Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fast and Fusion Night - Sakurajima Fusion Lab, Naples (Na)

There’s a town in Southern Japan known as the Naples of the Orient.  That town is Kagoshima.  Kagoshima is also Naples’s sister city and has many things in common with Italia's lively city .  Both cities have a mild climate, boast palm tree lined streets, are port cities, and are home to active volcanoes.
In fact, the name of Kagoshima’s volcano is also the name of Napoli’s latest Japanese fusion lab – Sakurajima located on Via Tasso. 

Sakurajima Fusion Lab is the dream of four Neapolitan amici - Alfredo Liguori, Danilo Cortimiglia, Maurizio Masala and Chef Stefano Esposito.  Esposito, aka – Chef Stef – with experience in top restaurants such as Tender One and Japan One, now is at the helm of this tiny, stylish, Neapolitan reality that is less than a month old.  I paid a visit last Thursday evening and made sure I had one of the seats at the counter so that I could observe the action.

This being my first visit, I decided to place myself in the hands of Chef Stef…

At the counter with Chef Stef

This is what he shared with me that cool rainy spring serata.

An array of crustaceans and mollusks tartar.

Salmon, octopus, Mazara red shrimp, scallops and scampi carpaccio.

A savory version of dorayaki starring smoked salmon, salad, ikura (salmon roe) and avocado cream.

Mare Nostrum - Our Sea - a triple of marinated seafood based on the catch of the day.

I had little space for a little more.  So I was treated to Chef Stef’s roll.  His Chef fa’ tu!
 A roll of seafood, vegetables and rice.

I had only scraped the surface of Sakurajima Fusion Lab's  menu but I knew that I’d be back.  Probably with my teenage son who I’m sure would love it.  Or maybe take advantage of the restaurant’s take away menu available online where a fast and fusion experience can be delivered to my doorstep!

Alla prossima fast and fusion night!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Let's Begin at the Beginning - Taverna Estia, Brusciano (Na)

I did a little studying before my visit to Taverna Estia (two-starred Michelin Restaurant) last weekend.  I read the menu online, chose what I wanted, and was determined not to be swayed by tasty temping words such as new menu or the like.
Or so I thought.  Not more than a couple of minutes after Maître Sommelier Mario Sposito shared with me a list of spring sensations that were coming soon, I broke down.  I happily broke down right after Chef Francesco Sposito popped his head out of the kitchen door to say hello and patiently wait for my order.
I looked at the menu.  I looked at Mario, then I looked back at the chef with a sigh and said France’, pensaci tu! Loosely translated as Francesco, you decide for me.

So let us begin at the beginning.  The aperitifs and appetizers hand stamped Taverna Estia!

New entries in the finger food department:

Whole wheat pasta brisee with herb ice cream, fresh mint leaves, and Maldon salt.

 Cannoli stuffed with ricotta, bonito fish, and red turnip sauce.

And classics such as toasted bread, butter and anchovy...

alongside soft green pea sponge with a sliver of pork cheek carefully laid on top.

Then a parade of exciting appetizers beginning with this colorful sea urchin.

The base of the dish is dehydrated sea algae.  Then the chef made an urchin granita that shared the space with a flavorful foamy provola cheese, and three leaf clover sprouts! The bread stick?  Not a bread stick at all, but a scorzanera root transformed perfectly into a tasty treat.

Here's a bit of spring.  A light fresh spring Sposito salad starring  asparagus.  It looks as if it's a garden lying on a bed of crumbled parmigiano shortcake. A honey vinegrette, green apple semispheres,  and a mustard ice cream with a kick completed the story.

A fresella made of pasta brisee with mussels, octopus, snails aka as munacill ,  shrimp, little clams and tomato chutney.  All in a roasted squid broth and spicy oil aka, holy oil

Last but not least - the dish that I was waiting for.  One that I had strongly suggested to Sposito that he include on my gastronomical journey.  Artichoke!

 Smoked artichokes stuffed with foam of pecorino cheese and black truffles.
Sposito pratically painted the plate using garlic, Italian parsely, and anchovy cream.  Fantastic!

And this was just the beginning!!!!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jam Session at the Table- Il Saturnino Ristorante, Ischia (Na)

One of the best things about hopping around for a post for my blog, is that magical moments pop out  of nowhere.  Like last month while I was rolling  in Ischia with Ivano Veccia to meet our Instagram contest winner.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to stop by Chef Ciro Mattera's restaurant Il Saturnino in Forio d'Ischia.

Chef Ciro Mattera
Mattera was preparing to open for the season so he figured it would be a great opportunity to warm up the stove tops!  Here's a look at what went down!

Silver scabbardfish filled with hake roe and marinated red cabbage.

Bonito fish with oil, lemon and mint emulsion.

Crunch cod on, velvety onion and fava beans.

Fish fillet on cold fennel fondue and friarielli.

Mattera's dishes delicately represented the spring season teamed up with the sea that could be seen outside the restaurant's window.  It was a great afternoon, I must admit.  A chance to relax a bit before I needed to catch the ferry back home.
Also a chance to chat with amica blogger Valentina Scotti, a true Ischitana and chef Ermanno Nicoella.  Scotti and I managed to convince the chef to hop into the kitchen for an invention test featuring some of the ingredients that Mattera had served us at lunch for an impromptu' primo piatto.

Scotti and Nicolella

Fedelini pasta with a creamy spring onion sauce, friarielli greens, fava beans and peas tossed together in a pan with  silver scabbardfish.

A perfect pranzo!

A presto