Monday, October 24, 2016

Spaghetti Madness x 2 - Chef Luigi Salomone and Chef Cristian Torsiello, Chef Experience at Piazzetta Milu

A four hands dinner featuring two plates of spaghetti madness? I am so there.
The place, PiazzettaMilu in Castellammare di Stabia (Na).  Head Chef Luigi Salomone invited amicone Cristian Torsiello of Osteria Arbustico, Valva (Sa) to join him in his kitchen for una grande evening of great food, wine and company Campania style.

Spaghetti madness part 1.
Sous Chef Mario Fusco and Chef Luigi Salomone
I got a glimpse of the plate in progress while leaning against the wall in the kitchen.  Salomone and his sous chef Mario Fusco stirring and tasting, tasting and stirring…until it was just right. 

An appetizer of spaghetti di Gragnano, fermented greens, and stracciata di bufala….

Next, Spaghetti madness part 2.

Chef Cristian Torsiello

Torsiello in action.  Take a look at this pot!  Shaken and stirred!

Spaghettone di Gragnano with turnip greens and herring.

Pasta is a girl’s best friend x 2…

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Travel Diary - Indian Summer Tour 2016, Part 2...Amazing Appetizers - Chef Alfonso Caputo, Taverna Del Capitano (Na)

Chef Alfonso Caputo
1 October, 2016 - Indian Summer Travel Diary

The last fifteen minutes or so of my eighty-minute drive to Marina Del Cantone is probably my favorite.  An immersion of century old olive trees blends into spectacular views of the sea.  It is at this point that I usually turn my car radio off and enjoy the rest of my drive towards Taverna del Capitano, the Michelin starred restaurant/hotel run by the Caputo family.

1:00- pm ish
The kitchen, a traditional first stop whenever I visit Taverna del Capitano.  The kitchen is small, cozy, and calm.  A calm before the storm, so to speak.  A chance to chat with Chef Alfonso Caputo and maybe, just maybe get a sneak peek of hat he has in mind for his simple savory appetizers.  No such luck! I make my way to my favorite table with a perfect view of the beach.

1: 25 pm ish
Maître Sommelier Mariella Caputo pours me a glass of Nudo Erioco Falanghina Spumante Extra Dry.  She knows me ell, including my passion for Campania wines, particularly Falanghina del Sannio.  This would prove to be the perfect pairing for whatever appetizer that the chef had in mind for me that Indian summer afternoon.

1: 30 pm ish
Il Benvenuto
Fried onion/fish ring with black rice…

1: 37 pm ish
Caputo’s take on onion ravioli...but in this case, the ravioli is made of onions!  Inside?  Fresh ricotta cheese then topped with a bit of the sea – octopus, of course!

1:53 pm ish
Another colorful and flavorful example of the chef’s love for the sea outside his window in complete harmony with the bounty of the territory around him.  Shrimp, white seabream, capers, melon, and zucchini…

2:08 pm ish
This dish came out with a smile and a bit of advice from Claudio Di Mauro.  Di Mauro, suggested that instead of using a teaspoon for the chef’s last but not least appetizer of sea urchin and arugula ice cream, I should use a little piece of their homemade bread to scoop out the flavors.  The sweetness of the pane combined with the savory flavor of the sea urchin alongside the bitterness of the arugula as a combination that I do not believe I have ever tasted.

Thanks, Claudio.

Thanks, Mariella.

Thanks, Chef Alfonso!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Travel Diary - Indian Summer Tour 2016 Part 1

It seems like summer in Campania never ends!  That is what I’ve noticed in the 20 plus years that I’ve made this part of Italia home.  So, while vacationers flood the beaches and restaurants in August, others in September, I like to wait just a bit longer. 

October.  The weather usually agrees with me and gift wraps an amazing Indian summer. This year was a little unpredictable, but I lucked out with the four restaurants I chose for my 2016 adventure.

Here’s a look –

First stop – Taverna del Capitano, Marina del Cantone (Na).   Home to Michelin starred Chef Alfonso Caputo.  This was my second visit this season; I had visited back in May.  So why go back?  Tradition, maybe.  The location is peaceful off-season, paired with amazing food and wine…details soon.

