Sunday, April 22, 2018

Fantastic First, Quattro Passi, Nerano (Na)


Spring-
An excellent opportunity to go for a drive.  The Campania region, after a winter particolare, decided to get back to normal with a weekend of sunshine and nearly summer temperatures.  Great for me, since I had decided to head back to Quattro Passi, Nerano's 2 Michelin starred restaurant.  Nearly a year had passed since my last visit and I was very curious to check out what Chef Antonio Mellino had planned for the 2018 season. Chef Antonio was out of town, but no problem!  I was in the capable hands of his son, Chef Fabrizio Mellino,  young in terms of age, but very mature and confident in the kitchen.  Mellino served several first course dishes, but this one  hit me hard.
Risotto with peas and pea sprouts.  Sounds simple, but the flavors were, well, fantastic!




I spoke with Mellino and here's what he had to say...

Riso e germogli di piselli, qui abbiamo fatto una tostatura secco di riso, abbiamo cotto il riso entiramente nel acqua del vegetazione dei piselli, al mantecazione abbiamo aggiunto il nosto germogli di piselli - pr un lato un po' piu' teritorrio, un po' meno fruttato, ci piaceva di giocare sul questo lato un po piu vegetale.




Rice and pea sprouts,. We dry roasted the rice, then we cooked the rice entirely in the  water used to cook the peas.,Towards the end, we added the pea sprouts -to give it a little 'more' territorial'  and a little less fruity flavor. We enjoyed  playing with the vegetable flavors.





I asked myself  Why?  Why did this particular dish hit me so hard? 
The first spoonful gave me a kick of pea sweetness that can only be found during the spring season. So I thought back.  To my memories of sweet peas.  Those that we usually frozen, or in a glass jar/tin can stored in pea juice (?).  Vegetables that could be found all year long.  Meaning that there was nothing special about them.  Zero anticipation, and often zero flavor.  Here, Quattro Passi's simple risotto dish embraced the spring season.  Embraced a simple sweet pea at the height of the spring season and helped it to express the fabulous flavors of spring...
of la primavera...
of Quattro Passi...

Fantastic


































































































































































































































































































Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Day in Barrique, Barrique by Oliver Glowig, Monte Porzio Catone (Rm)


Yeah, my blog is based in the Campania region…that’s where I live, that’s what I want to learn about.  That’s what I want to share…

So when I attended an event a few months ago where I had a chance to chit chat with Chef Oliver Glowig and ChefDaniele Corona, and received an invite to check out the restaurant that they had recently opened near Rome, I hesitated before I gave my answer.

Rome is not in Campania.  I had to think long and hard.

Well, not so long…
Not so hard…

But I needed to find that Campania Connection. 

Chef Glowig – received 2 Michelin stars in Capri…Capri Palace to be exact. check

Chef Corona – a Neapolitan DOC- from Pianura (Na), a stone's thr0w from the San Paolo soccer stadium. check

Connection connected.

Chef Glowig and Chef Corona 

A two hour drive one Saturday for lunch.  A day in Barrique, I like to call it. 
I arrived about 20 minutes late, oops!  I snapped a pic or 2 at the front door...a somewhat intimidating but welcoming at the same time.  



Welcoming, because little did I know that on the other side of that door, Chef Glowig was watching, waiting, and ready to show me his brand new world.

Glowig opened the door before I could even ring the bell. With a smile, he led me inside...into the Barrique. The interior design is spectacular!!! I was so impressed that I decided to make a video about it describing what I saw. I spoke in Italian, but I’ll paraphrase what I discovered here…Thanks to Maitre Leandra Cova.

 The space originally was used as a barrel room for the Poggio Le Volpi winery. After the winery decided to open up a wine and food bar called Epos. The menu evolved over time and the decision to use the barrel room for special events and tastings was made. This eventually led to opening up a gourmet restaurant headed by Chef Oliver Glowig along with his executive chef Daniele Corona.  Barrique restaurant opened up in October 2017.



The interior gives homage to life in the vineyard. The walls are painted gold with impressions of vine leaves and cuttings. Also on the wall, tablecloths have been transformed into beautiful works of art.
The tables are special. 








