Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SpectacularSummer Flashback2016, Gnocco Pesto di Fagiolini, Chef Domenico Stile, Enoteca La Torre, (Rm)

Chef Domenico Stile sent me a message late May.  That message invited me to Rome for the weekend to present the chef during a cooking presentation.  I decided toextend that invitation and swing by Enoteca La Torre a Villa Laetitia to check out his new menu - and also snap a couple of shots of thir amazing dining room-especially the glass window ( :-D )  It was there, that afternoon in June, that I had the opportunity to try a dish that I can add to my list of SpectacularSummer experiences for 2016.
Stile's gnocco pesto di fagiolini, fondata di provolone del monaco e palamita marinata

 or better, his green bean pesto gnocchi, provolone del monaco fondue, marinated bonito.
Nearly three months have passed but I still remember each bite. 

Each pillow of flavor designed to savour slowly, without stress, without trying to examine or over analyse this dish by this promising young chef. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

SpectacularSummer Flashback2016, Gran Cru'...Do, Chef Nino Di Costanzo, Dani' Maison, Ischia (Na)

The Gran Cru'...Do by Chef Nino Di Costanzo.  Yes, I've written about it before (here), but you know how it is.  All it takes is just a couple of likes on social media to remind you about that spectacular summer lunch even though it was a few months back. And that's exactly what happened today.  This snapshot of Chef Nino Di Costanzo's Gran Cru'...Do, Raw Seafood Platter stirred up memories, emotions, and the desire to purchase a ferry ticket to Ischia to relive the experience one more time before Di Costanzo closes up his Dani' Maison for the winter.
Glancing at the photographs of this amazing appetizer, I was instantly transported back to my seat in the kitchen - a highly prized spot at Di Costanzo's chef's table.

I remember the light coming through the left side  window - how it danced/shone/played with the colors of the Murano glass dishes -inches thick.  I remember my server placing each dish down - patiently piece by piece. Describing each delicacy with the same spirit as if he was reciting a poem or a piece of classic literature.

It was practically impossible to keep a poker face as we bloggers are supposed to have.  So I didn't. I remember smiling for nearly three hours that day.
Beginning with that amazing appetizer at Dani' Maison.

Monday, September 19, 2016

SpectacularSummer Flashback 2016 - Scorfano in Peperonata, Chef Michele Deleo, Rossellinis Ristorante, Ravello (Sa)

Summer is nearly over....but that's okay.  I've got some summer memories of dishes that I tasted in 2016 to last me through the change in seasons.
Dishes like this one that I tried about a month ago by Michelin starred chef Michele Deleo of Rossellinis Ristorante in the beautiful town of Ravello, high above the Amalfi Coast.

My server, Francesco Pignatiello, proudly set this plate down in front of me, waited just the right amout of time, you know, for me to absorb the colors and the aromas, and then began to describe the dish for me.

Scorfano in peperonata...Scorpionfish in bell peppers.  

A dish, that reminded Pignatiello of a famous sculpture located in Naples's centro storico - Il Cristo Velato/The Veiled Christ.  The marble sculpture by Neapolitan artist Giuseppe Sanmartino in the 1700 on display at Museo Capello Sansevero.

Maybe. Maybe.

Both pieces of art spark curiosity, wonder, and a desire to dig in and discover what is under that veil.

Sanmartino's veil is draped over Jesus Christ....
Deleo's veil is draped over a scorpionfish cooked in an infusion of roasted peppers served with tapenade of black olives, fried caper powder  and mint infused olive oil...

Sanmartino's masterpiece is a work of art that has pleased numerous artlovers over the centuries....

Deleo's was definitely a spectacular summer flashback for my 2016....

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Amazing Appetizers - Chef Marcello Corrado, Casa Del Nonno 13, Mercato San Severino (Sa)

I've got a new dish that I'd like you to try, Chef Marcello Corrado told me as he accompanied this appetizer to my comfy cozy table for one during a recent lunch at Casa Del Nonno 13.
The chef waited briefly after the plate was set down in front of me before he began to explain his appetizer.
Scallops- scallop ceviche to be exact.

