Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spaghetti Madness

Spring weather in Campania has finally caught up with the calendar.  And that means sunshine, short sleeved shirts...and spaghetti.  Yes, spaghetti.  I must admit with all the different pasta varieties to choose from, spaghetti has been, is, and probably always will be one of my favorites.  No, not the Americanized versions with heavy meat sauces or even- shudder-meatballs. I'm talking about lighter sauces that work with the pasta.  Complement it and  not cover it.  In the past couple of years, I've had a chance to taste some super spaghettis created by some of the top chefs in Campania.  Here are some of my unforgettable assaggis ...

Spaghetti di Gragnano, codfish, broccolli, Paestum buffalo carpaccio with a white turnip and bluefish sauce.
Ernesto IaccarinoDon Alfonso 1890 (Na)
I tasted this dish on my first visit to Don Alfonso 1890 two years ago.  After a couple of bites, and endless smiles from the staff and entire Iaccarino family, this restaurant became one of my favorite places on earth.

 garlic, olive oil, and hot peppers with Cetara anchovy sauce,Cetara anchovies
Chef Francesco Russo, Hotel Raito (Sa)

Ok.  The view from the balcony didn't hurt.  It actually served as an amazing backdrop to this unforgettable plate of pasta prepared by Chef Russo.  Besides the mix of flavors I loved the presentation.

Spaghetti with Cetara anchovy sauce
Chef Pasquale Torrente, Il Convento (Sa)

Ah, Cetara.  A fisherman's village on the Amalfi Coast.  Home to Chef Pasquale Torrente and his famous anchovies.  I tasted this dish with the chef on the terrace of his restaurant just as the sun was going down.

Spaghetti with a walnut cream sauce, anchovies and  bottarga with citrus fruits and ricotta
Francesco SpagnuoloMorabianca Ristorante (Av)
Not all of my awesome assaggis were on the seaside.  This dish was prepared by Chef Spagnoulo in Mirabella Eclano surrounded by Mastroberardino Winery's aglianico grapevines.

Spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil
Chef Giuseppe Daddio, Scuola di Cucina Dolce & Salato (Ce)
This simple dish prepared by Chef Daddio was one in a series of 12 pasta dishes I tasted one afternoon at his cooking school in Caserta.  Many say that one of the toughest dishes to prepare is this one.

Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, chili peppers, pine nuts, and collard greens
Chef Tommaso Di Meo,  Osteria Abraxas (Na)
Rounding out the list, a dish prepared right in front of my eyes by Chef Di Meo.  One that I enjoyed eating in the kitchen while wrapping up our conversation in the kitchen...

Spaghetti season 2013 is officially open.

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