Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tomato Soup and Then Some - Don Alfonso 1890 - Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi (Na)

I had already placed my order.  I had already discussed with Chef Ernesto Iaccarino my menu choices for the day - a combination of something old, something new...but all items that I hadn't tried before.
While waiting for my benvenuto - I strolled around the kitchen to see what was going on.  Then I spotted it.  It was a few feet away on one of the prep tables waiting to be placed in the oven.
What's that? I asked out of curiosity.

Sous Chef Nicola Pignatelli responded by smiling and  by adding it to my menu.
I'd have to wait and see for myself.
I didn't have to wait too long.

I was at the Chef's table, a small table for one  in the corner, right next to the pass when Raffaele brought me Chef Iaccarino's Tomato Soup.

Raffaele helped me break into the crispy crust - the bowl was scorching hot.

It was almost a shame to break it open - but that was the only way to taste what was awaiting inside.
Tomato soup prepared with San Marzano tomatoes from the family's farm in Punta Campanella.

Tomato soup with king crab, the catch of the day.

Tomato soup with a chunk of prosciutto cotto.
Tomato soup and then some...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Amazing Appetizer - Shrimp and Potatoes, Chef Eduardo Estatico, J Kitchen, Capri (Na)

I had just finished my first glass of wine and an awesome conversation with Martino Acampora, general manager of J Place in Capri.  My lunch at J Kitchen, the hotel's restaurant was off to a promising start.  A brief pause as we both looked over the railing of the hotel's terrace as my second appetizer was brought to my table.
Ah, this one is my favorites, shared Acampora...Buon Appetito, he added with a smile as he left me to my lunch and went back to care for his guests.
Well...he left me with a plate of colorful comfort food prepared by Chef Eduardo Estatico.

Fresh local shrimp...

creamy potatoes...

an amazing combination of extra virgin olive oil and basil...

shrimp eggs also known as corrallo di gambero...


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Super Sandwiches - Panino alla Carbonara - Chef Maurizio De Riggi, Ristorante Markus, (Na)

Slowly, carefully, one by one, Chef Maurizio De Riggi placed egg yolks into a frying pan.  I watched from above, seated on the spiral staircase that connected the two levels of the party boat known as Roof and Sky in Bacoli (Na).  De Riggi was one of the Fantastic Four chefs on hand to present a series appetizers using cozze, mussels.

The chef, however did not turn on the burner to fry the eggs.  Instead he got out a kitchen blowtorch and began toasting the yolks from the top to form a protective crust while leaving the yolk nice and runny inside.

What was the plan?  A Panino alla Carbonara - a super sandwich made with the chef's own mini sandwich bun made with latte nobile.  After placing the burnt yolk on the bun, Chef De Riggi sprinkled mussel powder on top.  He next followed it with a pancetta, mousse made with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a few sprigs of valerian.

This ain't your mother's egg mcmuffin...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Spanish Potato Omelette - Chef Jesus Monedero - Restaurante Palio - Toledo, Spain

I met Chef Jesus Monedero of Toledo, Spain a few months ago at a dinner at Pastificio Dei Campi in Gragnano (Na).  The cena was pasta based, but Chef Monedero decided to kick things off with his version of a Spanish classic.  A Spanish potato omelette.  

Chef Monedero

Watching the chef put the dish together was informative and entertaining as he turned simple ingredients into what became our amazing appetizer that evening.  Recently I asked the chef for the recipe...and here it is.

Spanish Omelette

Ingredients for a 20 cm diameter omelette:
( 4 people )

8 eggs
4 medium size potatoes
1 small onion
olive oil

It's important to use a good frying pan so that the omelette does not stick.  Peel the potatoes and onion.  Chop everything with a knife.  Saute the onions in a pan.  Boil the sliced potatoes in salted water.  When they are cooked, drain in a colander.   In a bowl, beat the eggs briskly.  Mix with the potatoes and onions.  Add salt to taste.  

