"Sciatt is a dish typical of Valtellina," Pavoni says. "Valtellina is in the north of Lombardy on the border with Switzerland, and it's famous for buckwheat, which is very filling. Sciatt, in local dialect, means toad, because it's ugly. They take a piece of Bitto cheese, or Fontina, dip it in a light batter of buckwheat flour, grappa and a local red beer, and deep-fry it. It should be crusty outside and melted inside. We'd usually serve it with a salad of cabbage or radicchio, or as a stuzzichino on the bar. Very tasty."
- 100 gm buckwheat flour
- 175 ml Castello Red beer (see note)
- 20 ml grappa
- 500 gm Bitto (see note) or Fontina, cut into 2cm cubes
- 1Place buckwheat flour in a bowl, then gradually whisk in beer and grappa, whisking until mixture forms a thick, smooth batter (adjust consistency with a little extra beer if necessary). Cover with plastic wrap and stand at room temperature to rest (1 hour).
- 2Preheat oil in a large saucepan to 180C. Working in batches, dust cheese cubes in seasoned flour, dip in batter and deep-fry, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp (1-2 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot with Savoy cabbage.
Castello Red beer is available from select bottle shops. If it's unavailable, substitute Peroni Red or another lager. Bitto, an alpine cheese from Lombardy, is made from a mixture of cow's milk and goat's milk. It's available from select Italian delicatessens and specialist cheese shops.