Every now and then I get the chance to see my Campania through the eyes of American tourists. Americans on vacation from the ‘States’...looking for the best. The best food, the best wine, the culture. I had an occasion such as this recently when Brian Arnoff, a 23 year old chef from Boston’s Sportello came to visit Terre Del Principe.
Brian, along with family and friends wanted to absorb Campania. They wanted to spend a day away from the tourist traps, the noise of the city. The Arnoff party wanted something different.
So, I watched them soak up Campania…the countryside. I watched how they checked out Campania, the vineyards. I observed how they were awed by seeing a 20 year old Casavecchia grape vine with young bunches basking in the late morning sun. How Manuela Piancastelli explained that this grape, as well as the Pallagrello Bianco and Nero grapevines nearby, were rediscovered after years of hard work and dedication by Peppe Mancini.
I observed closely as they sat down to a wine tasting. How they were treated to 2 horizontals of Pallagrello Bianco –Fontanavigna 2008 and 2009 and Le Serole 2008 and 2009. I saw how they took in the colors, the aromas, the differences between the wines and their vintages. I watched as they examined the fantastic colors in a glass of Centomoggia 2007 (Casavecchia). How they experienced the explosion of aromas, the freshness, equilibrium between the tannins and acidity. Then Ambruco 2007, Pallagrello Nero...the more elegant red. Followed by a cru---Vigna Piancastelli 2007. A wine that took the best of each red grape-Casvecchia’s’s explosion of aromas and Pallagrello Nero’s elegance.
Slow food…Manuela is a firm believer in this philosophy. I watched and listened as her guests savored the fresh herbs, spices and ingredients in dishes such as pasta with fave beans and pancetta or lamb-slow cooked in a terracotta pot with fresh rosemary and oven baked potatoes.
I answered questions –to the best of my ability-about food, culture, lifestyle…At one point I even sat back and took in the excitement, wonder and appreciation that these guests had for a region that I have adopted…that has adopted me.
So I soaked it all in…the pleasure in the simple things that I sometimes take for granted. The good food, good wine, and good company that Campania has shared with me for nearly 17 years. The Campania that I am happy to share…