Tuesday, August 31, 2010

XXXIII Festa dell’Uva in Solopaca (Bn)- September 9th – 16th

Solopaca in Benevento will be the host for this wine festival in its 33rd edition. Eight evenings of concerts, events, prodotti tipici, and of course the best wines from Solopaca. For more information, visit www.festadelluvasolopaca.it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Malazè and...Wineries and Restaurants

(La Bifora-Bacoli)

Malazè has paired up several of Campi Flegrei’s restaurants with some of the areas wineries to give you two evenings to see how well they blend together.

September 8, 1900 hrs
Cena in Vigna con…il ristorante/Dinner in the vineyards with…the restaurant.
You can visit the winery and vineyards, then sit down to a dinner prepared by some of the top chefs around. The cost is 30 Euro, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurants directly. Phone numbers and addresses can be found on the web site link here.

Cantina Piscina Mirabile (Bacoli) and Ristorante Il Paolanto (Bacoli)

Cantina La Sibilla (Bacoli) and Ristorante La Bifora (Bacoli)

Cantine Astroni (Napoli) and Ristorante La Campagnia del Ragù (Giugliano in Campania)

Cantina Grotte del Sole (Quarto) and Ristorante Sud (Quarto)

September 9 2100
La Cantina Amica
This time we will meet the winery in the comfort of the host restaurant. Ais Napoli sommeliers will also be on hand to guide you through wine tastings along with your meal. For info, prices and reservations, please contact the restaurant directly. Phone numbers and addresses can be found on the web site link here.

La Cucina di Ruggierier (Lucrino) and Cantina il IV Miglio

Lo Scoglio (Pozzuoli) and Cantina Contrada Salandra

Il Brontolone (Pozzouli) and Cantine Carputo

La Cantina dell’Abbazia (Pozzuoli) and Cantina Agnanum

Abraxas (Pozzuoli) and Cantina Astroni

Il Limoneto (Pozzuoli) and Tenuta Matilde Zasso

Trattoria Il Rudere (Pozzuoli) and Cantina Quartum

La Bifora (Bacoli) and Cantina La Sibilla

Batis (Bacoli) and Cantina Piscina Mirabile

SUD (Quarto) and Cantine Grotte del Sole

For information on all of the events for Malazè go to http://www.malaze.org/

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Barbera del Sannio...Nice to Meet You

So there I sat, one Friday evening. Surrounded by tall ceramic tiled pillars. Pillars that proudly displayed the grapes from the Campania region; falanghina, aglianico, piedirosso…

Above me, long green vines rich and heavy with grapes almost ready for the fall harvest.

And in front of me…five glasses. Five wine glasses ready for Il Palio della Barbera Contadina, a wine tasting that would introduce me to Barbera del Sannio. Five glasses ready for five wines from small local producers. Contadina means farmer in Italian, so we would taste the real local stuff. Wine made by the residents of Castelvenere, a town in the Benevento province; Mario Verrrillo, Anna Verrillo, Salvatore Romanelli, Barbato Romanelli and Fillipo Simone.

Luciano Pignataro (Luciano Pigataro Wine Blog, vino Slow Food Campania), Mauro Erro, (sommelier, il viandante bevitore), and Pasquale Carlo (Pro Loco Castelvenere President) guided us through this casual relaxed wine tasting.

As the wines were poured, I couldn’t help but notice the dark ruby red color. A red so deep, almost hypnotic, that calls out to you to pick up the glass and slowly bring it to your nose….so I did.

Here I was met with a pleasing array of aromas…fruits, spices, chinotto (a soft drink similar to Coke). This sweet smell, in four out of five of the glasses was pleasurable, welcoming. But maybe a little misleading…it was time to taste.

Barbera del Sannio is not sweet as the aromas may lead you to believe. The wines we tried were dry, balanced, with almost no trace of tannins. It was easy to drink, easy to enjoy.

Discussions led to how you can pair this wine. I listened and agreed how this would be perfect with a lasagna, pasta e fagioli, or eggplant parmagian. Dishes that call for a red but do not desire the aglianicos, Taurasis, or falernos of Campania that may be too intense. Fish would take pleasure in this wine as well. Soft tannins would embrace and not overpower.

This tasting held in the cloister of piazza municipio was interesting and informative. A tasting that showed me to another side of Campania. A tasting that left me with a curiosity to learn more about this grape’s origins, this wine’s vinification process, and walk through the vineyards…

A tasting that introduced me to Barbera del Sannio.

Nice to meet you.

And I look forward to seeing you again sometime.

Malazè e…La Sibilla

If you have never stopped by Azienda Agricola La Sibilla in Bacoli for a wine tasting or visit, there will be plenty opportunities during Malazè. Here’s the breakdown…

September 4 – 14
La Cicerchia dei Campi Flegrei

A chance to visit La Sibilla and learn about this particular bean grown in the area through the delicious dishes prepared by the Di Meo family. Call La Sibilla at 081 868 8778 for info and reservations.

September 8
Cena in Vigna Con il Ristorante

A chance to have dinner in the vineyard with dishes prepared by La Bifora (Bacoli). The cost is 30 Euro, wine included. Call La Bifora at 081 868 7324 for reservations.

