Thursday, February 23, 2017

Amazing Appetizers, Chef Domenico Iavarone, Jose' Restaurant (Na)

I'm always curious about the inspiration behind a dish.  Like this appetizer by Michelin starred Chef Domenico Iavarone that I had the chance to try last Valentine's Day.  Chef Iavarone, about to open up a new restaurant, Jose' Restaurant, was in Naples last week.  Instead of a box of chocolates, Iavarone shared his love for the Sorrento Peninsula to over 100 appreciative dinner guests. 

Chef Domenico Iavarone
Love featuring flavors of the sea starring fresh shrimp stuffed with savoury fior di latte cheese from Agerola.

The chef added other touches from the coast such as lovely lemons from Sorrento presented in gel droplets.

Fresh apple and caviar completed the dish.

So Iavarone shared a little love last Valentines Day.  


Monday, February 20, 2017

Two Fantastic Firsts, Chef Angelo Carannante, Caracol, (Na)

The setting?  Caracol - Campi Flegrei's little secret that hugs on tightly to the cliffs of Capo Miseno.  After a steep, panoramic,  breathtaking jeep ride from the parking lot, a stroll on the fantastic terrace overlooking the sea, and an amazing round of aperitifs and appetizers, I wondered to myself, Can it get any better?

The response was sure and swift.   Chef Angelo Carannante, maybe inspired by the spectacular scene from his window at the pass, blending in with his years of experience in several  1 and 2 Michelin starred restaurants.

Chef Angelo Carannante


I was ready for the chef's round of pasta dishes.

Candele pasta al genovese with fresh raw tuna, lemon, and cocoa.


Ravioli acqua pazza/crazy water.  The ravioli is filled with the catch of the day such as scorpion fish, coccio/sea robin, and sea bass.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Three Fantastic Firsts, Chef Gioacchino Attianese, Casa Rispoli (Sa)

A recent visit to Cava Dei Tirreni (Sa)  gave me an opportunity to check out  Gioacchino Attianese in his new role as head chef at Casa Rispoli.  It also gave me a chance to try some pasta dishes - three to be exact! Take a look.

Tagliolini Cacio e Pepe with fresh raw shrimp.

 Then, a tasty play on  sweet and savory...

 Eliche pasta, pumpkin and Caserta black pork sausage and conciato romano cheese.

And last, but definitely not least, a fuori menu, a dish that is not on the chef's menu.

 Risotto napaletano, which is not rice, actually, but rice shaped pasta.  The chef added fennel, ginger and placed an anchovy and anchovy beads on top.


Monday, February 13, 2017

#bocciaecastello - A Cool, Tasty, Fun Photo Contest

Pasquale Raicaldo and Ivano Veccia

As you may have seen, I visited Ischia a few weeks ago - you may have read about it here...and here.  That visit sparked quite a bit of attention; a newspaper article and a couple of articles published online focusing on my American  experience on the Isola Verde.
It also sparked an exciting Instagram photo contest thanks to a post on amicone's Ivano Veccia's Facebook wall. Veccia ( practically a rock star on the island thanks to his pizza and jam-packed evenings where he is one of the hottest djs around ) noticed that  many of his friends were posting pics while they were enjoying a panello, a sandwich, on a bench in front of the spectacular medieval Castle Aragonase.

photo by Lisa Divina

A few chats later, a contest  was born complete with its own hashtag #bocciaecastello.
So, Ischitani and tourists alike have until the end of the month to share their sandwich moments on the spectacular location of Ischia Ponte and post it using the hashtag #bocciaecastello.  The photographs will be judged by myself, Ivano Veccia and Crescenzo Scotti.  The winner will receive a grande sandwich fit for four friends complete with beer, and tickets to the amazing Castello Aragonase!
So what are you waiting for??
Let's head out to Ischia!!!
Boun appetito!!!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Pizza Night - Casa Vitiello, Tuoro (Ce)

I sent a message to my friend Domenico last week - Let's go out for a pizza. Let's go to Ciccio's (Casa Vitiello).

