Sunday, July 23, 2017

Welcome Packages – Chef Peppe Stanzione, Le Trabe, Capaccio (Sa)

I have always been a big fan of the benvenuto.  Those special little starters presented by the chef as a way to help you settle in, relax as you sip a glass of spumante and absorb the surroundings.  That particular Saturday was my first visit to Le Trabe, my first time at Chef Peppe Stanzione’s table, my first time to taste his welcome packages.

Puffed salted cod tripe  with garlic, extra virgin olive oil and red chili pepper. Hot, hot, hot!

A saffron cannoncino/puffed pastry horn stuffed with buffalo robiolina cheese and smoked paprika.

A black olive bruschetta.

Roasted buffalo caciocavallo cheese with a marmalade of apricots from nearby Eboli and Arabic coffee powder.

 A zucchini flower stuffed with buffalo milk ricotta cheese and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds.

A mini Parmigiano frittellina with a datterino cherry tomato mayonnaise.

A scallop fried in a tight black squid tempura and a avocado and lime mayonnaise. 

And to finish off,

 a steamed sandwich filled with a black pork prosciutto mousse.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Vacation a Casa - Casa Vitiello, Tuoro (Ce)

Halfway through July and friends and family have been asking the same question over and over again 'Karen, how have you been spending your summer vacation?'
At home/a casa.

Casa Vitiello - a pizzeria not too far from home that has become, basically, home.

So one Saturday afternoon I decided to check out what Francesco (Ciccio) Viteillo had been serving up on his summer menu.

He served up three pizzas for a mini pizza party with estate/summer as the theme.


Pizza alla Nerano.  A pizza named after the famous Campania pasta dish starring sauteed zucchini,  mint and Provolone del Monaco cheese.


La Colorata, A colorful pizza starring yellow and red tomato confit, fior di latte cheese and fresh marjoram.


O' Ciurilli.  Ciurilli means zucchini flowers in dialect, and the ones on Ciccio's pizza are from the family garden. And speaking of garden, the curly endive salad is from an organic farm belonging to amici - Fondazione Leo.

Then there's fior di latte, anchovies from Sciaccia, Sicily  and black olives- pitted and powdered versions.

So, the way I see it, summer vacation at home is not such a terrible thing.

Viva the staycation!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fantastic Firsts, Chef Peppe Stanzione, Le Trabe, Capaccio (Sa)

Chef Peppe Stanzione

A summer Saturday in the heart of Cilento.  Le Trabe Restaurant, located on the lush grounds of Tenuta Capodifiume was my latest delicious destination.  I was there to try the dishes prepared by Michelin starred Chef Peppe Stanzione, and I couldn’t wait.

I tried many dishes that day including these two pasta dishes –

Mischiato delicate/delicate mixed pasta with two types of tomatoes from the Cilento region – yellow and pacchetelle…

Burrata cheese…

And a mussel marinara sauce with fresh oregano and a touch of anchovy to give the dish a natural sapidity, Peppe explained.

I asked to be present in the kitchen as Stanzione and his brigade plated up his next dish – which was an excellent opportunity to see team at work.

Guitar spaghetti pasta in an amberjack ragù sauce…

Verbena and ginger fragrance…

Served with an amberjack sashimi, miso, lemon seasoned buffalo milk cream, and black olive charcoal…


Friday, July 14, 2017

Limonata all' Ischitana, Hotel Regina Isabella, Lacco Ameno, Ischia (Na)

A sweltering summer mid morning., Lacco Ameno Ischia.  After an hour or so of shopping, I stepped into the lounge of my hotel - Hotel Regina Isabella.  It was about 1115 am - too late for a coffee, too early for a glass of wine.  The perfect hour for something fresh to drink.  

Bartender Michele Di Meglio had the perfect mix in mind.  A Limonata all'Ischitana - a fresh lemonade made using the hotel's lemons.

two teaspoons of sugar....

five cl of lemon juice...

ice, fresh mint ...

cool water...

a slice of fresh lemon...

and there you have it!

Grazie, Michele!


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Pizza with Pepe, Pepe in Grani, Caiazzo (Ce)

It has been six years since I’ve been hanging out in the company of Franco Pepe (Pepe in Grani) – and each visit I’m always curious about what Pepe has in store for me.  So as I sipped on a cold beer and chatted with the team in the kitchen, I couldn’t help but smile as Franco came around the corner with a plate and a smile for me.

What do we have here? I asked as sat down at a small table in the kitchen.

This….Pepe said.  This is Ciro- named after Ciro Paone, of the famous Neapolitan tailoring company Kiton.  Pepe continued about how Paone raved about this pizza during an event some time ago that he decided to name it after the simpatico tailor.

After one bite, I soon understood why- a fried pizza stuffed with creamy Grana Padano cheese sauce, a rucola pesto, and powdered black olives from Caiazzo.

I finished my Ciro and was curious as to what was coming up next.  Very curious, since on this particular night, I put my trust as well as my palate in the capable hands of Stefano Pepe – Franco’s son. 

Stefano sent over a degustazione, that is, a tasting pizza, which was 2 pizzas in one.  On one side – la scarpetta.  One of my favorites, I wrote about it here.

On the other side, fior di latte, zucchini flowers, and anchovies from Cetara.

Thanks, Stefano!  Like father, like son – I thought.
I finished that up just as Franco was coming around the corner.  Try this – he said. La Fresca- Fresh.  My father used to make these all the time, he added.

So he handed me a sandwich prepared with pizza dough cooked in his wood burning oven.  Inside, he placed prosciutto crudo/cured ham, fior di latte cheese, tomatoes and rucola.  


Between each pizza, each bite, Pepe and I did what we usually do- catch up on things.  I was especially curious about one of Pepe’s latest projects – la crisommola.

Crisommola is the name of an apricot variety grown exclusively in the Mt Vesuius area.  Pepe explained how this delicious summer fruit often ends up on orchard grounds without being harvested by farmers often battling lower market prices from products from around the globe.

Pepe, then, began to prepare his crisommala pizza-
Fried pizza dough topped with a ricotta cheese and lemon zest…

Apricot jam…
Toasted hazelnuts …dehydrated powdered black olives from Caiazzo…
And a fresh mint leaf on top…

Another evening over, another piacevole pizza tasting. I said goodbye to Franco, to the staff, and gave a smile and thumbs up to his son Stefano. 

Complimenti!  A presto!  See you soon!