Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer in a Package - Don Alfonso 1890, Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, (Na)

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen of 2 Star Michelin restaurant Don Alfonso 1890. It was the Fourth of July, but instead of red white and blue, I noticed a wide range of summer colors.  Colors  such as green, red, dark violet, and yellows from the fruits and vegetables that had arrived earlier that morning from the restaurant's Agriturismo  Le Peracciole in nearby Punta Campanella.  And though it was quite warm in the kitchen, my mind went instantly back to a cool  mid spring morning last year when I had the chance to visit the farm with chefs Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino.  When I had a chance to see for myself the pride and dedication that the family places in producing delicious organic produce.  Produce that would arrive in their kitchen, be placed in the capable hands of the kitchen brigade, and be turned into  magnificent looking and, more importantly, magnificent tasting dishes.
During my kitchen tour, I stopped several times at the appetizer station, where I met Kiama Joel, chef responsible for antipasti. He and his small team were putting together a serious array of summer vegetables that later would make it to my table. I watched as he put together one plate in particular with paper-thin cucumbers surrounded by a vanilla sauce...

along with fresh basil mixed with ricotta.

Next up, three little packages of summer, each wrapped in a red bell pepper.  The packages included zucchini a scapece  (marinated zucchini), melanzane al funghetto ( eggplant with tomato sauce), and fresh green beans.

 To give the dish a little kick, horseradish ice cream and red beet chips.

This plate has everything!  I overheard sous chef Nicola Pignatelli share his thoughts on the dish with Iaccarino.  He used words like morbidezza, croccantezza, sapidita', dolcezza...

He took the words right out of my mouth...

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