Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kitchen Talk - Chef Angelo D'Amico - Le Mancine (Bn)

Chef Angelo D'Amico
When I walked into the sushi kitchen at Hotel Romeo a couple of weeks ago, he was there.  Angelo D'Amico.   Chef Angelo D'Amico.   His name was familiar.  I heard it for the first time 3 years ago ish when he was named the Best Emerging Chef of The South back in 2010.But we had never met.
Our paths crossed for the first time one  Sunday morning...
On this particular Sunday morning he was adding the final touches to an appetizer to be served after the official presentation of the CHIC Guide 2013.  A day in which he would officially become part of the Charing Italian Chef Association.

Ciao, sono Karen...
Ciao, Angelo....
We smiled...
We shook hands...
Twenty seconds of silence,
and then a Would you like to try one? he asked as he handed me a small plate.  His first appetizer as a CHIC. An amazing appetizer...
A crunchy canollo that he made from thinly sliced day old bread. Inside?  Ricotta from Sannio (Benevento), turnip greens, capers from Pantelleria (Sicily), olives, anchovy sauce and a pizzaoila sauce.
A dish so flavorful and memorable that I made sure to bump into D'Amico the next day during the CHIC jam session at Marenna for a little kitchen talk.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, the chefs on this particular day were asked to prepare a dish using the wide array of top quality ingredients available.  My eyes followed this young creative chef as he made his selections and then I joined him in the kitchen.
D'Amico had two dishes in mind.  I imediately asked about his first one as I saw him thinly slicing asparagus and placing them in sea water...

To absorb the flavors of the sea, he said...I plan on using them in my risotto...
A risotto with clams, asparagus, and ricotta cheese...

He prepared one  plate for the press table...so that we could enjoy the colors, the presentation and his creativity...

Risotto con asparagus,  clams, and ricotta

And then a plate for some of the lucky few who waited patiently in the kitchen.   I was surprised at how well the flavors blended together and how light and delicate the dish was.

As I finished my last spoonful, I noticed that D'Amico was ready to plate up his next dish. In a saucepan, simmering slowly and silently, was a tomato sauce made with tomatoes from a small town near Salerno called Corbara.  Inside the saucepan, he placed small cubes of toasted bread to make a pancotto, an Italian bread soup. He plated this first...
Then added a small disc of cod which he tenderly beat for a few moments.  A touch of basil...a drizzle of olive oil, and the dish was ready.

Pancotto with tomatoes from Corbara and cod
 As I followed this dish to the press table to snap a few shots, I could see the chef plating up a few extras.
I'll be right there, I whispered...just a couple more shots....

Too late....D'Amico was plating up the last bit that remained...
Ok.   Just an excuse to visit the chef in his own kitchen.  Le Macine in Benevento.
A visit...and some kitchen talk...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pizza Talk - Toto' Sapori- Quarto (Na)

Pizza.  In the Naples area , there is a pizza parlor on every corner.  Sometimes two. But not every neighborhood has a pizzeria run by one of the top instructors from the AVPN -Associzione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Quarto, a small but busy suburb about 11 km northwest of Naples does.  It was there, at Via Dante Algheri, 6 where I had an appointment one sunny Friday afternoon with pizza maker Salvatore Santucci for a little pizza talk.
Salvatore is the owner of his family owned and operated Toto' Sapori Pizzeria.  A small pizzeria with a few small plastic tables that sprinkle the sidewalk out front.  Just a few.  A few for those who wish to sit down in nice weather and enjoy their pizza fresh from the oven.  The rest?  D'asporto...carry out.  Take away.  Either way, all guaranteed an amazing Santucci pizza.
Back in 1984 Salvatore decided that he wanted to make pizza.  A good, no great pizza.  So after years of working around the Naples area, he opened up Toto' Sapori in 2007.  And inside this little family restaurant I found a family.  Wife Linda in the kitchen and at the register and two young but talented pizza makers; 12 year old Enrico and 7 year old Diego.  A team that was ready and willing to perform a little show and tell on pizza dough, pizza making, and of course pizza eating.  A little pizza talk.
Salvatore Santucci

