Monday, October 31, 2016

Travel Diary -Indian Summer Tour, Part 4, I Piatti di Nino, Nino Di Costanzo, Dani Maison, Ischia (Na)

Chef Nino Di Costanzo

An Indian Summer Tour could not be without a tour to the Islands.  I'm talking about Ischia and a return to the nouvissima restaurant Dani Maison.

7 October, 2016 - Indian Summer Travel Diary

It's almost impossible to talk about Nono Di Costanzo's dishes without talking about Nino Di Costanzo's dishes.  Di Costanzo, in my opinion, is the mad hatter of attention to detail.  Everything in his Dani Maison deserves a first second and yes, even a third look.  
My end of season visit to the 2 Michelin starred Chef Di Costanzo's home that cool October evening was full of eye popping presentations like...

His amazing appetizer of quail, scampi and chick peas on a colorful glass dish...

Di Costanzo's  linguine  Gerardo di Nola  starring garlic, extra virgin olive oil, anchovies and bruschetta...

Sure, one of the best fantastic firsts that I've ever tasted in a long long time, I fell in love with this serving dish made of stainless steel w ith copper underneath that not only a a work of art itself, but was hot hot to the touch.  And who wants cold cold pasta?

Time for dessert, well, the predessert.

 Il pomodoro.  A tomato, but not really....looks can be deceiving.  This passion fruit/chocolate delicacy was served on a hand blown hour glass complete with sand....


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Travel Diary- Indian Summer Tour 2016 Part 3...Amazing Appetizers, Chef Francesco Sposito, Taverna Estia, Brusciano (Na)

Chef Francesco Sposito

15 October, 2016 - Indian Summer Travel Diary

Over a year had passed since I sat down at a table at Taverna Estia in Brusciano, in the suburbs of Naples, Italy.  Needless to say that I as excited and curious as to what the 2 Starred Michelin Restaurant has been up to since my last visit.

I glanced quickly at the menu, even though I had already decided days earlier what I wanted after checking out the menu online. I decided that  Chef Francesco Sposito's  CaMpARE seafood based tasting menu  would serve  as my travel itinerar, maybe  including a detour or two.
Beginning with the beginning..

The bread basket featured this slice  of sour dough pane cafone) leavened for 72 hours and a touch of bran in the flour mixture)

Next stop, Sposito’s famous finger foods.  
His starter plate had some familiar faces such as his version of bread, butter, and anchovies…

His green pea sponge cake…

And his algae chips…

Grande surprises were definitely the new entries…

Fried ravioli stuffed with lobster…

Cucumber cube with amberjack, wasabi, and nori seaweed…

A whole wheat pate brisée cone filled with parmesan mousse, meat carpaccio and powdered paprika.

Then a fuori menu – one I’d like to call the oyster bar is open.
What an oyster!  

Topped with tomato water foam, Campari soda granite, and spring onions.

Sposito then brought me back to the menu and sent out his classic appetizer that the world has been talking about.  Now it was my turn to try…

Squid tagliatelle and dried black squid ink. Probably, no definitely one of the best dishes I have ever tasted. Why did I wait so long???

As I was savoring over that dish, sipping  a glass of wine and out of the kitchen came fuori menu number two –

Sposito’s eggplant parmigiana topped with baby eggplants and candied tomatoes. 

A tazza of eggplant cappuccino on the side.

I've always had an enormous amount of respect for Chef Francesco Sposito and the entire Sposito family. But during lunch Saturday, at around 1407, that respect blossomed into something stronger - admiration/adoration…

And these were only the appetizers…


Monday, October 24, 2016

Spaghetti Madness x 2 - Chef Luigi Salomone and Chef Cristian Torsiello, Chef Experience at Piazzetta Milu

A four hands dinner featuring two plates of spaghetti madness? I am so there.
The place, PiazzettaMilu in Castellammare di Stabia (Na).  Head Chef Luigi Salomone invited amicone Cristian Torsiello of Osteria Arbustico, Valva (Sa) to join him in his kitchen for una grande evening of great food, wine and company Campania style.

Spaghetti madness part 1.
Sous Chef Mario Fusco and Chef Luigi Salomone
I got a glimpse of the plate in progress while leaning against the wall in the kitchen.  Salomone and his sous chef Mario Fusco stirring and tasting, tasting and stirring…until it was just right. 

An appetizer of spaghetti di Gragnano, fermented greens, and stracciata di bufala….

Next, Spaghetti madness part 2.

