Friday, November 25, 2011

Super Soups - Zuppa di Cicerchia La Sibilla Style

It's the season for soup...super soups.  And I couldn't think of one better to start with than one of my favorites prepared by mia amica Restituta Somma of La Sibilla.  It is always a big hit during visits to her family's winery.

The recipe is made with cicerchia, a legume that even the ancient Romans used.  The Campi Flegrei version has a small, angular shape and is anywhere from grey to a dark brown color.  If not for families like the Di Meos and Slow Food Campi Flegrei, this delicious bean may have slipped into oblivion.  

Soak the beans overnight.  Past generations would add ashes from the fireplace to help soften up the beans.  Today the Di Meos use baking soda.  The next day, rinse well and cook in an abundant amount of water until they are cooked well, but not too soft. Cooking times vary depending on the season, soaking time, and pot used.

Prepare the soup by sautèing diced guanciale di maile (pork cheek), celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes in olive oil.  Add the cooked cicerchia and a few tomatoes.  Let cook for about an hour.
Serve with toasted cubes of day old bread, caserccia style.  And of course serve with a  glass of Piedirosso or Rosè from Campi Flegrei!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BereBene Low Cost 2012-Città del Gusto Napoli

Quality wines on a budget?  Why not?  Gambero Rosso has been publishing a guide for the last 22 years that shares what they believe to be the best 3000 or so  wines for under 8 Euro ish a bottle. And Città del Gusto Napoli had about 50 on hand last Sunday evening for wine enthusiasts to try and see for themselves as they snacked on a wide array of finger foods and pizza...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ristorante La Pergola - Gesulado (Av)

The Lombards founded Gesualdo …Antonio told me…Antonio De Filippis, owner of La Pergola began to share a little history with me as he poured me a glass of Aglianico rosè spumante , Montesole

 In fact,  the castle was the home of Carlo Gesualdo…you know, the nobleman/composer  who murdered his wife…he continued.

I’ve got to see that castle I thought.  But this afternoon, I was interested in lunch.  I wanted a lunch prepared by Franca , Antonio’s wife.  I wanted another long lazy pranzo in Irpinia stuffed with dishes packed with prodotti tipici and local recipes. The classics.   Like their homemade bread and foccacia served straight from the oven. 

 The warmth and flavor from my foccaccia with potatoes and rosemary was the perfect way to begin a lunch as I warmed myself next to the fireplace.  A fireplace that kept me company as I continued my lunch with dishes such as a... .  

sfrormata di melenzane, a mini eggplant flan, frittata, stuffed pepper, and La Pergola’s borage parmigiana.

A plate as colorful as the fall colors that I enjoyed on my drive to Via Freda, 4.

Antonio decided to open up a bottle of Fiano di Avellino,  Santari 2008 from Filadoro. A glass to accompany my next set of appetizers, my next palette.  

A thin slice of pork on top of green vegetables, a sweet onion with pistachios, and a little package of cabbage all sharing the plate with a light drizzle of rich vino cotto.

The kitchen had more to share…

bread topped with a slice of cod on a bed creamy cannelloni beans. 

Homemade chiattarini  with chiodini mushrooms, tomato and pumpkin squash….

Their slowly cooked  lamb…a recipe dating back to the 1700s…

While each dish was served, Antonio, now joined by his brother in law Roberto,  shared a little tidbit of history, a little morsel of a recipe, custom, and traditions of their town.  Another bottle of wine was opened…then another.  Aglianico, of course…wines from Villa Raiano and Borgodangelo that fit in quite nicely with our little discussion of the territory.  A discussion that peaked my curiosity and lead me into the kitchen to visit Franca.  To see her prepare and present up her dishes with pride, con orgoglio.

Time for dessert…

I saved a little room for a mini chocolate cake, panna cotta and a strudel made with mela annurche, an apple made in Campania.

I noticed that the sun was setting, I looked at my watch.  Wow…3 hours plus at the table.  3 hours plus discussing Gesulado, the Gesualdini, recipes, wine…3 hours  plus that sparked my interest about yet another medieval town, high up on a hill in Irpinia. 

When you come back, Antonio said, we’ll visit the centro storico together, maybe swing by Mario Carrabs, visit our vegetable garden

And the castle?, I asked…a little curious about the composer who stabbed his wife.

