Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Caseificio Barlotti - Capaccio (Sa)

Well, if you've seen one mozzarella dairy you've seen them all. 
Or so I thought.  Until I bumped into   Raffaele Barlotti at his dairy's bar one Monday evening.  Over a caffe' he invited me to come back the next day for a look around.
I arrived at about 10:00 am the next morning.  After just  five minutes, my tour guide Sandro at Caseificio Barlotti,  I forgot about the dozen or so times I have seen mozzarella at work as a chaperone on the obligatory school field trips.  This time seemed like the first time.  Sandro decided that we should begin in the  production area which was in full swing.  But first, he sais, I needed a little protection,. A pair of blue plastic baggies that I just slipped over my shoes and I was ready to go.
Ready to observe all the action of mozzarella making Paestum style .  So much activity going on all around.  I listened attentively as Sandro explained the cheese making process...First of all...100 % buffalo milk...from buffaloes milked two times a day on Barlotti's dairy.  Then a series of steps such as acidification and coagulation.  I watched as the curd was broken up...the serum separated from the curd...

Every now and then, Sandro told me to step back.  This was the phase in which boiling water was added to the curd.  

Then, the cheese maker with his wooden magic wand stirred and stirred until he magically transformed the broken up curd into something smooth and beautiful.

At this point, the mozzarella was almost complete.  The mozzarella balls that we all know and love could be formed by hand or by machine.  Either way, their last stop was into a tank of water to cool down. Then transferred into saline tanks so that the cheese can absorb some of the salt...some of the flavor.

Fresh mozzarella that if conserved properly (4 to 10 degrees Celsius in the lovely liquid that it was sold with) for 8 days.
As much fun as I was having in the production area, Sandro suggested we go and see the buffaloes.  And why not?  First a quick walk through the milking room to see where the buffaloes are milked, two times a day...at 3 am and 3 pm.  All by machine with just one worker to man the equipment.

Then I was ready to see the buffaloes.
And there were plenty of them.  First, the older females...some relaxing in the sun.  Others eating an early lunch of straw, hay and corn.  It was entertaining to watch a few who would toss up the mixture in the air with their snouts to search for the sweet dried corn.

Before I could ask where the little ones were, Sandro explained that they were in quarantine...After a week or so with their mothers, the law requires that they are separated from the older ones.   We stopped by for a visit.
After several months in quarantine, they (females) would then be free to eat drink and be merry until the ripe old age of three. When the child bearing milk producing years would begin.  Where their milk would be used to make mozzarella or other products such as ricotta, butter, caciocavallo, provola  etc. Available for sale online, in their shop, or even in their small restaurant which is open for lunch.

Over a glass of buffalo milk, I learned about how precious those buffalo were.  Not only for their milk...but for their meat as well.

Lean.  High in protein.  Low in calories.  And maybe on my next visit I'll try some.  In Barlotti's small restaurant.  A small table in the garden.  A few slices of salami produced with buffalo meat. A side of ricotta.  A few boccocini di mozzarella...and a glass of wine.
Yes, that's what I'll do.

Caseificio Barlotti
Via Torre di Paestum 1, 
Capaccio Paestum Salerno
Tel. +39 0828811146
Fax +39 0828721047

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cantine Aperte - 26 May 2013

Falanghina vineyards : Grotta del Sole
Next Sunday, Movimento Turismo Del Vino will hold its annual Cantine Aperte.  What does that mean?  It means that a wineries that are members of the association have planned all kinds of activities in their homes.  Activities to include vineyard visits, wine tastings, lunches, dinners, concets, etc.  For a complete list of which wineries are  participating in Campania, click here.  Then contact the winery or go to their site for more information.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Profumo DiVino - Cantine Di Meo - Salza Irpina (Av)

I remember that day as if it were yesterday.  A visit with Roberto Di Meo at his winery, Cantine Di Meo last June.  I remember every detail; from the wines tasted to the music played during the tasting.  I learned a great deal about wine tasting that afternoon.  A great deal about taking my time and enjoying the aromas in a wine...and in everything for that matter.
I remember the little spray bottles that appeared out of nowhere.  Di Meo presented one of them as  campione #6321.  And on a small white napkin, he lightly spayed a bit.  Fiano...he told me.  profumo di fiano.  Un esperimento.  
An experiment...
stay tuned.
Well, I stayed tuned. Di Meo and I crossed paths several times over the past several months. and  would ask from time to time.  He would answer with a smile, and a little chuckle.Non c'e' fretta...no hurry.

