Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fantastic Firsts - Tortello Pasta with Cicala di Mare and Truffles, Chef Giacomo De Simone, Ristorante Punta Scutolo, Seiano (Na)

It has been a sensational seafood summer thanks to dishes like this one served on the beach in Seiano on the Sorrento coast.  Chef Giacomo De Simone of Ristorante Punta Scutolo presented this first course dish that was as light and delicate as the sea breeze that August afternoon.

Fresh tortello pasta...

stuffed with cicala di mare, also known as canocchie, or mantis shrimp...

with shavings from truffles from the nearby town of Faito...


Saturday, August 22, 2015

From an Historical Aglianico Vineyard to a Glass of Wine, Vineyard Hopping with the Mastroberardino Winery, Luogosano (Av)

During the drive from Apice in the province of Benevento  to Luogosano in Avellino, the conversation went from lively  to nearly silent.  It was a late morning towards the end of July, and I was sitting shotgun next to agronomist Antonio Dente of Mastroberardino Winery  for another vineyard hopping adventure.

At first I wasn't sure what we were doing on this side of Irpinia's Aglianico country- mentally performing a quick inventory of  where the winery has their Aglianico vineyards...Montemarano, Pietrdefusi, Mirabella, Pompeii...
But Luogosano?

La vigna storica, Dente said as he turned down a narrow road.  We've spoken about it before.

The historical Aglianico vineyards that have been the roots, so to speak, of an exciting experiment that Mastroberardino Winery has been working on since 2000. Yes - spoken about it, but I had never been. Until today.

Instantly I straightened up in my seat and looked intently out the window as that narrow road became an even narrower path with vegetation closing in around us. Dente continued driving, however, and we eventually came to a small clearing where he stopped the car and parked.

After a moment or two, I exited the vehicle. I was silent as I slowly walked towards a small shed at one side of the vineyard.  A tiny vineyard, with only 30 vines towering overhead.

A vineyard immersed in in a small oak and walnut tree forest - unseen from the main road.  The vines here were around 100 years old.  Ungrafted vines that had lived through and survived phlloxera and an earthquake.

I walked around in that loose sandy soil  and my silent thoughts and emotions nearly drowned out Dente as he reviewed with me what he has told me before on previous occasions.  He reviewed with me that the cuttings from these vines were the ones used in research which resulted in the classification of two Aglianico clones named after the late Dr Antonio MastroberardinoAntonio Mastroberardino VCR 418 and  Antonio Mastroberardino VCR 421.  

He reviewed with me that cuttings from the 30 vines here were planted in nearby Mirabella Eclano at the winery's Radici Resort, back behind the clubhouse back in 2004.  

Each vine with numbers that matched up with labels in the Mirabella Eclano vineyard in order to track the progress and quality of the vines as well as keep track of their origin.  

Vineyard visit in Mirabella Eclano back in 2011.

He reviewed with me that after a few years of numerous tests and controls, only two vines passed the tests required and were chosen to be grafted onto existing piedirosso vines in Mirabella Eclano.
And in 2008, the grapes from these vines produced the first bottles of RediMore Irpinia Aglianico Doc.

Vineyard visit in Mirabella Eclano back in 2011.

Vineyard visit in Mirabella Eclano back in 2011.

Vineyard visit in Mirabella Eclano back in 2011.

 I looked up towards the vines,  bursting with vegetation, still producing bunches of grapes high high above the ground.  Bellow, willow branches tightly embracing the vines to thick wooden poles. 

 A cool breeze that disguised the fact that just 50 meters or so away, down that narrow path we'd be back on one the town's main road. Where the hot humid late July sun made it almost unbearable to be outside as our watches read nearly 1 pm in the afternoon.

Back in the car. The next stop was obvious. Radici Resort.  Time for a break, time to go over notes, and of course have a bite to eat.  Piero Mastroberardino, president of the winery, arrived about the same time and sat down and joined us.  We spoke about the day, what was going on in the vineyards, etc, etc.
And during the meal, after the appetizers and the first course, the conversation turned from lively to nearly silent.

It was time to open, pour and enjoy a glass of RediMore Irpinia Aglianico Doc 2012.

My silent thoughts and emotions nearly drowned out Mastroberardino and Dente as they continued their conversation...

Vineyard hopping 

full circle....

Further, more detailed information can be found here, in Italian, on Luciano Pignataro's Wine Blog.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pomigliano Jazz Festival - XX Edition, August 29 - September 13, 2015

The Pomigliano Jazz Festival is back with its 20th edition.  I had a chance to go last year (here) and am really looking forward to this year's lineup.

As last year, the Mt. Vesuvius crater will be among the various festival locations.
The link to the full program can be found here.

NOTE DI GUSTO/NOTES OF TASTE in collaboration with Slow Food Vesuvius, Naples and Agro Nolano, will also be present during each concert to promote wine, food and tourism with the aim to present the  Agri-food biodiversity of the  territories and the importance of preserving it in time to a large audience.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Thirteenth Edition of the "Immortal Falernum" Wine Competition, Falciano del Massico (Ce), August 29, 2015

Falciano del Massico in the Caserta province opens its door to the thirteenth edition of the Wine Competition "Immortal Falernum"
I've always had a soft part for Falerno del Massico wines and I am proud to participate in this exciting evening.

Here is what is going on...

