Sunday, October 30, 2011

Il Golfo Restaurant - Hotel Raito, Raito (Sa)

Off season. Amalfi Coast.  I love this time of year.  Beautiful weather, zero traffic, stunning sunsets.  I was enjoying a beautiful sunset as I pulled up to a fork in the road in Vietri Sul Mare one Friday evening.  To my left, Vietri’s centro storico.  To my right, the road to Raito.  Hotel Raito in a small town overlooking this spectacular coast.  Hotel Raito, a five star hotel, part of a small chain of exclusive Ragosta Hotels.  As I maneuvered each curve on the road, I was wondering what would await me in Il Golfo Restaurant.  Which dishes their Executive Chef Francesco Russo would prepare.  Would I enjoy creative dishes using products from this spectacular territory or be served generic internationalized ‘Italian’ dishes to please their guests from all over the world?

Smiles from the staff as I rushed into the lobby a little late ish…oops.  No problem, no worries.  On the coast, relax is their mantra.  A seat at a corner table with a view of the port of Salerno to one side…the hotel’s garden to the other.  The views, along with a glass of Fuore 2010 from Marisa Cuomo was a clue that not only would I be treated to the territory, I would absorb the best it has to offer.

First, however, a handshake from the chef.  Executive Chef Francesco Russo, 32 years young, would be my guide on this trip through the territory.  A trip that began with a homemade bread basket.  

Caldo, warm to the touch; breadsticks, foccaccia with provola and green lemon, casatiello, bread with walnuts, bread with black olives, bread with tomatoes, and thin crispy crunchy crackers.  To the side, two ceramic cups, two rosemary sprigs; one filled with extra virgin olive oil Colline Salernitane DOP the other, colatura di alici from Cetara.  Two cups, available for me to spread, splash or dip my fresh breads into.

The chef continued decided to bring out a couple of appetizers to share the region he calls home.  First, a dish of code di scampi croccanti al tarallo su zuppetta di trippa e fagioli, prawns tail lightly fried in tarallo crumbs on a bed of creamy tripe and beans.  

We stuck with our taste of sea with a plate of tartare di tonno, carpaccio di gambero rosso, e maionese di limone, tuna tartar and a red shrimp carpaccio with a lemon mayonnaise.

Two light assaggi for my primi piatti…Russo’s version of spaghetti with oil, red pepper and garlic had a little twist.  He used colatura di alici from nearby Cetara as well as small onions from Nocera wich sat proudly on top of this nido di pasta.  Underneath, a surprise.  Two flavorful sardines completed the act. 

Primi piatto chapter 2…a ravioli lightly filled with ricotta.  On top, a sauce made with a local specialty; pomodorino di Corbara.  A small  tomato that when allowed to eaten, releases a sweet flavor that gently coats the inside of your mouth.

Time to move on to my secondo. And once again Russo and his staff presented me with two plates that represent the region proudly. First,  triglie in carrozza sul letto di friarielle e burrata,  mullet on a bed of local greens and burrata ...

followed by coniglio in porchetta con finochietto e pomodoro, rabbit wrapped in porchetta with a fennel and tomato sauce.

I was curious, as usual, as to what was going on in the kitchen so Russo invited me to have a look while he and his team were preparing desserts.  The kitchen of a 5 star hotel.  With the executive chef.  A staff who were not only taking care of me, but of a large birthday party in one dining room as well as a large group of American tourist who were enjoying an enormous buffet.  All of this off season action did not seem to faze the chef or his staff.  Business as usual in off season or on.  

And the desserts were ‘on’…ricotta with pear

…a plate of assorted pastries, 

Chef Russo
and the chef’s combination of two Campania classics.  Babà meets delizie di limone…both creamy, neither overpowering the other.  Both contributing to the cause, so to speak.  

A presentation of the territory.  A territory rich in prodotti tipici.  Some that I was familiar with, others that I couldn’t wait to learn more about.  An after hour conversation and caffè with the chef and plans were made to return…to stroll the hotel’s gardens in the sunshine.  Gardens that enjoyed the position high above the coast with the gentle salty sea breezes that embraced Raito all year long…off season and on.

And what about my concerns/curiosities as I arrived a few hours earlier?  Whether or not a 5 star hotel could produce creative dishes using products from this spectacular territory or just the bland blah blah blah generic internationalized ‘Italian’ dishes to please their guests from all over the world? 

