Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vineyard Hopping-Piedirosso and Pompei with Mastroberardino

I don’t know at what point I realized that my Vineyard Hopping on this particular day with Antonio Dente, Mastroberardino’s agronomist, would be different. But at some point on the Autostrade A3- Napoli -Salerno it hit me. Because on this day, Antonio took me out of Irpinia and brought me to Pompei for the Piedirosso harvest. A harvest of grapes that would become Villa dei Misteri.

Pompei…traffic, souvenir stands, restaurants shops. Pompei…not your typical place for a vineyard. Or is it?

Inside the ruins of Pompei, a beautiful project has been going on since 1996. A partnership between the Soprintendenza Archeologica Napoli e Pompei and Mastroberardino. A project that would bring Pompei ‘back to life’ the vineyards. A project where archeologists studied and discovered where the Ancient Romans planted their vines. Antonio, along with Mastroberardino’s Dario Pennino and Dr. Annamaria Ciarallo (from the Sopridenza) filled me, as well as a small group of journalists, in on the details.

In the beginning they narrowed it down to about 1.5 hectres, 5 different areas. They identified 8 grape varieties. Five whites; Greco, Fiano, Caprettone, Coda di Volpe, and Falanghina. Three reds; Piedirosso, Aglainico, and Sciascinoso.

The year 2000…vineyards identified, grapes narrowed down to two reds; Piedirosso and Sciascinoso. Antonio described how important it was, and is for the spirit of this project to design the vineyards exactly like the Ancient Romans. To plant where the inhabitants of Pompei did so many years ago. Once again, the archaeologists stepped in. During their research they discovered cavities in the ground. By filling them, they were able to discover where the rows of vines were planted. Rows with vines 1.2 meters apart, in rows 1.2 meters between each other. And when in the Roman Empire, do what the Romans do…or did. Mastroberardino did so. Vines supported by chestnut poles. Grafted vines, due to the presence of phylloxera noted in the soil. And rows and rows of perfect vines…

I had the opportunity to visit 3 areas with Antonio. The Domus of the Summer Triclinium. A small garden near the amphitheater. An attractive area with a magnificent mosaic fountain in the middle. A stroll through this small vineyard I was beginning to feel the excitement that others felt. I was beginning to get goosebumps. Watching the workers dressed in their Mastroberardino blue. Workers harvesting in ancient gardens among ancient ruins. An area that in ancient times, visitors would come and taste wine after an event at the amphitheater. An Ancient Roman garden party.

Next stop, Foro Boario, The cattle market. The largest area, directly across from the theater. When I entered this gate I was overwhelmed by the scenery. Rows and rows of Piedirosso…sweet Piedirosso ready for the harvest. Beautiful fall leaves mixed in with yellow crates waiting their turn to be filled with this gorgeous grape.  And the background…to one side, the amphitheater, casting a shadow on part of the vineyard on this particularly warm October morning. And to the other, Mt. Vesuvius. Innocent looking, tranquil, spectacular.

The last stop. A stop to a vineyard ‘in progress’ so to speak. A vineyard that would produce Aglianico in time for the 2011 harvest. Another red grape to become part of this historical wine, Villa dei Misteri. A vineyard placed quietly next to castings of skeletal remains that bring back to mind what happened in 79 AD.  Goosebumps…

And it was at this point that everything came together for me. I stepped back, walked around, and silently thought about what I was witnessing. That this Vineyard Hopping in Pompei, this 10th harvest in the ruins of an ancient city, was unique. There is not another vineyard like this in the world.

Those goosebumps returned. Right next to my admiration for Campania…

For more information on Villa dei Misteri, go to the link on Mastroberdino’s web site

Friday, October 29, 2010

Galà del Vino Campano...The Winery List

Fiano di Avellino

October 31st...Città del Gusto Napoli...the event that everyone has been talking about for weeks...

One questioned remained...Which wineries will be present?

Here's the list...

See you there...

 Amarano from Montemarano (Avellino) with Taurasi Principe Lagonessa ’06, Boccella from Castelfranci (Avellino) with Taurasi Sant’Eustachio ’06, Cantina dei Monaci from Santa Paolina (Avellino) with Greco di Tufo ’09, Cantine dell’Angelo from Tufo (Avellino) with Greco di Tufo ’09, Colli di Lapio from Lapio (Avellino) with Fiano di Avellino ’09, Contrade di Taurasi from Taurasi (Avellino) with Taurasi Riserva ’05, Di Prisco from Fontanarosa (Avellino) with Greco di Tufo ’09 and Taurasi ’06, Ferrara Benito from Tufo (Avellino) with Greco di Tufo ’09 e Greco di Tufo Vigna Cicogna ’09, Feudi di San Gregorio from Sorbo Serpico (Avellino) with Fiano di Avellino Pietracalda ’09, Greco di Tufo Cutizzi ’09 and l’Aglianico del Vulture ’07, Galardi from Sessa Aurunca (Caserta) with Terra di Lavoro ’08, Grotta del Sole from Quarto (Napoli) with Campi Flegrei Piedirosso Montegauro Riserva ’07, Guastaferro from Taurasi (Avellino) with Taurasi Primum Riserva ’06, I Favati from Cesinali (Avellino) with Greco di Tufo Terrantica Etichetta Bianca ’09, Il Cancelliere from Montemarano (Avellino) with Taurasi Nero Né Riserva ’05, La Rivolta from Torrecuso (Benevento) with l’Aglianico del Taburno Terra di Rivolta Riserva ’07, Marisa Cuomo from Ravello (Salerno) with Costa d’Amalfi Ravello Bianco ’09 and Costa d’Amalfi Furore Bianco Fiorduva ’09, Masseria Felicia from Sessa Aurunca (Caserta) with Falerno del Massico Rosso Etichetta Bronzo ’07, Mastroberardino from Atripalda (Avellino) with Taurasi Radici ’06 and Taurasi Radici Riserva ’04, Molettieri Salvatore from Montemarano (Avellino) with Taurasi Vigna Cinque Querce Riserva ’05, Montevetrano from San Cipriano Picentino (Salerno) with Montevetrano ’08, Nanni Copè from Vitulazio (Caserta) with Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco ’08, Perillo from Castelfranci (Avellino) with Taurasi ’05, Picariello Ciro from Summonte (Avellino) with Fiano di Avellino ’08, Pietracupa from Montefredane (Avellino) with Fiano di Avellino ’09, Greco di Tufo ’09 e Cupo ’08, Rocca del Principe di Lapio (Avellino) with Fiano di Avellino ’09, San Francesco di Tramonti (Salerno) with Costa d’Amalfi Bianco Pereva ’09, Sanpaolo from Torrioni (Avellino) with Fiano di Avellino Montefredane ’09, Terre del Principe from Castel Campagnano (Caserta) with Casavecchia Centomoggia ’08, Urciuolo from Forino (Avellino) with Taurasi ’06, Vadiaperti from Montefredane (Avellino) with Fiano di Avellino Aipierti ’08 and Greco di Tufo Tornante ’09, Villa Diamante from Montefredane (Avellino) with Fiano di Avellino Vigna della Congregazione ’08, Villa Matilde fromCellole (Caserta) with Falerno del Massico Bianco Caracci ’08, Villa Raiano from San Michele di Serino (Avellino) with Fiano di Avellino Ventidue ’09 and Volpara fromSessa Aurunca (Caserta) with Falerno del Massico Rosso Ri Sassi ’07.

The wine tastings start at 1800 ish...

For more info, contact:

Città del gusto Napoli

Via Coroglio 104/57 – Napoli (Zona Bagnoli)
Telefone: 081/198 08 900-902
Fax 081/ 198 08 911


Miriade & Partners

Tel. 392/9866587 – email:
Press Office: 320/4332561 -

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bere Bene Low Cost 2011 - Citta del Gusto, Naples, November 14

Another great wine tasting at Citta del Gusto Napoli.  This time it is to present their guide Bere Bene Low Cost 2011.  This guide is a great reference for those who are looking for wines under 15 Euro. There will be a few hundred wines available to try...definitely a hot ticket.

The date is Sunday, November 14 from 1930-2230 hrs. 

Cost: 18 euro/15 Euro for Gambero Rosso Subscribers

Note: 15 Euro for Slow Food, Ais, Fisar, and Onav members, the price is 15 euro, but you must present your card at the time of purchasee.

For more information, or to purchase tickets contact

Città del gusto 

Via Coroglio, 57/104 
Tel.: 081 19808900/902/910 

Gala’ del Vino Campana Seminars-The Wines...

Paolo De Cristofaro at Vinitaly 2010

 The Gala’ del Vino Campana  seminars, led by Paolo De Cristofaro, will touch briefly on each of the 5 regions of Campania followed by informal wine tastings with the following wines:

Here is the program:

1830 hrs The  newcomers: wines that made the Gambero Rosso finals for the first time

Fiano di Avellino Ventidue ’09/Villa Raiano, Campi Flegrei Piedirosso Montegauro Ris. ’07/Grotta del Sole, Falerno del Massico Rosso Ri Sassi ’07/Volpaia, Aglianico del Vulture ’07/Feudi di San Gregorio, Taurasi Primum Ris. ’06/ Guastaferro andTaurasi Principe Lagonessa ’06 /Amarano

1930 hrs Wines that have won the due bicchieri colorati and cost under 15 Euro

Costa d’Amalfi Ravello Bianco ’09/Marisa Cuomo, Costa d’Amalfi Bianco Pereva ’09/San Francesco, Fiano di Avellino ’09/Rocca del Principe, Fiano di Avellino Montefredane ’09/Sanpaolo, Greco di Tufo ’09/Cantina dei Monaci andGreco di Tufo ’09/ Di Prisco.

2030 hrs "Sins of Youth: the finalists enthusiastic about their prospects of change over time"

Greco di Tufo Terrantica Etichetta Bianca ’09/I Favati, Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco ’08/Nanni Copè, Falerno del Massico Rosso Etichetta Bronzo ’07/Masseria Felicia, Taurasi Sant’Eustachio ’06/Boccella, Taurasi Ris. ‘05/Contrade di Taurasi and Taurasi Nero Né Ris. ’05/Il Cancelliere

2130 hrs The veterans, classic Campania excellence "

Fiano di Avellino ’09 di Pietracupa, Fiano di Avellino Aipierti ’08 di Vadiaperti, Greco di Tufo ’09/Benito Ferrara, Greco di Tufo Cutizzi ’09 di Feudi/San Gregorio, Costa d’Amalfi Furore Bianco Fiorduva ’09 /Marisa Cuomo and Aglianico del Taburno Terra/Rivolta Ris. ’07/La Rivolta. 

The  seminars are free, but reservations are necessary
 For reservations, contact Myriad & Partners (Tel 392/9866587 -
Press Office: 320/4332561 -


Citta del Gusto, Napoli
Via Coroglio 104/57 - Naples (Bagnoli)

Phone: 081/198 08900-902
Fax 081 / 198 08 911

Monday, October 25, 2010

Il Mare d'Autunno-Il Poeta Vesuviano (Na), November 11

This is an evening you definitely do not want to miss...A gastronomical get together with products from the sea combined with Autumn’s bounty.
Here's the menu:

Appetizer: octopus salad on crisp fennel with an orange sauce
Spicy pumpkin soup and small reef fish

Linguine with shrimp and red cabbage and a touch of piennolo tomatoes

Millefoglie of flag fish and potatoes, sweet and sour broccoletti, raisins, and nuts

Annurca apple tart with a berry sauce

The cost of the dinner € 30 including drinks (water, Coke, Fanta), excluding wine. (*table of four, wine is included)

Reservations and info 081 883 26 73
Ristorante Il Poeta Vesuvino
Viale Europa 42, Torre del Greco - zona Leopardi

Open Tuesday through Saturday evenings, Sundays only for  lunch, closed on Mondays.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Delectable Desserts-La Torta Lorenzo by Chef Maurizio Santin

Last week I had an opportunity to try an delicious dessert at my cooking class led by Chef Maurizio Santin.  It is a cake that he prepares often for his son's parties.  Here's the recipe for this 2 layered masterpiece:

Cookie Crust (bottom layer)
50 gr. hazelnut flour
100 gr. almond flour
150 gr. flour '00 '
400 gr. of egg whites
300 gr. granulated sugar
2 gr. maldon salt
100gr. yeast
300 gr. hazelnut butter

Melt the butter in a casserole dish until it browns. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature. Mix egg whites, sugar, salt, flour and baking powder together with the sifted dried fruit flour and finally the browned butter at room temperature (be careful not to spill the burnt casein). Spread on a round baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper, You want to be sure that the mixture is about 1 cm high. Bake at 170C° until it turns light brown.

Hazelnut cream and chocolate (2nd layer)
190 gr. milk chocolate
300 g of hazelnut praline 70% fruit
1 gr. maldon salt
6 / 8 oz. gelatin

Melt the chocolate and pralines, keeping the temperature around 50/55 degrees, and then add the softened gelatin and salt.

Whipped cream
Whip cream with vanilla, a little gelatin, and a little dose of ganache (to about a 70% increase of its original volume.

230 gr cream
25 g glucose
25 g inverted sugar
180 g chocolate 70%
450 grams of cream

Boil the cream with the sugar and inverted sugar syrup and pour over the chocolate. Emulsify it with the cold cream. Store in refrigerator for at least 10-12 hours. When ready to use, whip it in an electric mixer first.

Maurizio decorated this cake with chocolate that he had melted first, and then dripped in cold ice water. When he took the chocolate out, he was able to shape it as he wished before he placed it on top of the cake. He then sprinkled cocoa on top and desert was served.

Rossidisera-October 30th, La Locanda di Bu (Nusco, Av)

Chef Antonio Pisaniello and his wife Sommelier Jenny Auriemma have put together an incredible  series entitled Rossidisera (Reds of the Evening). This Saturday, October 30th, Jenny has chosen  Azienda Vitivinicola Guerriero from Taurasi to sit side by side a 5 course meal prepared by Chef Pisaniello.

The cost is 40 Euro (wines included).

For more information, contact La Locanda di Bu at 0827 64619 or 392 26 03 952

Friday, October 22, 2010

Vineyard Hopping-Harvest Time with Mastroberardino (AV)

Months of vineyard hopping. It all boils down to this-harvest time...Harvest time in Campania.
To say that this time of year is the busiest for a winery would probably be the understatement of the year.
I wanted to life in the vineyard during this exciting period.

My golden opportunity came when enologist Massimo Di Renzo invited me to swing by Mastroberardino.

He didn't have to ask me twice...

We met up in Atripalda (Av) where the winery is located.  Antonio Dente, Mastroberardino's agronomist whisked me off in his SUV to Lapio (Av) about 12 minutes away.  The Fiano di Avellino harvest had begun that morning. Lapio, about 450 meters above sea level, where the soil is clayey, chalky, and heavy.  He drove me to a territory where many believe that the Fiano grape expresses itself the best.  Here where it is able to bask in the southern sunlight and refresh itself in the evenings.

A stroll through the vineyards with Antonio Dente is a sommelier student's dream.  To watch an agronomist walk between the endless rows of vines, pick, taste, converse with his team, direct, observe....Vineyard hopping DOC...

Many say that wine is made in the vineyards.  I witnessed this up close and personal.  How important it is to know the right time to harvest, to take that grape that you have been nurturing for several months and with your years of experience say ...Now.

Fiano was ready...workers harvesting under the Indian summer sun...beautiful to watch.

But our day had just begun.  Antonio needed to check on other vineyards.  My Irpinia Immersion was getting more and more stop-Greco Country...Santa Paolina, Tufo, and finally stopping at Montefusco.

Once again, a walk with Antonio, una passeggiata to check on Greco di Tufo which was almost...almost ready for the harvest.

As much as I love the vineyards, I was curious to see what was going on back at the winery.  Quite a bit of activity.  The truck had just arrived from Lapio with Fiano grapes.  Grapes that were on their way to becoming Mastroberardino's Fiano di Avellino.  Massimo Di Renzo showed me the process.  A process that I had read about, seen the machines during 'off season', but never saw in action...

Fiano, destemmed, pressed, sent to the stainless steel vat.  All controlled by computer.
Massimo showed me his Fiano, liquid form, in three different versions.  Must from grapes that were just pressed, another vat with Fiano from another vineyard harvested a couple of days before, and a glass of fermenting Fiano.

Nose to the glass...beautiful fresh fruit aromas during fermentation. Aromas that reminded me why Fiano di Avellino is one of my favorite white wines.  Aromas that concluded my vineyard hopping experience with Mastroberardino, Massimo, and Antonio on a sweet note.

Karen...why don't you come back in a couple of weeks?  We still need to pick Piedirosso and Aglianico...


Mastroberardino Winery
Via Manfredi 75/81
Atripalda (Av) 83042

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sweet Emotion.... at Mise En Place

My sweet evening at Mise En Place began as soon as I opened the door to Le Arcate, the restaurant where the lessons are held. At the back of the dining room, I saw a friendly familiar face. Romina Sodano, president of the cooking school. She called me over and introduced me to the chef…Maurizio (Santin), this is Karen…a BIG fan of yours….

The fun began….And in this class, everyone participates.

We donned our aprons and opened up our cooking kits. Kits packed with the recipes for the evening. The topic..Autumnal Desserts…and Chef Maurizio Santin was the perfect man for the job.  Maurizio Santin, personable, pleasant, professional, relaxed. He shared with us recipes, tips, and tricks of the trade. Everything you wanted to know about desserts. We whipped through recipes such as crema cotta al marscapone e cioccolato, plumcake ai morrini e salsa inglese alla vaniglia, meringata alla nocciola e cioccolata calda, il tiramasu destrutturato, and torta Lorenzo.

Romina is the perfect hostess…she smiles, jokes, laughs. You almost feel as if you are in her home helping her get ready for a dinner party.

The climax of the evening arrived. The chance to taste each dessert. Each dessert paired with a passito hand picked by Mise En Place’s wine consultant, sommelier Marina Alaimo. Marina, who paired tonight's desserts with three different passitos from Salento. She took the time to explain why these wines are the perfect fit for Maurizio’s desserts.

So as I try to sum up the evening, one word continuously comes to mind…


Mise En Place has a great schedule which can be found here or by going to their site.
Their courses are also available in English (minimum 4 students).
Mise En Place
Via Aniello Falcone, 249
081 19806236

Gala del Vino Campana...The Seminars

The seminar  topics for the Gala’ del Vino Campana on the 31st of October have been announced.  The seminars, led by Paolo De Cristofaro, will touch briefly on each of the 5 regions of Campania followed by informal wine tastings.

Here is the program:

1830  Caserta
The  newcomers: wines that made the Gambero Rosso finals for the first time

1930 Naples and Salerno
Wines that have won the due bicchieri colorati and cost under 15 Euro.

2030 Benevento
"Sins of Youth: the finalists enthusiastic about their prospects of change over time"

2130 Avellino
The veterans, classic Campania excellence "

The  seminars are free, but reservations are necessary
 For reservations, contact Myriad & Partners (Tel 392/9866587 - email:
Press Office: 320/4332561 -


Citta del Gusto, Napoli
Via Coroglio 104/57 - Naples (Bagnoli)

Phone: 081/198 08900-902
Fax 081 / 198 08 911

For more info on the entire event, you can take a look at my earlier blog post.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Friday Night with Grotta del Sole

One of the benefits of living in Campania is that there are hundreds of great wineries a day trip away.

If you live in Naples, there is a pretty good number nearby as well…fifteen minutes more or less

I decided that Grotta del Sole would be the perfect winery to kick off this fall season’s Friday night wine tastings.

Our host for the evening was enologist Francesco Martusciello (whom I affectionately call Maestro).
So last Friday night, as the sun was setting, he took us on a tour of his winery… one of the largest in Campi Flegrei. We discussed his winery’s history over glasses of Asprinio D’Aversa…learned about the different methods to make spumante…talked about the differences in his Falanghina Dei Campi Flegrei DOC and his Coste di Cuma Falanghina DOCG… An aglianico from Castelfranci (Av) was on our wine tasting menu as well.... Quarto di Cuma IGT…We discussed George Clooney…yes, George Clooney, who chose Aspirino D’Aversa for his latest movie…what else, what else…oh. The territory. Or should say, the territories that this winery has chosen to represent Campania throughout the region and the rest of the world.

And in the look but not touch section---a bottle of his family’s first Spumante and their first Falanghina…

In addition… Salami, breads, cheeses, conversation, laughter, stories…good times.

Good times that went by too quickly.

Such a good time that we have decided to do it again…stay tuned…

Grotta del Sole
Via Spinelli 2
80010 Quart (Na)
081 876 2566

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Trento DOC-The Night That Rocked

October 4th...the night Trentino rocked Città Del Gusto in Naples.  The evening began with a guided spumante tasting with Gambero Rosso's Daniele Cernilli and Paolo De Cristofaro. Everything you wanted to know about sparkling rosè but were afraid to ask...Then it was off to the 'piazza' to try wines from 31 wineries and taste fantastic 'finger foods' while listening to music. A real festa! 

But then at Città del always is...

Mise en Place –Scuola di Alta Cucina Opens in Vomero (Na)

A new cooking school has opened up on Via A. Falcone, 249 . Mise en Place. A school where you can learn traditional cooking as well a nouvelle cousine from some of Italy’s best chefs; Marcello Valentino, Maurizio Santin, Nicola di Filippo, Claudio Campanile, Piergiorgio Giorilli, and Giuseppe Giuliano.

Mise en Place has a course calendar stocked with a wide variety of courses. And cooking isn’t the all that you’ll learn here. During each lesson,  sommelier Marina Alaimo will hand pick a winery and present a mini course on wine and food pairing.

Here is the fall program:

18-19 Autunm desserts with chef Maurizio Santin.

25-26 Sicilian Pastries with pastry chef Giuseppe Giuliano.

1 Campania Cooking: Innovations and Traditions with chef Claudio Campanile.

2 From Vesuvius to the Sea with chef Nicola Di Filippo.

08-09 Mediterranean Cooking: A variety of cous cous recipes with chef Marcello Valentino from Palermo.

15-16 Chocolate with Maurizio Santin.

22 Campania Cooking: finger foods with chef Claudio Campanile.

23 Flavors from the Garden with chef Nicola Campanile.

29-30 Mediterranean Cooking: Sicilian Street Food with chef Marcello Valentino.

06-07 Snack Food: focacce, pizze, pan brioche with Piergiorgio Giorilli.

All classes will take place at Le Arcate, Via Aniello Falcone 249, Naples.

For more information, costs, and to sign up call: 081 19806236/48 3458415838

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gala del Vino Campano - Citta del Gusto Napoli, October 31

It's going to be a party and it's going to be  A party to celebrate Campania wines.  A party to present those wines which recieved the due biccheri colorati or the tre bicchieri ratings in Gambero Rosso's Vini d'Italia 2011 Guide.

An event with over 40 wineries, wine tastings, seminars, and much much more.

Here is a brief rundown of the program...

1600 hrs:  A presentation/meeting to discuss the 'state of' Campania wines
1800 - 2200 hrs: Wine tasting stands will be open.
1800- 2200 hrs: Guided wine tastings and seminars (reservation only...details here)

Cost is 20 Euro and tickets can be purchased on line here or directly at Citta del Gusto Napoli, Via Coroglio 104/57 – Naples 
: 081/198 08 900-902 - Fax 081/ 198 08 911

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Congratulations Coccia!!! A Sneak Peek at the New Pizzaria La Notizia...

A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to what was probably ‘the invite’ of the Neapolitan fall season. An invitation to the inauguration of Enzo Coccia’s new Pizzaria La Notizia…October 11, 2010.

A quick call to Enzo to confirm the address-Via Michelangelo da Caravaggio 94/A…Vieni…ci aspettiamo….

Making my way down the street, I couldn’t help but think back to a dinner da Enzo. A visit to a pizzeria where I became part of the Notizia family. A place where whether you’ve been once or one thousand times, Enzo and his staff treated you as one of their own.

As I parked the car, I wondered if I would feel that same love and sense of belonging in a brand new location with trendy interior design. A menu with artisan beer and an expanded wine list to include my Campania favorites.

I parked, approached, and was instantly relieved, instantly comforted.

La Notizia friends know that at Enzo Coccia’s place, besides a great pizza made with top class products, you’ll get that special ingredient…that special Neapolitan ingredient…love.

Love that he has for his friends…not clients…friends. Love demonstrated over and over again as he greeted everyone he made his way through the crowd of well wishers that included fellow pizzaiolos, chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, winery owners, journalists and bloggers.

Smiles all around…genuine smiles. We smiled as we treasured his pizza; 2 types of margherita, marinara, and al bianco. We smiled as we tasted an excellent prosciutto cotto carved on the spot from Caserta, drank beer, ate ice cream…

Minutes turned to hours…hours passed enjoying each other’s company…taking pictures, laughing, joking, chatting, gossiping.

And here is where Enzo, our Maestro Piazzaiolo, succeeded.
Succeeded in keeping us entertained.
Succeeded in making us feel part of his extended family.

And after an evening at the new La Notizia, I am convinced that that love…that sense of belonging, will not only continue in this new location, but thrive.

Pizzaria La Notizia opens its doors officially on the 13th of October.

Pizzaria La Notizia
Via Michelangelo da Caravaggio 94/A
Naples Italy
081 195 31937

Congratulations Coccia---In Bocca al Lupo!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Vineyard Hopping – Vitulazio (Ce) – Nanni Copè

A weekday morning in October. An Indian summer. The perfect morning for a visit to Pallagrello country. An ideal opportunity to walk Casavecchia vineyards. And an excellent chance to spend the day with Giovanni Ascione-Nanni Copè’s one man show.

My appointment was with Ascione just off the A1 exit where I followed him to Cantina Casa Vecchia…a cantina where he has been making his wine for the last 2 short years of Nanni Copè’s young life. A temporary home, while his small cantina is being built next to his home about 15 minutes away.

I was curious…curious why Ascione; business consultant, sommelier, with a Masters in wine tasting, wine writer, and world traveler would choose this small corner of Campania to produce wine. His Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco.

Over the course of the day my question would be answered.

I left my car at the cantina and we headed towards his vineyard in Castel Campagnao where his Pallagrello Nero and Aglianico grow happily side by side. Where these two Campania reds mature together in an area 250 meters above sea level. In an area with a spectacular panorama of Benevento, Mt Taburno, and Mt Matese. Here, where there is a wonderful breeze all day long. No wonder he jumped at the chance to purchase this 20 year old vineyard 3 years ago. His grapes which share the neighborhood with Terre del Principe. Not a bad location.

Here Pallagrello hangs from the sky. Walking through the rows, we ducked, reached up, touched, picked, and tasted the grapes. The same grapes enjoyed by the Bourbons so many years ago. Aglianico is content here as well. Here on this hill, with a northwestern sun exposure. THE perfect exposure for those in Southern Italy who want to make an elegant wine.

Ascione’s 2 1/2 hectares are divided in 4 sections that he manages by computer. Divided due to soil characteristics-rich-poor-green, etc. Soil that is sandy, volcanic…Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco (Sand on top of the woods)..fitting.

Casavecchia is the third grape that Giovanni uses in his wine. But it isn’t found here. It is about 15 minutes away in Pontelatone. Vines that are 1 ½ meters high are supported by poplar trees. Grapes surrounded by colorful fall leaves that cuddle and hug. Some are even hiding, waiting patiently for the harvest. One again we picked, tasted, and instantly note this fruity cherry flavor-a flavor that Giovanni describes as pazzesco, crazy. The tannins here are rustic, rough. Perfect for Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco.

Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco...fairly new to the scene, the 2008 vintage came out this year after 13 months in the barrel and about 6 months in the bottle. It is one of the wines that Campania is raving about.

Back at the cantina, I get to try his 2010 that has only been in the vat for a couple of days. Then 2009 straight from the barrel. Barrels housed in a comfortably cool cantina around the corner. 2009 waits…passes its time good-naturedly. Who knows? Giovanni may decide to let this wine stay a little longer in the barrel than its older brother.

Throughout the day, I had to keep reminding myself that this is only his third harvest.

That Ascione’s one man show takes his years of experience as wine enthusiast, teacher, taster, writer, and traveler. All placed in a bottle…all poured in a glass.

A glass of  his one wine, his only wine.

And that is why he has chosen this small corner of Campania… to produce a wine that could only be produced here. With grapes from a vineyard with a penthouse view of the surrounding mountains, sandy soil, cool breezes. With grapes from 140 year old vines standing 1 ½ meters high…Sabbie di Sopra il Bosco.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Harvest Time!-La Catalanesca with Cantina Olivella, October 16

It's time to harvest la catalanesca grape at Azienda Agricola Cantina Olivella, via Zazzera 14, Santa Anastasia (Na). Here is the program:

0900:  We'll start harvesting grapes (complete with our grape harvesting kits provided by the winery)

1300:  A small lunch provided by the winery with products from Pastificio Le Gemme del Vesuvio, Azienda Agricola Giordano Francesco, and E'Curti.

1500:  A chance to see initial wine making phase of the grapes harvested that morning.

In addition, live music, an art exhibit, and 'prodotti tipici'

Space is limited and reservations are necessary. The cost is 10 Euro per person. To reserve, contact the winery.

Azienda Agricola Cantine Olivella
081 5311388
349 364 7929

Una Bella Notizia! Maestro Pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia presents his New Pizzaria La Notizia

On Wednesday, October 13,  a new Pizzaria La Notizia will open to the public on via Caravaggio 94 in Naples. Pizzaria La Notizia has been known for some time as a true gourmet temple. The elegance and comfort of the new club will stand up to the high quality Enzo Coccia sets for his pizzas. Pizzas that have been known and appreciated in the ‘States’ for some time now.  The work, under the careful supervision of the architect Renata Di Martino, took over a year to complete. Di Martino, an architect almost "obsessive" in every detail: from the oven made by master artisan Stefano Ferrara to the cold storage at different temperatures and humidity.

If you’ve never been before, it is definitely a place to try once, twice or several dozen times...

If you’ve been to La Notizia can surely expect your favorites with a few surprises...stay tuned.

And I’ll see you at La Notizia!

PizzAria La Notizia

Via Michelangelo da Caravaggio 94/A

80126 Napoli

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Anteprima Panettone-Le Tre Arcate-Piano di Sorrento, October 8 2010

Get set for an evening of gastronomical fusion between Le Tre Arcate (Piano di Sorrento), Il Giardino di Ginevra (Capsulla,) and SlowFood Sorrento!

A spectacular serata with a great menu, great wine, and a sneak preview of , what else?... Panettone! During the meal, a video will guide you through the process of panettone production with the famous lievito madre.

Le Tre Arcate’s Chef Salvatore Accietto has designed a menu which will be paired with Fiano di Avellino Docg 2007: Ciro Picariello, CampoRe di Terredora, Pietracalda dei Feudi di San Gregorio


Raviolino Fritto di Bufala

Carnaroli con Bandiera, Piennolo Vesuviano e Mandorle Tostate

Spaghettoni del Pastificio dei Campi con Baccalà e Arancio Candito

Provolone del Monaco con Mostarda di Pomodori di Sorrento

And we can’t forger Il Giardino di Ginevra’s pannetone...

Panettone Classico Pandoro con Mousse di ricotta di bufala variegata agli agrumi
Panettone ai marroni canditi con mousse di cioccolato Sao tome'

Paired with Moscato D’Asti Docg Prunotto 2009 and Rosolio of Il Giardino di Ginevra.

The cost is € 35.00 per person.

Info and reservations

Ristorante Le Tre Arcate
Piazza Cota, 9 / 10
Piano di Sorrento (Na)

Vineyard Hopping- Santa Paolina (Av)-Cantina Bambinuto

Marilena Aufiero has an unforgettable smile. One that I’ve seen from a distance on several occasions over the past several months. In the vineyards during Anteprima Irpinia, Behind various ‘banco di assaggi’ at numerous wine fairs; Vitigno Italia, Enoteca Regionale in Taurasi, Grandi Vini da Piccole Vigne… numerous occasions, but for one reason or the other, I missed the chance to try her wines, to have a chat.

When I wanted to see Greco di Tufo up close and personal, a friend mentioned Cantina Bambinuto. Another opportunity, but one that I would not miss.

Cantina Bambinuto is located in Santo Paolina in the heart of Irpinia, about 500 meters above sea level. It is a small winery that packs a big punch. Like Marilena. Marilena, whose smile was not hampered by the cool autumn weather that hit Irpinia that week. She was more than ready for the upcoming harvest and proud to show me her vineyards and cantina.

The soil in Santo Paolina is full of clay. I don’t recommend taking a walk through the vineyards, then, after it has been raining all morning. But the vines did not seem to mind. Her Greco di Tufo was waiting to be harvested. Small grapes, the bunches quite compact, glistening in the sun.

A quick stroll then off to Via Cerro, 18. Marilena smiles continuously as she showed me around her small, cozy cantina.

We began  our tasting with a variety of wines. Wines from vineyards spread throughout Irpinia. Falanghina Campania IGT 2009 (Torrecuso) and Fiano di Avellino DOCG2009 (Lapio). Each wine proudly represented Irpinia and Cantina Bambinuto as well.

But I came for Greco di Tufo...and was not disappointed.

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2009 and Picoli DOCG 2008 wear the Cantina Bambinuto label with dignity. Both with a straw yellow color that was almost golden. Picoli, however, spends 5 months on the lees during fermentation. This was one of the reasons for its more distinct aroma and taste. Marilena smiles. Its time to move on to the stainless steel vats around the corner…Picoli 2009. A chance to try this Greco before filtration, before sulfites are added…in its pure form. A chance to enjoy again the aromas of peaches and a slight aroma of almonds right before bottling.

Another vat, another Greco di Tufo from Picoli, this one in the early stages of becoming spumante, displaying its potential, its possibilities.

Afterwards I reflected as I looked on the shelves at other wines Bambinuto produces-Aglianico(IGT and DOC) and an Aglianico rosè. As I tried a glass of Taurasi 2007 from the barrel, I imagined what it must be like to experiment with different grape varieties as Marilena does. I thought about what it must feel like to work with a wine maker like Antonio Pesce, to learn from one of Campania’s best. How it must feel to buy a small vineyard and say “I’m going to plant Falanghina here”…try something new. How good it must feel to pour any of these wines for friends, customers and potential clients.

And as I drove away that afternoon, Marilena smiled.

And now I think I know why…

Cantina Bambinuto
Via Cerro, 18
Santo Paolina (Av)
0825 964634