H is for hazelnut:

Hazelnuts of Giffoni IGP

Campania is Italy’s oldest hazelnut-growing region. From 3 BC, Ancient Romans have attested to its tasty crunch through frescoes of hazelnut trees uncovered in Herculaneum. Carbon dating of ancient tree samples reveal that today’s little brown nocciola (no-cho-la) is quite similar to what Ancient Romans snacked on. The hazelnut’s versatility in various dishes, its ease of shelling and naturally abundant growth in Campania have popularized the filbert, its common American name. The nocciola has been commercially valuable for a long time. In the late 1600s during the reign of the Kingdom of Naples, there were even specialized royal offices that tracked and measured the quantity of hazelnuts.

The favorable climate and fertile soils of Campania prove to be especially nourishing for hazelnut trees, as they have with so many other products in this series. The Irno Valley and the Picentini Mountains are hazelnut hotspots, as well as the hills of Naples, Casertano and Flegrea. Salerno hazelnuts are especially prized. Above all, the Nocciola di Giffoni is the most highly praised, and gained IGP status in 1997. 10% of national production takes place in the Irno Valley and Picentini Mountains, of which only 10% are directly consumed. The other 90% is made into confectionary delights like Nutella (of Italian origin and originally called Gianduia) and other pastries, candies and sweets, or even in pasta dishes and main courses, such as this Pork and Milk with Giffoni Hazelnuts regional specialty.

touring information:


Azienda Agrituristica: Fattoria Antico Borgo dei Briganti di Granese Ennio
Via S. Giorgio, 25
Giffoni Valle Piana (Salerno)
anticoborgodeibriganti@virgilio.it
39 330-05-648

Agriturismo Bosco Farneto
Caserta, Italy 81050
carlo.puca@gmail.com
boscofarneto@libero.it
39 082-398-9506
39 337-945-128

Agriturismo Barone Antonio Negri
Via Teggiano, 8
84084 Fisciano (Salerno)
Monica Negri
39 089-958-561
info@agrinegri.it


H is for Hirpinia (Antica):

The vineyards and winery of Antica Hirpinia began as a few cement buildings that produced their specialty wine Taurasi. Today, it boasts top-of-the-line technology that works in harmony with nature and uses traditional production methods, a restaurant that pays close attention to wine pairing and includes a variation of dishes that rotate with the seasons, and a tasting room.

Wine production in Antica Hirpinia

“Hirpinia” is an ancient variation of “Irpinia,” and recalls Campania’s centuries-long wine history. The areas of Avellino and Benevento, originally one region ruled by the ancient tribe Taurasini and named Ager Taurasinus, began grape cultivation in 273 AD. Antica Hirpinia’s land is known for possessing prime conditions for cultivating the Aglianico grape, which is the base grape of Taurasi. The hard-clay soil, rich in potassium and phosphates, is also ideal for the grape varieties Greco di Tufo, Fiano and Coda di Volpe, all of which are also cultivated by Antica Hirpinia.

Antica Hirpinia produces DOCG Taurasi of 100% ruby-red Aglianico, Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo; DOC Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio in Rosso and Bianco; and IGT Falanghina del Beneventano, Donna Eleonora Irpinia Fiano, Irpinia Aglianico, and Don Gesualdo Irpinia Rosso. In addition, they make grappa and limoncello. As one can imagine, with such a wide variety of wines, grappa and limoncello, the restaurant pairs each course with its perfect complementary beverage.

touring information:

Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover the vineyards and winery at Antica Hirpinia.

Send us an email


Sources:

Antica Hirpinia Taurasi.

Auffrey, Richard. 2004 Antica Hirpinia Aglianico Irpinia IGT. The Passionate Foodie. 29 July 2008.

Foods of Campania. ItalianMade.

Fruits and Nuts. Campania Foods Corporation.

Noce di Sorrento. Regione di Campania – Assessorato all’Agricoltura.

© Vetivresse

Beautiful "cherry red" Cerasuolo

Cerasuolo – Cherry Red

Cerasuolo can be a sticky term in Italian wine as it has a few different uses.  In general it means “cherry red” in color and can be used to describe the overall color of any rosato (rosé) wine. However, it has some more specific applications as well. First, there is a DOC Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo where the term is applied as part of the DOC to mean rosato that comes from Abruzzo. The Denomination of Origin “Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo” is reserved for wines from vineyards in the region composed of at least 85% Montepulciano. Blending grapes/other non-aromatic red grapes suitable for cultivation in the region of Abruzzo alone or together are permitted up to a maximum of 15%.(2)  There are standards for color and for character in the DOC Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo as well:

- Color:
cherry pink, more or less;
- Odor:
pleasant, fine wine, fruity and intense, with hints of spice;
- Taste:
dry, smooth, harmonious, delicate with a pleasant almond aftertaste;
- Minimum total alcoholic strength:
12.50% vol;
- Minimum total acidity:
4.5 g / l; (2)

Cerasuolo is also a DOCG in Sicily as in Cerasuolo di Vittoria a RED wine predominantly Nero d’Avola wine often blended with the fragrant cherry/strawberry qualities of the Frappato grape. “Much less is known of Frappato, which must comprise at least 40% of the blend of Cerasuolo di Vittoria, the balance being Nero d’Avola, and most producers stick exactly to that.” 3 One of the most celebrated producers of Cerasuolo di Vittoria is COS

touring information:

Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo in Abruzzo and Cerasuolo di Vittoria in Sicily.