 Put a non-stick pan on the heat with a little olive oil and when hot, pour in the potato mixture.

When the bottom of the omelette has cooked, flip it over with the help of a large dish.  Cook on the other side. 

 When the omelette is done, slide it onto a dish and enjoy!!


Cooking time depends on how moist you like your omelette - though be careful not to overcook.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vodka, Mussels, Etc, Etc - Chef Michele Grande, Roof and Sky, Bacoli (Na)

Monday evening, a half hour or so before sunset Chef Michele Grande was behind the bar of his Roof and Sky on Lake Miseno in Bacoli (Na).  He looked pretty intense.  I was curious as to what he was up to - he and about 25 ish shot glasses.

Chef Michele Grande

He looked up, smiled, and when I asked what was his latest concoction, he answered -a vodka shot
I think the last time I had a vodka shot was back in college...visions of happy hours and chicken wings flashed in my head.
But I wasn't in college, I was in Bacoli, and Grande's vodka shot would be my introduction into an evening full of appetizers for an event entitled Apericozza during Malaze'.

And the shots back then looked nothing like this...

2 mussels
a dash of Tabasco sauce
5 drops of freshly squeezed lemon
a shot of vodka

The shots back then tasted nothing like this...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mediterranean Cooking Congress - October 13 - 15, 2014

Mediterranean Cooking Congress is the plan put in place by the company By Tourist, which is specialized in publishing and communication in the field of maritime tourism and catering through the brands 30Nodi and Gusto Mediterraneo. In the context of business operations and continuous interaction with leading companies in their respective sectors, the team By Tourist has fielded a number of initiatives aimed at the promotion of the region of Campania and strengthen trade exchanges between local businesses and the other Italian regions, exports to Europe and indeed in the Mediterranean. The starting point of any project is the knowledge of the area and the material to be developed. In the field of numerous professionals and professional companies, building synergies with ongoing opening in comparison. And 'from this vision that the idea of a Congress of Mediterranean cuisine, with the active participation of 12 foreign chefs (1 per country of the Mediterranean), 12 renowned Italian chef and competent in terms of raw materials and knowledge of the regions of origin , a sociologist and an anthropologist. Listeners will be the associations of chefs in the country, hotel schools of Campania and Professional Italian Cooking Schools and Foreign, Italian and foreign manufacturers, importers and distributors Italian and foreign. Objective: Protect the Identity to Be More Competitive, promoting exchanges between the nations of the Mediterranean, but with skill and preserving traditions. In this sense they have a central role in the maritime connections and transport services between nations in question. It is no coincidence then the location of the Congress will ship Tirrenia, historical Italian company, based in the port of Naples. 

  • - Monday October 13, 2014
  • 10:00 hours aboard Tirrenia - The Mediterranean Cooking Congress
  • 18:00 cooking class with foreign chef to cooking school Dolce&Salato
  • 21:000 hour dinner with La Caffettiera restaurant with foreign chefs and Italian
  • - Tuesday October 14, 2014
  • 10:00 hours aboard Tirrenia - The Mediterranean Cooking Congress
  • 18:00 cooking class with foreign chef to cooking school Dolce&Salato
  • 21:000 hour dinner with Miglio D'Oro Park Hotelrestaurant with foreign chefs and Italian
  • - Wednesday October 15, 2014
  • At 11:00 am on board Tirrenia - The Mediterranean Cooking Congress Press Conference with presentation of the conclusions of the Congress, gathered in a publication TASTE THE MEDITERRANEAN, edited By Tourist which will be distributed in December.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Snapshot of the Day -Caprese Salad - A Campania Classic at J Kitchen, Capri (Na)

