Thursday, February 14, 2013

Serendipity- Armonico 2010, Az. Vitivinicola Anna Bosco

Wikipedia: Serendipity means  a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it.

Have you decide which  wine would you like with lunch?

I looked up from Kresios's impressive wine list/book at Alessandro Sacco, the restaurant's maitre d'. I wasn't really sure how to answer.  I was at Kresios to check out the restaurant, the bistrot, speak with Chef Giuseppe Iannotti and his staff and walk the vineyards.  Surprisingly I had too much running through my mind to pick out a wine that afternoon.  But I did know that I wanted something local and something easy.  How about a nice Barbera?  I asked. Barbera del Sannio.

Sacco returned with a bottle of Armonico 2010 Barbera Sannio Doc from Az. Vitivinicola Anna Bosco.  A small winery just 10 minutes up the road in Castelvenere (Bn).  He poured as I was jotting a few notes down about my appetizer.  Out of the corner of my eye, I couldn't help but notice this vino's color.  Ruby? Yes...dark, full.  I swirled it a bit to open it up, observe how it clung to the glass.  
Naso nel bicchiere.  Here I found intense deep fruity aromas-not dark cherry as an aglianico, though. Pleasant, sweet, easy.

Taste-smooth.  Very.  That's what makes Barbera so easy.  Flavorful, warm, no hint of tannins. No hint  whatsoever.  

The perfect wine to go with my full afternoon at Kresios.  Along with my chick pea soup, with mushrooms and smoked herring.  Along with an impromptu risotto lesson with Chef Iannotti.  Along with a walk in the vineyards.  Perfect. Easy.
Grazie, Alessandro.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Lasagna Chronicles with Chef Pietro Parisi

It was a  Fat Tuesday.nearly 20 years ago when I was told that in Naples during Carnival season,
particularly on Martedi' Grasso, you have to cook lasagna.  You're not Neapolitan if you don't! I was told. Well, I;m not...but I did get caught up with the spirit of it all. I love a good lasagna and every year since then I make sure that there is lasgana on the menu.  All without asking why?   perche'?

Until this year, until this week.  I decided to visit Chef Pietro Parisi at his retaurant Era Ora in Palma Campania (Na).   
Parisi, known also as the chef contandino/farmer, is deeply rooted in tradition.  And he was more than happy to share with me a little background on this dish as well as other carnevale menu musts.

First of all, I had to think back to a time when a baked lasagna was not a common menu item.  A dish rich in tomato sauce with meat was something that only the rich could afford.  So to have this dish on the table was something special. And what better period than before Lent to than for a poor man to feel rich than at the dinner table?

 Let's begin with  meatballs.  These were made with ground beef and/or pork.    Bread crumbs were added along with garlic, cheese, eggs, and parsley   Some families, Parisi shared, couldn't afford meat.  So meatless 'meatballs' were made just using bread crumbs and the other ingredients if they had them on hand.  Meatballs, meatless or not, were then fried and either added to a tomato sauce or eaten alone.

Then there's the sauce.  A slow cooked tomato sauce with ricotta added, if available.

But which pasta?  I was curious.  Neapolitans historically use a long curly pasta known as reginette or malfadine.  Not the wide flat shape pasta that we may be used to.  That is popular in regions such as Emilia-Romagna.

All layered and baked together to make a poor man's table rich.

What else enriched the table?  Pork was plentiful during this time of year, since they are butchered during this period for salamis, prosciuttos, etc. So a plate of salumi ...

and fresh ricotta cheese.

What about dessert?  You can't feel rich without dessert.  In Naples, chiacchierre, a fried pastry sprinkled with sugar is classic.  Historically served with sanguinaccio, pork blood sweetened with sugar.  Poor man's chocolate.  That, however, has been replaced with chocolate.

Parisi added A carnevale, ogni scherzo vale...anything goes.  And if that meant that for at least one day a year, at the dinner table, a poor man could feel like a king.

Kresios in Telese (Bn): Vineyards...Vino...Gourmet

When I walked into Kresios in Telese, part of the Benevento province, Chef Giuseppe Iannotti was on the phone.
 One moment he gestured with a smile.
 No problem, I whispered.  Iannotti was busy.  I expected that. It was Saturday afternoon 15 minutes before lunch service. A  week after his grand opening of Kresios Bistrot, Kresios's gourmet annex.  It was Saturday afternoon 15 minutes before lunch service.  A week before Identita' Golose where he would be participating in three events in two days.
Chef Giuseppe Iannotti

No problem, I whispered again. This time looking past Iannotti.
You see, Kresios is much more than just a place to have lunch or dinner by one of Italy's hottest young chefs of the moment. Surrounding the property is the family's  vineyards...and I wanted to have a look.   It was the perfect time, right after the winter pruning.  Barbera and Falanghina vines stripped down.   Vine cuttings on the ground...

As the wind picked up, it started to sprinkle, and as much as I enjoyed my stroll between the rows of vines, I made my way indoors where Maitre D.  Alessandro Sacco showed me to my table... shared with me the menu.  A menu full of tasty creativity. A menu packed with products  from Campania as well as the rest of the gastronomic world.  Handpicked by Iannotti himself to give his dishes his special touch. Like this welcome....

Octopus with cream of potato, tomatoes, and caper powder
Or a  hello  ..
Fried salt cod tripe and pasta crocche' with 4 cheeses
Then it was time for me to choose:  an appetizer...
club sandwich
a club sandwich 'revisited'.   Fresh salad from Iannoti's garden placed upon a thinly sliced piece of homemade bread.  A quail egg carefully and casually placed between freshly fried potato chips and a tender chicken 'nugget'...

 When it came to wine, I wanted Barbera.  Sacco brought me Armonico 2007 from Az. Vitivinicola Bosco Anna, a small winery just 15 minutes down the road in Castelvenere (Bn).

I needed  a first course to go with my glass of barbera but.instead of a pasta dish or a risotto, as tempting as they looked, I chose a soup...which went perfectly with the blistery weather outside...
chick pea soup with porcini mushrooms, smoked herring, and coffee powder

As far as a second course, well...that wasn't so easy to decide.  I decided to viisit Iannotti as well as the rest of the staff in the kitchen, Eugenio Vitagliano, Cristian Leonetti, and Orsolo Martino.  I observed a relaxed rhythm. Una squadra, a team.  And between a mini lesson on risotto and plate preparaion, I decided.  I decided that my second course would be from the Kb menu....

The new bistrot.  Kresios's new annex.  With a more casual interior design, an easy light gourmet menu.  Perfect for lunch.  My eyes went straight to the burger list...

A hamburger made with marchigiana beef served on a bun toasted right in front of my eyes.  Grilled tomatoes, piennolo from Vesuvius, of course.  Easy toppings; lettuce and homemade condiments including mayonnaise and a tangy purple mostardo.

Dessert? Iannotti asked.
To go, I smiled.  That wouldn't be a problem. I walked over to the Kresios shop and picked out a couple of cupcakes and an amazing three chocolate mousse.

Three desserts, wrapped up in a package.  To take home with me along with my memories of that windy afternoon in Benevento.   An afternoon of vineyards, vino...and gourmet.

via san giovanni 59, 82037 telese terme | bn
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