Send us an email


Sources:

1. Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch

2. http://www.consorzio-viniabruzzo.it/Disciplinare_Cerasuolo.htm

3. http://www.haidu.net/magazine/cerasuolo-di-vittoria-sicilys-only-docg

http://vetivresse.blogspot.com/2009/10/cherry-ripe-sicilian-vespers-perfect.html

 

Frijenno Manganno

Antipasto e' Fuia fuia © Mondolibri

We asked many of our native Italian friends for the meaning of fuia fuia in this context and got a few differing answers—some said it was “fast”, as in fast to make, some said “running away” as in they will vanish quickly, others saying “thief, thief”, as in they will be quickly stolen. After preparing it, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think it means Appetizer “To Go” as in easy to carry off.

 

Here’s how I translated the recipe:

 

3.5 oz gr margarine  (I used 2 TBSP olive oil)

10 cheese slices  (I used Asiago)
7 oz   salted anchovies (I used flat anchovies in oil)
3.5 oz black olives (I used Gaeta)
1 oz.  capers
1 pound of pizza dough
Roll out the dough, then cut into small rectangles
on each rectangle, place a fillet of  rinsed anchovies, a slice of cheese, capers, pitted olives,
then roll as if rolling a cigarette.
Melt the butter (heat olive oil) in a frying pan and fry the pizza dough

anchovies, Gaeta olives, capers, Asiago

prepping

 

Now, I think I can rule out that fuia fuia means quick to make.  It isn’t terribly fast with the pitting of olives, the rolling of dough and the assembling each “cigarette” mine were more like big fat cigar.  But it is easy, if a little time consuming. My takeaways from this recipe are that you should be sure to use enough cheese, at least the equivalent of a slice of American cheese per “cigarette”.  And I might use mozzarella instead of Asiago. The thinner you can get your dough the better or you will want to increase the filling a bit. The recipe did not call for a dipping sauce; but I found that it needed a little something so I prepared some marinara for dipping—definitely the right decision. I made quite a bit of marinara and could not resist converting it into salsa puttanesca with penne since I had all the ingredients handy.

And tadaaaaah:

The final product.

 

G is for gragnano pasta:

Gragnano pasta

Gragnano (grah-nyah-no) pasta IGP indicates a high-quality pasta from Gragnano, Campania, a city that has 500 solid years of traditional pasta production behind it. Gragnano is a city built for making pasta, with wide streets for hanging long strands of spaghetti to dry in the hot sun and salty sea breezes. The quality of Gragnano pasta is promoted and defined by Consorzio Gragnano Città della Pasta, a union formed by slow and traditional pasta producers in Gragnano in 2005.

The label Gragnano IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) has come to mean much the same thing to an artisanal pasta-seeker as DOCG, DOC and IGT appellations do to a wine consumer. IGP is the equivalent of DOC for wine; Gragnano pasta is the only pasta in the world with this official artisanal status. Pasta made from a company that is part of the cooperative implies specific geographic locations, ingredients and production techniques.

First, Gragnano pasta must be made in and around the Bay of Naples. Its ingredients include 100% Italian durum wheat mixed with the calcium-poor waters of Monti Lattari. Next, when forming pasta shapes, bronze casts called trafilata al bronzo are used, instead of the usual Teflon that most large factories use today in mass production of pasta. The trafilata al bronzo gives the pasta a slightly rougher texture that is perfect for soaking up sauces and lends a satisfying mouthfeel. Then, the pasta is naturally dried by the salty sea breezes in temperatures no higher than 122 F, for anywhere from six to sixty hours. Higher temperatures burn off the subtle flavors and aromas that cannot be detected in a common supermarket brand of pasta. This process is called essiccazione. Lastly, even the packaging has boundaries: it must consist of organic or otherwise recyclable material.

touring information:


These pastifici are all a part of the Consorzio Gragnano Città della Pasta. To see the entire listing, visit the list on the official site Gragnano Città Della Pasta.

Pastificio Faella
Pastificio Gaetano Faella S.a.S
P.zza Marconi, 13,
80054 Gragnano (Napoli)
+39-081-801-2985
email@pastificiofaella.com

Pastificio Di Martino
Via Castellammare, 82
80054 Gragnano (NA) Italia
+39 081-801-2878
info@dimartinonline.it

Pastificio dei Campi
Via dei Campi, nr.50
80054 Gragnano (NA)
+39 081-801-8430
info@pastificiodeicampi.it


G is for greco di tufo:

Greco di Tufo vineyards

Last week, the Falanghina wine was proposed as one of Campania’s finest white wines. This week’s grape makes perhaps the finest white wine of Campania: Greco di Tufo. Greco di Tufo is considered one of the oldest (perhaps the oldest) wine of all of Italy. “Greco” refers to its Ancient Greek origins, after those who first brought the grape to Italy and cultivated it on the slopes of Vesuvius. The first written account is found in a poem fragment from 6 BC in Pompeii. The poem, written on a wall, reads, “You are cold, Bice, truly a piece of ice, if even the Greco wine could not warm your heart last night.” Later, the inhabitants of Tufo in Avellino cultivated it.

Greco di Tufo is grown in Tufo, Santa Paolina, Prato di Principato Ultra, Montefusco, Altavilla Irpina, Chianche, Petruro Irpino, and Torrioni. Additionally, only the hillsides of these areas are considered suitable for cultivation, because valleys and points of lower elevation are humid, lacking the necessary sunlight and mountain breezes. To be considered Greco di Tufo, which has had DOC appellation since 1970 and DOCG since 2003, 85% – 100% must be of Greco di Tufo, with up to 15% coda di volpe. The wine can also be a sparkling spumante.