September 9
La Cantina Amica

This time La Sibilla’s wines will be present at La Bifora (Bacoli). For info and cost contact La Bifora at 081 868 7324

September 10
Pagina da Gustare

The book Giallo Tufo by Francesco Escalona discusses in great detail the recipes, traditions and culture of Campi Flegrei. Along with the presentation of his book, a visit of the archeological sites present on the property as well as a meal prepared by the Di Meos. The cost of the event is 25 euro. For reservations, contact Enzo Di Meo at 339 79 26 749.

For information on all of the Malazè events, go to the website at http://www.malaze.org/

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Big Wines from the "Little Guys"

Cool, breezy, relaxing. Another evening in Campania…another wine festival…another opportunity to try wines under the stars.

This time it was Castelvenere in Benevento. This time it was Grandi Vini da Piccole Vigne, a wine festival to celebrate the "little guys".

All casual here…A small piazza in a small Benevento town…simple tables, plain yellow tablecloths, white garden furniture…almost as if you were on your front porch, your garden, your terrace.

An occasion to sit back, try wines from some of the top “little” producers from Southern Italy.

Azienda Agricola Ciro Picariello – Capriglia Irpina (Avellino) …Cantina Contrada Salandra – Pozzuoli (Napoli)...Azienda Agricola La Sibilla – Bacoli (Napoli)…Cantina Bambinuto – Santa Paolina (Avellino)… Cantine Luigi Tecce – Paternopoli (Avellino)…Azienda Agricola Salvatore Magnoni – Rutino (Salerno)…Nanni Copè – Vitulazio (Caserta)…A Vita di Vigna De Franco – Cirò Marina (Crotone)…Azienda Agricola Bonavita – Faro Superiore (Messina…)...Azienda Agricola Gennaro Papa – Falciano del Massico (Caserta)...Cantina dei Monaci – Santa Paolina (Avellino…)...Cantina del Barone – Cesinali (Avellino)…Azienda Agricola Pasquale Petrera – Fatalone – Gioia del Colle (Bari)…Tenute del Fasanella – Sant’Angelo a Fasanella (Salerno).

A chance to hear their ideas, their stories, their challenges…To enjoy the fruits of their hard work...sit with them ...laugh with them…converse, exchange, listen and learn.

An event that was definitely a highlight of my summer…

An event that was definitely not to miss…

Malazè and…La Tavola

Malazè has a great program for those who are interested in discovering Campi Flegrei through the recipes of the area’s remarkable restaurants. From the 4th through the 14th of September a program entitled Menu di Malaze will be presented at over 40 restaurants in Pozzuoli, Bacoli, Giugliano in Campania, Monte di Procida, and Quarto.

The deal is this…a fixed menu available for lunch or dinner for only 25 Euro (wine excluded). A great chance to discover the tastes of Campi Flegrei…

For a list of which locations are participating, phone numbers and emails, go click here.

Reservations are necessary.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mercati al Borgo - Reloaded...Taurasi, September 5th

The second edition of Mercati al Borgo will be held on Sunday, September 5th in Taurasi's centro storico.  Like back in August, you can tour the medieval center while you taste wines and other local products.  The day begins around 1100 ish.  For more iformation, visit the web site at www.mercatialborgo.it

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Stroll with Donpasta - Gastrophilosopher

Daniele De Michele
I discovered a new philosophy the other day.  A gastrophilosophy.  My teacher?  His name is Daniele. Daniele De Michele…but most people know him as Donpasta.

 Donpasta-poet, cook, storyteller, gastrophilosopher.

I met Donpasta last week.  He was our  simpatico guide through the streets of Ariano Irpino as part of the Folkintour series.

A philiosophy that took us on a stroll, a passaggiata.  We stopped here and there to learn a little about history and culture asseen through the eyes of Donpasta. From the courtyard of a Norman Castle; the tale of why he believes Bob Dylan is from Puglia…From a staircase of an ancient building; the legend of why rucola has a bitter taste…and from the window of Ariano’s town hall ;the origin of Ulysess. All amusing, entertaining, and very very creative.

Our journey took us to a small stage set un in a piccolo piazzetta. It is here where Donpasta took the arena and put on his show. A show where he shared with us his Puglian roots through stories, tales, and recipes. By his side was singer, songwriter Luca Morino.  We really got to know him through one of the recipes of his childhood, parmagiana melanzane della nonna. He talked about this particular recipe, complete with mortadella and meatballs, as a video demonstrated the recipe preparation step by each delicious step. He shared with us his memories of Ferragosto, Sundays at grandma’s, the enormous lunches. Lunches where everyone was invited and everyone participated. How basically a community was constructed around this simple yet complex dish…A dish that could be debated for hours as far as ingredients, whether to use eggs and flour when you fry or not, etc, etc, etc.I  was curious about the mortadella and meatballs.

As he spoke, I strongly believe that many of us in the crowd thought back to our family get togethers, the meals that bring people together, meals where, as he put it…

30 invitati, ognuno di questi invitati pensa che deve cucinare per 30. 30 per 30 fa 900 persone che possono mangiare questi pasti…

30 guests, each one thinks that they must cook for 30 people.  30 times 30 equals 900 people that can eat these dishes...