Ok…vediamo anche il castello…

Ristorante La Pergola
Via Freda 4, Gesualdo (Av)
0825 401435

Monday, November 14, 2011

Soul Pasta 11 11 11 - La Locanda di Bu - Nusco (Av)

Chef Antonio Pisaniello and Chef Raffaele Vitale

Pasta on the menu.  Nothing particularly unusual about that, I mean we are in Italy.  But Chef Antonio Pisaniello, La Locanda di Bu in Nusco had an idea.  An entire menu featuring pasta.  From  antipasto to the dessert.  

We'll call it Soul Pasta - l'anima di pasta...he decided.  He chose a particular date - 11 11 11.  He asked friends  Chefs Raffaele Vitale, Lorenzo Principe, and Jonathan Rossi to team up with his staff to pull it off.  Pasta was provided by Giocchino Orlando's Casa del Tortellino, a pasta house that specializes in producing pasta using ancient grain.  Wine?  Antonio Caggiano brought along his Bechar 2010, Tauri 2010 and Salae Domini to pair up with a menu that included...
fried gnocchi with corbarino tomato sauce

nero a metà-taglioni al nero di cuttlefish, cream of potato, and bergamot

yellow winter-paccheri rigati with cream of pumpkin squash, powdered porcini, fried bread al tartufo nero

                                                          fusillipommarolpuork-fusilli with sausage

lemon cold air-taglioni with amalfi lemons, ricotta cream,candied fruit, 
hazelnut and vanilla oil

It was another entertaining event put on by Pisaniello and his wife, Jenny Auriemma...because we all need a little soul with our pasta....


Friday, November 11, 2011

Vineyard Hopping - La Vendemmia -Luigi Tecce -Paternopoli (Av)

Karen, are you free on Monday?  Vieni a fare la vendemmia da Gigi?

I received a phone call from a  friend inviting me to spend Halloween with our friend Gigi...Luigi Tecce.  To participate in la vendemmia...the .harvest.  I gladly accepted and took that long and winding road to Paternopoli located in the heart of Alta Irpinia.  I couldn't miss it.  This is my favorite period to be in the vineyards.  This is the time of the year when the grapes leave the vine and head to the cantina on the road to becoming wine.  An exciting time to observe, to learn, and participate in the harvest as the cantina  comes to life.  There is no  better way to understand the wine making process than to see it up close and personal.  To cut Aglianico grapes from the vine yourself.  To taste their sweetness.  To ride with grapes on the back of a tractor on their way to the cantina.  Watch them as they are destemmed and pressed.  Follow them on their way to the stainless steel vat or wooden barrel.  Smell and listen as they ferment.

Much better than trick or treating...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Campania a Tavola -Az. Agricola Reale - Tramonti (Sa)

Campania vineyards in November.  The grapes have been harvested, pressed, and are fermenting. 
Yes, the grapes are gone, but that didn’t make a passeggiata through the Reale family’s vineyards in Tramonti any less spectacular On the contrary.  I took a stroll with Luigi Reale, surrounded by Piedirosso vines that are at least 80 years old, on a sunny Saturday around noon.  Luigi reached up, picked a few grapes that were still on the vine and handed me a couple to taste.  Sweet.  Our walk continued…on towards his family’s Tintore vines…vines that were 100, 130 plus years old.  Vines that stretched across the vineyard still hanging on to their beautiful fall leaves that which shone in the early autumn sunlight. We talked about his wines, his territory, his family’s  history. 
Our passeggiata brought us to his family’s osteria, Osteria Reale.  Here I visited the family's wine cellar.  And I not only had a chance to try his wines, but pair them with seasonal dishes from this terrific territory.


I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a wine than sitting on a terrace with a spectacular view of the mountains.  Can you?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Campania a Tavola - La SIbilla, Bacoli (Na)

La SIbilla's Luigi Di Meo
Autumn in Campania. .  The sun sets earlier now.  The nights are cool. In Campi Flegrei, home of La Sibilla, the harvest is complete.  Their Falanghina, Piedirosso, and Marsilese are in their stainless steel vats, on their way to becoming wine.  
I had the opportunity to enjoy my Campania a tavola one cool October evening.  Tasting wines from the territory paired with products from the region...

Toasted bread with marinated eggplant, anchovies, and black olives

Toasted bread with lard and bay leaf
cicerchia suop with toasted bread and piedirosa rose'
falanghina cruna del lago 2008
chicken saltimbocca with guanciale and rosemary
La Sibilla's Vincenzo Di Meo

falanghina cookies