Monthly Archives: February 2019

Eating around Naples

Michele and I visit Naples and the Campania region of Italy often because they have so much to offer.  This time we went to the San Carlo Opera House and saw a unique version of the opera Pagliacci, visited Herculaneum, saw the painting “The Seven Works of Mercy” and others by Michelangelo Merisi, aka Caravaggio, and enjoyed many fine restaurants and cafes of Naples. We arrived in the afternoon and could not resist the fried pizza at

The customers put in their order and leave a small tip on the paper 

This is the fried pizza we had for lunch

Restaurant Ciro a Santa Brigida is one of our favorites.  We went there the first night and I had a fantastic seafood stew.

We wanted to go to Nannella but when we got there it was closed so Michele remembered another restaurant nearby, Hosteria Toledo. We had the assorted vegetable antipasto, which included sauteed mushrooms, several kinds of eggplant, escarole with olives and capers, friarielli with garlic and hot pepper, roasted peppers, marinated zucchini and numerous other things.  Neapolitans really know how to make vegetables.

Michele and I had  pasta patane, pasta and potatoes cooked until creamy with scamorza cheese.

Our friend Ernie had the rigatoni with ragu and ricotta

Another day we went to La Taverna di Santa Chiara, a restaurant known for using local ingredients, and I had the  pasta Genovese, pasta cooked with a meat and onion sauce.

 

At Da Ettore, we had pizza, and then the owner suggested we try his fried pizza stuffed with pork ragu.  We couldn’t resist.

At Le Parùle near Herculaneum, we had a fantastic fritto misto which included fried onion rings, a nice touch

Then the frittatina,  fried macaroni 

 

Followed by Pizza Margherita 

Friends joined us for lunch at Europea Mattozzi in Naples

Michele has the Sausages and Friarielli (a type of broccoli rabe)

At Da Umberto we had this pasta with seafood, friarielli and little tomatoes.

Another day we enjoyed this gorgeous Baba cake  with Massimo Alois, Talita de Rosa  of Alois Winery, Ilaria Petitto and Francesco de Rienzo of Donnachiara Winery

We stopped in at Gambrinus cafe at least once a day, for breakfast, snacks or cocktails.  They make excellent coffee, which we enjoyed with sfogliatelle.

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Herculanum Pizza: le Parùle

Ristorante and Pizzeria le Parùle http://www.leparule.it in Herculaneum, modern day Ercolano, near Naples, has a great reputation. I first read about it on Luciano Pignataro’s blog, www.lucianopignataro.it. A few years ago, I was invited to the area by Campania Stories to taste the wines of the principal zones of Campania, visit the wineries and have dinner with the winemakers at night. To my surprise and delight, one of the restaurants where we were scheduled to dine was le Parùle. The name means vegetable garden in Neapolitan dialect.

When I returned to NYC I told Michele that not only was the pizza fantastic but also the rest of the food on the menu.

Giuseppe

One of the places we have never visited on our frequent trips to Campania was the ancient Roman city Herculanum, destroyed by the famous eruption of Mont Vesuvio on August 24th 79 AD.  On this visit to Naples, we decided to visit Herculanum in the morning and go to le Parùle, only a few minutes away, for lunch. I contacted Giuseppe Pignalosa the owner/chief/pizzaiolo of le Parùle to let him know that we were coming.

Giuseppe said he only uses the best ingredients from the Mount Vesuvio region.

We started as always with Pizza Margherita made with Neapolitan tomatoes, fior di latte dei Monti Lattari cheese, and olio extravergine d’oliva del Vesuvio “Villa Dora”.  Giuseppe said he uses Caputo “0” flour and does not use a biga (starter).

Next we had a pizza topped with ‘nduja, a spicy cured meat, and mozzarella.

We also had some fried things, including macaroni with bechamel sauce, peas, cheese and ham, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried until crisp on the outside and melted within.