Chef Alfonso Caputo

Second stop – Dani Maison, Ischia (Na).  A second look at 2 Michelin starred Chef Nino Di Costanzo’s restaurant that he opened in June 2016 in his childhood home.  My first visit was a Saturday lunch.  My second?  I was able to snag a reservation on a Friday evening just a couple of days before he closed for the 2016 season.  Lucky, because the chef’s home only has 20 seats.  Innovative and intimate.  I’ll share why.

Chef Nino Di Costanzo
Third stop – Taverna Estia, Brusciano (Na).  A long overdue visit to the youngest 2 Starred Michelin Chef in Europe, Francesco Sposito.  Over a year had passed since my last visit, so I was eager to try some of his classic dishes for the first time as well as a few surprises that Sposito tossed in. Coming up!

Chef Francesco Sposito

Fourth stop- Agriturismo Il Contandino, Caianello (Ce).  Sunday lunch has always been important to me.  I chose to end my tour on a Sunday in famiglia at one of the most sought after Sunday spots in Campania.  In the company of Berardino Lombardo, his team, and some down home country cookin’…Can’t wait to share!

Chef Beardino Lombardo 
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting here about my bellissima aventura

A presto!

Travel Itinerary here!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

An Alternative, A " Sfizio", O'Sfizio d'a Notizia, Naples (Na)

And there  I was. The weekend approaching and along with it, certain cravings that needed to be fulfilled. It had been awhile since I'd been out, and quite honestly, I was looking for something a little different than my usual pizza night or gourmet lunch.
Then a certain named popped into my mind.  Enzo Coccia.  Coccia, one of the top pizza makers in Naples/Italy/world who, just six months earlier, had opened up a hot spot next door to his standing room only Pizzeria La Notizia.
Yes, six months ago I had the opportunity to be on hand as Coccia presented his O' Sfizio d'a Notizia to the press. His gamble, if you will, presenting an alternative for pizza and panini lovers to a tough Neapolitan audience. So as they say, curiosity killed the cat and satisfaction brought him back, I decided to visit Coccia, Eduardo Ore and team for an aperitif that turned into one of the most down to earth experiences of my 2016 so far. O Sfizio d'a Notizia is not your usual pizzeria.  In fact, it's not a pizzeria at all, in my opinion.  It's what has the potential of being a hangout, a spot for an aperitf, a happy hour, a late night snack, and so on and so on and so on.  
Sfizio means whim, fancy, what did Coccia have in mind? I mentioned before, an alternative.
A location where Neapolitan street food meets sparking wine  and champagne.
Let's take a look!

Add caption

 A montanarina, mni montonara fried pizza starring piennolo tomatoe, pecorino cheese and basil.

 I paired it, as well as the rest of the my happy evening with an Asprinio D'Aversa by Salvatore Martusciello.

  Next up, another mini montanara, this time starring stracciatella di bufala, pesto sauce and toasted pine nuts.

 A little sandwich, which Eduoardo Ore described as a Murzillo Ventresca & Pecorino Romano.; basically a mini, tiny toasted sandwich with ventresca- aka as lard and pecorino romano cheese. Should I have felt guilty? Nah...remember, it has been awhile!

 Next up- a pizza fritta/fried pizza. The menu is pack with a variety of choices, but I decided to stick to  tradition - ricotta, provola, and salami!

 I couldn't leave ithout trying a couple of Mpustarelle...sandwiches made with toasted bread in a wood fired oven stuffed with specialties such as provola, marinated zucchini, pancetta and fresh mint....

 Or a classic such  as mortadella!

Eduardo Ore

So?  My intent as a relaxing evening...Instead I found an the heart of Napoli on a Friday night....

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SpectacularSummer Flashback2016, Gnocco Pesto di Fagiolini, Chef Domenico Stile, Enoteca La Torre, (Rm)

Chef Domenico Stile sent me a message late May.  That message invited me to Rome for the weekend to present the chef during a cooking presentation.  I decided toextend that invitation and swing by Enoteca La Torre a Villa Laetitia to check out his new menu - and also snap a couple of shots of thir amazing dining room-especially the glass window ( :-D )  It was there, that afternoon in June, that I had the opportunity to try a dish that I can add to my list of SpectacularSummer experiences for 2016.
Stile's gnocco pesto di fagiolini, fondata di provolone del monaco e palamita marinata

 or better, his green bean pesto gnocchi, provolone del monaco fondue, marinated bonito.
Nearly three months have passed but I still remember each bite. 

Each pillow of flavor designed to savour slowly, without stress, without trying to examine or over analyse this dish by this promising young chef.