour Alice and the restaurant Due Cuori (his saffron is now used in beers, liqueurs, pizza dough and other dishes). At the Green Academy’s event, participants will be able to taste and buy specialties like jam, jelly and cheese. A network grown wider with time: “I have made investments directed at ‘re-conquering the territory’ – continues Covolo – in a sort of ‘heroic’ farming. I repurposed most of my plots of land, cleaning and terracing them, doubling the farmable surface; an operation also intending to reclaim unused land”. In this regard, Covolo will project a series of images of the areas he is farming, showing the before and after of his plots. “The production of saffron is linked to many factors, – he explains – 1000 square meters give you roughly a kilo of product. In peak times, between October and November, I need about fifteen people working for me daily harvesting and picking flowers”.
The farmer was keen on stressing the properties of saffron (in November 2017 Covolo was the speaker of a conference on this subject in Coggiola): “It is a natural antioxidant, besides being antitumour and anti-aging. In the ‘80s, scientists also proved its effectiveness in curbing sight illnesses. There is a history attached to it: up to a few centuries ago, it was considered a magical substance. Researches to highlight its properties are still carried out, this plant might end up being used for medicinal purposes too. Saffron – he concludes – can be associated not only with food, but also with health”. But talking about food specialties, the programme of the event includes a saffron based dinner* at the restaurant Due Cuori in Piazza Cisterna, 11 in Biella at 8.30 pm. The cost of the evening meal, organized in collaboration with Let Eat Bi, is 30 euros (which includes the full meal, wine and coffee).
The talk will be held at via Serralunga, 27 in Biella (Cittadellarte) and the participation fee is 10 euros.
To reserve a place at the talk and/or the dinner please write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or text 348.2106708 by Monday 18th February.
*Dinner menu: smoked potatoes, saffron and seasonal herbs crème fraiche; saffron risotto with sausage and red wine ragout or saffron risotto; saffron ice cream with home-made torcetti