Date set for a chilly Thursday evening in Tuoro, Caserta.  I found myself  at the counter chatting
with Ciccio (Francesco Vitiello)  and watching as he and his team put together a wide variety of pizzas, many that I hadn't tried before.  Vitiello sent out several pizzas for us to try that evening, but I
got particularly excited about pizza number three.

The pizza dough contained turmeric giving it not only a yellowish color, but  also light orange/ginger aromas.

Vitiello topped the pizza with blue cheese, fior di latte, and stewed black pancetta bacon.

A sprinkling of ground pepper on top...


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Breakfast is Ready! - Franco Pepe, Pepe in Grani, Caiazzo, (Ce)

I went to visit an old friend the other evening.  Franco Pepe – yes, THE Franco Pepe of one of the hottest pizzerias on the planet – Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo – a small town in the Caserta province.  I went, as one usually does when one visits an amico, to catch up on things, relax, have a beer or two.  That has always been the case with Franco. Except that sometimes Franco likes to add something to the mix
It was around 9 pm, I was hanging out in the kitchen when Pepe called me over.   Come here a minute

Ok.  Why not?

I met Pepe at one of his two pizza ovens.  He had an egg in his hands and as about to crack it open.  Wait! I pulled out my camera because I knew that something special was about to happen.
I was right.  At that moment, Franco was about to serve up a pizza that he had never served to anyone outside of his staff before. 
He cracked open an egg onto pizza dough previously topped and quickly cooked with creamy Grana Padano cheese that had been aged for 12 months and pancetta bacon courtesy of my fav-black Caserta pork. 

Then the pizza went back into the oven for just a bit – then sprinkled in pepper – then back in.
Extra virgin olive oil is added at the end, by Pepe himself.

For me, the memories were obvious – but for Pepe?  He shared with me memories of Caiazzo and his father on Wednesday mornings.  During the mercato, when his father would serve pizzas topped with egg to his customers.  His mom often added a slice of cheese on top. A connection that is very important to anything ne. How does it relate to the past?  Your past.

Karen, we need a name – something in English.
Then it was time for my memories to kick in.  I also thought about my father.  Who, whenever I visited with my son David over the past few years, would wake up early and fix us something to eat.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sunshine in A Sandwich - Panificio Boccia, Ischia (Na)

A day or two before my Ischia adventure, I wrote my travelling buddies – Pizza maker Ivano Veccia and Chef Crescenzo Scotti  – informing them about my travel plans.  Guys, I’ll be arriving probably around 1040.  And I’ll probably be hungry! 😃
Flash-forward, Saturday morning around 1100 am.  Spectacular sunshine and clear blue sky in contrast with the inter temperatures and slighting biting wind greeted me as my ferry pulled into Ischia Porto.  There I caught up with my greeting party, Scotti and his son Domenico alongside Veccia. 

Veccia Scotti, and Domenico

Right away I as whisked off to Ischia Ponte, near Castello Aragonese and most importantly, our first stop – Panificio Boccia.
Panificio Boccia, a bakery that has been around since 1938 and popular with the locals since….since forever!
I soon found out why.

From the street, Panificio Boccia looks like any other minimarket in Italy.  Veccia knocked at the small unmarked door and opened.  We stepped inside to a warm paradise of fresh baking bread produced daily in two wood burning ovens.  We arrived just in time as Michele and Luigi were taking out bread from the oven. 

One loaf would be enough for our mission.  Karen, we’ll get a piece of bread, open it up, and stuff it with mortadella, Scotti informed me.

We took our loaf, still steaming hot, next door to the grocery section of Panificio Boccia.  Behind the counter, we handed our lovely loaf over to Andrea and Luciana.  

Luciana cut that baby open, placed several slices of mortadella inside and served up four super sandwiches.

We paired it up with a park bench, a couple of beers, an amazing view of the sea.

Mission accomplished!!!