– Norwegians’ biggest sin when it comes to pasta is pouring oil into boiling water. Then you close the pores of the pasta, which means it doesn’t draw any flavor from the sauce, says Dag Tjersland.
– The other sin people commit is overcooking pasta. Then the food settles as a ball in the stomach, which makes the body tired after the meal because you have to use up your energy to digest the food. Italians are very concerned about the digestive system, they can talk about it for hours, laughs Tjersland.
He sits on the second floor of Baltazar by Kirkeristen, which was named the best Italian restaurant in Norway by the Italian Food Academy. Last year, Tjersland and partner Ingunn Svoren also opened Skur 33, to sold-out crowds and rave reviews. But Tjersland isn’t too concerned about criticism, he says: the joy lies in giving people good taste experiences and the joy in enabling people to cook good food themselves at the House.
– More and more people are going out to eat, and they want good, healthy food that doesn’t cost too much. I had the Michelin guide tour, and they ask for things like more French wines and for the toilets to be on another floor. But it’s not the prizes and the stars that motivate me. I create my concept, then people think what they want about it. Of course, it’s nice to have confirmation that what you’re doing is right, he says.
He received confirmation: His restaurants have full tables.
Her previous 2010 cookbook, about food in Tuscany, was described by Torgrim Eggen as impressive food porn and covered modern Italian cuisine like risotto and oxtail stews. Over the past three years, Tjersland has discovered a growing demand for pasta and pizza in its restaurants. Then it became natural to follow up with a cookbook about it. Last week, “Pâtes et pizzas” was on store shelves, and has so far been very well received.
– Pasta and pizza have been reviled so much in recent years. People are terrified of carbs. Maybe what people think they should avoid is exactly what they want when they go out and have fun. I always want to go the opposite way when someone gets really assertive, so I’ve read about flours and gluten and really want to hit the carbs. We need carbs, but we don’t need all the industrially produced wheat flour in the bread and pasta we surround ourselves with, says Tjersland.
In the cookbook, which Tjersland wrote together with his regular photographer Christian Brun, he writes about primroses, spelled and types of organic flour. He himself thinks he became much lighter in his body after he started growing his own vegetables and switching to other types of flour.
– I use sourdough in all my doughs. It takes a little longer, but the result is much better, both in taste and for the body. Research shows that it’s not necessarily gluten that most people react to, but all the toxins in industrially produced flour, he says.
Tjersland also experimented with cooking time for pasta and risotto, after visiting a small mountain village near a stone mine and having an aha experience.
– The pasta they served was so raw that I went to the chef and asked him if they had made a mistake. He just shook his head and insisted that’s how they make pasta here. The reason for this was that all the guests were miners in a marble quarry in Cararra who, after lunch, went straight back to work. They couldn’t be sleepy after the meal, so they preferred lightly cooked pasta, which the body metabolizes better. When I got back to Norway, I tried serving risotto with chew resistance, but had to moderate it after a few weeks. The Norwegians might not be quite ready for that yet, he smiles.
Tjersland loves Italian food because it’s simple and tasty and built around good ingredients.
– I trained as a chef at Statholdergaarden under Bent Stiansen, and learned French cuisine. But little by little, I became more and more interested in Italian cuisine. The Italians build each dish around a raw material and let it flourish. I like it, he said.
Tjersland lived for several years in Tuscany, where he bought an old farmhouse, renovated it and opened a restaurant. He knows each region and its unique culinary culture. This time he was particularly interested in going to Sicily. There he was able to cook tomato sauce for an entire year’s consumption and learned the importance of harvesting tomatoes at the right time. Here he also experienced that a whole family sat down with a good drink in the glass to accompany a Norwegian who had to cook Italian dishes.
– I talked a lot with old ladies about food, said Tjersland laughing.
– In Sicily, there is not just one food culture, but hundreds. You can sit in one village and eat a unique meal at the place, and look over the hill to the next village, where you’ll find they have a completely different specialty. Sicily is in many ways the cradle of European food culture. And of course anyone can cook. It is important for a man to be able to prepare good pasta, and even the search for the right ingredients is an art. It’s important what you bring back to the family, says Tjersland.
He cites pizza as an example. Naples has the honor of being the home of pizza, but what about the thick, shaped pizza that is cut into squares and hand-served on every street corner in Palermo? Tjersland says that’s what became the origin of the Pan American pizza that originated with Italian immigrants in Chicago.
– We don’t have too much of this type of pizza in Norway, but there’s no reason why. It’s easy to make a great sfincione pizza, eat leftovers cold from the fridge or toss them on the grill the next day. It’s amazingly good, he says.
The Sicilian sphinx is usually made with salted anchovies, capers, onions and olives, but also aubergines and garlic. In the Tjersland variant, caciocavallo cheese is used, and it has a separate chapter dedicated to tasty cheeses from Italy. He also Norwegianized some recipes, and the cod cake pizza is another favorite, as is the whale carpaccio pizza. In a pasta dish, he replaces the traditional zucchini leaves with dandelion leaves.
– We have very good raw materials in Norway. It’s exciting to see what happens to them when you incorporate them into the Italian culinary tradition. I have tried to write the recipes as self-explanatory as possible, but being creative is allowed. It’s when the kitchen is in your fingertips that it’s fun to cook, says Tjersland.
Here are three of Tjersland’s recipes:(Terms)Copyright Dagens Næringsliv AS and/or our suppliers. We would like you to share our cases using a link, which leads directly to our pages. Copying or other use of all or part of the content may only take place with written permission or as permitted by law. For more terms see here.