Greco di Tufo is not a mild-mannered wine. With zesty, fresh flavors of peaches, pear and herbs, coupled with restrained aromas of almond and apricot, it is a fully dry white wine with a sharp minerality. It is these distinct notes that place Greco di Tufo one step above the two other great white Campania wines, Falanghina and Fiano di Avellino. Some believe that it complements mild dishes nicely, such as seafood, rice dishes, and pasta in butter or white sauces; others, that it pairs perfectly with strong dishes of veal, chicken, and cheeses.

touring information:

Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Greco di Tufo.

Send us an email


Sources:

Anderson, David. Greco di Tufo DOC – Smooth White Wine from Avellino. 24 April 2006. Italian’s Insight to Travel Italy.

Gragnano Città della Pasta.

La Rete – Consorzio Gragnano Città della Pasta. Terra Madre.

Le DOC, Le DOCG, Le IGT della Provincia di Avellino: Greco di Tufo.Il Portale del Vino della Regione Campania.

mafaldina. Il Successo dell’Incanto della Pasta 2010. 7 Sept 2010. Il blog dei Pastificio dei Campi.

mafaldina. Pasta di Gragnano IGP, ormai è ufficiale! 1 Aug 2010. Il blog dei Pastificio dei Campi.

P., Tracie. Greco di Tufo DOCG. 3 Nov 2010. My Life Italian.

Parla, Katie. Pasta di Gragnano. 29 April 2009. Parla Food.

Williams, Daniel.Gragnano’s Crisis in a Pasta Pot. 19 Jan 2005. The Washington Post.

Ahhhhh. 3 of my all-time favorite things in one place—Gin, Campari, Vermouth. It just doesn’t get any better than this for me.

A Negroni.

Image via Wikipedia

A little history I found on the beverage says:

Reportedly during the year 1919, the “Negroni” cocktail was invented when Camillo Luigi Manfredo Maria Negroni asked bartender Fosco Scarselli of Cafè Casoni to fortify his Americano with gin. There is a letter from October 13, 1920 written to Count Camillo from Frances Harper of Chelsea, London, “You say you can drink, smoke, & I am sure laugh, just as much as ever. I feel you are not much to be pitied! You must not take more than 20 Negronis in one day!”¹

I recall a leisurely drive from Dogliani to Sampeyre in the early fall. My dear Italian friends have a favorite pit stop at a little cafe along the way. It has a comfy outdoor seating area with over-stuffed sofas and cozy red curtains. It was time for aperitivo and of course that meant Negronis for everyone!

The Negroni is a true classic Italian aperitivo cocktail. Made as follows according to the International Bartender’s Association²:

NEGRONI Pre dinner ( old-fashioned glass )


3.0 cl Gin (I’m a Plymouth woman myself)
3.0 cl Campari
3.0 cl Sweet Red Vermouth (Cinzano Rosso is of course the Italian choice! Though I prefer Dolin)


Pour all ingredients directly into old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir gently. Garnish with half orange slice and stirer.
Optional : Splash of Soda Water.



¹http://chanticleersociety.org/wikis/timeline/1910-to-1920.aspx

²http://www.iba-world.org/english/cocktails/negr.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negroni

TOURING INFORMATION:

Want to visit the historic Caffè Giacosa formerly Caffè Casoni, reported birthplace of the Negoni? We can take you to beautiful Florence to discover it and sip a Negroni where in the very bar where it was created.

Here’s where you can find it:

Caffè Giacosa, Via della Spada 10/r 50123 Firenze – Italia – Italy
tel: +39 (0)55 2776328
e-mail: info@caffegiacosa.it


This chilly, wet spring day I choose this comfort food dish, full of gooey cheese, potato chunks and pasta with sauce. Prep time is very minimal; it doesn’t take much longer than bringing a pot of water to boil. While the water is boiling, sauté sliced potatoes with olive oil. Add a peeled tomato or two to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Remove the pasta (sempre bucatini!) before it is completely cooked (you don’t want it to become mushy in the oven) and the potato sauce in a small baking dish. Top with grated parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Pasta e Patate al Forno

 

Do you have any favorite week night comfort food? Share your favorite weeknight recipes with me in the comments section.

© Mondolibri

 

F is for friarielli:

Friarielli

The friarielli (free-are-ee-ELL-ee) plant is a green, leafy vegetable whose usage dates back to the Medieval Ages in southern Italy. It is grown, sold and eaten almost solely in Campania. The appearance of friarielli resembles that of the small leaves found on common, supermarket broccoli, but much larger and of a more vibrant green. The exact broccoli variety of friarielli is disputed, with one person claiming it is broccoli rabe, another that it is broccoletti, and a third that it is turnip tops. The Napoletani, who have eaten friarielli for the longest time and continue to consume it the most, maintain that it is altogether different – and better – than the comparatively insipid, more common broccoli varieties.