There was nothing to worry about…

Il Golfo Restaurant
Via Nuova Raito, 9
Raito, Vietri Sul Mare (Sa)
089 08967634111

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fantastic Firsts- Egg pasta with Savoy Cabbage and Potatoes with Mountain Pork Lard by Chef Giuseppe Daddio

Pasta and potatoes with a twist by Chef Giuseppe Daddio of Ristorante Locando delle Trame .

Ingredients for 6
For the egg pasta Maltagliati: type ‘00’ flour 250 g, remilled durum wheat 100 g,
whole eggs 150 g, a pinch of salt, extra virgin olive oil as required. Procedure: mix all the ingredients in the order given to make a smooth, uniform dough.
Cover the pasta dough and leave to rest for at least 2 hours before use. Roll the pasta out very thinly, cut into diamonds (Maltagliati) and leave to dry on a wooden board dusted with remilled durum wheat.

For the potato condiment base: large fresh potatoes 300 g, spiced mountain pork lard 50 g, extra virgin olive oil 60 g, 1 garlic clove in its paper jacket, peeled celery 30 g, peeled carrots 30 g, white onion 30 g, fresh chilli pepper 1 g, vegetable broth as required, pecorino Romano in flakes 30 g, grated parmesan 40 g, freshly milled white pepper to taste, fine salt to taste, concasse of vine-ripened tomatoes 30 g,finely chopped parsley to taste.

Procedure: clean and wash the celery and onion. Peel the celery and carrot, cut into a Brunoise, and do the same with the onion. Sauté the vegetables in a pan with very little olive oil, adding a sprig of rosemary for flavour. Peel the potatoes, cut into dice, sauté briefly together with the sautéed vegetables to absorb flavour, add vegetable broth and cover with a lid. Cook for approximately 30 minutes on a moderate heat. Boil the Maltagliati in salted water for just 30 seconds. Drain the pasta and complete cooking in the saucepan together with the potato condiment base, then stir with extra virgin olive oil, grated Parmesan,freshly milled pepper, the concasse of tomato and the chopped parsley.

For the cabbage: fresh Savoy cabbage 250 g, salt to taste, pepper to taste, extra virgin olive oil 50 g. Procedure: clean and wash the cabbage and trim off any hard parts. Slice into fine julienne strips, blanche in salted water and chill in iced water. Drain the cabbage thoroughly and squeeze out any remaining water. Toss the cabbage in oil with salt and pepper until crispy.

Assembly: crispy Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced mountain pork lard, spring of fresh
rosemary, extra virgin olive oil, flakes of Pecorino Romano.

Procedure: place thepasta and potatoes in a bowl, then arrange the crispy cabbage on top using a 5 cm diameter ring. Garnish with the rosemary sprig, the lard, the flakes of Pecorino and a drizzle of oil.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Goodbye Indian Summer...

The pouring rain outside my window is a message.  Karen, your Indian summer is over.  I knew this day would come.  Leave the house with a jacket.  An umbrella.  Break out your favorite high heel brown boots. 

But I was prepared.  I had already said goodbye to summer in the same location a said helloIl Bikini in Vico Equense.  On a hot Sunday afternoon in October.  A week before Giorgio Scarselli was to close his restaurant for the season.  My last meal until March 2012 at a table on a terrace overlooking the beach.  Overlooking the sea.   

And I think I chose well-zuppa di pesce.  Fish soup.  

All the colors and aromas of the sea in a dish.  The flavors of the ocean…shrimp, clams, mussels, octopus and squid.  Il sapore del mare splashed with fresh tomatoes and a sprinkle of parsley.

A glass of white wine…zuppa di pesce…the perfect meal, Scarselli told me. 

The ideal way to say goodbye to my Indian Summer…

Ciao Summer…Ciao Bikini

Il Bikini
Strada Statale 145 Sorrentina Km 13,900
80069 Vico Equense (Na)
081 1984 0029

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Pecorino Ice Cream with Gelatina Extra di Falanghina

I needed an idea and I was stuck.  I wanted to use Villa Matilde's sweet flavored Gelatina in a dish with ingredients that would be a total contrast.  I needed a boost. A kick start. So I sought out a friend who could surely give me a hand...Chef Tony.

Make a soup...then pair it with homemade pecorino ice cream, he suggested.  Facile...

Ok, easy...I thought, but there are dozens of different cheeses to choose from. I needed more advice.  A chat with my Maestro at my favorite Enoteca/Salumeria for some more advice.  I walked away with a flavorful slice of aged pecorino from Filiano (Pz).