Thinly sliced scallop ceviche in the form a a nearly transparent blanket protecting late summer goodies underneath.

Vegetables fresh from the garden such as zucchini, peas and carrots...

A sprinkling of slightly salted toasted almonds on top...

Fresh herbs...


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fantastic Firsts, Chef Marcello Corrado, Casa Del Nonno 13, Mercato San Severino (Sa)

Spaghetti with garlic, extra virgin olive oil and spicy red pepper chili peppers may be one of the most popular classic spaghetti dishes around.  Spaghetti, aglio, olio e pepperoncino contains basic ingredients –  staples available in every kitchen cupboard making it perfect for that late night pasta fix with friends.
I recently had a chance to try Chef Marcello Corrado’s version of this pasta favorite.  Spaghetti, aglio, olio e pepperoncino but with a twist or two...

Spaghetti – check.  
Garlic – check. 
Extra virgin olive oil and pepper flakes – of course.  

And the twists?  Corrado decided to add lumache snails to the mix as  well as a mesmerizing flow of parsley chlorophyll gently poured into the dish table side.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Amazing Appetizers, Chef Marcello Corrado, Casa del Nonno 13, Mercato San Severino (Sa)

I couldn't think of a better way to beat the August heat than visit  Casa del Nonno 13 for lunch.  The Michelin starred restaurant's dining room is located in a cool underground cantina carved out of tufo stones.  I took the drive out to Mercato San Severino to check out some of the new menu items by Chef Marcello Corrado. Like this appetizer -

suckling pig tenderloin...

fresh garden vegetables,

soft creamy  potatoes with bay leaf powder...


Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Pizza or Three a Casa - Casa Vitiello, Tuoro (Ce)

While summer days are meant for the sea, sun and sand the nights are meant for…meant for laid-back leisurely dinners in the company of friends and family.  In Italy, that usually means going out for a pizza at least once a week.  Since I had not had a pizza night in a real long time, I decided to check out a pizzeria outside of my usual rounds.  Something different.  An alternative. I decided to head out to the small town of Tuoro not very far from the Caserta Royal Palace. 

It was there where I met up with Francesco Vitiello, aka Ciccio, the 24-year-old pizza maker, patron, and energetic pulse behind CasaVitiello.  

Francesco Vitiello
This pizzeria has developed a strong devoted following in just a couple of short years and I was about to find out why.   It only took a few minutes for me to get swept up in his enthusiasm as he showed me around the tiny pizzeria whose young cast and crew were   setting up for another packed summer evening. 

He led me over to the counter where I got an opportunity to check out the pasta dough.  Vitiello has been studying and experimenting for years with out of the ordinary combinations – combinations that you just do not see every day. Grano arso/burnt wheat, hemp, turmeric, multigrain, fennel, and even cocoa. 

Customers can choose the type of pizza dough and Vitiello and his staff guide the pizza lover to the right type of toppings to pair with it. How cool is that?

What if you prefer to stick with the classic pizza dough?  No problem!
Time to try it out…but where? During most of the year, there are only have nine tables inside.  Those tables were not there now.  During the summer, Casa Vitiello sets up their dining room across the street in the small town square – 20 tables under the starry summer serata. Tables that were quickly filling up, quite impressive for a Tuesday evening.

Let’s start off with a beer and a focaccia using the classic pizza dough.  Just a little salt, oregano and a summer sunset.  Add a few potato croquettes and then show time. 

I had the chance to try three pizzas that evening starting with a classic margherita pizza topped with San Marzano tomatoes…

Then a pizza with hemp in the dough and topped with fior di latte from Agerola, black pork sausage, and a creamy papacelle Neapolitan pepper sauce.

Room for one more – grano arso pizza dough topped with ricotta cheese, zucchini flowers, and anchovies from Cetara.

In between pizzas, I couldn’t help but notice the family feeling through the small piazza…from the staff to the diners.  Diners who were regulars.  Part of the family.  Those who had been swept up in Vitiello’s enthusiasm…and pizza.  Those who chose to spend a night out for a laid-back leisurely dinner in the company of friends and family, for a pizza under a starry summer serata.