Friarielli is a different variety of the cultivar group Brassica oleracea. Its flavor is nuttier, more peppery, more pungent, and overall more flavorful than anything else in that family. The name friarielli is Napoletano; the Italian word for this vegetable and dish is frigiarelli, and bespeaks of how a person should prepare it: quickly fried, or sautéed, in extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, and sprinkled with spicy pepperoncino. Together with sausage, friarielli is a popular dish in Naples. Sausage and friarielli are also a very popular combination as a pizza topping, called friarielli e salsiccia. It is perhaps the most popular pizza topping in Naples, just behind margherita and marinara.

touring information:


Numerous restaurants and pizzerias, especially in Naples, serve dishes that feature friarielli. Here are a few that highlight the friarielli either as a pizza topping or a dish:

Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro
Via P. Colletta, 46
Napoli
+39 081-553-9426
Closed Sundays and midday

Il Brontolone
Via A. Artiaco, 120
Pozzuoli, Napoli
+39 081-526-6510

Il Ristorante La Vignarella
Via Vaccheria, 13
81020 San Leucio, Caserta
+39 082-361-217
info@vignarella.it


F is for falanghina:

The green Falanghina (fal-an-GHEE-nah) grape produces a balanced, fruity white wine that can be enjoyed as a table wine as well as found in an affordable to moderately expensive bottle. It glows with a golden straw color, has lively, smoky and nutty notes with a lemony acidity, and begs to be enjoyed with plates of fresh seafood or mozzarella di bufala. It is one of the oldest

Falanghina

grape varieties used for winemaking in Italy. First brought by Greek settlers to Campi Flegrei in 7 BC, the Falanghina grape took root and flourished in the porous, mineral-rich volcanic soil. Because of how well it takes to the land, it became popular throughout southern Italy. Its best expression is brought forth from the areas of Procida, Falerno del Massico, Campi Flegrei and Sannio. It is the most popular white grape grown in Naples and Caserta, and is the base grape in numerous DOC wines, such as Falerno del Massico bianco, Balluccio bianco and Campi Flegrei Falanghina.

The origins of this grape’s name have remained virtually and remarkably unchanged since the Ancient Romans first cultivated it in Sannio using falangae, or upright poles, to support the vines. There is evidence that Falanghina, like Aglianico, was a key component in the nobles’ ancient drink Falernum. The first written record of Falanghina is not until centuries after its debut to Italian soil in 1825. It is possible that earlier accounts of a different strain of Falanghina may have become confused with the Campania variety. DNA analysis confirms the cultivation of Falanghina beneventano of northern Italy and the different Falanghina flegrea of Campania.

Southern Italy’s hot climate may seem, at first, as though it should cause Falanghina wines – and, for that matter, all other white Campania wines – to lose their appropriate acidity. However, the mountainous terrain provides higher and cooler elevations. Combined with the rich soil, the Campania climate makes for a stunning white wine.

touring information:

Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Falanghina.

Send us an email


Sources:

Apstein, Michael. Campania’s World-Class White Wines. SFGate. 12 Sept 2008.

Falanghina. Wine Geeks.

Free…free…friarielli!!! Green Bean. 7 Jan 2007.

Italian Falanghina. Vivi. 2010.

La storia dei friarielli. Friarielli.

P., Tracie. Falanghina. My Life Italian. 29 Nov. 2010.

P., Tracie. What We Eat. My Life Italian. 18 Dec 2006.

Robb, Peter. Midnight in Sicily: On Art, Feed, History, Travel and la Cosa Nostra. Macmillan, 2007.

 

 

 

 

This week we will kill two birds with one stone with cavatappi. Cavatappi is both a food word and a wine word.

The word comes from combining cava and tappi which means ‘extract’ and ‘top’ respectively. So what do we have here kids? A corkscrew!

 

Pictured above is the Pulltex PullParrot and this is my favorite corkscrew so far. I have never figured out the appeal of the Rabbit. I once took a bottle of wine to a party and the only opener that was available was a Rabbit. I proceeded to knock the bottle to the floor and forever have this waiters corkscrew in my purse. You never know when a bottle of wine might show up. This is much more portable than the Rabbit and much more effective than a pistol. (20th birthday party, don’t ask.)

INFORMATION:


If you’re feeling especially wine geeky on your next trip to Piemonte, head to the Corkscrew Museum.

Corkscrew Museum
Piazza Castello, 4 – 12060 Barolo (Cn)
Tel. 0173/560539 – Fax: 0173/560539
E-mail: info@museodeicavatappi.it
Web site: www.museodeicavatappi.it

 

 

 

 

The full line of Pulltex products can be found here.


In regards to food, cavatappi is yet another shape of pasta. This resembles the ‘worm’ of a corkscrew and can also be called a ‘double elbow.’ I’m suddenly feeling the need to re-purchase The Encyclopedia of Pasta.

 

Image via Wikipedia

E is for erba pulieio:

The erba pulieio is a small-leafed, purple-flowered herb that can be found in Bonito, Avellino. It is known throughout Italy as numerous variations of its name: puleggio, pulieo, pulegio, Pulieium, nepetella, and mentuccia are used in different areas of Italy, and perhaps for good reason, as this herb has many offshoot varieties. The scientific name is Mentha pulegium, of the Lamiceae mint family. In English, pulieio is known most commonly as pennyroyal.

Erba Pulieio

The uses of pulieio can fall into the homeopathic realm as well as into that of the culinary. In antiquity, pulieio was used during ceremonial rituals honoring the goddess of agriculture, Demeter. The Ancient Romans also used it as one of the first contraceptives as well as an abortive. The Medieval Ages saw an increase in the number of purported uses, including as an anti-depressant, to relieve coughing and respiratory ailments, and to settle an upset stomach. Even in modern-day, one can find pennyroyal sold in natural remedy stores, but it should be used with caution: the oil of this herb’s small leaves is fatal if used incorrectly. As for cuisine, pulieio is used to prepare vegetables, to garnish soup and pasta dishes that feature beans, to flavor lamb and polenta, and often for marinades and in pickling. The pungent minty-ness balances the bitterness of artichokes, and is an essential ingredient in their preparation.
While pulieio has been known around the globe for centuries, including in many or all regions of Italy, it is to Bonito, Avellino that we return, for it is this town of Campania that identifies it as a regional plant. In Bonito, the Sagra del cecatiello con il pulieio is held annually on the first Sunday in August. During this Festival of Cecatiello and Pulieio, one is able to sample regional specialties, including the dish after which the festival is named. Cecatiello con il pulieio is a pasta-based dish made with a pesto of mortar-ground pulieio, garlic and spicy pepperoncino, mixed with fresh cecatiello pasta (also known as cavatelli) and extra virgin olive oil.

