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!


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