Monday, August 31, 2015

A Summer Serata with the Ragosta Hotels Collection - Hotel Raito, Raito (Sa)

Save the date, Karen...22 August.
Those were the words spoken to me by Chef Francesco Russo a few months ago after an early spring lunch at Il Golfo Ristorante in Raito (Sa) He continued by explaining that the Ragosta Hotel Collection chain of 5 star hotels would be hosting the third evening of  three part dinner series  there at the hotel.
It sounded interestingly tasty, so I penciled the date into my agenda...

The date arrived - a late summer Saturday evening.  The six hands dinner which showcased the talents of three chefs from three separate hotels in three separate regions.  Six hands that worked well together thanks to not only their professionalism, but also to a  strong friendship that ties them together.

From left to right -Chef Francesco Russo of Hotel Raito on the Amalfi Coast, Chef Simone Strano of Palazzo Martemartini in Rome, and Chef Giovanni Grasso of La Plage Resort in Sicily.

The meal began with a light breeze and Neapolitan music on the terrace of the hotel.

I was given  glass of spumante and a  welcome from the chefs featuring fried anchovies, anchovy butter, foccacia bread, and tomatoes.

Each chef personally accompanied their dishes to every table and spent time with the guests to explain their dish and wish a sincere Buon Appetito...

First up was the host of the evening, Chef Russo whose dish represented his region, Campania.

Chef Francesco Russo

A sfogiatella pastry appetizer filled with eggplant parmigiana. This sat on a ragu sauce that was made with moscardini which are baby octopus.  The wine served with this dish was from Campania as well. Tramonti Bianco Costa D'Amalfi Doc 2014, Cantine Giuseppe Apicella.

The next course was a pasta dish presented by Chef Strano.

Chef Simone Strano

The chef's plate represented the region of Lazio  and starred an oxtail stuffed ravioli with an oxtail and tomato sauce. This dish was paired with De Notaris Malvasia Lazio IGP 2014.

The secondo, or main dish was presented by Chef Grasso who put together the flavors of Sicily.

Chef Giovanni Grasso
That included a swordfish flan which he stuffed with sun dried tomato confit, clams and mussels.  He served it on top of crushed potatoes.  A Sicilian rose' wine was chosen from this dish; Pietradolce Etna Rosato DOC 2014.

Time for dessert. Cannoli, lemon, zabaglione, and ricotta cheese formed a tight friendship on this dessert plate... like the chefs who prepared them.

Right after dessert,  I decided to stroll around the terrace and take a look at some of the works of art on display.  Paintings, or better yet, Food Paintings produced by Chef Russo himself.  The chef joined me and pointed spoke with me about several...

For example, his World Wine painted with tinted extra virgin olive oil and wine.  The world map is changed by the presence of the Americas on the right and not the left.  He also pointed out  that between Asia and North America there is a profile of female face, inspired by Caravaggio's Magdalene

Or this one entitled Tumeric which is exactly what he used along with oils and acrylics and the help of a fork, not a paintbrush.

World Coke features real coke cans and melted plastic forks.

Salmon and Spinach was painted on 170 wine bottle corks.

The evening was over.  I made a quick trip to the upstairs bar for a quick caffe' for the road, a few minutes of fireworks, a few words with the chefs before I hit the road.  

But not before mentally adding two future dinner dates in my agenda...

Sicily and Rome.
Why not?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fantastic Firsts - Tortello Pasta with Cicala di Mare and Truffles, Chef Giacomo De Simone, Ristorante Punta Scutolo, Seiano (Na)

It has been a sensational seafood summer thanks to dishes like this one served on the beach in Seiano on the Sorrento coast.  Chef Giacomo De Simone of Ristorante Punta Scutolo presented this first course dish that was as light and delicate as the sea breeze that August afternoon.

Fresh tortello pasta...

stuffed with cicala di mare, also known as canocchie, or mantis shrimp...

with shavings from truffles from the nearby town of Faito...


Saturday, August 22, 2015

From an Historical Aglianico Vineyard to a Glass of Wine, Vineyard Hopping with the Mastroberardino Winery, Luogosano (Av)

During the drive from Apice in the province of Benevento  to Luogosano in Avellino, the conversation went from lively  to nearly silent.  It was a late morning towards the end of July, and I was sitting shotgun next to agronomist Antonio Dente of Mastroberardino Winery  for another vineyard hopping adventure.

At first I wasn't sure what we were doing on this side of Irpinia's Aglianico country- mentally performing a quick inventory of  where the winery has their Aglianico vineyards...Montemarano, Pietrdefusi, Mirabella, Pompeii...
But Luogosano?

La vigna storica, Dente said as he turned down a narrow road.  We've spoken about it before.

The historical Aglianico vineyards that have been the roots, so to speak, of an exciting experiment that Mastroberardino Winery has been working on since 2000. Yes - spoken about it, but I had never been. Until today.

Instantly I straightened up in my seat and looked intently out the window as that narrow road became an even narrower path with vegetation closing in around us. Dente continued driving, however, and we eventually came to a small clearing where he stopped the car and parked.

After a moment or two, I exited the vehicle. I was silent as I slowly walked towards a small shed at one side of the vineyard.  A tiny vineyard, with only 30 vines towering overhead.