TOURING INFORMATION:


Hotel de la Ville Restaurant
Via Palatucci 20, Avellino, Campania 83100
Phone: +39- 082-578-0911
info@hdv.av.it

The following restaurants serve typical Irpinian dishes, and depending on the time of the year may offer dishes garnished with pulieio. You may also ask, “Vorrei assaggiare un piatto col’erba pulieio,” or, “I would like to taste a dish with the pulieio herb.”

Ristorante La Maschera di Avellino
San Modestino 1, Avellino
+39 082-537603

Trattoria Di Pietro
Corsa Italia, 8
Melito Irpino Avellino 83030
+39 082-472010


E is for Epomeo IGT:

Epomeo wine is made of grapes grown in the IGT region of the slopes of Monte Epomeo, the extinct volcano and highest point of picturesque Ischia. It can be a bold, fruity, ruby-red wine, a versatile and citrusy white wine, or an intense, honey and fruit-flavored dessert wine.

Epomeo IGT zone

From folk-lore, the Epomeo wine became famous hundreds of years ago when a monk and his boat were washed clear ashore during a storm, completely unscathed and dry. The monk found refuge at a monastery where he was served Epomeo wine, whereupon instead of making the usual sign of the cross, he made signs that suggested he was exorcising evil from it. The monks who observed this thought that, because he had survived the tempest, and was now making strange signs, he must be a very holy man. Through the next days, the monks continued to bring him wine from Monte Epomeo, and the rumor began that he knew how to turn water into wine. From that point on, Epomeo wine was famous.
An example of a dessert Epomeo wine is the Sygnum Epomeo Passito 2006 IGT by Antonio Mazzella, produced through harvesting grapes during the first week of October, and left to dry, protected, until December. The grapes Biancolella, Forestera, and Levante create an amber yellow color with notes of apricot, peach, dried figs and honey. The Epomeo bianco is made of Fiano and Biancolella grapes, making it a very typical Campania wine. Typical tasting notes are citrus fruits, minerals and spices, and hints of hazelnut. The Epomeo rosso can be made with combinations of Aglianico, Montepulciano of Abruzzo and Piedirosso, producing a wine that is rich in dark berry and cherry flavors, and balanced with spices.

TOURING INFORMATION:

Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Epomeo IGT.

Send us an email


Sources:

Elogio del Veleno

Riley, Gillian. The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Laine e Pulieio. La Cucina dello Stregone. 31 Jan 2011.

Pennyroyal. Medline Plus. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. 19 Nov. 2010.

Prodotti Tipici. Comune di Bonito, Provincia di Avellino.

Sagra del cecatiello con il pulieio. Sagre in Campania.

An Idyl of Ischia. The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Volume 109. Levitt, Trow $ Co., Nov 1887.

La Pietra – Tommasone. VinUS.

…or Tumin dal Mel as they say in Piemontèis

San Maurizio

San Maurizio

 

Nestled in the foothills of the Alps sits the tiny, sleepy village of Melle from whence this delightful cheese hails. Almost medieval in character, the tiny hill of San Maurizio just outside of Melle holds the treasured secret of Tumin dal Mel.

 

Tumin dal Mel from San Maurizio

Tumin dal Mel from San Maurizio

 

Possibly dating back to Roman times and with written mentions as early as the 11th Century, this small cylindrical raw or semi-cooked cow’s milk cheese from Piemonte, Italy is a real crowd-pleaser due to its versatility. Fragrant and subtle when young and pungent when aged it provides appeal to most palates depending on its stage of ripeness. The image above shows the cheese in a quite youthful, even gooey state, delightfully nutty and mild. When in the early stages of ripeness, this cheese pairs very well with dolcetto and when aged, a more sturdy Barolo would be in order.


Sources:

http://italianmade.com/food-details/toma-piemontese-2-242.html

http://www.regione.piemonte.it/agri/vetrina/prodottitipici/pat/caseari/tominodimelle.htm

my own travels to the region

all images  ©2011 Raelinn Doty

 

 

“Gaeta olive [gah-AY-tah]- Small, blackish Italian olive that’s either dry-cured, which produces dry, wrinkled, slightly brownish fruit, or cured in brine, which results in plumper fruit with a purplish cast. They are meaty and slightly tart to salty in flavor with hints of nuts.”

This definition, found in my copy of the Food Lover’s Companion, is helpful.

“Cured black olives.”

This description, found at the olive bar at the Wegman’s in Ithaca? Not so much.

Based on pictures and some luck, I chose what I believe to be the same variety of olive that is called for in this week’s Frijenno Magnanno recipe. E maccarune d’o gravunare, translated roughly to “coal miner’s pasta,” is not for the faint of heart. This is a gritty, salty, fishy meal, albeit delicious, and is best consumed after a day’s hard work with a ravenous appetite.

The Gaeta olive is named for the city found in the Lazio region of Italy and is famous for producing this small black fruit. The slight bitterness works well in this dish to balance out the salty, tangy flavors of the capers and anchovies.

