David Dale & Lucio Galletto: Coastline cooking

What made you decide to team up and write this cookbook? What was the inspiration behind it?
We had fun working together before on three books, and enjoyed travelling through Italy, so we thought this would be a great excuse for a road trip through the most interesting food and the most spectacular seascapes of the Mediterranean. The inspiration for Coastline was the idea of finding what unites people, at a time when politicians are trying to divide us. Humans are at their best when they are sharing food, drink and talk around a table. We wanted to encourage that.

The Domain of Oil is the area that you decided to focus on – why did you find this more appealing than the other two domains (Butter and Lard)?
The national borders in Europe make no sense. It would be far better to create national groupings based on people’s preferred cooking medium. Eastern Spain, southern France and western Italy are all part of one nation we could call The Domain of Oil. Lucio comes from The Domain of Oil, and both of us love to cook with it and dress our meals with it. It’s lighter and healthier than the other two cooking mediums.

What is it that you love most about cooking with seafood?
Lucio grew up in a fishing village, and his family restaurant took daily deliveries from the local fishermen. His favourite food in the world is mussels, for which he has more than 100 recipes, and Coastline would have turned into an all-mussel cookbook if David hadn’t stopped him.

The recipes are very specific to the region. Where would you recommend an Australian shopper get these ingredients?
The core ingredients shared around the western Mediterranean would be olive oil, garlic, anchovies, peppers, figs, fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables. The Catalans use more almonds and chilli, the Ligurians use more basil and pine nuts, the Provencals use more eggplant, zucchini, and saffron. They are all easy to find in Australia. The Mediterranean seafood is somewhat different from Australia’s, but in Coastline we have suggested equivalents.

What are the three easy recipes you would recommend from Coastline for the time-poor cook?
Pesto has only seven ingredients (basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, pecorino, parmesan) and you can make a brilliant pasta sauce in minutes with a blender, or take slightly longer with a pestle and mortar. A spoonful of picada (a Catalan puree of garlic, nuts, saffron, parsley) can be added to any soup or stew for a lovely flavour boost. Tuna tartare only needs very fresh fish (finely chopped) and a tapenade of olives, capers, oregano and thyme. Coastline, however, has many more quick and easy recipes for the home cook.

What have been the highlights of your individual cooking careers thus far? What have been the most difficult parts?
Lucio grew up in the family restaurant in Italy, starting his own restaurant in 1981. The highlight is having so many return customers time and time again. Not so much a difficulty, but there have been the challenges of encouraging customers to try new and different things, and instilling into the staff the true meaning of hospitality. David is a writer who prefers to eat the cooking of others, but a highlight of his own “cooking career” was spending two years, while a student in London, trying to perfect crema catalana (also known as creme brûlée). He’s almost got it, 30 years later.

What are your favourite recipes from Coastline?
David’s favourite recipes are the aioli monstre from Provence (steamed fish and veg with a very garlicky mayonnaise); the paella Valenciana (the original was made with snails, but we’ve made them optional in our recipe); the Catalan pastry called Xuixo (pronounced “shoosho”, and named after a sneeze – we explain why in the book); the whole baked fish with olives and potatoes that was originally served to Picasso; and the cheese-stuffed focaccia from Genoa. Lucio had some difficulty selecting his favourites but Pasta Arrosto con Le Arselle, an old Ligurian recipe is one. He cannot go past the Bouillabaisse and the Catalonian Salpicon de Marisco for its wonderful sapore di mare flavour of the sea.

What are the five ingredients that you cannot cook without?
Lucio: Extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Ligurian), basil, garlic, tomatoes, salt.
David: Olive oil, garlic, fresh thyme, lemons, anchovies.

What is your perfect meal?
It would be lots of share plates in the middle of a big table, surrounded by people drinking, talking and reaching.

What do you hope readers will gain from this cookbook?
A sense of what brings humans together. It’s a book about the pleasure of sharing, and hopefully it shows how societies
that sometimes seem divided are actually united in the details of life that really matter.

David Dale and Lucio Galletto have teamed up to showcase the true essence of cooking from The Domain of Oil, in their latest cookbook Coastline. 

Watch this space!

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