Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Snapshot of a Territory - Falerno del Massico, April 29, 2014, SUD Ristorante, Quarto (Na)

There are few things more exhilarating  to me than walking around a vineyard with my little Nikon in hand.   My latest adventure took me to the Caserta province to learn as much as I could about Falerno del Massico...and take a few snapshots.
Falerno/Falernum- a wine that often found itself of the banquet tables of emperors will find its way to SUD Ristorante in Quarto for a special evening on the 29th of April, 2014 at 8:30 pm.
Villa Matilde, Masseria Felicia, Az. Agricola Gennaro Papa and Viticoltori Migliozzi will present their latest vintages of their top wines during a tasting that will focus on the many faces of Falerno.
A snapshot dressed in Falanghina white.  A snapshot wearing red with Aglianico, Piedirosso, or Primitivo.
Villa Matilde
Falerno del Massico bianco classico doc 2013
Vigna Camarato 2006 Falerno del Massico doc Riserva
Masseria Felicia
Etichetta Bronzo Falerno del Massico 2009
Gennaro Papa
Campantuono Falerno del Massico 2008
Fastignano Roccamonfina 2009
Viticoltori Migliozzi
Rampaniuci Falerno del Massico 2009

A snapshot of Falerno del Massico paired with a meal prepared by Michelin star chef Marianna Vitale.

A snapshot of Falerno del Massico which includes, well...snapshots taken by me.

The cost of the evening is 55 Euro.  Reservations are necessary and can be made by email to andiamotrips@gmail.com or info@sudristorante.it or by calling  081 020 2708

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Star in Cantina -Chef Peppe Guida at Quartum Store, Quarto (Na)

Chef Peppe Guida
It was my friend Joseph who first told me about a top Michelin star chef located not far from Naples in a small town called Vico Equense.  "Chef Giuseppe Guida, he said, of Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa".  A not to miss restaurant.  Months passed and unfortunately I never made it to Giuda's doorstep in Vico.  Needless to say then,  that I was more than thrilled when I read the news that Guida would be the 4th chef in a series of serate at Quartum store- Una Stella in Cantina.
I made my reservation.
I showed up fashionably late, but still earlier than the majority of the sold-out crowd.  A chit chat in the kitchen with the chef, as well as a quick snack before showtime.  His fried cauliflower zeppola with butter and an anchovy on top.
If this was any indication of the evening ahead then my friend Joseph was correct.  And I said so with a quick text message. (Sono con Peppe Guida :-) )

The evening officially began with a glass of Asprinio Spumante brut V.S.Q whose acidity paired well with the chef's benvenuto.
If the zeppola showed the chef's savoury side, then his next two dishes showed that this grande chef with the big smile also has a light delicate touch.
Fresh shrimp, delicately chopped/beaten with ricotta and mandarin...

Briciole of wheat pasta with lime and shellfish juice...

Another pleasant surprise came when we were served Guida's zuppa di pesce.  A soup starring bluefish, an inexpensive pesce which was transformed into a meal worthy of a Michelin star.  Potatoes. lemon, olive oil...need I say more? 

 Paired with Quartum's Falanghina dei Campi Flegrei 2013 (world premiere).

Time for dessert.  And since we are approaching the Easter season, what better dessert than pasteria? The chef served his with a light but flavorful citrus sauce.

So was my friend Joseph right? Did I just have a chance to enjoy a meal by one of Campania's top chefs?

I think so.

Quartum Store
Via Giorgio De Falco, 7/9
Quarto (NA)

Via Privata Bonea 4
80069 Vico Equense (Na)
081 8799055

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Taverna del Capitano - Mare in the Spring

Chef Alfonso Caputo
Around March, many  of us in Campania are ready for a change in temperature.  Tired of the rain, and we had a quite a bit this year, and ready for the sun.  So when the sun arrives, we're ready for the beach...ready for mare.  Not so much for a swim, but definitely a leisurely lunch in the sun overlooking the water.  So for my first mare-outing, I decided to head towards a familiar friendly ristorante in Nerano - Taverna del Capitano.  I was curious to see what Chef Alfonso Caputo had added to his menu for the spring.  Curious to see  how he teamed up  easonal specialties with fresh seafood from the mare that he loves so much.
Snapper terrine with broccoli.

Shrimp with fresh spring peas and cuttlefish roe.

Sea  snail au gratin with a sweet caramelized spring onion. 

Lemon chicken and vegetables with a tomato and ricotta sauce.

Pasta for my first course.  The chef sent me these two dishes, which I was told to 'mix it up' with my fork to let the flavors meld together.  I did. :-)

Pasta with clams on a bed of tomato and ricotta sauce.

Spaghetti with squid and fresh tomato.

Second course.  Two flavorful dishes that embraced the territory.
Aluzzo imperiale (local white fish) with fresh peas and asparagus with red beet and squid ink sauce on the side. 

Fried mullet and fried artichokes.