Lunches where you can’t leave anything on your plate…where you are told to eat, you’re too thin…

He shared, we listened…he cooked, we tasted…he passed on his gastrophilosophy, we absorbed, reflected, thought about what he had to say.

I think that’s what he wanted…

Donpasta and his “Cook and Roll Circus” is definitely a not to miss…


Malaze'- The Archaeological-Wine-Food Event in Campi Flegrei, September 4 - 14th

Calling all "archeonogastronauts"!!  (i.e., those of us who love archaeology, good wine, and good food)

Here is an event in Campi Flegrei that is not to miss.  11 days of events programmed around a territory that is rich in culture, history and traditions.  11 days of programs geared around the excellent wine and food that embraces the Campi Flegrei territory. 

For the full schedule, click on to the web site here.

See you there!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fiano Music Festival - Aiello del Sabato (Av) September 4th and 5th

Mark your calendar for this one…The 8th edition of The Fiano Music Festival in Aiello del Sabato(Av).

Two evenings of music, food, and Campania’s fabulous Fiano will be celebrated here.

Each evening starts at 1930 ish with stands run by the Associazione Italiana Sommeliers di Avellino offering the best Fiano from all over the region….

Each evening will have a seminar and guided tastings discussing …what else?…Fiano at 2015 ish (reservation only…you can reserve by calling 380 51 03151)…

Each evening will feature live music to include artists Antonella Ruggiero (Saturday) and Ray Gelato (Sunday)…

Each evening will present the Irpinia’s finest food brought to you by the Federazione Italiania Couchi di Avellino, Slow Food Avellino, Havana (Lapio, Av), and Pro Loco di Aiello del Sabato

For more info, how to get there, and anything else you may want to know, visit the site


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Buona Come il Pane…di Montecalvo

At first glance it’s just a piece of bread…a staple in our kitchen, part of our diet, especially in Italy. In the morning with jam or nutella. At lunch or dinner to perform the famous ‘scarpetta’, where you use your bread to soak up any traces of leftover sauce on your plate, the serving dish, or even the pot.

Bread…not much to get excited about, maybe, at first.

Taking a closer look, however, at this particular bread called pane di Montecalvo, one might be led to change their mind. Montecalvo is a town located in the Avellino province and this bread is famous all throughout Irpinia. I spoke with Antonio Russolillo of  Soc. Coop. La Pacchiana to satisfy my curiosity.

The first thing I noticed was the color of the bread once it has been sliced …a light yellow color due to the durum wheat that is used to make the dough. A dough that uses natural yeasts and lievito madre. Lievito madre is a term used when bakers conserve a certain percentage of the dough from the night before and mix it in with the fresh dough for the next day. Antonio sets aside 20%. This cycle repeats day after day, year after year, generation after generation.

The dough rises overnight for about eight hours before it makes its way to the oven…a terracotta oven.

The end product is one that has a crust that is crisp, croccante…The inside has an aroma that only the lievito madre can give…light, airy, soft, morbido

In Italy, bread is something we buy if not every day, every couple of days. Preservatives are not used here so the bread may ‘go stale’, become hard.

Pane di Montecalvo actually becomes softer with time…up to 8 days when cuddled in a cotton dishtowel.

When it does eventually get hard, not to worry. Antonio shared with me a couple of ways to make the most of this pane

In the summer, a classic dish is called Acqua Sala…This is made by softening the bread in water. (The bread does not crumble.)Then place it in a bowl with sliced tomatoes, onions, asparagus ‘sott’olio’, and some wild herbs. Mix it up and you have a hearty salad. A piatto povero that is rich in flavor.

In the winter, you can use it in a bean soup…one that has been simmering on the stove in a terracotta pan for hours…a soup that has a nice, thick broth. Place the bread in a pot, spoon the beans and broth on top. Add some sliced onions, a little extra virgin olive oil then cover for 5 minutes (away from heat). Drizzle some more olive oil on top and then serve.

Pane di Montecalvo…not only worth a second look, but a taste as well!

Soc. Coop. La Pacchiana
Montecalvo Irpinia (Av)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vineyard Hopping Jr - Sorbo Serpico (Av) - Feudi Di San Gregorio

Fate che volete! Do whatever you want! Those were the words said by Cinzia from Feudi di San Gregorio’s marketing department to a group of children who visited  last Thursday.

After all it was their day.

So why not? A day to run through the vineyards, if that’s what you want…a day to pet a beautiful black pony…if that’s what you want. ..A day to design and color your own wine label for a bottle of Fiano di Avellino…if that’s what you want.

But more importantly, a day to be outside in the fresh air, surrounded by nature. Taking in the beautiful greenery of the vineyards, the amazing view of the hillside surrounding Sorbo Serpico, Feudi’s backyard….A day to learn about grapes, grapevines, wine and the amazing job that people who work the land perform. … Seated on the grass, next to the vines, up close and personal by a man who knows…Pierpaolo Sirch ,Feudi’s general manager

Enjoying a snack prepared especially for kids by Marenna’; a sandwich with ricotta and fresh peanut butter, a frittata with potatoes, a sandwich with homemade orange marmalade, and crunchy apples. Freshly squeezed fruit juice to satisfy our thirst was on hand as well.

