Sala&Cucina Editor May 2022
Sala&Cucina, a magazine aimed above all at the world of catering, owned by Cateringross, makes use of an editorial office advocate of Italian values, promoting Italian companies that are proud to provide for gastronomic excellence icons of the Bel Paese. In May 2022, Le Prandine was among the protagonists.
Luigi Franchi, first photographer of food and territories, then speaker, author of numerous books on food and wine tourism, and today journalist of food and wine for the magazine Sala&Cucina, is the author of the article putting forward Le Prandine as one of the Italian gastronomic excellences. Here are his words:
L'ArticoloA garden, clean, tidy, beautiful, overlooking Lake Garda. These are Le Prandine, but in reality, this garden is one of the olive groves of Giovanni Morselli who, here, in Torri del Benaco on Lake Garda, wanted to recall, in his plots, all the beauty of his territory. And you might think that it is beauty, even before business, that has so madly involved him in a project for the protection and enhancement of the territory, with Le Prandine the most prominent result.
Mr. Morselli, what does beauty mean to you?
"The beauty of the landscape is one of the gifts offered by Lake Garda and its territory. Talking about the beauty of the landscape means talking about harmony, respect for nature, safeguarding what was given to us. There is no beauty if there is no respect and protection of the territory and its features. Nestled on the borders of Lake Garda there are numerous small olive groves that alone embody the highest concept of beauty. Walking in a well-kept olive grove means completely enjoying the beauty of the landscape; the harmony of the places and plants arouses emotions rewarding the observer and making him/her part of a show that it is our duty to protect and improve."
How did the Le Prandine project come about?
“Le Prandine project is the result of the desire and commitment to recover and enhance historic olive groves located on the Veronese shore of Lake Garda, in the Torri del Benaco and Brenzone area, characterized by an ideal microclimate for olive growth. Historians recall the millennial tradition of olive growth on Lake Garda, in its native variety Casaliva, a plant not characterized by quantitatively important productions, but which, thanks to the composition of the land, produces a fruit allowing to extract extremely high-quality oil in terms of taste, delicacy and harmony. And we are back once more to the concept of harmony between the products and the landscape, a unique and unrepeatable combination. The idea dates back to 2017, with the acquisition of the first land and the progressive recovery of the plants, previously in a state of semi-abandonment. It was really a pleasure to support such an initiative."
How many plants do you have and what about the production?
"We paid extreme care and attention in the recovery of plants. Today our fields are kept like gardens and plants cared for following growing techniques protecting the environment as the first and indispensable background. We progressively expanded the land at our disposal; and since the beginning of the year, we grow our crops on an area of about seven hectares with about 2,500 plants. We estimate a production for the current year of about 50,000 kg of fruit and about 9,000 litres of extra virgin olive oil, part of which GARDA D.O.P. Do not forget that the oil production of Lake Garda is a unique niche production representing less than 1% of the national production.”
Is it important to have a D.O.P. for extra virgin olive oil?
"The D.O.P. as a system of tracking, protection and enhancement of typical local products of excellence plays a potentially key role, even if not fully recognized by the market and the consumer. The context of the olive oil market still appears to be extremely competitive, and the variable price too often influences the choices of the buyer. The challenge should be to further differentiate the typical features also and above all on the international markets.”
What market do you have for your productions?
"Our buyer is the private consumer also abroad, but also restaurants recognizing the quality level of our oil and offering the best quality to its customers but the retailer as well looking for typical products. We are expanding on the international markets mainly in Germany, France, Holland, and Japan. The feedback from those who had the opportunity to taste our oil is very positive thus driving us to follow the path we chose, taking care of the constant improvement in the production and conservation of the product."
There is a great deal of talk about oil and catering, a relationship that is still bitter. How do you think oil should be represented in a restaurant?
"We Italians consider ourselves olive oil experts and olive oil is included in the Mediterranean diet as well. Truly enhancing olive oil means presenting it as an ingredient of the dish and not as a dressing. Such a different may seem trivial but in reality, it hides the true essence of the quality of the oil: the ingredient is an integral part of the dish and not a generic supplement. The correct combination with the dish represents the best use of an extra virgin olive oil."
Is it important to have an oil map or should each oil have a correct positioning on its own territory?
"The oil map can be a support not only for the producer but also for those who promote, sell or use Evo. It means generating an important cultural change depending on the recognition of oil as an ingredient with unique features to be matched to the single dish and that as such must be used. I believe that this is the only way possible one day to see an oil map consistently generating real interest on the part of the customer, highlighting the unique features of the various oils because variety means strength. However, it is important to avoid trivial operations of ‘copying and gluing’ with respect to the wine list."
What are your future projects?
"Our future is bright: we are working on the oil mill project. We are finalising the production of high-quality natural cosmetics using our oil. We are completing a citrus grove in our fields to get the essential oils for the production of cosmetics and the basis for food preserves; we are gradually transforming our fields into gardens to be able to tell whoever comes for a visit our history and the beauty of our places."
Giovanni Morselli shares the same passion as those who consider agriculture an important value for the protection of the territories, if done with a contemporary vision, modern tools and an entrepreneurial approach leading to the future well-being of the land and not to its unjustified exploitation. The Prandine by Giovanni Morselli reflect the same principle and its oils fully convey it at the taste.
Author: Luigi Franchi