Ingredients for 2:  200 g of Gelatina extra di Falanghina, 50g of aged pecorino cheese, 50 g of parmeggiano reggiano cheese, 4 tbsp of milk.

Directions:  Grate the two cheeses and put in a small saucepan.  Add the milk and heat until the cheese is absorbed, stirring continuously.  Let cool, then pour into a freezer proof container.  Place in the freezer for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any ice crystals.

In the meantime, in a separate saucepan, heat up the gelatina extra di Falanghina.

Plate preparation.:  Ladle the gelatina soup into a deep dish.  Place two scoops of pecorino ice cream on top.  Drizzle a spoonful or two of the soup on top of the ice cream.  Sprinkle with homemade toasted croutons.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Mini Meatballs with Gelatina Extra di Aglianico

Mini meatballs make an amazing appetizer.  I made some recently with gelatina extra di Aglianico from Villa Matilde that gave mine an extra kick.
Ingredients for 25 mini meatballs: 1 lb ground beef, 1 egg, ¼ cup freshly ground breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp Carmasciano cheese, salt, pepper to taste

Ingredients for the mini meatball sauce:  100 g gelatin extra di aglianico, ½ onion from Montoro, 4 tbsp tomato sauce, Italian parsley, extra virgin olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes

To make the mini meatball sauce,  dice the onion and brown in a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.  Add the gelatin and the tomato sauce.  Simmer slowly uncovered for about 10 minutes.  Stir continuously to ensure that the sauce does not burn.  Add a pinch of salt, red pepper flakes,  and a sprinkle of finely chopped Italian parsley.  Set aside.
In the meantime, mix  (by hand) together all the ingredients for the meatballs  in a bowl.  Shape into small mini meatballs and place on a baking sheet.  Broil in a preheated   250° F oven for 10 minutes.
Toss the meatballs in the mini meatball sauce and simmer under low heat for another 10 minutes or so.  

Serve hot ish

Note:  For this recipe, I wanted to use as many products from Campania as I could. Carmasciano cheese is practically impossible to find outside of the Avellino province.  Parmagiano Reggiano or Grana Padana can be substituted.  I also used onions from Montoro, another product from Campania, but any sweet onions would work perfectly.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vineyard Hopping -Paternopoli (Av) Cantine Famiglietti

I was looking for something…something different from the usual winery visits…So I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I called up Marcello Famiglietti one afternoon. 
Marcello…I’ll be in Paternopoli on Friday…Could I stop by and visit your cantina?

We decided on a time..coincidently around l’ora di pranzo…lunch.  

After parking my car in Paternopoli’s centro storico, I walked the stairs that led to a church that sat next to a large iron gate.  Stone walls covered in lush green ivory.  This is it? I thought. Curiosity led me to ring the buzzer.  And subito Marcello came to greet me with a smile.  A smile that said…Welcome to our home, lunch is ready!

A get to know each other lunch with Marcello’s sister, Anna Maria, as well as his parents.  A get to know our family, our cantina, our history.  A lunch of fusilli with tomato sauce and their Aglianico..Temprato Irpinia Campi Taurasini 2007.  Their wine. Their one wine. Their first harvest.

Over the course of that lunch, a walk to their renovated cantina, their vineyards, and their restructured farmhouse I learned a lot about the Famiglietti family…how they have been making wine and oil for years.  Their home is practically a museum of full of antique cooking and agricultural equipment.

How Anna Maria and Marcello, in 1999 decided to embark on a grande mission.  To restructure the family’s cantina…  To start bottling  and marketing their own wine, vin cotto, vino liquorosso, and olive oil…
And their latest adventure…a newly renovated farmhouse located next to their Aglianico vineyards in the outskirts of Paternolpoli.  A farmhouse with three apartments available for their guests who want a full Irpinia Immersion.  Anna Maria, an architect, handled the renovations herself, blending old with the new…a step back in time.  Every angle had a childhood memory.  
Next door, an ancient cappella…chapel.  Silence.  Serenity.  In the midst of the vineyards….

I thought back to my earlier conversation with Marcello…I’ll be in Paternopoli on Friday…Could I stop by and visit your cantina? 

I looked over at Marcello, relaxing on the front porch…eyes closed. 
A slight smile on his face. 