At the end of our visit, on my way home, I reflected on one of the things Pierpaolo told the kids.

Chi lavora in vignete, chi coltiva le vite, chi coltiva le piante …lo fa un po’ anche per tutti noi…che un giorno ci svegliamo e viviamo in questo paesaggio…in questo territorio che e’ il nostro giardino…

Those who work in the vineyard, those who cultivate the vines, who cultivate the plants do it for all of us... that one day we wake up and live in this landscape  ... in this territory that is our garden ...

E che bello…

Feudi di San Gregorio e Marennà
Località Cerza Grossa
83050 Sorbo Serpico (Av)
0825 986683


Cool Recipes for a Hot Summer - Le Pere Mastantuono al Cioccolata by Alessandro Russo

I love traditions, especially when it comes to recipes and local cuisine. Here is a specialty passed to me by Alessandro Russo of Le Tre Arcate using Mastantuono pears. This is a classic during the Ferragosto period in Piano di Sorrento and surroundings.


10 Mastantuono pears;
300g ricotta
100/150g cocoa paste or alternatively 70% cocoa powder;
100g macaroons;
30 g pine nuts;
300g of chocolate
a little cinnamon, sugar to taste, 1 liter white wine and some cloves.

Cut the pears in the upper part to create a hat with the stem. Scoop out the pulp and conserve it.Prepare the filling by mixing the ricotta, crumbled macaroons, pine nuts, pear pulp and cocoa in a stainless steel bowl. Mix well and stuff the pears almost to the top. Pour the wine into a deep baking sheer, add the sugar and cloves, arrange the stuffed pears and bake at 180 ° C for about 2 hours until the wine has reduced and has formed a dense sauce. Serve by spooning over melted dark chocolate.

Le Tre Arcate

Piano di Sorrento, Italy, 80063

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not your Typical ‘Prodotti Tipici’- Jellies, Jams and Marmalades from Il Poggio del Picchio (Av)

Summer in Campania. Full of sagras, festivals, and street fairs. Full of stands, bancho di assaggi, full of tasty specialties from the local area. Prodotti tipici…At a recent event in Taurasi, I stumbled upon a something a little, well…atypical. At the end of a side street in Taurasi’s centro storico was a table full of colorful jars and a very elegant signora. La Signora Fiorenza Giselico and her homemade jams, jellies, and marmalades from her Azienda Agricola Il Poggio del Picchio. Poggio del Picchio, The Woodpecker’s Knoll.

I am not one to get excited about jam…but these weren’t your usual ‘spread on a piece of toast on a Saturday morning’ jellies. After closer investigation (and about a dozen taste tests!) I will never look at marmalade the same way again.

Here are some cool and creative concoctions that my friends and I were treated with…

Milk jam…yes jam, plain or with chocolate…this would be great to have in the morning, spread on sweet bread or used to sweeten your coffee…

Lemon, walnut and violet marmalade as well as an orange, lemon, walnut and raisin marmalade……imagine pies made with these specialties…

Basil and walnut jam…a great side to a bella mozzarella di bufala…

Apple and rose petal jelly…maybe spread on a piece of warm bread like pane di Montecalvo…

How about a bruschetta with red bell pepper jam? Or cheeses like pecorino, parmigiano, or provolone with a side of red onion jelly? This goes well with pork as well.

Il Poggio del Picchio uses fresh products, much of it grown on their 3 hectares property I Cesinali (Av). They jar their products in season, without using preservatives. Vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, pumpkins….Fruits such as strawberries, oranges, and raspberries, to name a few… all await to become a jam, marmalade, chutney or a jelly. All await to be paired, spread, sided or mixed to make the ‘common’ not so common…the delicious, well even more so….

Azienda Agricola Il Poggio del Picchio
Contrada Salice, 3
83020 Aiello di Sabato (Av)
0825 667238

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Taurasi’s 11th Annual Wine Fair August 13-15 - The Program

After a break…it’s back …it’s definitely back…Taurasi’s 11th Annual Wine Fair August 13-15

Every day from 10am to 12.30pm and from 15 to 18 visits to wineries and vineyards with lunch in the agriturismos and restaurants of Taurasi (contact 388.7001516 - info@thewinebus.it).

Every evening, wine tastings and conferences in the Enoteca Regional in the heart of Taurasi’s centro storico.

Every evening, stands with wine and other local products will be sprinkled throughout the vicos and vias.

And every evening, there will be live music to help you celebrate summer.

For more information and a complete schedule contact

Tel 320.4332561 - 339.8685903 - 392.9866587

 E-mail: fieraenologica2010@libero.it


Not To Miss!!!!