Then Fried calamari with onion rings

Montanara (pizza fritta) topped with Pomodorino del piennolo del Vesuvio, mozzarella di bufala Campana D. O. P., olio extravergine d’oliva del Cilento D.O.P. “Monzo” of Pietra Bianca and fresh basil.

I have been traveling to Naples, Italy for many years, and I think Le Parule has some of the best fried food and pizza I have tasted.

 

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The Wines of Vecchie Terre Di Montefili with Nicola Marzovilla

For a number of years I was the sommelier/ wine director for I Trulli Restaurant in NYC and collaborated with Nicola Marzovilla, the owner of the restaurant on various wine projects.  In 2015, Nicola got involved with an historic vineyard, Vecchie Terre di Montefili, outside Greve in Chianti, which just released their first vintage under his leadership.  I was very interested in seeing what style of wine they produced and I attended a tasting of the wines at I Trulli. 

Nicola said the wine maker is the talented Serena Gusmeri, and he hired her because they both have the same approach to wine making — as little interference in the wine making process as possible. He wanted the grapes to speak for themselves. The vines are very old and they produced a wine that is very concentrated and that he believes can last for 20 years or more. This concentration and longevity comes from the grapes themselves and not from anything that is done during the winemaking process.

There are 12.5 hectares of vineyards planted mostly with Sangiovese in the heart of Chianti Classico on the highest hill outside of Panzano.  With the 2015 vintage they use spontaneous fermentation for the alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation and the final refinement.

The Wines of Montefili

Chianti Classico DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese. The terrain is hilly and the vineyards are at 500 meters. The soil is galestro and alberese. The vineyards were planted in the late nineties and Nicola said these were the youngest vines on the property. The training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging is for a minimum of 15 months in large Slavonian oak barrels and 6 months in bottle before release. $30

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese from a careful selection of grapes from vineyards with the best exposure. The vineyards were planted in the late 1980’s. The training system is spurred cordon and guyot. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging is in Slavonian oak barrels for a minimum of 22 months and 6 months in bottle before release. $50

Vigna Vecchia “Gran Selezione” DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard called Vigna Vecchia planted in 1981. The training system is spurred  cordon and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is rotated between 30HL and 10HL oak barrels for 26 months and 8 months in bottle before release. $75

The three previous wines were very similar.  They were very closed and will age for a very long time and are showing great potential.  Nicola felt that the Gran Selezione was drinking the best right now.  I thought the regular Chianti Classico was drinking the best.

Nicola said that none of  the wines undergo filtration or fining.

Anfiteatro IGT Colli Toscana Centrale made from 100% Sangiovese from the Anfiteatro vineyard planted in 1985. The training system is bilateral cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. The wine is aged for 28 months in 5HL barrels and 10 Hl barrels and a minimum of 12 months in bottle before release. This is a very big wine that needs more time.

Nicola said because of the position of vineyards and because they are at 500 meters the microclimate is not like any other in Tuscany. $120

Rosso IGT Toscana 2015 made from Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Franc is sourced from outside their estate. The vineyards are at 500 meters and were planted in the mid 1990’s and the soil is galestro and alberese. The training system is spurred cordon. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for a minimum of 20 months, the Cabernet Franc is aged in tonneaux and the Sangiovese in 20 hl oak casks. The wine remains in the bottle for at least 6 months before release. $30  This was one of the best blends of this type I ever tasted and was drinking very nicely now

Bruno di Rocca IGT Colli Toscana Centrale 2015 made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese from vineyards planted in the early 1980’s. The soil is galestro and the training system is spurred cordon. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging for a minimum of months 28 in tonneaux for the Sangiovese and for the Cabernet Sauvignon in barriques (350 liters).  Nicola said Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be aged in barriques. The wine spends a minimum of 12 months in bottle before release. $ ? It is difficult to make a of thi type  wine where the Cabernet Sauvignon does not dominate but this is a a soft elegant wine.