Chef Cristian Torsiello

Torsiello in action.  Take a look at this pot!  Shaken and stirred!

Spaghettone di Gragnano with turnip greens and herring.

Pasta is a girl’s best friend x 2…

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Travel Diary - Indian Summer Tour 2016, Part 2...Amazing Appetizers - Chef Alfonso Caputo, Taverna Del Capitano (Na)

Chef Alfonso Caputo
1 October, 2016 - Indian Summer Travel Diary

The last fifteen minutes or so of my eighty-minute drive to Marina Del Cantone is probably my favorite.  An immersion of century old olive trees blends into spectacular views of the sea.  It is at this point that I usually turn my car radio off and enjoy the rest of my drive towards Taverna del Capitano, the Michelin starred restaurant/hotel run by the Caputo family.

1:00- pm ish
The kitchen, a traditional first stop whenever I visit Taverna del Capitano.  The kitchen is small, cozy, and calm.  A calm before the storm, so to speak.  A chance to chat with Chef Alfonso Caputo and maybe, just maybe get a sneak peek of hat he has in mind for his simple savory appetizers.  No such luck! I make my way to my favorite table with a perfect view of the beach.

1: 25 pm ish
Maître Sommelier Mariella Caputo pours me a glass of Nudo Erioco Falanghina Spumante Extra Dry.  She knows me ell, including my passion for Campania wines, particularly Falanghina del Sannio.  This would prove to be the perfect pairing for whatever appetizer that the chef had in mind for me that Indian summer afternoon.

1: 30 pm ish
Il Benvenuto
Fried onion/fish ring with black rice…

1: 37 pm ish
Caputo’s take on onion ravioli...but in this case, the ravioli is made of onions!  Inside?  Fresh ricotta cheese then topped with a bit of the sea – octopus, of course!

1:53 pm ish
Another colorful and flavorful example of the chef’s love for the sea outside his window in complete harmony with the bounty of the territory around him.  Shrimp, white seabream, capers, melon, and zucchini…

2:08 pm ish
This dish came out with a smile and a bit of advice from Claudio Di Mauro.  Di Mauro, suggested that instead of using a teaspoon for the chef’s last but not least appetizer of sea urchin and arugula ice cream, I should use a little piece of their homemade bread to scoop out the flavors.  The sweetness of the pane combined with the savory flavor of the sea urchin alongside the bitterness of the arugula as a combination that I do not believe I have ever tasted.

Thanks, Claudio.

Thanks, Mariella.

Thanks, Chef Alfonso!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Travel Diary - Indian Summer Tour 2016 Part 1

It seems like summer in Campania never ends!  That is what I’ve noticed in the 20 plus years that I’ve made this part of Italia home.  So, while vacationers flood the beaches and restaurants in August, others in September, I like to wait just a bit longer. 

October.  The weather usually agrees with me and gift wraps an amazing Indian summer. This year was a little unpredictable, but I lucked out with the four restaurants I chose for my 2016 adventure.

Here’s a look –

First stop – Taverna del Capitano, Marina del Cantone (Na).   Home to Michelin starred Chef Alfonso Caputo.  This was my second visit this season; I had visited back in May.  So why go back?  Tradition, maybe.  The location is peaceful off-season, paired with amazing food and wine…details soon.

Chef Alfonso Caputo

Second stop – Dani Maison, Ischia (Na).  A second look at 2 Michelin starred Chef Nino Di Costanzo’s restaurant that he opened in June 2016 in his childhood home.  My first visit was a Saturday lunch.  My second?  I was able to snag a reservation on a Friday evening just a couple of days before he closed for the 2016 season.  Lucky, because the chef’s home only has 20 seats.  Innovative and intimate.  I’ll share why.

Chef Nino Di Costanzo
Third stop – Taverna Estia, Brusciano (Na).  A long overdue visit to the youngest 2 Starred Michelin Chef in Europe, Francesco Sposito.  Over a year had passed since my last visit, so I was eager to try some of his classic dishes for the first time as well as a few surprises that Sposito tossed in. Coming up!

Chef Francesco Sposito

Fourth stop- Agriturismo Il Contandino, Caianello (Ce).  Sunday lunch has always been important to me.  I chose to end my tour on a Sunday in famiglia at one of the most sought after Sunday spots in Campania.  In the company of Berardino Lombardo, his team, and some down home country cookin’…Can’t wait to share!

Chef Beardino Lombardo 
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting here about my bellissima aventura

A presto!

Travel Itinerary here!