Vineyard Hopping - Prignano Cilento - Viticoltori De Conciliis

A hot August Tuesday morning. Cilento –Salerno province. I’m having a caffè with Bruno De Conciliis in a bar in Torchia, a 5 minute drive from his winery, Viticoltori De Conciliis. We are about to begin my Vineyard Hopping, Cilento edition. Bruno began our tour by stopping next to a church high on a hill where I could see his family’s various vineyards from a distance. Under the shade of an enormous tiglio tree, I saw how his vineyards are spread throughout the territory. And from this vantage point and throughout our visit to the vineyards, I imagined what it must be like to be a grapevine in the hands of De Conciliis.

If I were an aglianico grape, I could find myself growing in several of Bruno’s vineyards. Cuddled within the arms of a chain of mountains...enjoying the greenery.. the olive trees…the sea…I may have my home alongside an abandoned villa in his oldest vineyard (planted in 1979). My vines would go down deep into a compact, clayey soil with sparkling quartz. Sandy…silty…powerful. Or maybe in a vineyard known as Destre where the sun slowly sets between 4:30 and 5:00 in the afternoon. Here I would mature gradually. I could be situated anywhere within a 180° position embracing this hill with sun exposure to the north. I might even be found near Agropoli…close to the sea, where the air is fresh, salty, breezy and cool. I would ‘tan’ quicker here than any other location, logical due to my altitude…practically sea level with a western sun exposure.

De Conciliis would choose me for a variety of the wines he produces using aglianico. I might be harvested in mid August to become Selim, a spumante brut, the first spumante made with aglianico in Campania. Or maybe Donnaluna Aglianico DOC where, after vinification in stainless steel, I would rest about 1 year in a barrel. Maybe Naima IGT---De Conciliis’s grande elegant red. A red full of power and structure. Maceration 20 days in stainless steel before passed to a barrique (one that is anywhere from 4 to 10 years old), then to a larger barrel, back to stainless steel for six months before I find my place in the bottle for another 6. A Naima Riserva -1 year in stainless steel, 2 years in barrique and then another 18 months in a large barrel before I would be placed in a magnum size bottle. I might even be chosen for one of De Conciliis’s ‘experiments’ in his Fabbrica dei Mostri as he fondly calls it, his little shop of horrors. I could become Lato Scuro/Dark Side where I would ferment with Fiano to soften my tannins a little and give me a touch of fruity fragrance.

Fiano…If I were Fiano, I too, would have a various selection of vineyards to call home. My favorite vineyard, however, would have to be Destre. This location mentioned above, for its soil composition and its sun exposure is the best that De Conciliis has for me to thrive in. It is here where I would develop the elegant characteristics to become a Donnaluna Fiano DOC, gritty (as the brochure describes), but gentle. I would be harvested in late August and spend 8 months in stainless steel before I’m bottled. Perella IGT is another option for me but I would need 12 months in stainless steel or 12 months in a large barrel before waiting another year in the bottle. Or Antece IGT…that would be nice. I would ferment with my grape skins, then it’s 2 years in French oak barrel…12 months in the bottle.

Whichever grapevine or grape, I would be left alone to do my job…Alone in the vineyard, where I may have to put up with weather conditions such as lack of rain or hail. I would do my best to fend of diseases due to the fact that I am not touched by chemical products. I would be left alone in the cantina…Bruno will not add yeast, water, or anything else that might alter what I have to share. The barriques that I rest in will be older ones so that I will not be influenced by vanilla or toasty aromas. As an aglianico in some cases, during my aging, I may even get up to a 17% alcohol content. As an aglianico, I wouldn’t be filtered…I will have sediments in my wine that some consumers may not understand. I will be different year after year. No ifs, ands, or buts. This may make me hard to market, hard to describe…But that’s De Conciliis’s philosophy. Let the wine tell its story. If the past year was cool weather-wise, the wine will have a fruitier taste...drier, less. The natural yeast will do what it has to do and will be different every year. No ‘Stepford’ wines here…a wine world where everyone is tall, thin and blonde. No.

I enjoyed my day with Bruno and some of the De Conciliis team (Giovanni, Paola, and Antonio). Discussing wine and just about everything over a lunch of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and zucchini. I enjoyed my brief glimpse into a winery with a philosophy that is different from some wineries I’ve visited before. AND I am curious to see one of Bruno’s next ‘experiments’…a vineyard 700 m above sea level where he will plant Fiano, Greco and Malvasia…no tractors, just donkeys and horses…But that’s another story for another time.

Viticoltori De Conciliis
Località Querce, 1
84060 Prignano Cilento (Sa)
0974 831090
0974 831334

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cool Recipes for a Hot Summer-Variazione di Zucchini by Chef Carmine Mazza

Its hard to go shopping without seeing rows of fresh zucchini.

Here is a recipe from  Chef Carmine Mazza of Il Poeta Vesuviano that really celebrates this vegetable….

Variazione di Zucchini/Variation of Zucchini

6 medium zucchini
250 g provola di Agerola

Slice 4 zucchini lengthwise and fry in abundant oil. Line a pan with the zucchini slices and fill with chopped provola and basil leaves. Close the ‘package’ with slices of zucchini and bake at 180 degrees for 8 minutes.

Cut 1 zucchini in a brunoise (cubes of half cm per side) and blanch slightly in the pan. Season with salt and few drops of balsamic vinegar.