A great pizza begins with a great crust.  And a great crust needs a great pasta dough.  Santucci's pizza dough  rises for 10 hours and then matures for at 24 to 72 hours.  Why so long?  Easy.  The dough needs that maturation period.  If it doesn't mature before he uses it for a pizza, it will after...in your stomach.  That's what gives you that bloated full feeling.  Uncomfortable.
I thought about that as I watched Santucci and his sons form each individual portion of pizza dough and place it in a woodedn rectangular container so that it could rest.

And once the dough is ready, it's time to think about what to put on top.  Quality, what else. And that makes sense considering all the effort that went into making the pizza dough.
I wanted a Margherita.  One with piennolo tomatoes from Vesuvius.  Santucci added fresh mozzarella Campania Dop.  My son David?  A Marinara.  Simple.  With tomato sauce, a few slivers of garlic and a sprinkle of oregano.

Enrico Santucci

Diego Santucci

Then?  A minute or two in a  hot 485 degree Celsius wood burning oven (Santucci's is made by Stefano Ferrara whose small factory is just around the corner).

A minute or two for the flavors to meld, fuse, blend together.  A minute or two for the sugar in the dough to caramelize...to make the crust soft, soffice.

After the lunch rush,as Enrico played a few games on the computer, as my son helped Enrico with his Grammar homework, we continued tot talk.  About Santucci's plans to expand ...about upcoming AVPN events in Northern Italy.
About quality...
About dedication...
About his Celiac friendly pizza dough...
About soccer. Naples, of course.
About art...the murals on the wall are his...

And about pizza..

pizza talk...

Pizzeria Toto' Sapori
Via Dante Algheri, 6
Quarto (Na)
081 19913903 Fax 081 19913903

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Serendipity-Ros'Aura Irpinia Rosato DOC 2012 - Feudi di San Gregorio

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

Monday April 15.  I was  in Sorbo Serpico (Av) thanks to an invitation by Marenna's man in charge, Chef Paolo Barrale.  He had invited me to attend  CHIC's jam session, and after a few hours of snapping photos and tasting a few dishes, the sommelier/wine blogger in me could not pass up the opportunity to taste a couple of wines.  Specifically the latest rosato from Feudi di San Gregorio.  At the bar, Marenna's, Maitre D', Angelo Nudo ,  handed me a glass (and the bottle :-) ) and I headed out to the terrace.  The afternoon sun with that  spectacular Irpinia panorama was the perfect place to taste Ros'Aura Aglianico Irpinia Rosato DOC 2012.  A dark coppery/intense rose color  reflected nicely in the early afternoon sun.  Nose?  Light fresh fruit.  And though I like my rose' wines  a little older, I couldn't help but take note of the rich flavor...rich but leggera/light.   A glass of wine that would, in my opinion, pair perfectly with the prosciutto crudo or capocollo(pork neck salami) I tried earlier.  Or maybe....maybe one of the dishes prepared earlier by the CHIC chefs?  Hmmmm....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

#CampaniaChic-Two Days - Tanti Chefs

CHIC chefs-Lino Scarallo, Paolo Barrale, Antonio Tubelli, Rosanna Marziale,
Vincenzo Guarino, Angelo D'amico, Gianluca D'Agostino
Whoever believes the proverb too many chefs spoil the broth never had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with CHIC.  CHIC? An association of  chefs - CHIC-Charming Italian Chef made up of some of Italy's best ambassadors of Italian cuisine.  President Chef Marco Sacco of Piccolo Lago in Vebania (VB) was in Campania for a couple of days last week to present the new 2013 guide and festiggiare with the association's Campania chefs and anyone else who wanted to join in the action. I wanted to join in.
So of the 5 chic events, I managed to make it to two.  Starting with Sunday morning, April 14, Hotel Romeo, Naples. After a presentation of the guide and a quick induction ceremony of Campania's newest CHIC, the party moved to Romeo's Sushi Bar and Restaurant. With a glass of DUBL Aglianico spumante in hand, we had a chance to try small specialties prepared by the chefs themselves, such as ...
Chef Angelo D'amico - Le Macine Una Hotel -
Cafone bread cannolo , broccoli, capersi and olives all'aglio 

