Thursday, July 31, 2014

Snapshot of the Day - Aglianico Vineyards - Quintodecimo Winery

A ros eye's view of Quintodecimo's aglianico vineyard in Mirabella Eclano (Av)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Saxaphones, Summer and Slow Food . - An Evening at the Pomigliano Jazz Festival

Kenny Garrett

Summer is  full of music festivals.  I mean, hanging outside listening to your favorite band is a perfect way to spend the long steamy evenings that accompany the season.  This year, my curious eye caught the schedule for the Pomigliano Jazz Festival, this year in it's 14th edition.  This time my schedule and the dates of the festival matched up - I was able to attend the Kenny Garrett Quintet concert scheduled for the 16th of July in a small town in Cimitile (Na).  The venue was not a stadium or auditorium. Oh, no.  But nestled on the grounds of the town's Basiliche Paleocristiane, a complex with about 13 building/churches dating back to the 5th century. 

 Basiliche Paleocristiane, Cimitile (Na)
  I arrived early ish for a stroll around the grounds and to take a look at some of the stands sponsored by Note di Gusto and  Slow Food Vesuvio

First stop - Madrenatura Agricultura Biologicaàs booth.  Even though the sun was setting, it was hard not to notice the sensational colors and quality of the vegetables on display. 

 Note to self, stop by to pick up a few tomatoes after the concert.

Second stop - Chef Ilaria Aulicino of Da Nini in Bacoli (Na).  She was the chef of the evening, and for jazz lovers like me who wanted a bite to eat before the show began, she had two dishes to share.

Fresco Baccala' with cod, black olives, yogurt, cherry tomatoes, capers and green pepper.

Yogoalbicocca -  starring apricots from Mt Vesuvius, almond milk and yogurt.
Third stop -A self tour of the Basilica.  Amazed at the history around me.  Curious about the dates of the frescoes and origins of the symbols and artifacts located throughout the complex.  

Note to self- come back for a guided tour., maybe in the fall when it is a little cooler.

Fourth stop - My seat.  Row C, seat 18.  It was there that I spent the next two hours along with a few   hundred jazz fans jammin to Kenny Garrett and his quintet.

 So much summer goodness packed in one evening.  Looking forward to next year's program. 
Oh, and I did purchase a kilo ish of tomatoes.  Spaghetti anyone?

Friday, July 18, 2014

If I had a Yacht...Assaggini di Summer with Chef Peppe Guida at Yacht Club Marina di Stabia, (Na)

We met a few months ago ish.  An April evening  where he was the guest star in a small kitchen at a winery in Quarto that evening.  Chef Giuseppe (Peppe) Guida  called me into that kitchen to try an appetizer while we waited for the the rest of the dinner guests to arrive.  A fried cauliflower zeppola with butter and anchovies.  I'll never forget it, I wrote about that evening here.
Since then, I've bumped into Guida on a couple of other tasty events like here and here.  So ami I  Guida-ddicted?  Maybe.  I needed another fix, so to speak.  A meal prepared by the chef in his own kitchen...on a normal day, not during a grande event.  A lunch where the chef could prepare his specialties con calma.
That opportunity came last week when I went to visit the chef at his summer home; Yacht Club Marina di Stabia, where the Michelin star chef spends his summer giving his restaurant Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa a well deseved break.
From the terrace,  there is a beautiful view of the sea, and on a clear day, the entire Sorrento Peninsula from Castellammaredi Stabia all the way to Punta Campanella. Even the isle of Capri.  A windy summer lunch at Yacht Club Marina di Stabia, one of the biggest marinas  in Europe.  Where yachts, mega and mini, from all over the world dock while they spend a part of their dolce vita vacation in a part of Italia that I have called home for years.
I don't have a yacht, but I was   ready for a special summer lunch.
I began with a wine that the chef  produces himself.  A small quantity which can only be found at his restaurants.  A blend of Piedirosso and Sciascinoso grapes from a vineyard in nearby Vico Equense, where he calls home.

