Écru, the culinary laboratory pushing the limits of raw food
ROME – Écru, an unassuming restaurant, tucked away behind a corner in the bustling heart of the Eternal City, has embarked on an ambitious raw food project. Its name, coming from the French, denotes the pure qualities of a “raw” or “unbleached” silk material, perfectly reflected in their open-plan layout, whose world centres around the quality of uncooked products, in order to deliver unique, vibrant dishes.
Just off Campo de’ Fiori, the raw food laboratory, where culinary “studies and experiments” take place, finds its roots in Italian cuisine, although the adventurous chefs are always looking to push the boundaries of their menu, broadening their horizons over Italian borders.
Écru spoke to the Italian Insider about their exciting project, taking the nutritional characteristics of vegetarian and vegan cuisine to new heights through “the subtle pleasure on the palate of raw food.”
Their innovative idea, providing high quality raw food, was born simply when the owners stumbled across a book, discussing a topic with which they previously had little association. From here, the Écru journey began, maturing into a creative hub for food, drink, music and art.
“Once we started trying to put recipes together, we realised that the flavours which we were eating were very different and unique from traditional cooking.”
“What excited us was that what we were creating was a much more intense flavour; we had discovered a natural, healthy style of cooking, which we previously didn’t know about, creating raw nutrients with varied and often more powerful flavours and aromas.”
Their idea developed not only from of eating a wide range of raw fruits and vegetables, but also from using new, often disregarded foods, which neither they nor their customers were used to eating.
“The intensity, fragrance, tastes and vibrant colours really hit us and made us think about taking our project further.”
“From here it became a sustainable, biological project, in search of new raw materials which have been grown in a natural environment, taking into account the seasons of the year.”
The restaurant emphasises the importance of zero-kilometre, locally grown products, taking pride in the quality and freshness of their ingredients. Their zucchini spaghetti and asparagus tagliatelle dishes, for instance, find basis in Italian cuisine whilst testing its foundations. However, the menu is also interspersed with international influence, providing both a national and global outlook with sushi rolls and avocado tartare.
“The majority of our products, especially fruits and vegetables, we are able to obtain within Italy, often from Lazio, but we try to transform traditional Roman and Italian recipes wherever possible since we’re fortunate with the quality of ingredients in Italy, and the flavours we’re able to create are different to the rest of the world.”
The welcoming pair running Écru have never targeted a specific audience for the restaurant, since their focus is solely on offering a different way of preparing food. Yet, throughout their time in business they have attracted a real variety of customers, coming from all over the world, not just from Rome, eager to try their new inventions.
You could easily be mistaken for thinking an exclusively raw food restaurant may become restricted in variations to their menu. Yet, the owners expressed their astonishment at the seemingly endless potentials of raw cooking, matching their menu to different seasons, where they discover original, frequently overlooked foods and combinations.
“When the season changes, we are able to adapt to the different ingredients on offer each season, utilising different products throughout the year. There are very few things we can’t transform using our techniques to make them tasty. Especially when fruit and vegetables are copious, we struggle to keep the menu small because there are so many ideas – we occasionally have to limit ourselves!”
“Working around time of year and with the right techniques, you can manipulate every kind of food and so we change the menu at least four or five times a year.”
And so, where could this Écru project end up?
“Eating trends are changing gradually, but they are changing more notably towards a higher quality food, not necessarily vegan or raw foods. However, dishes that are more attentive to the raw materials are becoming increasingly important.”
“People are paying more attention to where they buy food and what it is they are actually eating,” and so it is no surprise that the stress-free, open-style kitchen, where customers can view the food-making process, is beginning to draw in visitors from around the world.
Their natural, healthy and energetic cooking is swiftly becoming a hit in the Italian capital.
For more information please follow the link to Écru’s website: