Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Saturday Perfetto...Made in Caserta

A spectacular view from Le Campestre's terrace

The Campania region invited me out for the perfect Saturday. A Saturday ‘made in Caserta’…a beautiful part of the region that I must admit, I know little about. An early spring sunshine accompanied me on my way towards Castel di Sasso, towards Az. Agricola e Agrituristica Le Campestre. It was here where I would spend my afternoon and get to know this part of Campania also known as Alto Casertano through its beautiful scenery, local products, and wonderful people.

It took me on a walk through Casavecchia vineyards and over to the stalls to see Caserta’s particular black pigs and piglets. It invited me to pull up a chair on Le Campestre’s terrace which has a spectacular view of the countryside. Where I could breathe in fresh, clean air, enjoy my aperitivo of local products from surrounding producers. Here I met mozzarella and ricotta from Il Casolare. A thinly sliced prosciutto crudo from Masseria Trianelli which was fantastic when placed on top of a foccacia from Pizzeria Pepe. I snacked on taralli and other products from Panificio La Fattoria while sipping artisan beer from Karma. ( All products that deserve a much closer look, and their own future blogs.)

But the Campania region also wanted me to meet a product that Le Campestre is proud to share. Their conciato romano…a cheese made with sheep’s milk. A cheese that is only produced in Alto Casertano, and in limited quantaties. So at lunch that day, the Lombardi family, gracious owners of this slice of paradise, prepared a lunch for me and the rest of the guests that day which proudly featured this ancient artisan product.

I was also reunited with my friends Manuela Piancastelli and Peppe Mancini of Terre del Principe. This winery has literally put ‘made in Caserta’ wines like Pallagrello Nero, Pallagrello Bianco and Casavecchia back on the map. At lunch, their Castello delle Femmine 2009, Ambruco 2008, and Vigna Piancastelli 2007 filled our glasses. During lunch, a  ‘world premier’ of Terre del Principe’s dessert wine. The only dessert wine, passito, produced using Casavecchia grapes. 200 bottles of Il Sasso di Riccardo (named after Peppe’s 2 ½ month old grandson) were produced to accompany Le Campestre’s conciato romano and will only be sold along side a small terracotta jar full of this cheese.

Besides the food and scenery, Campania showed me a Caserta region that opened its hearts…and wallets. After the meal, an auction which raised over 1,000 Euro for the Italian Association against leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma V. Picazo, for the creation of a center for bone marrow transplants at the Ospedale Civile of Caserta.

On my way home, Campania showed me a colorful sunset. A sunset that made me think back to the day that I spent at Le Campestre. A day where I was invited to take a peek at Alto Casertano through its products and its people. A sunset that gave me the enthusiasm to discover another part of Campania…a colorful Campania ‘made in Caserta’…

Italian Version

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