Monday, June 26, 2017

Super Summer Pre-Desserts, Ristorante Mamma', Capri (Na)

My recent trip to Capri gave me a chance to try a super summer pre dessert by Michelin starred chef Salvatore La Ragione of Ristorante Mammà

Every pre-dessert is designed to refresh your palate after a meal of savory dishes and prepare you for the sweet that lies ahead.

Here's his yogurt mousse and citris crumble...
Starring cool cubes of tangy green apple confit.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Virgin Moscow Mule, Super Summer Pre- Desserts, Divina Ischia, Sant Angelo, Ischia (Na)

The summer season, in my opinion, is an exciting one for pre-desserts.  Like this one I tried at Divina Ischia in Sant' Angelo, Ischia.  It's called the Virgin Moscow Mule.

Ginger, brown sugar, lime juice, ginger ale, and frozen summer fruit.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hot, Hot, Hot, Hotel Ferdinando, Santa Angelo, Ischia (Na)

A little over a month ago, one of my dozen escursions to my adopted homeland, Ischia.
I was in the company of my amicone Giuseppe (aka Giu) Iacono who suggested we have our pre lunch aperitif at an interesting place- le fumarole. Le fumarole, hot springs, a small slice of Ischia where the sands are so hot that a portion is cordoned off! A sign signalling danger- the sands can reach up to 100 degrees Celsius/ 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Too hot to walk on, spread out a beach towel, catch some rays- the perfect spot to cook an entire meal - sotto la sabbia- underneath the sand.
Our appointment was 1200 pm ish with Fernanda Iacano of Hotel Ferdinando on the beach. Timing was the key- so Giu and I hopped on one of Sant Angelo electric taxis and headed for Maronti.
I could feel the temperature change in that short 5 minute ride.  The cool sea breeze had disappeared.  I'm sure that the temperature rose at least 5 degrees Celsius as we hooped off our ride and headed for the beach.

There I met Franco- who I soon learned - who was the first life guard in the area.  Franco is the one who digs up the dishes that Fernanda Iacano has placed to cook for her chalet and her restaurant up the hill.

Timing is crucial, I mentioned earlier.  Becaus, the entire menu is cooked under the sand.  No peeking, lifting the lid, etc etc.  Just years of experience allows Fernanda Iacano to understand if and when the dishes are ready.
And we arrived just in time...

Up the hill, other dishes took advantage of the hot thermal sands.  The same heat that cleanses the pores of the spa guests also cooked to perfection the stuffed squid. It's too bad the aromas that escaped from the stainless steel dishes used to prepare each part of an amazing meal awaiting guests that afternoon.

Giu and I came for an amazing appetizer - Fernanda served up an octopus with potatoes and red peppercorns. One of the most tender offerings of a very difficult dish that I have ever tasted.

And as I sipped a bit of octopus broth, I made a promise to myself - to return and try the entire menu!!

Hot, hot, hot!!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Amazing Appetizer, Chef Pasquale Palamaro, Ristorante Indaco, Ischia (Na)

It was a steamy Saturday evening in Ischia. To be more precise -Ristorante Indaco, Michelin starred restaurant in the heart of the 5 star Luxury hotel Hotel Regina Isabella located in Lacco Ameno. 
Chef Pasquale Palamaro served me a soup as part of his tasting menu that evening.  A soup! 

A soup, which for the chef, was inspired by a dish that his mother often prepared for him, his 2 brothers and 1 sister when he was a child.  His mom would take advantage of any leftover mozzarella or fior di latte and prepare a meal by adding tomatoes and basil.

Palamaro took this memory a step further – he gave it a gourmet touch.  Fresh basil leaves were placed in a ceramic dish.  Then ,table side,, our server added tepid water- not for show, but to release the spectacular summer aromas that only a basilica napoletano can give.

Afterwards, a simple tomato soup with mozzarella, shrimp joined us at the table for an experience rich in flavors, aroma, and memories.

As I took my last spoonful, I couldn’t help but think about a memory from my childhood.  A tomato soup that my mom served with grilled cheese sandwiches and crackers.

Grazie, chef!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Dinners 2017, Ristorante Indaco, Lacco Ameno, Ischia (Na)

Chef Pasquale Palamaro and Chef Roberto Petza

Friday night, June 16th, Chef Pasquale Palamaro, Ristorante Indaco, Hotel Regina Isabella's Michelin starred restaurant, kicked off the  Summer Dinners 2017  The Cuisine of the Islands series.  Chef Palamaro invited fellow Michelin starred chef Roberto Petza of S'Apposentu in Sardegna.

Here's a look at how the evening went beginning with the appetizers -

Impressioni ed emozioni/ Impressions and emotions. (Palamaro and Petza)


 Fried soft shelled crab and tartar. (Palamaro)


Oyster, onion and sea lettuce. (Petza)

First Course

Fregola soup with gifts from the garden, basil and citrus scents (Petza)

Main Course

A thousand colors for a turbot fish in a savory  English cream sauce (Palamaro)

Pre dessert

Amaro Dolce/ Bittersweet (Palamaro)


A stroll through the garden...(Petza)

A great way to jump start a spectacular summer!

Here's the lineup for the rest of the series:

 7/20 - Salvatore la Ragione - Ristorante Mamma' - Capri 
9/01 - Massimo Larosa - Restaurant it - Ibiza 
10/14/ - Martina Caruso - Hotel Signum - Elisa Salina

The series is sponsored by 
Tenuta Masone Mannu
Accademia Olearia Alghero
Gerardo Di Nola

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fantastic Firsts, Chef Salvatore La Ragione, Ristorante Mamma' Capri (Na)

Chef Salvatore La Ragione
Finally!  An exclamation made by Chef Salvatore La Ragione and myself.
Finally, we both expressed since the chef and I have known each other for a few years, but I have never ever visited him here, at the Michelin starred Ristorante Mamma' tucked away in a tiny little alley near Capri's most busiest piazza.
Here, at a table with an amazing view and a light gentle breeze.
It was a perfect opportunity, then, for the chef and I to make up for lost time.  La Ragione sent out four primi piatti, pasta dishes,  for me to try.
Take a look!

Gnochetti al profumo di limone con vongole e broccoli..

Potato dumplings, lemon, clams and broccoli greens....

Delicate and profumatissimo!!!

Then, the chef's vermicilli ai ricci del mare...

Vermicelli pasta and sea urchins.

And then, a dish that I tried for the first time  a year ago during Festa a Vico- Risotto matecato aglio e olio...

Mussel scented rice, extra virgin olive oil and garlic.  I notice this time that the chef added a couple of almonds for a crunchy touch.

Have room for one more?  The chef asked.

He was really surprised that I hadn't tried this Chef Gennaro Esposito classic -minestra di pasta mista con crostacei e pesci di scoglio.

Mixed pasta and seafood...