 

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Celebrating the Year of the Pig

Ever year Michele and I go out with friends to celebrate Chinese New Year. Our favorite place to celebrate is Oriental Gardens in NYC’s Chinatown. This year is the year of the pig.  The year of the pig occurs every 12 years and we tried to bring wine from past years of the pig.  The vintages would be 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971 1959, 1947, etc.

As always we started with Champagne

Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2007 made from 100% Chardonnay from its own Grand Cru vineyards in the villages of Aviza and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Only produced in selected vintages. It is crisp but at they same time has a hint of toast and brioche from extended aging on the lees. Dosage: Brut: 12/g. it was drinking very well now and it can age.

Champagne Jacques Selosse Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs– this was not vintage dated but it was disgorged in 2007. This is a complex champagne with hints of toast and honey but without any sweetness and a slight touch of oxidation.

With the Champagne we has an assortment of dumplings, including one filled with scallops, another with shrimp and another with pork.

Domaine Gourt de Mautens Jérôme Bressy 2013 made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picardan, Roussanne, Maesanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc and Picpoul Gris. The age of the vines is 30 to 50 years. The soil is chalk, clay, gravel and marl and the vineyard is at 220 meters. There is hand harvesting, pneumatic pressing, and natural yeast fermentation tank. The wine is aged for 10 to 18 months in tank and French oak demi-muids. Now labeled Cotes-du Rhone Blanc, because Rasteau Blanc is not authorized. I do not know if this wine was made by Jean-Charles le Bault de la Moriniere or by his father- there methods were somewhat different. This is a difficult wine to describe it does not have the richness one would expect but it a complexity wine with nice minerality and a certain something that I liked.

Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva Mirum 2007 La Monacesca made from 100% Verdicchio from a 3 hectare, north-south facing vineyard at 400 meters. The vines are about 30 years old and the soil is mostly clay. The vines are vertically trained arched or double arched cane and there are about 1,800 vines per hectare. The hand picked grapes are left on the vine an extra two weeks until they are slightly overripe. Harvest is the third/fourth week of October. The grapes are quickly and lightly pressed. with no addition of S02. Fermentation for 20 days at 20C in stainless steel. The wine remains on the lees until spring and undergoes natural malolactic fermentation in early summer. Aging for 18 months in stainless steel and 6 months in bottle before release on Dec. 1 two years after the harvest. This is a complex wine made in only the best vintages. It has hints of citrus, toasted almonds, honey with a very nice aftertaste and long finish. I was very impressed with this wine!  

Corton-Charlemagne “Grand Cru” 1995 Bonnrau du Martray location. Pernard Vergelesse, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy made from 86% Chardonnay and 14% Pinot Noir. Vinification with indigenous yeast alcoholic fermentation, aging with up to 30% new oak, very light fining and filtration. The winery is certified organic (Ecocert). I do not know if this wine was made by Jean-Charles le Bault de la Moniniere or by his father, their methods were slightly different. This is a very difficult wine to describe but I liked it.

With the white wine we had fried soft shell crabs, one of my favorites

Then we had lobster with ginger sauce.

Steamed whole fish with soy, scallions and ginger.

 

Morey Clos de la Bussiere 1959  Pierre Ponnelle 100% Pinot Noir and drinking very well.  I could not find any information about this wine.

Domaine Gourt de Mautens “Rasteau” 2008 Jerome Bressy made from Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre, Syrah, Counoise, Cinsalut, Vaccarese and Terret Noir. The soil is chalk, clay, gravel and marl, the age of the vines, 30 -100 and the vineyard is at 220 meters. There are 13 hectare of vines. The grapes are hand harvested, triple sorted, crushed and fermented by natural yeasts in tronconic oak vats. The wine spends 24 to 36 months in concrete, founders and French oak demi-muids. The winery is certified biodynamic (Demeter). This is the second time in a week that I have had this wine and I enjoyed it both times. It is a wine with hints of black fruit, blackberries and blueberries with a touch of cherry, spice and good acidity. It is just starting to drink now but will be better with a little more age. The wine no longer has Rasteau on the label because Mr. Bressy has left the appellation because they limited the number of grapes he could use the wine is now called Vaucluse Rough.