A vineyard immersed in in a small oak and walnut tree forest - unseen from the main road.  The vines here were around 100 years old.  Ungrafted vines that had lived through and survived phlloxera and an earthquake.

I walked around in that loose sandy soil  and my silent thoughts and emotions nearly drowned out Dente as he reviewed with me what he has told me before on previous occasions.  He reviewed with me that the cuttings from these vines were the ones used in research which resulted in the classification of two Aglianico clones named after the late Dr Antonio MastroberardinoAntonio Mastroberardino VCR 418 and  Antonio Mastroberardino VCR 421.  

He reviewed with me that cuttings from the 30 vines here were planted in nearby Mirabella Eclano at the winery's Radici Resort, back behind the clubhouse back in 2004.  

Each vine with numbers that matched up with labels in the Mirabella Eclano vineyard in order to track the progress and quality of the vines as well as keep track of their origin.  

Vineyard visit in Mirabella Eclano back in 2011.

He reviewed with me that after a few years of numerous tests and controls, only two vines passed the tests required and were chosen to be grafted onto existing piedirosso vines in Mirabella Eclano.
And in 2008, the grapes from these vines produced the first bottles of RediMore Irpinia Aglianico Doc.

Vineyard visit in Mirabella Eclano back in 2011.

Vineyard visit in Mirabella Eclano back in 2011.

Vineyard visit in Mirabella Eclano back in 2011.

 I looked up towards the vines,  bursting with vegetation, still producing bunches of grapes high high above the ground.  Bellow, willow branches tightly embracing the vines to thick wooden poles. 

 A cool breeze that disguised the fact that just 50 meters or so away, down that narrow path we'd be back on one the town's main road. Where the hot humid late July sun made it almost unbearable to be outside as our watches read nearly 1 pm in the afternoon.

Back in the car. The next stop was obvious. Radici Resort.  Time for a break, time to go over notes, and of course have a bite to eat.  Piero Mastroberardino, president of the winery, arrived about the same time and sat down and joined us.  We spoke about the day, what was going on in the vineyards, etc, etc.
And during the meal, after the appetizers and the first course, the conversation turned from lively to nearly silent.

It was time to open, pour and enjoy a glass of RediMore Irpinia Aglianico Doc 2012.

My silent thoughts and emotions nearly drowned out Mastroberardino and Dente as they continued their conversation...

Vineyard hopping 

full circle....

Further, more detailed information can be found here, in Italian, on Luciano Pignataro's Wine Blog.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pomigliano Jazz Festival - XX Edition, August 29 - September 13, 2015

The Pomigliano Jazz Festival is back with its 20th edition.  I had a chance to go last year (here) and am really looking forward to this year's lineup.

As last year, the Mt. Vesuvius crater will be among the various festival locations.
The link to the full program can be found here.

NOTE DI GUSTO/NOTES OF TASTE in collaboration with Slow Food Vesuvius, Naples and Agro Nolano, will also be present during each concert to promote wine, food and tourism with the aim to present the  Agri-food biodiversity of the  territories and the importance of preserving it in time to a large audience.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Thirteenth Edition of the "Immortal Falernum" Wine Competition, Falciano del Massico (Ce), August 29, 2015

Falciano del Massico in the Caserta province opens its door to the thirteenth edition of the Wine Competition "Immortal Falernum"
I've always had a soft part for Falerno del Massico wines and I am proud to participate in this exciting evening.

Here is what is going on...

 The prestigious event, strongly linked to the virtues of the   Falerno wine territory returns with its thirteenth edition, establishing itself as an event capable of engaging and enhancing the area. On August 29, 2015, in  the Piazza Limata  parking lot  in  Falciano del Massico, Wine Competition Immortal Falernum will return to the scene.. It is an event organized by Acsta, in collaboration with the Municipality of Falciano del Massico andby  the most important local wineries. A unique event and a professional quality in an area that, for years, has established itself as a leader in the wine industry and beyond. Partners include Slow Food Massico and Roccamonfina; Brotherhood of Falerno; Athena Goddess; Cantina Papa; Cantina Zannini; Lions Club and Pro Loco Falciano del Massico. The program focuses on a set of initiatives aimed at a wide publicto include tasting  workshops; wine tasting and local products; tastings of honey, cheese, olive oil and mozzarella.

Here is the agenda

18:30 - Conference "Towards a proposal for wine tourism for the Ager Falernus". The opening event will be accompanied by the participation s of the mayor of Falciano del Massico Giosuè Santoro Councillor for Agriculture  Angelo Manica, the President dell'Acsta Tommaso Fava, President of Slow Food Campania and Basilicata Dr. Giuseppe Orefice, National President ACLI Earth, Prof. Michele Zannini, Wine Blogger - Karen Phillips, President of Lions Club - Dr. Pasqualina Iossa. Politicians will also be present  as representatives of the Territory. The moderator of the conference will be the founder of the "Brotherhood of Falerno" Dr. Antonio Papa.

Then, from 20:15 onwards, there will be "Taste Workshops" in collaboration with Slow Food and Massico Roccamonfina and the Brotherhood of Falerno.

These workshops will follow the following schedule:

20:15 - Extra virgin olive oil, bread and olives.
21:00 - Honey and jams.
21:45 - Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP.
22:30 - The cheeses Casertano.
Throughout the evening stands will also be set up  for   tasting wine and local products.


A special thanks to Giuseppe Nicodemo for the text.