 

© Mondolibri

Bucatini is the preferred pasta for this recipe, and a quick sauté of the remaining ingredients is all that is required for this simple dish. Mince garlic, anchovy filets, capers, Gaeta olives and peperoncino. Cook over low heat in olive oil and toss with the pasta when finished. I chose to leave my sauce on the chunky side for more texture, but it is traditionally ground to a smooth, thick paste. Serve with a crusty piece of Italian bread.


Soucres:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s, 
2010.

Viviani, Raffaele, Poesie. 2010. p. 373

http://www.triedtastedserved.com/olives/gaeta.php

D is for ditaloni:

In Italy, pasta is sold in innumerable forms, shapes and sizes and eaten with specific sauces or other toppings. Over 350 different shapes of pasta can be found in Italy, and each of these shapes can differ slightly from region to region. Ridges or smooth-edged, thin or thick walls, spiral, curling, circular or bent, diagonal or straight-cut, long or short, these are only a few variations of thehttp://0.tqn.com/d/italianfood/1/0/x/3/dital1.jpg myriad forms that pasta can take. Ditaloni have a thick, tubular pasta shape. The name is derived from ditale, or thimble. This particular shape, along with its cousins ditalini, rigatoni and paccheri, which are similar in shape to ditaloni, have origins in Campania. Ditaloni, specifically, is Neapolitan.

The different shapes and sizes of pastas often suggest with what kind of dish or sauce they would best be paired. A smooth, delicate sauce is complimented by smaller pasta pieces, like the tiny ditalini. Large, tubular pastas like ditaloni or rigatoni can catch the flavorful chunks of thicker sauces, though would otherwise be a mouthful of pasta if eaten with a thin sauce. Ditaloni are, indeed, eaten with thick sauces, and are most often added to soups.      Even though ditaloni have Neapolitan origins, the shape is not confined to Naples or to the Campania region. Wider distribution has ensured that many shapes are available in any Italian region, just as the supermarkets of the U.S. are no longer confined to variations of spaghetti, penne or elbow pasta.

TOURING INFORMATION:


Giuseppe Di Martino of Pastificio dei Campi will be participating in Food Camp Cilento.

Pastificio dei Campi
Via dei Campi, nr.50
80054 Gragnano (NA)
+39 081-8018430
info@pastificiodeicampi.it
http://www.pastificiodeicampi.it/
TWITTER: @giudeicampi

A panificio is a bakery, many of which also make various pastas. A panificio can be found in every town and every other street in Italy. Below, the Pastifico Vicidomini proudly makes ditaloni.

Premiato Pastificio Vicidomini
Via Luigi Guerrasio 63
84083 Castel San Giorgio (SA)
+39 081-951156
info@pastificiovicidomini.com
http://pastificiovicidomini.com/


D is for De Conciliis (Bruno):

The De Conciliis winery of Cilento, Campania is an outstanding example of a family run business whose success is closely tied to not only their commitment to high-quality and natural methods of wine-making, but also to an eye for innovation and creativity. Their approach to wine-making is flexible and adapts to seasonal variations while remaining loyal to natural methods year-in and year-out. Bruno De Conciliis, the founder’s son and current owner, gradually lowered the level of sulphites in his wines until he earned the organic wine-making certification in 2007. From reading various accounts, interviews and blogs of those who were honored to dine with Bruno De Conciliis and his family, or those who visited the De Conciliis winery, it is clear that Bruno and his team are talented and experienced.

The vineyards surrounding the De Conciliis estate and castle are facing the Mediterranean Sea and interspersed with olive trees. The hot climate, high altitude and ancient southern soils of Cilento encourage healthy vines of falanghina, fiano and aglianico grapes to flourish. De Conciliis specializes in white wines from fiano and fruity, full-bodied wines from aglianico. The first sparkling Campania wine produced is of the De Conciliis winery, and is an IGT blend of 70% fiano and 30% aglianico, called Selim. The signature wine is a DOC 100% aglianico called Naima, with dry, spicy and fruity flavors. Other wines include the DOCG Greco di Tufo called Oro; IGT Antece made of fiano; IGT Donnaluna, which is a blend of fiano and aglianico; and Ba!, a blend of aglianico and barbera. The colorful names sometimes play on Bruno’s love of jazz: Selim is Miles spelled backward, and is a small tribute to jazz artist Miles Davis; and Naima is named after the same-titled song by John Coltrane.

TOURING INFORMATION:

Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to Viticoltori De Conciliis.

Send us an email

These wines will be featured during an evening dinner at Food Camp Cilento


Sources:

A Lovely Dinner with Bruno De Conciliis. Vite Vinifera De Vinoís Blog.

Colao, Alex. Vicidomini, the Legend of Pasta. Campania Pasta. 28 Oct 2010.

Demetri, Justin. History of Pasta: Italian Pasta Through the Ages. Life in Italy.

Dinner with Bruno De Conciliis. Oliveto Community Journal. 27 Jan 2010.

Ditaloni. About.com Italian Food. 2011.

Gavillet, Sebastien. A Visit to Viticoltori De Conciliis in Campania, Italy. Wine Vibe. 28 July 2010.

Viticoltori De Conciliis

Which of the Italian Pasta Shapes? Italian-Tradition.com.