Cut the remaining zucchini into cubes, sauté with a clove of garlic and emulsify everything with extra virgin olive oil and basil until it becomes creamy smooth.

Serve garnished with a basil sauce (made with fresh basil, sparkling water-so the basil maintains its beautiful green color.salt, and olive oil) , a dried zucchini flower and a fresh basil leaf.

Luciano Pignataro e Mauro Erro present Il Festival delle Piccole Vigne

Grandi Vini da Piccole Vigne/Big Wines from Small Vines

Castelvenere, Sannio

Friday August 27 2010

1800 hrs Palio of the “Barbera Contadina” . A wine tasting with Slow Wine Campania

Space is limited – Reservations necessary*

2000 hrs Opening of the wine tasting stands with the following wineries:

Azienda Agricola Ciro Picariello – Capriglia Irpina (Avellino) / Cantina Contrada Salandra – Pozzuoli (Napoli) / Azienda Agricola La Sibilla – Pozzuoli (Napoli) / Cantina Bambinuto – Santa Paolina (Avellino) / Cantine Luigi Tecce – Paternopoli (Avellino) / Azienda Agricola Salvatore Magnoni – Rutino (Salerno) / Nanni Copè – Vitulazio (Caserta) / A Vita di Vigna De Franco – Cirò Marina (Krotone) / Azienda Agricola Bonavita – Faro Superiore (Messina) / Azienda Agricola Gennaro Papa – Falciano del Massico (Caserta) / Cantina dei Monaci – Santa Paolina (Avellino) / Cantina del Barone – Cesinali (Avellino) / Azienda Agricola Pasquale Petrera – Fatalone – Gioia del Colle (Bari) / Tenute del Fasanella – Sicignano degli Alburni (Salerno).

2330 hrs Piccole Vigne Music Fest DJ Set Salvatore Magnoni from Rutino Il dj in vigna

*Per more info and to reserve for the Palio della Barbera Contadina: Pasquale Carlo 3297333423

Vineyard Hopping - Lapio - Rocca Del Principe

June 5 2010, close to noon, I entered Lapio (Av) for the first time. I was with a group of journalists and bloggers on a wine bus headed by Paolo De Cristofaro (Gambero Rosso). I remember that morning…we weren’t there long, but I got a glimpse of a territory that I knew that I wanted to come back and investigate further.

Lapio…a town in the Avellino province in the shadow of Mount Tore.

Lapio…known for dishes such as “i fusilli ed i mogliatielli”, “a pizza e menesta , a menesta ‘mmaritata”,”fagioli con le cotiche” “pizze chiene”, “taralli.

Lapio…home of Fiano di Avellino, Ercole Zarrela and Rocca del Principe.

Rocca del Principe is a young winery that has been around since 2004. Before that though, Ercole’s father and grandfather grew grapes,sold them to wineries, as well as made wine for themselves. Their badge of honor is their Fiano di Avellino DOCG; in fact they have been awarded the prestigious Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchiere award in 2007 and 2008 and are awaiting word for their 2009 offering.

I was curious to see what it is about this area, 500-600 m above sea level that has become Fiano’s backyard. Ercole explained that this area has always been an area where Fiano was planted, even back in the Filangieri period. Fiano, however, was used to make a different type of wine than the one we are used to today. The wine was a sweet sparkling wine that the farmers made for themselves. In the late 1970s, however, with the grande influence of Mastroberardino, Fiano was reborn as the dry white we are familiar with today. (DOC classification in 1978, DOCG in 2003).

Rocca del Principe has 5 vineyards that add up to a total of about 5 hectares. Each vineyard is different, has its own character, and has its own story to tell. One of my lessons during the 1st level Sommelier course was that there are three factors that play an important role in the vineyard; altitude, the soil composition, and the exposure to the sun. And as we drove around to visit Rocca del Principe’s vineyards, Ercole showed me how true that is…

Our first stop was to observe his vineyard near the cantina. 600m above sea level. A vineyard that was planted in 1999 and doesn’t produce as much in respect to his other vineyards. The soil here is very argillaceous, clayey. Sun exposure-west. The weather this year, periods of rain and then sun, did not cause the soil to crack as can often happen with this type of terrain. As you continue to walk down through the vineyard, the soil changes; silt and sand start to take over…continue…continue and it becomes sandy with traces of clay about 60-70 cm down.

The next vineyard was nearby, here I could see up close how the soil changed, became looser, more fertile as we walked between the rows of vines. I noticed differences on the vines as well. An increasing quantity of bunches.

Another vineyard... sun exposure to the south-east this time. Very clayey soil and a lot of sun. A vineyard of this type, in a season with little rain, will produce a wine that will be ‘ready to drink’ but will not have a long longevity due to a low level of acidity. A season of balanced weather? This vineyard will do just fine, thank you.

Another stop…their oldest vineyard, planted in 1990. Ercole told me that this was his least productive vineyard but the most interesting. Sun exposure-north. The soil contains silt, sand, and a small quantity of clay. Nearby, new vines had been planted as well as an area cleared to add more.

