During the week it seems like the opportunities for a night out are endless -an event here, a tasting there- how does one decide? Over the years, I've
had to cut back a bit due to the late nights and/or the fact that I need to get
up early the next morning to go to work. A couple of weeks ago, however, there was an
event that caught my eye. An event that made me bend the rules a bit so
to speak. An event entitled 6 Hands Fusion. The location Roji Japan Fusion Restaurant. A restaurant, which over the past couple years, has been one
of my favorites for sushi and fusion. Sushi Chef Alex Pochynok is one of my
favorites in the area. For this particular evening, he teamed up with Chef Salvio
Vivenzio and Chef Giuseppe Molaro.
Chef Alex Pochynok
Chef Giuseppe Molaro
Chef Salvio Vivenzio
Molaro, known for having received a Michelin star during his run at Heinz Beck’s
restaurant in Tokyo, Japan. Molaro is from the Vesuvius and is back home in his Campania with plans to open up a restaurant in the near future. This time I would have a chance to see how this chef
would mingle/fuse and blend with the two chefs from Roji. I took my seat at the sushi bar and had a front row opportunity to observe how the
three chefs mingled and work together. The evening was casual, elegant and refreshingly smooth... When
most of the diners were seated, Maitre Domenico De Rosa served me the first of the aperitifs of the evening - a French oyster served with its own oyster card Speciale –David Hervé. Served
with Saten, Ca del Bosco.
A perfect choice for the evening, one of the wineries
chosen, pairing beautifully with the dishes to come. Dishes such as a tsukune
chicken with teriyaki sauce, codfish bon bon, fried/raw shrimp and a special
It was then time to get started- time for the chefs in the kitchen
to heat it up... Pochynok’s appetizer of lobster and raspberry carpaccio with
Then Vivenzio served his crunchy uramaki shrimp.
Next from the kitchen sushi
-foie gras, duck and anchovies from Lampara.
At this point, I took a break in
the action to head into the kitchen to look at chef Molaro as he prepared his
risotto with shiitake fungi. One of the beautiful things about this simple
looking result was not only watching the chef as he prepared this rice dish and
then enjoying the layers of flavors that included Madeira wine and honey aged
in French oak barrels.
Another dish by Molaro was Waraiaki tuna with yuzukoshu
and daikon on dashi gelatin with rice vinegar.
Then Iberian suckling pig with
onions and apple.
Time for the pre dessert - bread butter and jelly.
It was getting
late, but I couldn’t leave without dessert-
yoghurt namelaka, extra
virgin olive oil madeleines, raspberry and pineapple.
Other wines for the evening included Ca Del Bosco Anamaria Clemente, Maurizio Zanlla and Gosset Rose' Champagne.In other words - A grande night out!
And there I was...the first weekend of spring. Destination Amalfi Coast. Excited about the sunny Saturday, but even more about lunch. I was returning to Re Mauri', the Michelin starred restaurant located in Vietri sul Mare. Radio blasting I almost did not hear my phone ringing. I pulled over to answer it. It was Chef Lorenzo Cuomochecking in. Cuomo wantd to make sure everything was okay. That I remembered the way (It had ben over a year since my last visit). I assured him that tutto was appost'...fine.
Twenty minutes later I was sitting at my table looking over the menu. It wasn't easy to choose, especially since I hadn't been in over a year - but after speaking with the chef, I decided on the tasting menu, with the addition of a second pasta. So, after a vodka martini, an aperitif, and amazing appetizer (soon on the blog), the fantastic firsts arrived.
Cuomo's pasta and beans arrived first.
This is the chef's twist on a classic Campania pasta and beans dish. A poor man's dish that the chef made regal. Pasta and beans is usually made with pasta mista - mixd pasta formats. Cuomo, instead, opted for seven different varieties of beans.
Different sizes, different colors, each cooked seperately. For the pasta, he chose a type of tagliatelle produced by Gerardo di Nola. He broke the pasta by hand. Instead of mussels, the chef choose goose neck barnacles and chantarelle mushrooms.
Next a dish that I picked out from the a la carte menu.
Minestra di Mare or Seafood minestrone.
This is also a play on a classic Campania dish - Minestra Maritata or wedding soup. A dish dear to the chef that he crated alongside his maestro Chef Oliver Glowig.
Instead of chicken and beef, Cuomo uses the treasures from the sea. Tesori such as redfish, mullet, cuttlefish, octopus, sea truffles and cod tripe.. Vegetables include escarole, toasted fennel, and red algae.
Note to self - don't wait a year to head back to Re Mauri!