 The prestigious event, strongly linked to the virtues of the   Falerno wine territory returns with its thirteenth edition, establishing itself as an event capable of engaging and enhancing the area. On August 29, 2015, in  the Piazza Limata  parking lot  in  Falciano del Massico, Wine Competition Immortal Falernum will return to the scene.. It is an event organized by Acsta, in collaboration with the Municipality of Falciano del Massico andby  the most important local wineries. A unique event and a professional quality in an area that, for years, has established itself as a leader in the wine industry and beyond. Partners include Slow Food Massico and Roccamonfina; Brotherhood of Falerno; Athena Goddess; Cantina Papa; Cantina Zannini; Lions Club and Pro Loco Falciano del Massico. The program focuses on a set of initiatives aimed at a wide publicto include tasting  workshops; wine tasting and local products; tastings of honey, cheese, olive oil and mozzarella.

Here is the agenda

18:30 - Conference "Towards a proposal for wine tourism for the Ager Falernus". The opening event will be accompanied by the participation s of the mayor of Falciano del Massico Giosuè Santoro Councillor for Agriculture  Angelo Manica, the President dell'Acsta Tommaso Fava, President of Slow Food Campania and Basilicata Dr. Giuseppe Orefice, National President ACLI Earth, Prof. Michele Zannini, Wine Blogger - Karen Phillips, President of Lions Club - Dr. Pasqualina Iossa. Politicians will also be present  as representatives of the Territory. The moderator of the conference will be the founder of the "Brotherhood of Falerno" Dr. Antonio Papa.

Then, from 20:15 onwards, there will be "Taste Workshops" in collaboration with Slow Food and Massico Roccamonfina and the Brotherhood of Falerno.

These workshops will follow the following schedule:

20:15 - Extra virgin olive oil, bread and olives.
21:00 - Honey and jams.
21:45 - Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP.
22:30 - The cheeses Casertano.
Throughout the evening stands will also be set up  for   tasting wine and local products.


A special thanks to Giuseppe Nicodemo for the text.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

1, 2, 3 Fantastic Firsts - Terrazza Marziale Ristorante, Sorrento (Na)

Part two of my lunch at Sorrento's Terrazza Marziale Ristorante starred three fantastic firsts by Chef Eugenio Cuomo and two fresh and flavorful  Campania white wines.

After discussing the menu with the maitre, we decided on...

  • Creamed smoked eggplant with sheep milk ricotta cheese, red mullet, crispy rice, confit tomatoes, thyme and white pepper.

  • Risotto with carnaroli rice in a light lemon sauce.  The lemons used are known as femminello and are from Sorrento.  On top, chopped pressed imperial shrimp, ginger gel, and chervil.

  • Ridged mezze maniche pasta with a fried cod puttanesca pasta sauce (tomatoes, black olives, garlic, and anchovies, capers), and Salina caper powder.

As for the wines?  Campania of course.

Torrefavale Greco di Tufo DOCG  2013 by Cantine Dell'Angelo...

followed by Zagreo Fiano Roccamonfina IGP 2013 by I Cacciagalli.

1, 2, 3


Sweet Summer at Relais Blu, Massa Lubrense, (Na)

I've known chef Roberto Allocca for several years, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago during lunch at Relais Blu  that I discovered that he has a sweet passion for making desserts.

I caught up with the chef in the kitchen as he prepared two dynamic desserts with forte flavors of summer...

  • A tart with coconut mousse, a cool slice of watermelon accompanied by a watermelon soup, and lemon sorbet.

  • Meringue stuffed with a white chocolate and basil  mousse with peaches in red wine.

Summer doesn't get any sweeter than this...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Let's Get it Started - Ristorante Terrazza Marziale, Sorrento (Na)

The idea of visiting a 15th century villa for the first time smack in the middle of Sorrento's centro storico  sparked my curiosity.  Especially since this villa, Palazzo Marziale, is also an elegant bed and breakfast and also houses Terrazza Marziale Restaurant - my destination for a long relaxing lunch last Thursday afternoon.

As I crossed the cobblestone street and walked up the stairs to the entrance of the palazzo, I thought about how the restaurant would feel inside. Would it be cold and formal or comfy and inviting?

A pre lunch tour of the the villa by owner Paola Savarese soon answered that question.  Palazzo Marziale is Savarese's home and she has done an incredible job of transforming it into a warm welcoming environment for guests from all over the world.  
Attention to details such as cozy couches, plants and colorful flowers, ceramic vases, paintings and books made me feel  at ease right away.  This  serene elegance followed us out onto the terrace, onto  Ristorante Terrazza Marziale   where I took a seat at a table surrounded by trees, plants and a light cool breeze.

I  drank a cool glass of water and sipped a tall glass of champagne while I discussed the  menu with Maitre Costanzo Cacace.  New questions came to mind.  How would the cuisine be here?  I was eager to discover what Chef Eugenio Cuomo, sous chef Domenico Stile and the rest of the brigade would share with me and the other guests that afternoon.  And what better way to get it started than with the starters.
The benvenuto/off the menu welcome treats that do just that. 
Welcome you...

  • Whole wheat tartine sandwiches with ricotta cheese.  Two tasty versions; one with salmon and poppy seeds, and the other with dried tomatoes and walnuts.

  • A small bowl of smoked cuttlefish, warm potato foam, and nutmeg.

  • Beef tartare with sheep milk ricotta cheese and fermented red beets.

  • Snapper with sweet and sour yellow and green bell peppers.

And as far as the menu?  From the list of appetizing appetizers I chose these two.

  • Sea bream scented with cognac, sweet and sour red onions with Caribbean sauce, escarole salad, and szechuan pepper,

Then octopus, which I love. 
  • Octopus in salmoriglio sauce with an asparagus salad, citrus fruit, and purple potatoes.

Each colorful dish was lovely to look at.  
And taste? Fancy, chic, delicate -full of flavor.

And this was just the beginning...

Piazza Francesco Saverio Gargiulio, 2
80067, Sorrento (Na)
39 081 807 4406