Saturday, August 23, 2014

Un Assaggio of Moccia's Campi Flegrei - Azienda Agricola Agnanum (Na)

Today I decided to stop  by and visit  Raffaele Moccia, Azienda Agricola Agnanum located in Agnano - in the heart of Campi Flegrei.  A visit with Moccia is always a learning experience,  whether we go up to the vineyards, dabble around in the cantina, or just hang out and chat about Falanghina, Piedirosso, or anything under the sun.  We hadn't seen each other in awhile, so I was curious about how this harvest year was going.
 Sure it's been rainy, but thevolcanic terrain dries quickly. Yeah,  the hailstorm back in June did some serious damage.  We'll have to wait and see what the next month or two has in store temperature wise, he shared. 
The conversation continued, eventually leading to an impromptu wine tasting of the latest vintage that he has just bottled but hasn't released yet.  His Falanghina dei Campi Flegrei DOC 2013 as well as his Piedirosso (Per' e Pallum) DOC 2013.

I opened a bottle while Moccia went to get the glasses  - correction, glass.  I would be tasting alone.  Moccia wantd to wait a week or so before he sees what his wines had to offer.
So I tasted, alone.  First the Falanghina, then the Piedirosso.  Two wines, two assaggi
A tasting that took awhile.
No need to rush. 

Each time I put my nose in the glass or took a slow sip, I couldn't help but think back to previous visits in vineyards... in the cantina.
During this tasting, I not only thought about how these wines were today...but how they could be tomorrow.
I mean, here we are in Campi Flegrei. The variety and  the territory - when handled properly in the vineyard then in the cantina needs the right amount of time.  And has been proven to itself beautifully over time. 
I thought back to my first tasting with Moccia and his wines, back in 2012.  Over a Sunday lunch of barbecued chicken and rabbit.  I thought back to various tastings like the one held a year ago ish when we tasted his Falanghina 2003.  
Would I have the patience to hang on to a bottle for 10 years?
I pre ordered a case of each...just to be sure.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Snapshot of the Day - Summer Reading - All'Origine Dei Sensi - Piero Mastroberardino

When Piero Mastroberardino handed me his latest book back in June during a wine tasting, I was honored and honestly a little intimidated.  I don't have a lot of time to read for pleasure, and this being a book of poems, in Italian,  well... But with school being out, I found the time to concentrate on what Mastroberardino, the poet, and not the wine producer, had to say.  After a month or so, my copy of the book is bent, with folded pages, full of notes in pencil taken when I came a cross a word or three that I didn't understand.  I have my favorites: page 20 - Come Nebbile Sottile, Like Thin Fog...or page 36 - Notte, Night.  One simple line:  Come tu solo sai donare luce.  
I like to think at the book  as an invitation, to see a side of an anima nad soul not only of the poet..but maybe a little of  ourselves as well.

 Come tu solo sai donare luce...

Devotion on a Dish - Ristorante Lo Stuzzichino, Massa Lubrense (Na)

Pesce bandiera grattinata al forno  con provola affumicata.  
That's what  Mimmo De Gregorio told me as he set the plate in front of me and poured me another glass of wine. Silver scabbard fish  'au gratin' stuffed with smoked provola cheese.  This was surely going to be a treat, I thought.  It sure looked delicious.

From my table, I could hear the voices of the kitchen staff, including Mimmo's dad, Chef Paolo De Gregorio, and his wife Mamma Filomena.  Voices that reminded me of home.
As I took my first bite, I thought about what into creating this simple dish.
I thought about how much time and dedication it took to carefully clean the fish removing the large quantity of tiny bones.

Then stuffed with just the right amount cheese,

sprinkled with bread crumbs,

a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil  (Massa Lubrense  has some of the best I've tasted ).

This is what makes a simple dish so special.
Time, dedication...
and devotion

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Snapshot of the Day - Feudi Di San Gregorio's 'Dal Re' Aglianico Vineyard - Taurasi (Av)

I had been in historical vineyards throughout Campania in the past.  Pre phylloxera  vineyards 100. 200, some even 300 plus years old.  Very few, however, gave me goose bumps like the one I visited today.  The 100 ish year old Aglianico vineyard belonging to Feudi Di San Gregorio.  Vigna Storica Del Re  Taurasi, Avellino.
Goose bumps...and butterflies

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Snapshot of the Day - La Scogliera - Chef Eduardo Estatico, JKitchen, Capri (Na)

The island of Capri has inspired many.  From writers, to poets, song writers and artists.  Recently it inspired  Chef Eduardo Estatico of JKitchen  to create this dish, La Scogliera.  Scogliera means, cliff or reef.  The 29 year old executive chef was inspired by the his view from the restaurant's terrace so he  included all types of sea food and summer vegetables in this dish.  Items such as shrimp, mussels, clams, and squid.  Zucchini, celery, sea asparagus, parsley pesto with anchovy sauce.  He even made a 'mussel shell' using squid ink.

Our Daily Bread - Km 0, Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi (Na)

My favorite bread when I was young was Home Pride Butter Top Wheat Bread.  I remember the commercial, the knife cutting through the melted butter drizzled on the top.  I remember how soft it was, how it lasted for almost EVER thanks to preservatives and all that fun stuff.
Since then, I have become pretty particular about the bread that makes it to my table.  Bread that is made fresh, preferably in a wood burning oven.  Even better with lievito madre, aka sourdough.
Like the type of bread that amico mio Mimmo De Gregorio uses in his family's trattoria Lo Stuzzichino, (recently named La Guida Espresso's Trattoria of the year for 2015!).
So after our morning on a shrimp boat, I went with De Gregorio to pick up some bread at his friend Peppe
s house.  Peppe, along with his wife Pina have an artisan bakery located at their home in Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi not far from Mimmo's trattoria.
The dough is made rigorously by hand every day.  Then, always by hand, shaped into the various fors required.

After rising the required time, which can vary depending on the humidity and temperature, it is placed in a wood burning oven.

During our visit, Peppe prepared us a loaf of  pannuozo bread.  A loaf of normal bread needs about an hour to bake, but pannuozo, designed to be stuffed with all kinds of delicious goodness.

With our bread in paper bags and seated on the back seat of Mimmo's car, it was hard not to pull over and tear off a chink or two to eat on our way to the trattoria.
Thank goodness the ride to the trattoria took less than five minutes!
It didn't take long for that pannuozo to meet its perfect match.  Lo Stuzzichino's eggplant parmigiana!

All local, all Km 0 ...
All good...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Snapshot of the Day - Marina Grande and Beyond, Capri (Na)

I haven't been to Capri in years.  Strange, considering it is only a 50 minute hydrofoil ride away from the port of Naples.  But today I decided to play tourist and join the throngs who visit the island on a daily basis during the high season.  I made it as far as Via Provinciale Marina Grande #225.  That's the  address of the prestigious JK Place Capri Hotel to visit Executive Chef Eduardo Estatico (JKitchen).  From the hotel terrace, there's this  amazing view of Marina Grande...and beyond.

Welcome back...