Sunday, April 7, 2019

6 Hands Fusion, Roji Japan Fusion Restaurant, Nola (Na),

During the week it seems like the opportunities for a night out are endless -an event here, a tasting there- how does one decide? Over the years, I've had to cut back a bit due to the late nights and/or the fact that I need to get up early the next morning to go to work. A couple of weeks ago, however, there was an event that caught my eye. An event that made me bend the rules a bit so to speak. An event entitled 6 Hands Fusion. The location Roji Japan Fusion Restaurant. A restaurant, which over the past couple years, has been one of my favorites for sushi and fusion. Sushi Chef Alex Pochynok is one of my favorites in the area. For this particular evening, he teamed up with Chef Salvio Vivenzio and Chef Giuseppe Molaro.  

Chef Alex Pochynok

Chef Giuseppe Molaro

Chef  Salvio Vivenzio

Molaro, known for having received a Michelin star during his run at Heinz Beck’s restaurant in Tokyo, Japan. Molaro is  from the Vesuvius  and is back home in his Campania with plans to  open up a restaurant in the near future. This time I would have a chance to see how this chef would  mingle/fuse and blend  with the two chefs from Roji. I took my seat at the sushi bar and had a front row opportunity to observe how the three chefs mingled and work together. The evening was casual, elegant and refreshingly smooth... When most of the diners were seated, Maitre  Domenico De Rosa served me the first of the aperitifs of the evening - a French oyster served with its own oyster card Speciale –David Hervé. Served with Saten, Ca del Bosco

A perfect choice for the evening, one of the wineries chosen, pairing beautifully with the dishes to come. Dishes such as a tsukune chicken with teriyaki sauce, codfish bon bon, fried/raw shrimp and a special carotonic.

It was then time to get started- time for the chefs in the kitchen to heat it up... Pochynok’s appetizer of lobster and raspberry carpaccio with caviar.

 Then Vivenzio served his crunchy uramaki shrimp.

 Next from the kitchen sushi -foie gras, duck and anchovies from Lampara.

 At this point, I took a break in the action to head into the kitchen to look at chef Molaro as he prepared his risotto with shiitake fungi. One of the beautiful things about this simple looking result was not only watching the chef as he prepared this rice dish and then enjoying the layers of flavors that included Madeira wine and honey aged in French oak barrels. 

Another dish by Molaro was Waraiaki tuna with yuzukoshu and daikon on dashi gelatin with rice vinegar. 

Then Iberian suckling pig with onions and apple.

Time for the pre dessert - bread butter and jelly. 

It was getting late, but I couldn’t leave without dessert-

yoghurt namelaka, extra virgin olive oil madeleines, raspberry and pineapple.

Other wines for the evening included Ca Del Bosco Anamaria Clemente, Maurizio Zanlla and Gosset Rose' Champagne.In other words - A grande night out!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Fantastic Firsts, Chef Lorenzo Cuomo, Re Mauri' (Sa)

Chef Lorenzo Cuomo
And there I was...the first weekend of spring.  Destination Amalfi Coast.  Excited about the sunny Saturday, but even more about lunch.  I was returning to Re Mauri', the Michelin starred restaurant located in Vietri sul Mare.  Radio blasting I almost did not hear my phone ringing. I pulled over to answer it.   It was Chef Lorenzo Cuomo checking in.  Cuomo wantd to make sure everything was okay.  That I remembered the way (It had ben over a year since my last visit).  I assured him that tutto was appost'...fine.

Twenty minutes later I was sitting at my table looking over the menu.  It wasn't easy to  choose, especially since I hadn't been in over a year - but after speaking with the chef, I decided on the tasting menu, with the addition of a second pasta.  So, after a vodka martini, an aperitif, and amazing appetizer (soon on the blog), the fantastic firsts arrived.

Cuomo's pasta and beans arrived first.

This is the chef's twist on a classic Campania pasta and beans dish.  A poor man's dish that the chef made regal.  Pasta and beans is usually made with pasta mista - mixd pasta formats.  Cuomo, instead, opted for seven different varieties of beans.

Different sizes, different colors, each cooked seperately.  For the pasta, he chose a type of tagliatelle produced by Gerardo di Nola.  He broke the pasta by hand.  Instead of mussels, the chef choose goose neck barnacles and chantarelle mushrooms.

Next a dish that I picked out from the a la carte menu.

Minestra di Mare or Seafood minestrone.

This is also a play on a classic Campania dish - Minestra Maritata  or wedding soup. A dish dear to the chef that he crated alongside his maestro Chef Oliver Glowig.

Instead of chicken and beef, Cuomo uses the treasures from the sea.  Tesori such as redfish, mullet, cuttlefish, octopus, sea truffles and cod tripe..  Vegetables include escarole, toasted fennel, and red algae.

Note to self - don't wait a year to head back to Re Mauri!