Then it was full speed ahead to try some of the  specialties that were featured on the a la carte menu that afternoon.  An afternoon full of assaggini di summer beginning with a colorful benevenuto.  A fried anchovy stuffed with mozzarella cheese. and a yellow bell pepper sauce.

Then appetizers which included a caponata di baccala':  lightly sauteed cod with olives, moistened day old bread, tomatoes and marinated eggplants.

Crudo di pesce; once again that day old bread this time soaked in tomato water.  In this plate there was just about everything, from tuna to mussels. Clams to anchovies, squid and amberjack fish.

Fish played a starring role n the next delicate but powerful plate...pasta mischiata with lightly sauteed amberjack as well as thinly sliced raw fish of the same name.

The next pasta dish which is a summer classic.  Guida's version of spaghetti with zucchini.

This was followed by an assaggini of a dish that is a take on the famous caprese salad with mozzarella cheese and tomatoes.  Guida added a tender piece of fish to complete the dish.

I couldn't go away without tasting his famous desserts which included profiteroles filled with lemon cream and topped with a strawberry sauce,  his sugar coated potato zeppole and coffee ice cream.

If I only had a yacht...

Marina Yacht Club
Via Alcide De Gasperi, 313,
 80053 Castellammare Di Stabia, Italy.
 081 8722118.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

PizzaNonStop - Enzo Coccia's Pizzaria La Notizia (Na)

Summer in the city.  In Naples, at least one evening a week must include a pizza. And on this particulare evening on this particular week I decided to drop in and salutare, say hi, to maestro pizza maker Enzo Coccia at Pizzaria La Notizia.  Coccia showed no sign of jet lag from a recent trip to Shanghai, China where he and his team served as consultant for a new pizzeria there.  He was eager to show me photos and videos that he had in his Samsung Galaxy from his recent adventure.  Pictures that he has yet had time to share with the world via the social networks and his web site.

Enzo Coccia

It was easy to understand why. Coccia's life is non-stop!
Coccia's place was already packed with a waiting list at 7:30 pm.  Very early for Naples.  Families, couples, old friends and new were greeted by Coccia one by one as they entered his house.  Coccia has two pizzerias, or as Coccia told me long ago, pizzarias. And as one place filled up, he was quick to pick up the phone to see if he could squeeze pizza lovers at his newest location just down the street.
It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm of the evening, especially since my seat was right next to the banco where I could see pizzas flying in and out of the forno by Coccia's first class team. Here the word  team = a well oiled machine.  Pizzas for the dining room...pizzas for take-away.

I was there to try the Pizza Sorrento, one that I had seen a few days before on Facebook.  One that practically whispered try me..try me. This one was all about summer with fresh anchovies, black olivers, sweet yellow Piennolo tomatoes, chives, basil, and fresh garlic.  The touch of class was when a drizzle or two of orange infused extra virgin olive oil from the Sorrento Peninsula.

I was sure that I had space for one more.  I was able to snag Coccia and ask his advice.  He suggested a stuffed pizza - his Calzone Sirena d'Oro.
What's it stuffed with? I wanted to know.
Ricotta (buffalo milk) Campana DOP, basil, grated pecorino cheese, speck IGP, and  zucchini flowers sliced a julienne which had been previously sauteed with  extra virgin olive oil.

Could I handle it?

Oh, yes!

The line outside of the pizzaria was increasing.  No problem, Coccia every now and then would send out assaggini, small slices of pizzas to keep his waiting guests happy.

I was ready to leave, but not before dessert.  Coccia's saltimbocca with Nutella! (Though, to be honest, I asked for a doggy bag - no more space! )

Evening over, but for many it was just beginning.  As I left, my space was being prepared for the next guests of the evening.  Guests who, thanks to the staff of Pizzaria  La Notizia, quickly become family and friends.

"Pizzaria La Notizia
The place where Enzo Coccia warmly welcomes his friends"

Alla prossima, Enzo

Pizzaria La Notizia
Via Michelangelo da Caravaggio, 53-55
 80126 Naples
039 081 714 21 55