Cinghiale

typical Italian wild boar

 

….Or as they spell it  in Campania— cignàle
Cinghiale, the famed Italian wild boar (part of the Sus or pig genus) is normally seen sporting a dark brown to black bristly coat, rather pronounced tusks, sharp teeth and a bad attitude.  These wild beasts have in the past wreaked havoc on the Italian countryside, not in the least by pillaging vineyards and farmers’ fields of their precious crops, even eating lambs and fawns. This has led to the Italian tradition of the wild boar hunt, or “la caccia” in Italian. Perhaps you recall the famous Italian dish Chicken Cacciatore which is derived from the word.  And this is precisely where the wild boar typically ends up… in delicious, often rustic, regional recipe. These frequently truculent boar are served up in traditional regional fare in many areas of Italy in recipes ranging from salamis and stews to ravioli fillings and risottos.  Want to try your hand at cooking wild boar at home?  This recipe from Saveur sounds delicious.  If you travel with us to Campania we might pay a visit to  Locanda di Bu where you could sample the local flavor of the cinghiale.

Vineyard Adventures is happy to plan your trip to Italy so you may experience first-hand what makes wild boar so special to the Italians. Email us.


Sources:

http://it.wiktionary.org/wiki/cign%C3%A0le

http://www.maremmaguide.com/wild-boar-facts.html

I had purchased all the ingredients to make the sartù on page 111 of Frijenno Magnanno when it happened, my usual change-of-season cold struck. I’ve been down for 3 days. Cold pills just make me feel worse anymore so I just have to sleep it off.

In lieu of actually cooking this week, I give you a preview of sartù as defined by Arthur Schwartz in his great book Naples at the Table : Cooking in Campania:

 

…Neapolitans are absolutely boastful about sartù, a molded case of rice filled with delicacies: porcini, chicken livers, and marble-sized meatballs to name just a few. The speculation is that the word “sartù” comes from the French surtout, which literally means “above all.” Sartu’ is conspicuously of noble birth, definitely a dish from the Bourbon court of the late eighteenth century.”

Hopefully Maria won’t catch a cold this week and will dish up something tasty next Wednesday.

 

C is for carciofo bianco:

The carciofo bianco, or white artichoke, is a regional specialty that is farmed in Campania in the areas of Caggiano, Auletta, Salvitelle, Valle del basso Tanagro, and Pertosa. It is most popular in the small town of its namesake, Pertosa.

The carciofo bianco is a culinary delight, prized for its resistance to cold temperatures, its sweet and mild flavor, and its versatility and ease in preparation. It can be used in any number of dishes, such as artichoke pâté, a torta rustica, which is a crumbling puff pastry with any number of ingredients inside, or as carciofo imbottito, seared artichokes stuffed with pecorino, bread crumbs,http://theartichokeblog.com/ prosciutto and herbs. It is most commonly eaten raw, dressed simply with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. The artichoke buds are round and large, and do not wield the characteristic artichoke spikes.

This gastronomic delight is not only prized for its taste and cold-weather hardiness, but it is farmed and harvested using traditional agricultural methods, and is a Slow Food Presidium of Italy. The fields of Pertosa can be seen as interlocking patchwork squares of olive trees and carciofi bianchi plots, olive oil being another principle product of Pertosa. In the past, the carciofo bianco was a bit more prevalent within the region, though it has nearly always been an exclusively local product. As of today, a relatively small number of farmers cultivate the carciofo bianco. Those who do distribute the artichoke locally, as they did in times past. Recognition of the carciofo bianco has been growing, however; in Pertosa, it is popular enough to warrant an annual festival in its honor: the Sagra del Carciofo Bianco, held every May in the De Marco Square.

TOURING INFORMATION:


Sagra del Carciofo Bianco: The White Artichoke Festival
When: May 7 – 8, 2011, from 7:30pm to midnight of the 8th.
Where: Piazza G. De Marco, Pertosa (SA)
+39-334-656-0544
+39-339-360-3976
ass.agricoltura@yahoo.it

Hotel and Ristorante Z’ Marianna
Via Muraglione 9, 84030 Pertosa (SA)
hotelzmarianna@libero.it

Ristorante Venosa
Via Muraglione, Grotte, 84030 Pertosa (SA)
+39-328-542-9692
ristorantevenosa@cheapnet.it


C is for coda di volpe:

The coda di volpe is an abundant grape in select areas of Campania, but is little-known outside of the region. Its name means “fox tail,” which colorfully compares the appearance of the hanging bunches of grapes to a fox’s bushy tail. Like aglianico and biancolella, the roots of this wine reach centuries back into history. The ancient Romans cultivated it, and the first written record exists in Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia.

The coda di volpe helped to bring about a resurgence in Campania wines that were lagging in popularity and, often, high quality. About 30-40 years ago, producers were searching for ways to mediate the high acidity levels of Irpinian wines, due to the composites of the volcanic soil in which the grapes are grown. The coda di volpe was rediscovered as a useful blending variety for white wines, often with other native varieties such as Greco, Falanghina and Verdeca, and helped to balance the acidity.

While the coda di volpe excels as a blending variety, in the mid-1980s it was developed as a single varietal wine. In Campania, three DOC areas register the coda di volpe as such: Irpinia, Sannio and Taburno. Italian law states that to be considered representative of one grape variety, 85% of the wine must be of that grape. Other DOC wines that include coda di volpe as a blender are Solopaca and Vesuvio.

The coda di volpe is a golden-yellow, versatile wine with lots of fresh fruit in the nose and hints of spice and citrus flavors. As a younger wine, its flavor is slightly sweet, developing into a drier flavor as it ages and yet never deviating from its generally mild body. It pairs well with many different courses and types of food, and is even a good match for international, not just Italian, cuisine.

TOURING INFORMATION:


Vineyard Adventures is happy to provide tours to wineries to discover coda di volpe. Send us an email


The aperitivo is an Italian institution which has fueled many festive evenings since its inception in Turin approximately 200 years ago. Since then, the practice has spread throughout Italy and inspired several neighboring countries to follow suit in this most spiritually productive of cultural customs.