So the experiment stayed just that- an experiment.  
Or so I thought.  
Campione #6321 has grown up - grown up and evolved into Profumo DiVino.  A bottle full of the aromas of Irpinia.  Fiano di Avellino... Di Meo's Fiano Di Avelino.  Not a perfume or cologne for your body...but a perfume for your environment...your home... your space. 
I pushed the spray nozzle once, twice three times...then closed my eyes.  Floral aromas...definitely fresh floral aromas floated through the air.  Aromas, though intense, were also relaxing.  And as the aromas dispersed, so did the intensity...though that relaxing feeling remained.  
A feeling that brought me back to my first visit to Di Meo's vineyard.  The aromas of Irpinia.   Memories that were now in a bottle.  That I could have whenever I wanted.  Whenever I wanted to take my time and enjoy.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fantastic Firsts-Pasta e Patate con Provola Affumicata -Chef Gianluca D'Agostino - Veritas Restaurant (Na)

My son David is a big fan of pasta and potatoes.  So when I saw how big his eyes got after just one spoonful of Chef Gianluca D'Agostino's version last week while in Paestum for Le Strade Della Mozzarella , I just had to have the recipe.

Ingredients for four people: potatoes 500 g, 2 stalks of large white celery stalks, two large carrots, one onion, 150g of parmegiano reggiano cheese rinds (washed well), 200 g of pasta mista, 550 g smoked provola cheese, 500 ml of milk, 200 ml heavy cream, 50 ml extra virgin olive oil, black pepper  and salt to taste

Prepare the provola fondue by  cutting the cheese into large chunks, and leaving it to with the milk and cream at 70 ° C for about an hour.   Filter through  reduce by half, then emulsify with an immersion blender.
Prepare the mashed potatoes by cooking the cubed potatoes with one celery stalk,one carrot,  the parmegiano cheese rind.and the extra virgin olive oil. Once the potatoes have been cooked, remove the celery, carrot and cheese.  Mash the potatoes by using a food mill or potato ricer.  Add salt to taste.
Peel the remaining celery and carrots , cut into thin strips and make them crispy by soaking them in ice water.
Cook the pasta al dente and whip it with the melted cheese, potatoes and freshly ground black pepper Plate the pasta and  top with the slices of crunchy carrots and celery.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Orano Rosato Campania IGT 2012 - Villa Raiano

Villa Raiano.  I've tasted their wines on numerous occasions.    But not this one.  I wondered why as I poured myself a glass of Orano Campania Rosato IGT 2012.  Here was th latest vintage of Villa Raiano's rose' wine made with 100 % Agllianico grapes.  One that was voted one of the best rose' wines in Italy back in 2009.  Where was I? I smiled.  The winery has been producing this  since the 2005 harvest. .A friendly fusion of grapes from 3 different vineyards; Venticano - Castelfranci- Bonito. Similar to their Aglianico IGT. but macerated for a very brief period with the grapes skins after being softly and sweetly pressed. Just enough time to give it that brilliant dark pinkish color that shined brightly in my glass. The berry fruit aromas on the nose  were light and fresh. Flavorful palate with a nice finish.
I finished the glass as I prepared dinner.  A quick dish of grilled cervellata sausages with grilled vegetables.
Perfect, as thought as I wondered why I hadn't tried it before.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Codfish 'Porchettato', with Cream of Friarielli Broccoli and Clams - Chef Gianluca D'Agostino - Veritas Restaurant

Codfish 'Porchettato',  Cream of Friarielli Broccoli and Clams
I found him in the back.  Way in the back of Marenna's Michelin star kitchen.  Chef Gianluca D'Agostino of Veritas Restaurant (and formerly of Marenna) found a quiet corner of the pastry kitchen to create his dish during last month's jam session...
A new dish...something he decided on the spot, something he created as he went along.   Tasting and testing until he was satisfied.  D'Agostino's Codfish 'Porchettato',  with Cream of Friarielli Broccoli and Clams.    The chef shared with me a few details about this dish which could be an amazing appetizer or a marvelous main course. Basically, he cooked the friarielli broccoli in the typical manner,in a pan  with garlic, extravirgin olive oil and red pepper flakes.  Then he blended the greens in a blender adding a little water from the clams that he previously steamed open.  He wrapped the cod in thinly sliced pancetta bacon then cooked in water (65 degrees Celsius) for 7-10 minutes in a vacuum sealed bag.
I watched as he plated the dish, the cream of friarielli first.  Then the 'porchettato' codfish topped with clams.  It looked delicious, but as with most of the dishes that day, it was whisked away as soon as I snapped a few photographs.

That just means I'll have to visit the chef at his home at Veritas....

Friday, May 10, 2013

Spingtime in Paradiso- Don Alfonso 1890

Chef Ernesto Iaccarino
Flashback, summer 2011.  A small white van pulls up to the small narrow driveway that lies between Don Alfonso's Restaurant and their cooking school.  I remember   Chef Alfonso Iaccarino, dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and a pair of hiking boots, getting out of the van and opening up the back doors. Two dogs hop out as he reaches in and pulls out one of the dozen or so crates full of fresh figs.  Very fresh.  I was told by a friend that Chef Iaccarino had just returned from one of his daily trips to the family's farm 5/6 km away.
You've never been? I was asked..
No...I answered...Not, yet...
Back to the present ish.  Spring in Campania.  And for the third year in a row I was preparing to visit i miei amici  at Don Alfonso 1890.  I couldn't help but think back to that summer in 2011.  The white van.. The dogs.  The fresh figs.
I had to visit the farm. Azienda Agricola Le Peracciole to be exact.  Six hectres of paradiso hugging the coast. About a ten minute ride from the restaurant.