It was time to slow things down. Time for dessert-well predessert.
Kiwi and apple sorbet.

And last, but certainly not least.  Dessert.  A preview to Easter with a typical Neapolitan Easter dessert.  Pasteria.  A tray of this particular dessert was served in four variations...ice cream, classic, cookie, and in a glass to drink.

After lunch, an obligatory stop by the beach...to say goodbye, better, see you later.  Maybe the next time with a beach towel, sunglasses and a good book.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fantastic Four Cooking - A Night for Superheroes Only

I can bet that there aren't many of us that didn't have their noses in comic books as a kid.  I remember being particularly fond of the superhereos.. We all had our favorites; X-Men, Spiderman, Superman, Batman...and The Fantastic Four.  Who didn't want to be one of them?  A super squadra, a team, each with their own super powers and super abilities.

That may be why myself a curious Neapolitan crowd flocked to Posillipo's Villa Caracciolo to check out a super idea shared by journalists Laura Gambacorta and Michele Armano.  A dinner with four chefs...excuse me, four fantastic chefs.  The super part?  The guests did not know who the chefs were-just the dishes they would prepare.  During the weeks leading to the event, the social networks were buzzing with guests  who were determined to guess the identities of Mr Fantastic, the Human Torch, The Thing, or The Invisible Woman. When I arrived, the chefs were in hiding.  The only one we knew before the event was our host - Chef Fabio Ometo who put out a grande buffet of small bite size appetizers to tie us over and build the tension as we chatted about who may be who.  So with a glass of spumante in hand, Asprinio spumante brut – Quartum Cantine Di Criscio

 it was time to taste series of, excuse the pun, fantastic dishes such as...
Marinated artichokes wrapped in anchovies with tomato

Baby shrimp, tuna tartar and amberjack with caper powder and citrus zest
Swordfish in a dried fruit crust with marinated artichokes and truffle oil
Zeppola  lemon flavored ricotta cheese and seafood in a Mediterranean sauce
Sea bream and smoked cheese and basil  wrapped in zucchini with a seafood stew
Stomachs satisfied ish, it was time to get down to business.  Time to try each dish, paired with wines from 'the territory' and do our best to see who was the fantastic personality behind each dish...
Appetizer:  Mr Fantastic who Wikipedia defines as  a scientific genius and the leader of the group, who can stretch his body into incredible lengths and shapes.  That night Mr Fantastic was played by  Chef Michele Grande of La Bifora in Bacoli (Na): Octopus and shrimp in sea water, creamy potatoes with rosemary, black and squid ink chips, with orange aromas and Maldon salt....
Served with Colle Imperatrice 2012 Falanghina Campi Flegrei Doc – Cantine Astroni.

Next up was the Human Torch - who can generate flames, surround himself with them and fly...Our Human Torch was Chef Maurizio De Riggi of Markus in  San Paolo Bel Sito.  His dish was 'burnt pasta' stuffed with buffalo milk ricotta, coffee,  spicy jelly a burnt crispy egg wafer , and a  Montoro onion sauce cooked under ashes.  
Served with Vigna Lapillo Prodivi 2012 Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio bianco Doc – Sorrentino Vini.

Next up, The Thing - their grumpy but benevolent friend, a former college football star and Mr. Fantastic's college roommate as well as a good pilot, who possesses superhuman strength and endurance due to the nature of his stone-like flesh.  This evening, Chef Guiseppe Di Martino of La Torre del Saracino in Seiano (Na).  The Thing presented what may have been the plate of the night; Stewed rabbit with caramelized onion from Nocerino, corn biscuits and black olives.

Served with one, no two wines..  Tintore 2007 and 2005 Rosso – Monte di Grazia.

 Dessert left us with one more surprise. It was time for The Invisible Woman, who can render herself invisible and later project powerful force fields, to show herself.  Chef Faby Scarica of Terrazza Bosquet in Sorrento(Na).  Her dish:  air of the sea; creamy basil and salicornia with notes of musk, vaniglia flavored lemon and  olive oil.
This was paired with Elixir Falernum from Antica Distilleria Petrone.

A fantastic evening?  I think so.  A fantastic idea that kept the crowd intrigued throughout the entire evening.  A fantastic opportunity to get to know four young Campania chefs based on their dishes only. And a fantastic chance for us all to feel a little superhero ish...
even if only for one night. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Star in Cantina - Chef Rosanna Marziale at Quartum Store, Quarto (Na)

Chef Rosanna Marziale
A Friday night wine tasting event turned from the usual to world class when Michelin star Chef Rosanna Marziale of  Ristorante Le Colonne visited Azienda Vinicola Di Criscio's Quartum Store.  Well, she didn't just visit.  She brought several of he famous dishes from Caserta and paired them with the wines of the winery based in Quarto.  

The evening began as every evening should...with a light fresh spumante.  We had a glass or two of Asprinio Spumante brut metedo chamat to go with our first two courses.