Up until now, Ercole had shown me vineyards that used the guyot training system. Our last stop was a vineyard that uses the raggiera or raggi system. Subito, instantly I noticed that the grapes growing here were further along in development. Here the soil is richer, more fertile, and the air is fresher. We walked past fig, apple, walnut and cherry trees. Nature was in full form as we picked plums of the tree. We enjoyed their sweetness as Ercole told me stories of his childhood as well as plans for the future.

The next obvious stop was the cantina. Here I discovered that Rocca del Principe has plans to produce Taurasi with aglianico grapes acquired from vineyards in Montemarano (for the 2007 vintage) and Montemarano and Taurasi (2008 and 2009). From the botte, we had a taste of a Taurasi that will not  be available until 2011. Next, a taste of their 2009 Fiano that was still in the stainless steel vat, ready to be filtered, almost ready for the bottle. It would be the second bottling of their 2009 vintage.

Ercole, at this point, expressed his point of view on Fiano. It is a wine that needs time. He had bottled their 2009 in June but he strongly believes for the 2010 vintage, he will wait until September of 2011. Choices that I have heard often from many white wine producers…patience…good things come to those who wait.

A final note…for the new label this year, Ercole choose a painting entitled The Garden of the Hesperides by Frederic Lord Leighton (1830 - 1896). It is based on a Greek myth where the three ladies, the Hesperides, are guardians under the tree that produces golden apples. Ercole told me the tree represents his vineyards. The Hesperides represent Ercole’s three daughters. And Ercole? Hercules, of course…

Rocca de Principe
Via Arianiello, 9
83030 Lapio (Av)
0825 982435

Friday, August 6, 2010

Folkintour-August 18th and the 20th through the 22nd-Ariano Irpino (Av)

Folkintour is a section of the Ariano Folk Festival dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of the scenic and culinary territory of Irpinia. Avid hikers, history, and nature lovers are invited to discover the corners of Irpinia and the flavors of southern cuisine.

Wednesday, August 18
0900 hrs
Departure from Piazza Plebiscito (Ariano Irpino)

‘Urban trekking’ in Mirabella Eclano (av)

A visit to the archealogical ruins of Aeclanum, and a visit to the Museo del Carro e dei Misteri.

Apperitif in piazza

‘Urban trekking’ in Gesualdo (Av)

A stroll through the centro storico and visit to the churches and Palazzi Gesualdini, as well as a visit to the Cappuccini church.


Return to Ariano Irpino

Friday August 20
1800 hrs

Villa Comunale (Ariano Irpino)

Enogastronomical stroll with Donpasta

A visit to Castello Normanno, the ceramic museum, a visit to the cocce di morto, and a climb up to the bell tower of the Duomo Dell'Assunta.

2000 hrs

End of the tour

Saturday August 21
0900 hrs

Departure from Piazza Plebiscito (Ariano Irpino)

Urban trekking in Nusco (Av)

A stroll in the centro storico discovering the angles and alleyways. A super aperitivo in the courtyard of Palazzo Vescovile

A visit to Cassano Irpino (Av)

Visit and picnic lunch at the Pollentine Springs

A visit of Montella (Av)

A tour of the convent and Museo di S. Francesco a Folloni

1700 hrs

Return to Ariano Irpino

Sunday August 22
0900 hrs

Departure from Piazza Plebiscito (Ariano Irpino)

Four wheel drive trip through the hills of Irpinia in collaboration with free ariano- club della federazione italiana Fuoristrada

A tour of Orsara (Fg)

A walk through the centro storico and lunch to discover the flavors of dauni in collaboration with condotta
slow food foggia e monti dauni

1700 hrs

Return to Ariano Irpino

All of these events are free but you must call Mario 338 9532934 to reserve a spot.

Transportation to the various towns will be provided by bus.

For more info on the entire Ariano Folk Festival-visit the web site

Una Passaggiata a- Nusco, Irpinia's Balcony

Una passaggiata a Nusco...a stroll...a camminata...a walk after lunch at La Locanda di Bu to help with the digestion. I recruited a guide who knows the area well...Chef Antonio (Tonino) Pisaniello and off we went. A stroll through the vicos, alleyways, angles that make Nusco in the Avellino Province one of the 400 most beautiful medieval centro storicos in Italy. Irpinia’s balcony with a beautiful view of the neighboring communities of Montella, Ariano Irpino, Taurasi…Cool, fresh air…we are almost 1000 meters above sea level. A wave, a smile, a laugh to those who pass by. A ‘sit down, have something cool to drink and homemade cookies’ with la Signora Tommasina in her magnificent garden in one of the side streets. Peace, quiet, tranquilità…if that is what you like…and I do.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ravece-Ogliarola-Olivella-My Mini-Olive Oil Lesson in the heart of Irpinia

Walking through Taurasi’s centro storico last weekend, I was introduced to Azienda Agricola Maria Ianniciello where owner Antonio Minichiello, his daughter Ilaria, and Angelo Lo Conte from Slow Food condotta Irpinia Taurasi Colline dell’Ufita walked me through my first guided oil tasting.