Saturday afternoon, about a quarter to 3. It was my first day of school and I didn't want to be late. I didn't want to be late for my first cooking class with Chef Marco Merola of I Cook You Food Academy in Caserta. The school is located in a quiet parco just minutes from the Caserta Royal Palace. I sent Chef Merola a message when I arrived (just a few minutes late) and he came out and opened the gate. It was my first visit to Merola's school. A visit that was long overdue, so Merola gave me a quick tour of his school that has been around since 2010. The school offers professional and amateur courses-like the one I was about to participate in. A class on pies and flans.
My apron and recipe book was on the counter - I introduced myself to my classmates, and the three hour class began. First up? Merola patiently led us in making a very tasty anchovy pie. Here's his recipe for this amazing appetizer.
Anchovy pie, potatoes and tomatoes x4
For the potato cream
100 grams of mashed potatoes
125 gr of vegetable broth
20 gr of extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste.
pepper as needed.
For parsley oil
40 gr of extra virgin olive oil
5 grams of very fine garlic
6 grams of parsley
500 gr of anchovies (8 anchovies per pie)
40 grams of cherry tomatoes to concassé
80 grams of mashed potatoes seasoned with salt and pepper
30 gr of provola cheese
80 grams of potato cream
1 tablespoon of parsley oil
breadcrumbs as needed
Clean the anchovies well and deprive them of the central bone, the spine and the small spines at the height of the belly, taking care to leave the tail attached.
Oil the molds and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Lay the anchovy fillets, overlapping them so that they all converge with the belly at the center of the base of the molds.
Put 10 grams of mashed potatoes on the bottom of each pie, then the cherry tomatoes, provola, potato cream, aromatic oil and finally the remaining 10 grams of mashed potatoes.
Fold over the anchovy tails towards the center and sprinkle lightly with breadcrumbs.
It was a refreshing
afternoon. Perfect for a lunch out.I wasn't
sure what to expect that day.Wasn’t
sure what to expect because it was my first visit to Osteria La Lanterna in
Avellino. I must admit the desire to visit this home-style restaurant has been
on my mind for quite a long time. I'm talking years. When I met ChefLuisa Evangelista
nearly 10 years ago and more recently bumping into ChefStefano Parrella at various
events around Campania. However, good things come to those who wait they say
and I must agree that in this particular case, I totally agree.
Saturday afternoon March 9,
the drive on the autostrada all the way on the exit of Baiano. What do you do
the first time you visit an Osteria for the first time? There is the desire to try everything. I mean everything! At this point, self-control
must step in. I glanced at the menu –
chatted with Parrella and we both decided to go for the tasting menu.
No…Bring it on!
First stop the mandatory and appreciated aperitifs. Aprtifs such as escarole and navybeans...
fried stuffed anchovies...
appetizers -the first and exciting play on the artichoke. As an American,
though I've adopted Campania as my own; living here for nearly 26 years, I have
fully integrated artichokes into my diet. Here is La Lanterna’s version.
Like this one - 'roasted' and flipped upsidedown.
step - codfish. Codfish wrapped in potatoes. A warm little package. A package
that would be a preview of what was to come.A parade of warm comfortable comfort food without all the frills.
So then, it was time for the
first courses. Osteria La Lanterna’s tasting menu that afternoon provided two.
Risotto. I stood at the pass while Parrella put the final touches on this
particular dish. What a pleasure to experience the various combinations of
seafood and fruit that made this dish not only nice to look at but a pleasure
to my palate as well. Risotto with shrimp, pear, and pecorino cheese...
Then it was time for a spaghetti. I needed to be there at
the pass as he plated up.
Spaghetti with amberjack, frutti di mare, wild fennel pesto and toasted pine nuts.
The meal continued, this time for the second course.
Tuna known also as the pork of the sea. As well as lard.Lard from pork and who doesn't love that???
After the second course it was time to take a break.A break that a take often at this point in
A break to not only walk off
what I had tasted before, but to reflect on what I had experienced until that
moment.Here- at La Lanterna – there was
no boss in the kitchen.No superstar.Instead a blend or fusion if you will of the
talent and experience of Luisa Evangelista and Stefano Parrella.Two personalities – two schools of thought –
who have developed a working relationship that is not only exciting but tasty.
Time for the pre dessert. That
small moment dining table designed to clean a pallet this one in particular up
as one of my favorites.
Cucumber, rosemary, lime and xtra virgin olive oil sorbet...fantasticaaa!
Then time for the dessert. I dipped my spoon into the
middle to grab a bit of everything. I did not expect the warm"love"from this particular dish. A melannurca apple pie, english cream, and buffalo milk ice cream.
A perfect example of how a desert should bring
memories not be intimidating and just be the perfect way to end a meal.
Meal over.I looked at my watch.4 pm??!!!.Wow!But the dining room was
still full.Only time for a quick chat
with Parrella and Evangelista at the friendship table.
Then they headed back to work.They headed back into the kitchen; I headed
out to the gravel parking lot…towards the autostrada…towards home.