Saturday, May 26, 2018

Amazing Appetizers, Chef Antonino Montefusco, Terrazza Bosquet, Sorrento

The last time I visited Chef Antonino Montefusco was last December, right before Christmas.  I had a chance to spend sveral hours with the Michelin starred chef of Terrazza Bosquet and taste some of his recipes for Natale in Sorrento.  
I decided to head back last weekend to see what the Spring had in store for Montfusco.  I was treated to an amazing tasting menu which featured some appetizers like the three below - all seated at the  comfort of his new chef's table.

A Gillardeau Speciale Oyster served with a salad made of frozen cucumbers, a marine sea sauce  and salty fingers.  A closer look...

Next up,  three thin sheets of fassona which is a prized  beef from the Piedmont region, served wth an oyster tomato tartare, a pesto made with salicornia (glasswort), and balsamic vinegar ice cream.

And you can't have two without they say.  

Red mullet, Controne beans, and Tropea onions.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fantastic First, Chef Luigi Lionetti, Monzu Restaurant, Capri (Na)

Capri!!! Surely you've heard of that amazing island just a 40 minute alisclafo ride from Naples.  International travelers go for the beaches, the spectacular blue waters, the famous blue grotto, and of course, the shopping.
Capri, however, also has some amazing hotels with some of the top restaurants around.  Last Saturday I had the chance to spend a few hours at Monzu Restaurant - Punta Tragara Hotel. A 10 minute stroll from the piazzetta - a location fantasticaaa - away from the crowds - with an amazing view of the Faraglioni rocks.  Bellissima of course.  But I was there to try some of Chef Luigi Lionetti's dishes for the new 2018 season.
I was invited into the kitchen to observe the chef while he plated up an amazing pasta dish starring mezzi paccheri pasta.  This pasta format is a challenging format, in my opinion.  The cooking time is pretty long usually 12- 14 minutes.  I love  an al dente pasta, particularly a pacchero that stands up and says hello.

Like this dish from Lionetti.

Paccheri pasta with zucchini...zucchini prepared as a creamy sauce, but also dehydrated crispy spring goodness...

The chef also added clams and tiny tiny squid...

Hre we are at the table....


Saturday, May 5, 2018

6 hours on the Island, Ischia (Na)

Hop on, hop off.  I had 6 hours to spend in Ischia that Saturday, and I wanted to spend it like a local.  So I recruited the hlp of two amici ischitani to take me around., professional photographers Simone De Sanctis and Luigi Irace.
First stop?  A quick tour of Cardamone, a fraction of Ischia Porto which is home to Cantine Antonio Mazzella.  On the way I was treated to some spectacular views...

Then into the cantina. 

The winery was busy as usual. This small winery dates back to 1940 and is  is a must stop for tourists and locals alike for a quick tasting and a bit of Saturday shopping.  This particular Saturday was also bottling day - Nicola Mazzella was busy bottling the winery's Vigna del Lume 2017, recently voted the Best White Wine in Italy for 2018 at Vinitaly.

Vigna del Lume - 100% Biancolella, a Campania white grape.  Between a sip or two, Mazzella invited us to take a little walk.  Just across the street, hidden behind a stone wall, the winery had planted a Biancolella vineyrad 4 years ago.  This year's harvest will be the first used to make wine.   The vineyard also shared the soil with crops such as tomatoes, fava beans and the prized local zampognaro bean.

Nicola wanted us to try something else.   Nero 70 2017, still in the stainless steel vat, had just finished its malolactic fermentation and would be filtered the next day.
50 % Aglianico/50 % Piediirosso grapes.  Selected grapes picked during November, and only when the conditions are right.  In 2016, for example, Mazzella did not produce this wine.

Nicola's sister Vera treated us to a casual tasting of some of the winery's other wines paired with taralli and light conversation.

De Sanctis,  Irace, and I

The clock was ticking.  Time for our next stop.  An aperitif at a on of the island's top  fruit and vegetable stands - Garden Fruit.  This wasn't my first visit.  I stopped by last year for roasted artichokes, remember?  I wanted to try those artichokes again...

but I was also pleasantly surprised by Giuseppe's tomato salad.  He used 8 different varieties; Camone, Marinda, Cuore di bue (ox heart), red and yellow Daterini tomatoes, Cherry, Riccio, and Tarantino.  Mixed with fresh herbs, oil and vinegar.  Fantasticaaa!

Our mini food tour continued.  Late Lunch!!! Ischia Salumi!!!

An amazing delicatessen which producs its own salamis.  The guys and I divided this deli tray which included Ischia's famous pizza a scarola, mozzarella di bufala and cherry tomatoes, an endless supply of cheeses, and Ischia Salumi's rabbit salami.

Yes rabbit salumi.  Made in house.  How?  the rabbit is deboned, then marinated in Biancolella wine for two days to soften the strong rabbit aromas.  Then the rabbit meat is grounded, salt/pepper/chili pepper flakes are added.  Then placed in casings, smoked and aged for a month or so.

 The clock continued to tick.  Time for a quick stroll to the Aragonese Castle and a caffe'...

Time for ice cream??? ICE da Luciano at Ischia Ponte.  I had to try the tiramisu which was fantastic.  

Times up!  Really???!!!

And so this visit ended like many of my visits to Ischia.  That familiar friendly phrase...Karen, the next time you come we've got to...

Grazie, Ischia!