Then it was time for our appetizer:
'Minestra Maritata' with mozzarella and anchovies
Followed by our pasta course:
Mozzapepe and lemon
Our main course called for a new wine.  Campania Aglianico IGT 2010 aged in barrique which the chef used to prepare her stew.  

Buffalo meat stewed with Aglianico and creamed mashed potatoes with saffron
Our dessert...

Mozzarella cake with a raspberry sauce
Paired with Grappa di monovitigno di falanghina Campi Flegrei.

Friday night in cantina will never be the same.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

50 Kalo' di Ciro Salvo Opens in Napoli - On the Sunny Side of the Street

I may have skipped a little as I exited the garage where I left my car about 50 meters or so from Piazza Sannazzaro in Mergellina (Na).  From a distance I saw the sign, the umbrellas, the tables.  But wait, maybe I'm jumping head, going too quickly.  Let me back up just a bit. Let me explain what put that spring in my step as I headed to the sunny side of the street.
The 'official' announcement was made little over a month ago.  Probably the biggest announcement in Naples enogastronomic history in a long long time.  Expected and desired by many, myself included.
Pizzaolio Ciro Salvo would be opening his new pizzeria 50 Kalo' in Naples on the 13th of February.
Those outside of Napoli may not understand the excitement.  So here's a  little background in a nutshell. Salvo is from Portici, about 25 minutes from Naples.  His family has been making some of the best Neapolitan pizza for three generations, ever since his grandmother opened up a small but respectable pizzeria in 1968.  Salvo,  36 years old young, got the pizza making bug while working side by side with his dad in the family's business.  It was in 1996 when Ciro decided to make this world his own.  Since then, he has been working, researching, concentrating on making the best pizza ever; beginning with the pizza dough,  obviously the products that he puts on top, as well as the wood burning oven that he puts his prized creations in.  Those outside of Naples may have not noticed the vera Neapolitan pizza boom that has erupted not only in Campania, but throughout Italy.  Top pizza makers, including Salvo have focused on quality, quality, quality.  But Salvo?  He has silently spent the past 3 years ish working in Torre Annuziata, but it was just a matter of time.  After appearing on the cover of Gambero Rosso magazine back in July there was no turning back.   Napoli wanted/needed him here.  In their own backyard.  In their own piazza.
My first visit to this sunny side of the street, though, wasn't only to taste a Salvo special.  I must admit, that for the past couple of years, I, too, have been a pizza foodie, a pilgrim, so to speak, driving an hour ish to taste one of the top pizzas in Italia. (Now the drive would take 20 minutes or so, depending on traffic)
No, I was on a different type of mission.
Ciao, Maurizio!  Auguri! I said as I greeted Maurizio Cortese.  Cortese, at the door as he had been   long before the pizzeria's opening serving as Salvo's consultant, confidant, friend.  It was fitting that Cortese was at the door since he was responsible for organizing an event where I tried my 'first Salvo'.  A simple marinara with top quality tomatoes, amazing oregano, and Salvo's soft as a cloud pizza dough.

 (I wrote about that afternoon here).
Ciao Maurizio! I said, trying my hardest not to blurt out Where's Ciro??!!? I wanted to congratulate Salvo as well. I couldn't help but think back to an afternoon one summer in Portici with Salvo where he shared with me his background over an ice cream and a walk through his friend's organic vegetable garden
There was a long list of things that I wanted to do that afternoon.  Check out the wine and beer  list:  A list full of Campania wines, many that I have visited in my  vineyard hopping rounds; La Sibilla, Fattoria La Rivolta, Agnanum, Az. Alepa, Villa Matilde to name a few.  Then the beer.  An intense and enticing collection.  (I asked Cortese for his advice since beer is not my strong point)

I wanted to check out the 50 Kalo's interior which I had only seen previously in photos...sleek, modern.  An interior which could seat up to 80 customers, another 40 outside.
And since I was there, ok.  Why not try a pizza.  I took a seat next to the window.  One strategically located where not only I could see the pulse of the piazza outside which connected Fuorigrotta to Mergellina, but with a perfect view of the banco where I could watch pizzas in action.
Pizzas such as the one I ordered - a favorite - 'nduja di spilinga.  A pizza made with San Marzano DOP  tomatoes, fior di latte from Agerola, hot spicy 'nduja from Spilinga (Calabria, where they like it hot), fresh basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil produced by Don Alfonso 1890.

Or my son's favorite, who, fever and all, wanted to try his Salvo favorite - la marinara - a true test of excellence.  Once again, San Marzano tomatoes, this time paired with garlic, and I mean garlic,  from Ufita, oregano from Mt Alburni, and Don Alfonso's extra virgin olive oil.

Yes, this trip had one last  little mission. To enjoy my pizza  seated at a table under a photo that I snapped of Ciro,  one evening over a year ago, while he prepared a pizza for me.

Piazza Sannazzaro, 201/b Naples
081 192 04 667
Open for lunch and dinner (closed Tuesdays)
Reservations aren't accepted