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Saturday a Scuola, Chef Marco C. Merola, I Cook You Food Academy (Ce)

Chef Marco C. Merola
Saturday afternoon, about a quarter to 3.  It was my first day of school and I didn't want to be late.  I didn't want to be late for my first cooking class with Chef Marco Merola of I Cook You Food Academy in Caserta.  The school is located in a quiet parco just minutes from the Caserta Royal Palace. I sent Chef Merola a message when I arrived (just a few minutes late) and he came out and opened the gate.  It was my first visit to Merola's school.  A visit that was long overdue, so Merola gave me a quick tour of his school that has been around since 2010.  The school offers professional and amateur courses-like the one I was about to participate in.  A class on pies and flans. 
My apron and recipe book was on the counter - I introduced myself to my classmates, and the three hour class began.  First up?  Merola patiently led us in making a very tasty anchovy pie. Here's his recipe for this amazing appetizer.

Anchovy pie, potatoes and tomatoes x4

For the potato cream

100 grams of mashed potatoes
125 gr of vegetable broth
  20 gr of extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste.
pepper as needed.

For parsley oil

40 gr of extra virgin olive oil
  5 grams of very fine garlic
  6 grams of parsley

500 gr of anchovies (8 anchovies per pie)
  40 grams of cherry tomatoes to concassé
  80 grams of mashed potatoes seasoned with salt and pepper
  30 gr of provola cheese
  80 grams of potato cream
    1 tablespoon of parsley oil
breadcrumbs as needed

Clean the anchovies well and deprive them of the central bone, the spine and the small spines at the height of the belly, taking care to leave the tail attached.

Oil the molds and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Lay the anchovy fillets, overlapping them so that they all converge with the belly at the center of the base of the molds.

Put 10 grams of mashed potatoes on the bottom of each pie, then the cherry tomatoes, provola, potato cream, aromatic oil and finally the remaining 10 grams of mashed potatoes.

Fold over the anchovy tails towards the center and sprinkle lightly with breadcrumbs.

Cook at 180 ° for 11 min.

I can't wait to try it at home!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Osteria La Lanterna, Mugnano Del Cardinale (Av)

It was a refreshing afternoon. Perfect for a lunch out.  I wasn't sure what to expect that day.  Wasn’t sure what to expect because it was my first visit to Osteria La Lanterna in Avellino. I must admit the desire to visit this home-style restaurant has been on my mind for quite a long time. I'm talking years. When I met  Chef Luisa Evangelista nearly 10 years ago and more recently bumping into Chef Stefano Parrella at various events around Campania. However, good things come to those who wait they say and I must agree that in this particular case, I totally agree.
Saturday afternoon March 9, the drive on the autostrada all the way on the exit of Baiano. What do you do the first time you visit an Osteria for the first time?  There is the desire to try everything.  I mean everything! At this point, self-control must step in.  I glanced at the menu – chatted with Parrella and we both decided to go for the tasting menu.
  Any allergies? 
No…Bring it on!
 First stop the mandatory and appreciated aperitifs.  Aprtifs such as escarole and navybeans...

fried stuffed anchovies...


 Then appetizers -the first and exciting play on the artichoke. As an American, though I've adopted Campania as my own; living here for nearly 26 years, I have fully integrated artichokes into my diet. Here is La Lanterna’s version. 
Like this one - 'roasted' and flipped upsidedown. 

Next step - codfish. Codfish wrapped in potatoes. A warm little package. A package that would be a preview of what was to come.  A parade of warm comfortable comfort food without all the frills.

So then, it was time for the first courses. Osteria La Lanterna’s tasting menu that afternoon provided two. Risotto. I stood at the pass while Parrella put the final touches on this particular dish. What a pleasure to experience the various combinations of seafood and fruit that made this dish not only nice to look at but a pleasure to my palate as well. Risotto with shrimp, pear, and pecorino cheese...

Then it was time for a spaghetti. I needed to be there at the pass as he plated up. 

 Spaghetti with amberjack, frutti di mare, wild fennel pesto and toasted pine nuts.

The meal continued, this time for the second course. Tuna known also as the pork of the sea. As well as lard.  Lard from pork and who doesn't love that???

 After the second course it was time to take a break.  A break that a take often at this point in the meal…
A break to not only walk off what I had tasted before, but to reflect on what I had experienced until that moment.  Here- at La Lanterna – there was no boss in the kitchen.  No superstar.  Instead a blend or fusion if you will of the talent and experience of Luisa Evangelista and Stefano Parrella.  Two personalities – two schools of thought – who have developed a working relationship that is not only exciting but tasty.
Time for the pre dessert. That small moment dining table designed to clean a pallet this one in particular up as one of my favorites. 

Cucumber, rosemary, lime and xtra virgin olive oil  sorbet...fantasticaaa!

Then time for the dessert. I dipped my spoon into the middle to grab a bit of everything. I did not expect the warm"love"from  this particular dish. A melannurca apple pie, english cream, and buffalo milk ice cream.

A perfect example of how a desert should bring memories not be intimidating and just be the perfect way to end a meal.
Meal over.  I looked at my watch.  4 pm??!!!.  Wow!  But the dining room was still full.  Only time for a quick chat with Parrella and Evangelista at the friendship table.  

Then they headed back to work.  They headed back into the kitchen; I headed out to the gravel parking lot…towards the autostrada…towards home.