Sunday, November 10, 2013

Autumn on the Table - Le Macine Ristorante with Chef Angelo D'Amico, Benevento (Bn)

With the temperatures still in the mid 70s (24 degrees Celsius ish) here in Campania, we are still enjoying our short sleeve t-shirts, light jackets, and in some cases, still going to the beach!.  But I was reminded right away that autumn has arrived on my way to visit Chef Angelo D'Amico at Le Macine Ristorante.  Le Macine is located in the magnificently modern Una Hotel Il Molino- a 5 minute walk from Benevento's historical center.  As I drove down Via dei Mulini, all the signs of the changing seasons were there. Red, yellow and brown leaves on the trees and on the ground, a light breeze...yes, it was autumn.
Chef Angelo D'Amico

I was reminded again as I chatted with D'Amico while he showed me around the large kitchen...his kitchen which he helped design when the hotel/restaurant was being developed 3 short years ago. And though it was only 11 am, the kitchen was in a full comfortable swing preparing for the lunch service which would begin in a couple of hours.   A kitchen full of aromas including freshly baked bread, crackers and bread sticks.  D'Amico grabbed a bottle of olive oil from a nearby counter. Olive oil that had been pressed just the day before at his uncle's oil mill.  Oil that was fragrant, still in the process of 'settling'...perfect for a pre-lunch spuntino, snack, on a piece of pane cafone.  My eye caught another glance of autumn.  White truffles.
Truffles that I'd get a chance to try later, D'Amico lunch.  But first, he suggested, why don't you take a late morning walk over to Benevento's centro storico?
An autumn passeggiata...great idea, I thought.  I could stretch my legs after the hour ish drive and burn some calories before an amazing lunch which I could tell that the chef and his staff had in store for me.
A lunch which began an hour or so later in a small intimate dining room (28 places max) with a glass of Folius Falanghina Blanc Extra Dry spumante from Cantine Del Taburno.  Followed by bread sticks, a plate of warm bread, and a small bowl of that fragrant olive oil that I had the pleasure to meet earlier in the kitchen.

bread with rosemary

squid ink panino

D'Amico joins me in the dining room, we look over the menutogether, discuss a few of the items. Then I placed myself in his hands remembering the aromas from our pre lunch briefing. 
Flora Falanghina 2012 from Ocone was my wine of choice... I took a tip or two as I waited.  I didn't need to wait long.
A series of appetizers soon arrived at my table, beginning with a slowly cooked egg , creamy potatoes, friarelli greens and white truffles from nearby Ceppaloni.  My first of a series of dishes with thin slices of  white gold sprinkled on top.

Polenta with bite sized cod, olives, capers, peppers, broccoli and white truffles...

A vegetable broth lightly flavored with licorice was poured over home made 'cockscomb' shaped pasta  filled with bollito misto, boiled beef.  Also a shower of white truffles, which I must say at this point were pleasantly addicting...not overpowering, but complementing each dish.  The truffles played a supporting role, so to speak...adding its slice of autumn to the table.

Slices that accompanied my next dish,  spaghetti with broccoli, pumpkin, clams, and squid.

Next up, a risotto, maybe one of the most flavorful I have tasted in recent memory.  D'Amico' risotto with saffron, potatoes, and mussels.  On top, he placed dehydrated lemons and eggplant.

It was time for the second course.  Yes, there was still a little room...
Rabbit was next.  Wasn't it just a couple of hours ago that I saw D'Amico boning one in the kitchen?  When it arrived on my table, it was served in three ways.  Slow cooked, low temperature, and fried.  A creamed carrot sauce (of course) and a piedirosso mosto cotto, grape must.

Next, Carne 'e puorc e papauli con mosto di Piedirosso e mela annurca.  Pork    surrounded by bite-sized chunks of autumn; caramelized onions, friarelli greens, peppers, and an applesauce prepared with Campania's famous annurca apples.

D'Amico joined me at the table alongside his dessert.  A small warm chestnut tart, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate ice cream.  Coffee followed by a tower of small pastries reminiscent of  his time spent as a young cook in Paris.

My autumn lunch was over...I said my  goodbyes to D'Amico and his staff...well, more like I'll see you later.
We had an appointment early the next morning to check out his uncle's olive mill.  Stay tuned!

Le Macine Ristorante
Una Hotel Il Molino
Via dei Mulini 48,
82100 Benevento (Bn)
39 0824 311213

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