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!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Amazing Appetizer, Chef Crescenzo Scotti, Il Flauto di Pan, Ravello (Sa)

Lo Scampo e la pesca tabacchiera…Scampo and a tabacchiera peach.  
It could be a name of a romantic short story.  And why not? Chef CrescenzoScotti of Il Flauto di Pan prepared this dish in one of the most romantic spots on earth – Villa Cimbrone in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast.  The summer evening was perfect- hot, but not too much. I entered Scotti’s kitchen during a special summer evening- a Dinner with the Stars featuring Scotti’s longtime friend, Chef Pasquale Palamaro of Ristorante Indaco on the island of Ischia.

I entered and was immediately hit with a romantic light summer color –peach.  Peach form the scampi that Crescenzo chose to be the base of this appetizer. 
Lo Scampo – a carpaccio prepared by using a mixture of salt, olive oil, and smoked salt.
The chef combined his scampi with a peach that he fell in love with during his time in Sicily.  The sweet tabacchiera peach, also known as the Saturn peach due to its shape.  

The chef prepared this peach in a variety of ways; 

  • as a sauce….
  • processing it in a blender…
  • creating tasty pearls packed full of sweetness…
  • and as a foam.
A toasty nero di sepia/black squid ink and a puff of mandarin orange…

And like all romantic short stories, this one had a happy ending.  Not only for me…but also for all of those who had a chance to try


Friday, July 7, 2017

Ristorante Pizzeria Da Ciccio, Forio, Ischia (Na)

During my latest trip to Ischia, my amico and personal enogastronomical tour guide Ivano Veccia was unable to pick me up at the port as he has done several times before.  Let's just say that on that particular afternoon Veccia was busy doing what he loves best - making pizza!  Veccia alongside Nello Casile (ex owner of  Il Limonetto) have started a new adventure a quick  walk from the Forio port.  A new adventure under an old name - taking over Ristorante Pizzeria Da Ciccio.  

Ivano Veccia

I was curious and somewhat excited about sitting down in a pizzeria and finally getting a chance to try one of Veccia's pizzas for the first time. So a little more than a month after the black and white wood burning oven had been lit, I ordered a beer, sat down at a table on the terrace, and began a mini pizza tasting.

The first pizza wasn't a pizza exactly.  It was a panouzzo, a sandwich  made in a wood burning pizza oven.  This one Veccia calls his Panouzo  Cucuzziel 'Cas' e Ov' with zucchini, onions, fior di latte, eggs, caciocavallo podolico cheese and basil. 

Veccia's inspiration?  His mom, of course, who would prepare a similar version for him as he was growing up.

Next up, another memory from home.  Lasagna Povera - a poor man's lasagna.  Povera/poor due to the absence of ricotta and meatballs.  But what may be missing in the number of ingredients, eccia made up for in aroma and flavors.  

A creamy Grana Padano cheese sauce  topped with San Marzano DOP tomatoes, oregano and basil.  An added  bonus  can be found on the pizza crust.  That's where Veccia sprinkles grated Grana Padano cheese - aged 12 months.

Pizza number three is actually Pizza Number 1.  

Yes, named Number 1 since it is a classic Nello Calise recipe dating back nearly 15 years - when Calise ran the now closed Il Limonetto.  Ingredients include pork carpaccio (prepared in salt), rucola, and lemon zest.

Last up - a pizza that Ivano calls The Veccia.  

The Veccia is packed- that familiar Grana Padano creamy sauce, speck ham, fior di latte cheese, mushrooms, and a rucola pesto.

So...what do you think? Veccia asked.

I think...
I think II'll be back soon!