I looked over at Anna Maria, walking through her vineyards…

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I called up Marcello Famiglietti one afternoon. But I know what I found that day.  Peace…

Peace in Paternopoli…

Piazza Sottochiesa 3
83052 Paternopoli
0827 71023

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Geleatina nel Piatto...Villa Matilde

Villa Matilde threw out a challenge and   I accepted,.  I along with other food and wine bloggers will use their gelatina extra Falanghina and Aglianico in new and exciting recipes.  The jelly arrived in the mail today...creations on the blog very soon ish...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pizzata with Salvo... Hard to Say No...

Salvatore Salvo
It was hard to say no when Salvatore Salvo invited me over for a pizza.  Or should I say, a pizzata.  Lunch in his family's pizzeria in San Giorgio a Cremano, just outside of Naples.  It was hard to say no. 

So I said yes.

Yes, along with 50 other amici, friends for an afternoon  laughter, and discussions at our at a very long tavolata... 

Yes to a glass or two of  artisan beer and Gragnano....

Yes to Salvo's frittatina di maccheroni, arancini, zeppole pansarotti,  and  scagliozzi...

And yes to pizza, pizza, pizza,



pizza with alici (marinated sardines)

pizza with alici

with fresh tomatoes

with eggplant

with eggplant

pizza fritta

Pizzata...hard to say no...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pasta per Pranzo ...Twelve Assaggini.....

There are plenty of wine and food events in Campania.   And it seems that one occasion naturally…casually rolls into another.  So it was  refreshing  when Tommaso Esposito invited me to a little get together last week.  His idea was simple…simple and intriguing.  He wanted to talk about pasta.  Talk about pasta with fellow food and wine journalists, bloggers, and photographers.  Try different pasta shapes, sizes, textures.  Compare, contrast, analyze. Discuss, explore, discover. Have fun.

The scene…a familiar place, Dolce & Salato in Maddaloni (Ce).  Chef Giuseppe Daddio and his team was ready.  The water was boiling.  The tomato sauce simmering on the stove.  Bring it on... 

A delicious sugo al pomodoro made with San Marzano tomatoes paired with 6 different pastas from 3 different pasta companies, Pastificio Leonessa (Cercola, Na),  Dei Campi (Gragnano, Na) and Le Gemme del Vesuvio (Castello di Cisterna, Na).  Our ‘job’ was figure out which pasta worked well...and why.  Six plates…six assaggini…six servings of pasta al sugo.  Riccioli, paccheri, spaghetti.   Rigatoni, calle, pappardelle.  One topic naturally...casually led to another.  The history of pasta, in Naples of course…The tomato sauce…the tomatoes.  The cooking times, the cooking techniques.  Grated cheese on top or not. There were those who preferred the spaghetti…others the rigatoni.  There were those hooked on the paccheri. Then there were who were just hooked.

riccioli al pomodoro-pastificio leonessa
paccheri al pomodoro-dei campi
spaghetti al pomodoro-le gemme del vesuvio

rigatoni al pomodoro-pastificio leonessa

calle al pomodoro-dei campi
pappadelle al pomodoro-le gemme del vesuvio
But the game was not over.  Esposito and Daddio had other dishes on the menu.  Another six plates …six assaggini…six different sauces.  The kitchen came to life…Nodini with cannellini beans, Malfadine with lonzardo, San Marzano tomatoes, and ricotta, Bucatini cacio and pepe (pepper).  Fusillo Napoletano with cod and ‘finta’ carbonara, spaghetti with garlic, olive oil , and hot pepper, Fresine with pork ragu’ and conciato Romano cheese.  It was exciting to watch Daddio’s team in action.  I left my seat on numerous occasions to get a closer look as each dish was being prepared…I asked one question which naturally…casually led to another.

nodini con i fagiolini-pastificio leonessa
malfadine con lonzardo, filetto di pomodoro, e ricotta-dei campi
bucatini cacio e pepe-le gemme del vesuvio
fusilli napoletano con guance di baccalà e finta carbonara-pastificio leonessa
spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino-dei campi
fresine con ragu' di maialino e conciato romano-le gemme del vesuvio
 Our ‘job’ here?   I thought about it over dessert.  I thought about the 12 dishes of pasta I had tried over our nearly two hour lunch.  Twelve plates…twelve assaggini.  Pasta paired with wines such as Pallagrello nero and Pallagrello bianco and a refreshing cerasuolo rosé.

Our ‘job’ here?  To talk about pasta with fellow food and wine journalists, bloggers, and photographers.  Try different pasta shapes, sizes, textures.  Compare, contrast, analyze. Discuss, explore, discover.

Our ‘job’ here? To have fun.  It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it…
And maybe go back and do it again...