Fiorano Rosso Vino da Tavola 1993Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa. Burton Anderson, in his landmark Italian wine book Vino, called Fiorano Rosso “the noblest Roman of them all”.  The Prince’s few acres of vines are planted along the Appian Way about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Rome and almost right next to Rome’s second airport, Ciampino. It is the best cabernet/merlot blend made it Italy and one of the best in the world!  In my opinion–and I am in the minority here–one of the best places in the world to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is in Lazio close to Rome. Alessia Antinori, granddaughter of the Prince and owner of Tenuta Fiorano, brought the wine. The wine is all leather and cherry, showing no signs of age and I love it!!!!!!

Chianti Riserva Ducale Ruffino 1947 made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 10% Malvasia and Trebbiano and 5% Colorino, Ciliegiolo and Cabernet. Made by using the governo method. Once common in Tuscany, governo is a secondary fermentation created by the addition of dried grapes 10-15%, or the must of dried or concentrated grapes.  Colorino was usually the grape of choice to be dried. The best gapes from Ruffino’s vineyard were used for the Riserva Ducale, which spent at least three years in large oak casks. The Riserva Gold Label is a selection of the lots of the best vintages of the Riserva Ducale.

With the red wine we had peking duck, here served in a steamed bun, pigeon and fried chicken.

 

 

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NO FEAR OF FRYING AT KESTE’

As I wrote about in my last two posts, I attended the Made in Italy 2019 Cooking Show at Keste Wall Street. The third and last demonstration I attended was:

Frienn seed oil by Olitalia: The New Age of Frying with Giorgia Caporuscio from Kesté and Don Antonio.

A few days before this event Michele and I were at a restaurant where they serve many fried foods. When we got home Michele said that she still could smell the oil from the frying on her clothes. I would pay special attention at this event to notice if there was a smell of frying or if the smell was on my clothes when I returned home.

The frying was done with Frienn oil from Olitalia

The New Age of Frying with Giorgia Caporuscio from Kesté and Don Antonio.

Roberto Caporuscio, who owns Keste and Don Antonio Pizzerias spoke about the oil, as did Fred Mortati, the owner of Orlando Foods.

Roberto and Giorgia

Mr. Mortati said the oil was created by Olitalia in collaboration with the Italian chef Pasuqale Torrento owner of Ristorante Al Convento in Cetara on the Amalfi Coast. Cetara is the alici (anchovy) capital of Southern Italy. The innovation of its recipe consists in the absence of palm oil and the presence of antioxidants, partly extracted from the rosemary plant, which gives the product an Italian identity. The dough is dry and crispy, there are no off-flavors, it is resistant to high temperatures and rich in vitamin E. He also pointed out that this was the same oil used in the pastry demonstration in the morning.

Roberto gave 5 tips for perfect frying:

  1. Fry at the right temperature, according to food type
  2. The quantity of oil should be higher than the amount of food to be cooked so the temperature doesn’t drop excessively once the food in immersed.
  3. Drain and dry the food well before frying
  4. Never salt food when frying; add salt only after frying
  5. Always use a suitable sized and shaped frying pan according to the amount and type of food to be cooked.

As Giorgia was frying the dough, Roberto pointed out that the air did not smell of frying and that he did not need any exhaust fans. He likes this oil because it does not impart any flavor to the dough being fried and the finished dough is light in color.

He said the breadcrumbs they were using were gluten free and they make their own burratta

Giorgia shaping the dough

The dough ready for frying and the filling ingredients

 

The fried dough filled with burrata with prosciutto and garnish

Burrata and Alici topped pizzette  in honor of owner of Ristorante Al Convento in Cetara on the Amalfi Coast.

Fried dough with tomato sauce and basil

When I got home I checked my clothes and was not able to detect any smell of frying oil which I was very happy about.

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