Chef Ernesto Iaccarino
I was pretty  lucky that Sunday morning, my driver, Chef Ernesto Iaccarino became my self appointed tour guide.  He pointed out spectacular views of the bay of Naples and Salerno.  As the road became narrower, he pointed out the various vegetables that were in season or starting to grow.  Like the amazing artichokes that flourish on a steep hill facing Capri.

Or wild sage with their amazing aromas and beautiful flowers...

Once we parked the car, we walked through the farm and saw Spring at work. It was hard to believe that this angle of paradise was practically abandoned until the family decided to take on the challenge.Here is where the family grows many of the fruit and vegetables for their restaurant.  From fresh zucchini to fennel.  From tomatoes to potatoes.  Olive trees supply the oil for their olive oil.
 Lemons grown here are used for their limoncello.  And of course, the artichokes.  That particular morning, Chef Alfonso Iaccarino was there with his pups to pick the artichokes that I had seen on my way into paradiso.
Chef Alfonso Iaccarino
On the way back to Don Alfonso, the chef shared a couple of artichoke recipes/ideas that I could use with one of my favorite veggies of the season.  I like them roasted with garlic, pancetta, olive oil, parsley and pecorino cheese.   The chef?  Alla romana - cooked Roman style on the stovetop with a little water, wine, parsley and mint.  Or his favorite; artichoke hearts thinly sliced and drizzled with lemon and olive oil (his of course!).
We arrived as the lunch hour was approaching. Just in time for an aperitivo in the garden before lunch and a chat with Mario Iaccarino, Maître de Maison and mastermind of Don Alfonso's dining room
A glass of Cadel Bosco Cuvée Prestige served in the shade.

Refreshing, since it was quite warm in the garden.  Or maybe hot was a better word.  Perfect ice cream weather.  Like Iaccarino's ice cream made with mozzarella di Campania DOP on a bed of a thinly sliced artichoke salad, and a tomato water gelatin.
mozzarella ice cream with artichokes and tomato water  gelatin
Then inside for a taste of some of the new items on Don Alfonso's menu.  The 2013 creations.
Beginning with a benvenuto...a welcome.  A spring onion stuffed with ricotta cheese, pine nuts, raisins, and chives.

 spring onion stuffed with ricotta cheese, pine nuts, raisins, and chives.
I enjoyed this flavorful antipasto while looking over the wine list.  But as usual, I decided to follow the advice of sommelier Maurizio Cerio.  He suggested that we begin in Campania with a glass or two of Fiano from a winery in the Benevento area, Azienda Agricola Cauterio.  This organic white wine, vintage 2010 would pair well with what the chef would soon be sending over to my table by the window Cerio promised.
Maurizio Cerio

Erba Bianca Fiano IGT 2010
Az. Agricola Cauterio
So what was next?  Two amazing appetizers, starting with a pezzogna sausage with pistachio, mozzarella, asparagus and black truffles...
pezzogna sausage with pistachio, mozzarella, asparagus and black truffles...
 Then? Then what Iaccarino calls the rediscovery of the fried egg with burrata and black truffles....
fried egg with burrata and black truffles...
Fried...not so much fried, but cuddled.  Iaccarino told me that the egg was cooked carefully, slowly (and I'd like to add lovingly) at a low temperature for about 25 minutes.

I was ready for a first course.  I am a big spaghetti fan, so  couldn't resist choosing spaghetti with mackerel  bread crumbs, pine nuts and candied onions.  Iaccarino added a sauce made with alalunga tuna and turnips.
spaghetti with mackerel  bread crumbs, pine nuts and candied onions
It was time to move in a new direction...from fish to red meat, so Cerio arrives with a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile...Domaine Paul Bruno 1998.
Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Domaine Paul Bruno
How would this pair with Iaccarino's tenderloins (from Benevento) in bread crust with mozzarella, and pork cheek. Two sauces on the side; tomato and a spicy green sauce with anchovies and cucumbers?
tenderloins (from Benevento) in bread crust with mozzarella, and pork cheek
I think it paired perfectly...
Next up dessert...a plate of small pastries preceded by a sorbet made with fresh lemons...

lemons that I had seen a couple of hours earlier at Iaccarino's farm...

on 6 hectares which bask in the Sorrentino coast...

in a small angle of paradiso...

an angle of Don Alfonso 1890....

Don Alfonso 1890
Corso Sant'Agata, 11/13 
80064 Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi, Naples - Italy 
0039 081.878.00.26 - 0039 081.878.05.61