Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Neapolitan Roccoco' 2016/2017, Chef Lino Scarallo, Palazzo Petrucci (Na)

It's less than a month away from Natale  but the Christmas spirit has already been spotted in some of the top restaurants throughout Campania.  Like at Palazzo Petrucci, the Michelin starred restaurant located on the beach in Posillipo.  It's here where Chef Lino Scarallo shared his latest twist on the Neapolitan Christmas classic - his Roccoco'2016/2017.

Roccoco' is a Christmas cookie unlike the ones I grew up with.  It looks like a flat doughnut.  It can also be very hard, requiring one to break off small pieces and eat them slowly. It does, however, contain certain flavors that are warm and comforting. A fusion of pisto; spices such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise.  Almonds, honey, and lemon/orange peel are also added to the cookie dough.

At quick glance at Scarallo's 2016/2017 version of this classic reminded me instantly of Saturn surrounded by a thin crunchy cookie ring.  I broke open the celestial sphere and found a creamy roccoco' mousse.

And what were those yellow cosmic creations??

A combination of velvety foam made with Strega liqueur and tiny gel limoncello droplets.

Complimenti, Chef!

The second in my series #adottaunochef #chicchef with Chef Lino Scarallo and CHIC.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Na Tazzulella 'e Café, Romeo Hotel (Na), Snapshot of the Day

In Naples, that coffee moment is a must.  Add an amazing view like this one from the 10th floor terrace of the Romeo Hotel in Naples, Italy featuring Mount Vesuvius in the background... well, 'nuff said!.  This tazzulella, cup of coffee concluded my spectacular breakfast one sunny Sunday morning. Details soon.

In the meantime - enjoy a coffe break.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Amazing Appetizers, Chef Oliver Glowig, La Tavola, Il Vino, La Dispensa, (Rm)

Chef Oliver Glowig

I decided to take a little train trip last weekend.  A day trip from Naples to Rome, a trip that would take a little more than an hour.  
My trip was not designed to visit any of the museums, fountains, churches, or amazing sights around the eternal city.   I actually had no intention of leaving the Rome Terminal train station at all!
Reason?  I wanted to check out 2 starred Michelin Chef Oliver Glowig’s new adventure – a restaurant name La Tavola, Il Vino, La Dispensa (Table, Wine, Pantry).  A restaurant located in Mercato Centrale Roma – a refined food court featuring  some of Rome’s (and Italy’s)  top foodie stops. 

 This would be my first visit to check out the chef’s cuisine so I as full of nervous excitement as I walked up the stairs, sat down, and looked over the menu.
Nerves calmed down thanks to the casual ambiance,  a glass of champagne and an aperitif with Glowig as he helped me pick out his specialties – beginning with the appetizers.

Cooked and raw fruit and vegetables.  A piece of art!

Anchovies alla colatura with chicory and ricotta.  

Simple exciting flavors – 

I’ve never had anchovies and ricotta together.

Scottona beef (knife beaten) with buffalo mozzarella and anchovies.  

This beef had a nutty favor thanks to the cattle’s hazelnut diet.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

In an Easy chair with the Chef – Chef Lino Scarallo, Palazzo Petrucci (Na)

Maurizio De Giovanni and Chef Lino Scarallo

There had been a particular event circled on my calendar for quite some time.  Thursday, 17 November – In Poltrona con lo Chef.  An evening in which I could not only have the opportunity to observe Michelin starred Chef Lino Scarallo  in action – but grab the chance to see him away from the stove tops and pass at Palazzo Petrucci.  He temporarily transferred some of his brigade and dining room staff to Hart Cinema in Naples for the first night of a five evening series entitled In Poltrona con lo Chef/ In an Easy chair with the Chef.

An evening organized by Wine And The City  – Napoli to pair up chefs, authors, cinema and of course food and wine!
As the lights went down, I sat down as well…in an easy chair – row B, poltrona 12.  A seat in a sold out crowd to watch, listen, laugh, taste and enjoy an evening out  in Naples. 

The serata/evening began with a Neapolitan film (produced by Garofolo pasta -a sponsor of the evening).  Short, entertaining, and starring a cameo by a young Gennaro Esposito (2 starred Michelin chef and Founder of Festa a Vico).  Then a reading by Neapolitan writer Maurizio De Giovanni, who in his simpatico style, poked fun at the trend of gourmet restaurants who focus on small portions and high profit margins. 

Throughout all of this foreplay, the audience and I munched on tarallo, drank a hot octopus broth, and snacked on appetizers prepared previously by the Palazzo Petrucci team.

