Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Serendipity : Settimo 2010, Fattorie Alois

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

It was about a month or so ago ish.  Sunday, just about noon.  I had just officially opened my Sunday ragu sugo season with sauce that I was more than proud of.  A sauce that I had started the evening before.  A sauce which had slow cooked off and on for a total of 8 hours so that it had become dark, thick, tirato, incazasso... 
It was time to choose a wine.  Maybe something different than my usual favorites.  But it was a Sunday.  Not a good time to go vino hopping. Not a good time to drive out to a winery or some of the larger enoteca/wine shops in the are.  No, just enough time to stroll to a local wine shop and see what I could fine on the shelves.
From the door I headed straight to the Campania section.  My eyes browsed over familiar bottles, familiar vintages...until I saw it there on the second shelf.
Michele Alois...Settimo...
I paused, picked up the bottle... Casavecchia...Pallagrello Nero.  Instantly images of Campania's nearly forgotten/making a comeback and how grapes came to mind. In my hand a blend of two serious red grapes.
I turned the bottle around...vintage 2010.  
2010...probably the last time that I spent quality time near Ponteleone, Caserta   where the Alois family has their winery and vineyards.  I have never been, but that didn't stop me from purchasing a bottle that sunny Sunday morning and pouring a glass to have with our Sunday lunch.
It paired perfectly with my ragu. Intense aromas, deep and flavorful without  not overpowering or taking away from the meal..  Smooth, but tannic enough to stand up to the dense ragu sauce that had slow cooked off and on for a total of 8 hours so that it had become that dark, thick, tirato, incazasso.

Since that Sunday, I've been back to that enoteca on several occasions.  Back to that second shelf.

Settimo season is officially open.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Andiamotrips Auld Lang Syne - My Top Eno-gastronomic Adventures in 2013 - Part 2

2013.  It wasn't just a year to visit some of Campania's amazing wineries and restaurants.  It was also a year of investigating a territory and stepping out of the box.

A personal highlight for me came last summer.  A hot summer evening at La Sibilla Winery  was where I held my first photo exhibit along with four Campi Flegrei wineries and 9 enthusiastic examples of Falanghina dei Campi Flegrei. Snapshot of a Territory was born.

I never would have imagined that submitting a recipe for a food blogger contest sponsored by Le Strade delle Mozzarella would classify in the top 15 out of over 100 recipes submitted.  My Calamarata 4 Stagione with Baby Squid, Clams and Mozzarella di Bufala Dop was tasty enough to convince a panel of judges who invited me to spend a few days in Paestum last May.

While in Paestum, I thought it would be neat to take my son David to visit a mozzarella factory.  The area is full of them, but one late morning, we headed to Caseificio Barlotti.  I wrote about it here.  

I also had the opportunity to visit a couple of extra olive oil producers.  Sure, living in Italy, I have access to olive oil whenever I want it.  But seeing how it is made up close and personal during the olive harvest helped me to understand that there are some serious differences in what is sold on the shelves for low low prices and what quality is all about.  Two parts of Campania, Sorrento and Benevento were my happy hosts.

 My investigating continued.  A pasta factory was next on my list.  I chose Gragnano (Na), I chose a few chefs for company.  And I chose Pastificio Dei Campi.  

Curiosity also led me to learn more about the traditions of the region, particularly during the Easter holidays.  I went to Caserta to visit Michelin star chef Rosanna Marziale at her family's restaurant Le Colonne (here).
Casatiello - Easter bread

During numerous visits to  Campania's restaurant, there was always a little time for some kitchen talk. I was honored to be able to share recipes/suggestions with the chefs who invited me in their cucina

Chef Michele Grande in Bacoli suprised me when he whipped up this pasta dish when I stopped by for an aperitif. Calamarata Pasta with Fellone Crab and Squid

I drove to Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi high above the Sorrento Coast to get the recipe from Ristorante Lo Stuzzichino.  Mimmo De Gregorio served me a Lemon Scented Ravioli with Zucchini and Clams which will be hard to forget.  And who would want to?

Not too far away from Sant'Agata is a small marina with a grande cucina.  Chef Alfonso Caputo's Tavena del Capitano was a favorite spot of mine.r. And one Indian summer evening, the  perfect spot to try his  

Spaghetti with Zucchini alla Nerano

My look back at 2013 concludes with a sunset.  At one of my favorite spots for sunset chasing.  Il Bikini in Vico Equense.  Here, at a barbecue on the beach would be the  perfect place to reflect on a year that has gone by...and look forward to a great 2014.