Soil and gold leaf covered in resin. Each table has a bonsai olive tree. On the ceiling?  Vine cuttings to add to the outdoorsy vineyard chic environment.
A cocktail bar is located near the entrance...the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink or an after dinner cocktail.

Breathtaking!


After my tour, I spoke quickly with Glowig about the menu.

Then we were off!

Amuse bouche: Marchigiana beef tartare dry-aged 90 days, oyster and buffalo milk ricotta sauce.




Amazing appetizers:

Marinated amberjack with a fennel and parsley root sauce.






Glowig's quail with Jerusalem artichokes and balsamic vinegar




Bread basket?  Barrique keeps it simple - white and wheat bread, leavened for 28 hours.  Perfect to soak up the delicious sauces and to taste the three oils that the agency produces.  The wafers on the side are made with fennel and poppy seeds, black and white sesame seeds and madon salt.



Next, the pasta dishes.  A fantastic firsts starring a Glowig classic - Eliche pasta, pecorino romano cheese, pepper and sea urchins.





Next, a dish that I asked for and had been thinkin about the entire 2 hour drive- spaghetti with black cabbage and wild boar meatballs .




Second courses.  Glowig served me 2!

Red mullet with mashed potatoes, marrow gratin and marinated chicory and raspberry vinegar.





Suckling pig with sour cherries in armagnac sauce.






After that dish, I decided to take a little stroll...



Then dessert!

Pastry Chef Andrea Riva Moscara stepped in…


Predessert to clean the palate - Whipped gianduiotto chocolate with linzer torte crumble and burnt mandarin.





Then one of his specialties - English cream with raisins and orange, chestnuts with rosemary, vanilla chantilly, caramelized pine nuts and meringue.





Then to finish off, a few small pastries including – fried zeppole and fantastic ginger chips!



And so my day in Barrique came to an end.  Too quickly.  And as usual, before I said goodbye, a last round/chit chat with the chefs before I hit the road for that 2 hour drive back home.  They asked me if I'd like to return in the spring, to try the new menu, to take a closer look at the vineyard, visit the cantina, try some cheeses, etc etc...





 I hesitated before I gave my answer.

Rome is not in Campania.  I had to think long and hard.

Well, not so long…


Not so hard…


.




Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fantastic First - Neapolitan Cannelloni, Chef Pasqule Palamaro, Indaco Restaurant, Ischia (Na)


While attending Stelle in Strada last weekend in Ischia, I had a chance to bump into Chef  Pasquale Palamaro of Indaco Restaurant.
  Bump?  Well, actually searched him out.  I hadn’t seen the chef since September during Ischia Safari, and I was quite curious as to what he had planned to serve during this street festival for charity.

Eccolo!  There he is!  In the midst of his mini brigade.  A quick hello, hi, and how ya doin', and Palamaro went back to work.  Work on his dish Cannellone napoletano dripping – Neapolitan cannelloni dripping style. 


I, and many many others that evening, watched and waited (somewhat) patiently for our turn for a taste of this fantastic first.  Though a week has passed, I still remember my first bite – taken after a minute or two of admiring the plating- the colors- the splatter/drizzle topping as a homage to the late Jackson Pollock  and Shimamoto Shozo–  artists who  have  inspired the chef’s dishes in the past.

I still remember my second bite, which I chewed slowly, enjoying the flavors, the festa, and the friends who joined me during this mini degustazione..




I finished my dish and turned to Palamaro to ask for details details details – but the chef and his team was busy satisfying the crowds. 


So, a few days later, I sent the chef a message and here was his reply….

Il cannellone che abbiamo presentato è farcito con stracotto di stinco di vitello al profumo di rosmarino e limone avvolto in pasta fresca sopra riprendiamo la tecnica di pittura contemporanea utilizzata da Jackson e Shimamoto dripping
E lo facciamo con 4 salse formaggio, barbabietola, spinaci, e zafferano.
Chef Palamaro


The cannelloni we presented was stuffed with stewed veal shank flavored with rosemary and lemon wrapped in fresh dough.  Drizzled on top -  a contemporary painting technique used by Jackson (Pollock) and Shimamoto (Shozo)done  with four sauces; cheese, beet, spinach, and saffron.



Fantastic!