The ingredients are few; mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil.  And as I noticed on a recent visit with Chef Eduardo Estatico of J Kitchen in Capri, a simple Caprese salad can be a spectacular representation of the Campania region.  
Mozzarella di bufala cheese DOP.  This one from Battipaglia (Sa), not far from the ruins of Paestum. Four different types of pomodoro for four flavorful experiences. Yellow and red piennolo tomatoes from Mt Vesuvius, San Marzano plum tomatoes, and tomatoes from Sorrento.  A few basil leaves from the chef's garden just a few yards from the kitchen's back door and the dish is ready.  
When the dish arrives at your table, you can decide what you want to add.  Extra virgin olive oil?  Salt? Pepper?
Or as I prefer it, just like this...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Snapshot of the Day - E Pane Sia - The Bread Oven at Don Alfonso 1890, Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi (Na)

 I wrote a week or so ago about a book that I read over the summer.  La Cucina del Cuore by Chef  Alfonso Iaccarino.A book that I enjoyed so much, not only for the content but for the way it was written.  It feels as if Chef Iaccarino is sitting down with you in his garden on a wicker lawn chair sharing his stories with you personally, one on one. The pages come alive as he   discusses the importance of bread not only in his restaurant, by in his daily life as well.  How he often brings a piece of freshly baked bread with him during his travels.  How his staff gives him a pane status update each day as soon as he enters the kitchen.
Chef Iaccarino continues by talking about his wood burning oven out in the garden.  With ceramic tiles dating back to the 17th century chosen by his wife Livia.  The one lit every morning, rain or shine, to make the wide varieties of breads that end up on the tables daily for the diners from all over the world who visit the restaurant.

Non pou' esserci giorno della vita dell'umanita' senza pane, non pou' esserci giorno nella vita del Don Alfonso senza profumo di lievito, non pou' esserci giorno della mia vita in cui non abbia assaggiata una crosta....

(p. 120, Iaccarino)
There cannot be a day in the life of humanity without bread, there cannot be a day in the life of Don Alfonso without the aroma of yeast, there can't be a day in my life in which I haven't eaten a crust (of bread)...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Snapshot of the Day - Pizza, Pallagrello, Pepe in Grani - Caiazzo (Ce)

 Overall it had been a pretty relaxing eveing.  I arrived in Caiazzo (Ce) at about 7:15 pm, in time to catch a quick tour of Pepe in Grani led by Maestro Pizzamaker Franco Pepe.  By 8 pm, the place was jam packed, but I had the perfect table.  A small table next to the kitchen close enough to enjoy the view of Pepe and his staff whip out some of Italy's best pizzas.  A small table not far from the patio door where I could enjoy a cool breeze on a hot summer evening.  A small table with Caiazzo classics - Franco Pepe's open version of his pizza a scarola calzone and a glass of Pallagrello bianco.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Fantastic Firsts - Pasta and Potatoes with Anchovy Sauce and Bottarga - Chef Michele De Martino, Ristorante Evu (Sa)

Andiamo in cucina, let's go into the kitchen.  Those were the words spoken to me by Chef Michele De Martino after I'd eaten several appetizers during my lunch at Ristorante Evu earlier in the summer.  De Martino was ready to share with me a series of primi piatti, first courses that he guaranteed I would enjoy.
Chef Michele De Martino

Pasta e Patate - he announced.  Pasta with potatoes.
My heart sank just a bit ish.  Sure, I have learned to love this pasta dish, but I always thought of it as a recipe for late fall or even winter.  When the temperature was a tad bit cooler.  Definitely not during the summer.  But I remained silent.

I remained silent and watched as he prepared one of the most delicious first courses that I have tasted in a long time.
De Martino diced up previously boiled potatoes and added them to a pan which he had sauteed a  little garlic and Italian parsley in extra virgin olive oil.

In the meantime, a  serving or two of pasta mista (delicata) was boiling away.
A splash of anchovy sauce to the potatoes instead of salt for that Evu touch.  The chef doesn't leave home without it...

When the pasta was about 2/3 cooked, he added it to the potato mixture.  He stirred and tossed and stirred.

A couple of minutes later, a fistful of shredded potatoes were added then he was ready to plate.

Sprinkle a little bottarga..
and here we are.