Chef Rosanna Marziale - Le Colonne -
 Dolce ...Margherita

Chef Antonio Tubelli - Timpani e Tempura -
Pizzaiola all'aglio dolce 

Chef Vincenzo Guarino – L’Accanto Hotel Angiolieri -
Pizza flavored bon bon ,buffalo mozzarella soup

Chef Gianluca D'Agostino - Ristorante Veritas -
Saltimbocca with marinated bonito yogurt and capers

Chef Lino Scarallo - Palazzo Petrucci -
Metamorfosi di pizza Margherita

Chef Anonino Pisaniello - La locanda di Bù -
"a pizza e nata cosa"
The next day was the opportunity of a lifetime.  One that I couldn't pass up.  April 15, resident chef and CHIC vice-President Paolo Barrale hosted a whole parade of chefs, CHIC and non,  at Marenna'.  This would be the place for a chic jam session. Where chefs had the challenge of choosing ingredients provided by the sponsors of the day and take them into the kitchen to create something special and unique.  No competition.  No prizes. Just the enjoyment and satisfaction of cooking with collegues.  And once the show got rolling, it was hard to keep up! Here is just a sampling...

Chef Paolo Barrale

Chef Angelo Sabatelli
Chefs Lino Scarallo and Angelo D'Amico
Chef Angelo Sabatello

Chef Andrea Gabin

Chef Andrea Ruggiero

Chef Antonio Pisaniello

Chef Paolo Barrale

Chef Angelo D'Amico

Chef Gianluca D'Agostino

Chef Mirko Balzano

Chefs Peppe Stanzione, Rocco De Santis and Salvatore Bianco
Plate after plate after plate.  I asked questions, I got answers.  I snapped photos, I passed the black pepper, the olive oil.  I tasted along with some chefs...stood back and watched others.
I got caught up in the jam, so to speak.  And when it was all over, it really wasn't.  I mean, there's a dozen or so plates to write about...a dozen or more restaurants to visit...
I better get started...

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pedirosa 2011 - La Sibilla, Bacoli (Na)

 Last night I opened a bottle of rosato.  I poured myself a glass of Campania  rosé to officially begin my rosato season...one that begins in April and ends in March.  The wine that I chose for this silent ceremony was Pedirosa IGT 2011  from La SibillaA perfect example of Campania rose' wines. 100 % Piedirosso. 
A glass of wine with a dark pinkish color that is brilliant and vibrant. I poured myself a glass of aromas.  Fresh and floral aromas.  Aromas that may lead one to believe that this is more a wine cooler than a wine. But this is not your mother's rosato...

Sapidity and flavor from the first sip. A sip of Campi Flegrei.  And as took a second sip, it was hard not to imagine that soft breeze on my face the dozen or so times that I have been in the La Sibilla vineyards.  I could taste the sea, taste the minerals in the soil...
Pairing possibilities?  Almost endless. A wine that is light enough for fish but strong enough for meat dishes.  I found myself wishing that I had a plate of linguine with mussels.  Or a nice light soup made with cicerchia beans from La Sibilla's garden.  Or maybe grilled vegetables.  Or grilled sausage or fish. 
As the ceremony came to a close, I already began thinking ahead.  
To when I would open the 2012 vintage. A vintage that I tasted last month...a work in progress as it sits in its stainless steel vat in La Sibilla's cantina.  I remember that sip, and the words of wine maker Vincenzo Di Meo as I accompanied him on one of his daily tastings. A sip that already showed that 2012 will be different.  Di Meo confirmed with a smile.   But we'll just have to wait...