In Irpinia, the olive king is the variety Ravece which recently received the DOP classification. Other two varieties that the company produces are Ogliarola and Olivella.

Before we began, the tasting process was explained to me as follows:

1) I needed to place my hands on under the small cup which contained the oil with one hand and cover the top of the cup with the other.

2) Rotating both hands, I needed to warm the oil using my body temperature. This did not require too much effort due to the temperature that warm August Sunday.

3) Next, a procedure similar to a wine tasting, I needed to smell the oil and identify what aromas I noted.

4) Then…taste. This was done by putting a teaspoon size quantity in my mouth between my lower lip and teeth. Then…clench my teeth and breathe in a couple of times. This would help the oil to vaporize in my mouth so that I could use my taste buds to really taste the oil.

Three oils…three examinations.

Olivella di Grottaminarda: This had a nice aroma where besides olives; I noticed a light scent of almonds. The aftertaste was bitter and spicy and I learned that this was very important in oil. It meant that it has a good quantity of antioxidants and carbolic acid. This oil would be perfect to use when making tomato based sauce, drizzled on cooked vegetables, fish or salads to name a few dishes.

Ogliarola: This one’s aroma was also pleasant, mild and all olive with a light hint of almonds and artichoke. Once again, that spicy piccante feeling in my throat---sign of high quality. Their brochure recommends this oil to be drizzled on dishes to highlight but not cover their flavor. So…perfect for fish, pastas with ‘white’ sauce, or white meat to name a couple.

Ravece DOP: Intense aroma. Instantly I was reminded of bruschetta. This was due to the noticeable fragrance of tomatoes…typical of this variety. Spicy, piccante aftertaste. Excellent for bruschetta or drizzled on a bean soup or grilled vegetables.

‘Formal’ oil tasting completed…The next thing left to do was get a good piece of bread…drizzle on some olive oil…and enjoy!!

Azienda Agricola Maria Ianniciello
c.da Barricella, 65
Grottaminarda (Av)
0825 446003

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Piccoli Assaggi from Piccoli Producers-Taurasi's Mercati al Borgo

You don’t have to be big to make a big impression…

Sometimes it’s good to be small.

This past weekend, Mercati al Borgo in Taurasi presented a smattering of piccolo wine producers spread throughout Taurasi’s centro storico. Ready to talk about their wines to whoever was willing to listen.

I was. 

I had the time to perform a visual examination of my aglianico…version Taurasi, Taurasi reserve or base. Dark ruby red color

I was able to inhale and enjoy the aromas that an aglianico has to share---spices, red fruits,

Then taste…not gulp down…but really taste the wine. Enjoy the tannins, or not. Enjoy its balance, its smoothness, or maybe not.

But more importantly…take advantage of an opportunity that one does not get every day. Talk with the producer. Express opinions, ideas, and my thoughts about the wines. Ask questions about anything and everything from location of the vineyard to the vinification process.

Have them explain, for example, as Luigi Tecce did.  His harvest date for 2006; 27 November. The incredible amount of rain in August followed by great if not unusually hot weather in September and October that caused him to make that crucial decision. 2007 instead...a very dry year in respect to 2006. His vineyards, with 85 year old vines, are located 500 meters above sea level where the soil is rich in calcium and contains a noticeable quantity of clay and sand. 

Antonio Latorella...one of the first wineries in the town of Taurasi....

Elmi, a young winery who decided to make and bottle their own wines after generations of growing and selling grapes to other producers...

And many, many other stories that I would like to save for future vineyard hopping blogs...

My friends and I had the privilege to try the following wines from the following wineries:

Luigi Tecce- Polpihemo Taurasi DOCG 2006

CMG- Taurasi Riserva DOCG 1999

Elmi – Taurasini DOC and Taurasi DOCG 2006

Cantine Guastaferro- Rosso Dell’Angleo Aglianico IGT 2005

Azienda Agricola Latorella- Taurasi DOCG 2005

Cantine Lonardo- Aglianico DOCG 2005

I walked away that day with an appreciation for the passion, the enthusiasm and the drive that these piccoli producers have. In fact, I don’t consider them as piccolo. I see a grande desire for their territory, their wines, and their story. And that is what it’s all about….

Taurasi will repeat this event in September and October...stay tuned to the blog for the dates...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fireworks and Shooting Stars with Roof and Sky, August 10

The magic night of San Lorenzo,  a shower of shooting stars, the fireworks in honor of the patron saint of Bacoli, Saint Anna…

That is the backdrop for Roof and Sky’s latest event. Add dinner and live music while cruising Lake Miseno..the perfect formula for a special summer evening.


- Peppered Mussels;

.- Octopus salad with potatoes;

- Fish parmesan

- Rice timballo with seafood

- Grouper meatballs in a cream of zucchini

- Watermelon

- Peaches in white wine

- Ricotta nougat mousse
Wine- Il Campanaro -Feudi di San Gregorio

The ship sails at 2100 hrs!!

Price per person 50 euro, reservations are necessary

http://www.roofandsky.it/ 333.2761608 - info@astecoecielo.it

Note: Wine can also be ordered a la carte. Raw seafood is available on order during the time of the reservation.