Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Monday Night Pizza - Giving Back to Caiazzo, Pepe In Grani, Caizazzo (Ce)

Franco Pepe, Nino Di Costanzo, Alfonso Pepe at work
A couple of weeks ago I went out for a pizza.  That may not sound so unusual, but that particular evening was different.  That particular evening was special.  That particular evening was, as I like to call it, an evening of giving back.
Franco Pepe, owner/pizza maker of Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo has spent the last couple of years focusing on not only bringing the world to his pizzeria, but bringing the world to his section of the Caserta province as well.  Numerous national and international magazines, newspapers, television programs and events have made Caiazzo and the surrounding area a household name.  So he decided to give back.  He, along with a little help from his friends.  Two Campania giants; Chef Nino Di Costanzo (2 Michelin Stars) and Pastry Chef Alfonso Pepeshared the stage for a sold out event with one objective in mind.  Raise money for the needy in Franco Pepe's community.  Over 120 guests took part in an event that featured some amazing food and fun.
At 8:15 pm sharp, Chef Nino Di Costanzo began plating his first dish of the evening.  Red shrimp, with lemon ricotta, peas and their sprouts with flowers.   It took about 30 minutes or so before I worked up the 'courage' to ask the chef a question. He   was so entranced in the business at hand that I didn't want to interrupt. But I was curious...so finally I approached and with a whisper I asked 'scusa chef, what is that clear disc that you are placing alongside your antipasto?' He looked up- and without batting an eye he answered ' pellicola di mais...' an edible film made with corn. And with that, he picked one up, popped it in my mouth and went back to work. Paired with DUBL Aglianco Rose' spumante, Feudi di San Gregorio.

Nino Di Costanzo

Next up, time for pizza.  Two were on the menu.  A Margherita sbagliata - which basically is a twist on the classic pizza margherita (tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil).  Sbagliata means wrong, incorrect.  So Pizza maker Franco Pepe prepared the pizza backwards, you could say.  The pizza is placed in the oven with mozzarella cheese.  When it comes out, a decorative tasty squeeze of tomato sauce and basil sauce are placed on the pizza.  The second choice was also  his Sole nel Piatto-reloaded. a twist on his classic which features favorites such as mozzarella cheese, piennolo tomatoes but here is the catch - an anchovy mousse and a olive pate' instead of fresh anchovies and black olives from caiazzo...and after a long evening it paired perfectly with Birra Karma's Cubulteria.

Chef Di Costanzo had another dish for us.  He gave back with his second dish of the evening. a tender ox cheek (which slow cooked for 10 hours with pallagrello red wine), creamy potatoes and a honey sauce. Paired with Casavecchia Centomoggia 2011 by Terre del Principe.

Time for dessert and Master Pastry Chef Alfonso Caputo was ready.  He created and served a delicious Baba' al modo mio - his tribute dedicated to Franco Pepe's margherita sbagliata, a light and airy pastiera, and a Baba' made with annurca apples (which unfortunately, I didnt get a chance to try).  Paired with Passito secco  Isola d'Ischia Giardini Armei Fratelli Muratori.

Alfonso Pepe and Franco Pepe

I'd like to quote from the back of the evening's menu
Promuovere il territorio significa anche sostenierlo con piccole azione concrete...
Promoting a territory also means to support it with small specific/real actions

*Maitre Sommelier Ciro Sannino as well as Pepe Mancini, Terre del Principe , Feudi di San Gregorio, Fratelli Muratori and  the Karma Brewery also participated in the event, offering their services and products to this special cause.