Then it was time to hear from Scarallo himself.  He spoke of his experiences, his roots, his love for the cucina Campania, napoletana …the audience and I ate it up alongside his squid, endive salad, smoked buffalo milk cheese, toasted pine nuts, and candied lemons.

No Coke or Fanta for this tasting.  The wine was provided by Joaquin! A blend of three grape varieties from Capri - greco, falanghina, and biancolella.

The chef then conclude the evening with a smile and his latest creation - a very very traditional Neapolitan dessert that the chef revisited for a second time (the first time 20 years ago).  This time the classic dessert is in the shape of a lollipop!

Grande, chef! Grande evening!

The first in my series #adottaunochef #chicchef with Chef Lino Scarallo and CHIC.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Stepping Out of the Kitchen – Pastificio Gentile, Gragnano (Na)

Only a few weeks have passed since my visit to Pastificio Gentile’s newly renovated location along Windmill Valley in Gragnano.  I wrote about it here.  It was during that visit that I made plans to come back during the day, maybe with a notebook to take a few notes, and maybe with a few friends to share the experience. 
That’s what happened last Saturday.  I returned with a few friends…chefs from restaurants that I’ve visited in the past.  I invited them to step out of the kitchen so to speak, so that they can look at here their products come from/ho they are made.
What do chefs notice when they enter a pasta factory?  The aromas, the heat/calore… They touch, taste, and ask questions, share experiences, ideas.

 In the company of five chefs and a 7 year old opened up my mind (and taste buds:-D). A full on five senses experience!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Panettone Pleasures, Forno Guarino, Mirabella Eclano (Av)

I’d like to begin this post by saying that I’ve been in a love/hate relationship with panettone for over 20 years.  Panettone, historically known as a ‘Christmas Cake’ in Italian,  is traditionally made with candied fruits and nuts and not a part of my childhood growing up in the suburbs of the USA. 
Yet, living in Italy for over 20 years hasn’t helped much either.  Maybe because my first introduction to a panettone was during a family Christmas gathering.  The economical store bought cake was cut and shared after a loooong meal. I didn’t like it all, primarily due to the very low quality of the ingredients.
Fast forward, about 20 years or so…here, thanks to the blog, I began trying panettone made by top pastry chefs, particularly those from southern Italy.  Artisans, I should say,who have opted for quality ingredients, focused on levitation processes, and a variety of flavors has opened my eyes and palate to a completely new world. 
Artisans and bakeries like Forno Guarino, which I have had the opportunity to taste their products off and on over the past 2 seasons.
Forno Guarino, located in Mirabella Eclano, deep in the Avellino province, has slowly but surely been making an impact in this competitive panettone market.  Avellino is known primarily for its vino, but just ten minutes or so from Taurasi, Forno Guarino (founded in 1982) has been working on panettone in their wood burning ovens for the past four years.  Baker Nicola Guarino in conjunction with top pastry chef Antonino Maresca have created a catalogue of 8 Christmas breads of which I had the pleasure to try five over the last few weeks in different occasions.

The first cake I tried by chance in Ischia.  It as an almost midnight snack served to me by Chef Nino Di Costanzo at his restaurant Dani Maison as a way to keep me occupied while I waited for the 0200 ferry to take me back home.  Natale e’…Christmas is.  

A slice of Christmas on that cool Ischia evening…aromas and flavors of mandarin, chocolate, pisto (spices used in the Neapolitan Roccoco’), almonds, hazelnuts, and must. 

A couple of weeks later, I met up with Laura Guarino who gave me the opportunity to try their chocolate version.  Chocolate and lemon, I should say.  

A panettone featuring slightly bitter chocolate and refreshing bits of candied lemon.

Next stop on the panettone express was last week in t in Naples.  An evening at Gran Caffe’ La Cafeteria.  An event for the press to try more of the Guarino inventory. 

Slices of heaven like their bread produced with the Guarino family’s extra virgin olive and verbena herbs that grow happily in Irpinia.  

Unlike the other cakes in the catalogue, this loaf is a savory one served on this particular evening with anchovy butter and orange peel shavings.

Their classic panettone featuring almonds and candied fruit.

A piece of Campania that included soft chunky pieces of annurca apples.

Each panettone strives on key principles, such as not containing conservatives or preservatives, levitation using lievito madre aka sourdough and highly recommends that each cake be eaten within thirty days. Did I already mentioned they are all cooked in a wood burning oven?  Definitely a challenge.  

Il panettone è fatto per essere mangiato, non lasciato sullo scaffale/panettone is made to be eaten, not left on the shelf , Antonino Maresca.

Ok, Maestro...
Let's eat!