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If the meat tastes like Martini, deep down there's BUGIN

We report the article by journalist Eugenia Torelli published on the Spirito Autoctono website

Bugin il gin torinese creato per la carne e gli abbinamenti in cucina e il food pairing

Ask yourself a question, what do gin and meat have in common? Meat understood as flab, the one you eat – don't transfer the meaning to the passionate one now, which would otherwise open another chapter. You can play as much as you like between gin and creative meat, but there is a link and it is a link of substance: they both "cook" with "botanicals". Of course, some purists may object, «to cook excellent quality meat, you don't need to add anything», but even when the product is excellent, how often does this happen? If only for that pinch of pepper at the end of cooking.

Mauro Schiavo has always felt this connection strongly. For him, who began working as a bartender as a young man and who in 2007 moved to the family butcher's shop, it has always been a natural awareness.

So, a few years ago, he decided to launch Bugin, a gin whose botanicals are herbs and spices complementary to those used in cooking meat and his story becomes a story that combines many different arts – butchery, gastronomy, mixology and meat refinement – on a single counter.

From the counter to the butcher shop with kitchen

«As a boy I was a bartender then, in 2007, I joined the family business, the butcher shop». From here Mauro Schiavo begins another path, which however does not cancel the previous one, on the contrary, he draws inspiration from it and the desire to propose something different. «In 2017 I opened Tasta, a butcher's shop with kitchen where I started making gin-based aperitifs to be served with dishes».

From this idea, Tasta evolves and offers much more. In San Mauro Torinese, a few kilometers east of the center of Turin, the sign welcomes visitors with a counter with many souls: the classic butcher's counter, with different cuts and types of meat on display, the different maturations - thirty, sixty or ninety days – then there are the cheeses and cured meats that marry the distillate during processing, but that's not all. The bottle rack - yes, the bottle rack - in addition to its own gin, provides a nice selection of liqueurs and spirits, including grappa, whiskey, rum and much more, also available for purchase, together with wines and beers. Enough? No, to this we add the sauces and gravies prepared in the butcher's shop, then rice, coffee, juices and quality local products, just like in a modern grocery store, where you can find everything you need to cook and - if you haven't yet clear ideas – stop to enjoy an excellent tartare, a cutting board, or perhaps a steak or a hamburger, while you collect advice and let yourself be tempted by the shelves.

«Tasta was born as an extension of the family business and the idea was precisely to let our thinking of cooking be tested». Thus, so as not to miss anything, here you can also learn, through tastings and educational meetings in which products, processes, recipes and combinations are explained.

Bugin, the gin created for meat

Bugin, as we said, was born from that link between meat and gin, a bridge created by botanicals on the thread of taste and aromas. «The idea was to create a gin with local herbs, complementary to those used for cooking» and the choice falls – in addition to juniper – on eight plants: genepy, arquebuse, artemisia, thyme, yarrow, angelica, tansy and zedoaria . The name is a reference to the "bocin", a Piedmontese term for "calf". «Gin was the perfect distillate to develop our pairing idea, because unlike other distillates it allows you to create an ad hoc recipe. In addition obviously to the presence of juniper, already used for cooking game and, above all in Northern Europe, in marinating meat».

Bugin, specifically, is a compound gin and the botanicals are hot distilled in a bain-marie still, five of them individually. The result is a distillate with a dry sip, in which the juniper note arrives strong and clear, softened by the softness of the thyme and a delicate balsamic note, in which genepy and artemisia are recognized. Perfect for pairing with meat, both in the smooth version - for enthusiasts - and in a gin and tonic, perhaps with a neutral or smoked tonic to accompany a roast or grilled meat.

However, there is not only the combination. In fact, Mauro Schiavo recommends Bugin in marinades and to enhance the taste of cooked meat, but above all he uses it for the refinement of his cured meats. «It's perfect for massaging cured meats and we use it in various stages of processing». Specifically, the first use takes place in the initial phase, before and during salting. For cured meats, the distillate is added to the ingredients of the mixture, while for seasoned cured meats it is an integral part of the churning, together with herbs and salt.

Rub, the cocktails arrive in the kitchen

From gin to mixing, the step can be short, especially for a bartender, so another idea was born from Tasta, the rub cocktails, three preparations that bring together the spices and ingredients of Gin Tonic, Martini and Negroni, ready to be used in cuisine and obviously based on Bugin. «They can be used as flavor enhancers for the barbecue world, but also to flavor meat before cooking, braised meat for example, or fish - explains Mauro Schiavo - Just massage the product with the rub and then start cooking, they will be so necessary fewer aromatic parts in the subsequent stages of preparation».

A simple idea and - according to our butcher-bartender - sure success, both in terms of the final taste of the dish and for the reference to the original cocktail, which also facilitates the pairing. «At the beginning someone thought that they were soluble cocktails to be diluted with water - says Mauro Schiavo with a smile - It's easy to resolve the misunderstanding, ours is a medium-high range clientele, informed and always curious towards news, it takes a moment to explain to them how to use rubs. However, we have decided to give more value to the product through a new packaging in jar format, which more directly recalls the spices used in the kitchen. It will be available from autumn and we will also renew the gin label», he announces.

From being used in the kitchen, rubs are rapidly becoming ingredients in the preparation of cured meats. «We will make a lard with Martini, massaging the cut with the real drink and then strengthening the aromatic part with the rub - says Mauro Schiavo - In this way the rub also helps us to simplify the combination with the cocktail. For example, by flavoring a cured meat with the Negroni rub, it will be easier to combine the cold cuts with a drink that contains vermouth, gin or bitters. Sure, eating a slice of cured meat won't be like drinking a glass of Negroni – he jokes – but we'll go and remember the aromatic parts». From October, together with lardo al Martini, lonzino, coppa and raw salami with gin Bugin, bacon with Gin Tonic and cooked salami with Negroni will also arrive on the Tasta counter. Stuff to lose your mind (and also the triglyceride count).

Bugin il gin torinese creato per la carne e gli abbinamenti in cucina e il food pairing. Cocktail rub per insaporire pesce, carne, frutta e verdura

From the frying pan to the barbecue, Mauro Schiavo's advice (even without meat)

We started with substance and we want to finish with substance, especially in the period of summer barbecues. So what are the butcher-bartender's advice?

«Starting from the meat, one of my favorite combinations is the Negroni rub on pork ribs, because the soft note of the vermouth, which in the preparation is recalled by a part of cane sugar, goes to sweeten the pork. For the barbecue we make a smoked sausage with Negroni rub inside the dough, it makes it more delicate». And the natural combination is the Negroni itself or even a simple vermouth with two ice cubes. «The Martini cocktail rub, on the other hand, is excellent with fish. It should be tried with a prawn skewer, flavored with orange, spectacular!», he exclaims. «For a rib or a T-bone steak, purists will prefer salt and pepper, but with the rub in the Martini cocktail it goes very well. I also recommend it for those who love duck meat or, marrying us on fish, with lime-flavored salmon. Instead the Gin Tonic rub – he continues – is excellent with chicken wings, it gives a very pleasant citrus sensation or with a nice raw fish ».

But do cocktail rubs only work with meat? Mauro Schiavo in this sense outlaws any prejudice. «For me, the butcher's shop will have to change and evolve in the future. By now in all families there is someone who chooses not to eat meat or simply to avoid it from time to time», thus making room for the gastronomic evolutions of a butcher's shop which, according to him, could also include vegetable-based proposals, with which rubs find a wide range of use, both with vegetables and in sauces to combine with everyone's dishes, without preconceptions but with spirit.

Spirito Autoctono ampolla d'oro per il gin BUGIN

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