There’s something incredible about these Ghersin savurì (‘tasty breadsticks’ in Piedmontese dialect).
They belong to the same category as Piedmontese grissini, but the artisan who makes them has managed to create a perfect alchemy among the various ingredients that makes them unique.
Once you’ve tasted them, you’ll never be able to live without them.
Perfectly spiced, they are shorter than the original to facilitate transport and tasting.
The grissino was born in Piedmont at the court of the Savoy royal family at the end of the 17th century.
Following the instructions of the court doctor Teobaldo Pecchio, the court baker Antonio Brunero transformed the ghersa, the typical bread loaf of Turin, into thin crumb-free bread sticks to aid the digestion of the young Duke Vittorio Amedeo II.
Since then, breadsticks have spread all over the world with different recipes and shapes.
Historically, the Piedmontese grissino has had illustrious fans, King Carlo Felice and no less than Napoleon Bonaparte among others.
AREA OF PRODUCTION
The original area of production is the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. From here the grissino has spread the world over.
Type 2 soft wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, emmer flour, wholemeal emmer flour, unrefined Mothia sea salt (San Pantaleo, Trapani), wheat malt, brewer’s yeast.
Ghersin savurì are flavoured with: Calabrian chilli pepper, garlic, oregano, tumeric, Alnif cumin (a Moroccan Slow Food Presidium), black pepper.
Strictly organic and acquired from two of the finest local mills:
Mulino Marino Felice in Cossano Belbo, Piedmont, Italy.
A mill producing natural stone-ground organic flour, conferred with a Piedmont Regional Authority certificate for ‘Artisanal Excellency’;
Mulino Sobrino in La Morra, Piedmont, Italy.
A mill producing flours from the finest Langa soft grain varieties, involved in a research project designed to revive and reuse heirloom native soft grain varieties.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Made with taggiasca olives, a unique, delicate, sweet oil from the ‘Gocce d’olio’ olive farm in Villa Faraldi (Liguria, Italy).
Supplied by the historic Sardo e Quaglia grocery in Bra (Piedmont, Italy), birthplace of the Slow Food movement.
Breadsticks – Ghersin savurì are produced by pastry chef Gianfranco Tibaldi in his ‘Laboratorio di pasticceria artigianale Tibo’ workshop at Strada dei Magliani 47 Frazione Scaparoni, Alba, Piedmont, Italy.
The workshop produces traditional Piedmontese baked goods and confectionery with artistic flair, often revisiting it with imaginative innovativeness.
Breadsticks – Ghersin savurì are one of the most successful creations of this eclectic master artisan, who also produces a version, Ghersin safran, aromatised with the organic saffron of the Sant’Isidoro farm in Govone (Cuneo).
Gianfranco Tibaldi refuses to compromise over the quality of his ingredients and produces everything himself, entirely by hand and with huge passion.
Preparation of the ingredients is followed by the kneading of the dough and baking.
First, the type 2 soft flour is blended with the emmer flour and the wholemeal emmer flour.
The various spices – Calabrian chilli pepper, garlic, oregano, tumeric, Alnif cumin (a Moroccan Slow Food Presidium) and black pepper – are mixed with the wheat malt.
The malt and spice mixture is sifted and stirred into the three-flour blend.
The unrefined Mothia sea salt (San Pantaleo, Trapani) is dissolved in water and the water for the dough is cooled.
The extra virgin olive oil is also added to the water for the dough.
The brewer’s yeast is left in warm water for ten minutes to dissolve.
When the yeast is ready for use, the dough can be prepared.
The water with the dissolved yeast is added to the flour and spiced malt mixture and the resulting dough is kneaded in a mixer for one minute.
Then the oil and water are added and the dough is kneaded for two minutes.
Finally the salted water is added and the dough is kneaded for another ten minutes or so.
When the dough is ready, it is removed from the mixer and kneaded by hand before being shaped into sticks which, one by one, are then laid on baking trays.
The sticks are left to prove for 1½ hours at 24°C, then baked in the oven for 14 minutes at 170°C and for 4 minutes at 150°C.
They are then left to dry in the oven, which has been turned off in the meantime, and packaged the following day to allow them to lose any moisture and acquire the right degree of friability.
PERIOD OF PRODUCTION
Ghersin savurì are produced continuously and may be bought and consumed all year round.
The breadsticks, which are free from preservatives, have an average life of 180 days from their date of production.
They should be eaten with meals to replace bread or as a snack to relieve hunger pangs at any time of day, or served at aperitif time with a glass of wine or a cocktail and background music of your choice.
Gianfranco Tibo Tibaldi suggests ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ by Rodgers and Hart, sung by Rosemary Clooney, George’s aunt.