A simple translation would suggest that the aperitivo is an aperitif, or pre-dinner drink. However, the aperitivo is much more than that, and has evolved to encompass the early evening ritual of going out for a drink before a meal, accompanied by light snacks that are provided along with your drink.

Some of the most popular cocktails for aperitivo include the Negroni, the Spritz, the Campari, and the Rossini. If you are looking for wine, then a glass of prosecco or a crisp white wine should do the trick. The idea is to stimulate the appetite with a drink that is not too heavy or too high in alcohol content.

As is the case with most Italian dining institutions, the food is generally high quality, and can range from simple breads to fresh sausage to an entire cheese plate with honey. For the light eaters and students among us, the snacks provided at aperitivo can very well constitute dinner, thereby increasing the available budget for additional wine. Alternatively, you could move on to a full-service restaurant for the rest of the evening.

As I looked over the recipes from Frijenno Magnanno, my eye immediately went to “Bucatini alla napoletana,” and I knew right away that it would be the first recipe I’d try. Similar to spaghetti, this thick, hollow noodle ranks high among my favorite pastas. I also had a can of whole tomatoes sitting on my counter, waiting patiently to be used, so I knew this dish would be the perfect way to ease in to this cooking adventure.

© Mondolibri

Bucatini is traditionally used in Lazio, making up many a Roman pasta dish like the infamous Bucatini all’amatriciana. It’s likely that this napoletano recipe is a derivation of the famous dish, minus the addition of guanciale, or pancetta. If you are unable to find bucatini at your local grocery store, it might be found under the label “perciatelli.”

Translating the original recipe was easier than I was anticipating because there wasn’t any dialect to deal with although I’m not completely reassured. I’ve snuck a few peeks at upcoming recipes and I feel more than a little intimidated! But today, all I had to do was boil water for pasta and put together a simple sauce.

Simple it was, but also so tasty. The sautéed garlic adds depth of flavor and peperoncino adds a faint and enjoyable heat. But by mixing a large handful of the fresh parsley into the sauce at the last-minute, the dish was transformed into a refreshing meal that had a crisp finish and had the unmistakable taste of spring. This dish is a classic example of Italian cooking minimal ingredients yielding amazing flavor. You won’t find this recipe in any mainstream Italian cookbooks or restaurants; it’s not well-known outside of the Naples area at all. It’s a treasure that has been passed down from generation to generation and survived not because of its commercial success, but because of its traditional comfort and good taste. I’ve translated a version into English for you to try at home. Don’t substitute dried for fresh parsley it simply will not be the same.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the bucatini. Cook until al dente and then set aside. In a separate pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté several cloves of garlic until they reach a golden brown coloring. Add in a can of whole tomatoes with some red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook over high heat until excess liquid is reduced. Wash the fresh parsley and add it to the sauce once it has finished cooking. Combine the sauce with the bucatini, garnish with extra parsley and enjoy!

 

Bucatini alla napolitana

 

Sources:

http://www.babbonyc.com/rec-bucatini.html

http://www.italianfoodforever.com/

http://www.foodsubs.com/PastaTubes.html

http://myitaliangrandmother.blogspot.com/2009/02/perciatelli-all-amatriciana.html

 

 

Bucatini

B is for babà rum

The sweet and yeasty dough of the babà rum cake is soaked in a syrup of lemon or orange juice and rum, and can be found in all of Campania. It is most popular in Naples, the city of its origins, and every pasticceria will have a selection of these mushroom-shaped cakes displayed behind the counter window and sold fresh. When ordered, the banconista drizzles it with more sweetened rum and tops it with a dollop of whipped cream. These treats are most often found in bakeries and pastry shops instead of in a nonna’s kitchen because of the time-consuming baking methods involved.

The origins of babà rum are difficult to pinpoint. Many countries have a form of this cake, seen as baba au rhum in France, babka in Poland, and even America’s sticky buns, all of which are similar in recipe and method. The true origins of this cake follow a winding path in history that, most likely, begins with the Polish king Stanislas Lesczinski (1677 – 1766), exiled to France to become the Duke of Lorraine. As one legend tells it, while eating his gugelhupf, or bundt cake, he dipped it in rum, set it aflame, and deemed his new dessert babà rum after his favorite literary character Ali Baba from One Thousand and One Nights. The name may also have come from a variation of the slightly derogatory Polish word for old lady, “babka,” because the cake mold resembles the folds of an old lady’s skirt.

How the babà rum traveled from the Polish court in Lorraine to Naples is another tale of conjecture. During the Bourbon Period of Naples (1734 – 1860), Maria Carolina, wife of King Ferdinand I, was impressed by her sister Marie Antoinette’s cuisine in Versailles. Maria Carolina sent for her own French cooks to populate the royal kitchen in Naples, and with them they brought the babà rum. Whatever the exact origins are, the babà rum has since been a popular dessert throughout Campania, and is now as much a part of Naples as pizza is.

TOURING INFORMATION:

Gran Caffè Gambrinus
Piazza del Plebiscito 1, Via Chiaia 1-2, Napoli 80132
Tel. +39 0814 17584
Hours: 7:00 am to midnight

Carraturo
Via Casanova 97, Napoli 80319
Tel. +39 0815 545364

Pasticceria Scaturchio
Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, 19, 80134 Napoli
Tel. +39 0815 516944 or +39 0815 517031
Email: info@scaturchio.it

Pasticceria Moccia
Via San Pasquale, 24 a Chiaia, 80121 Napoli
Hours: 7:30 am to 8:30 pm


B is for biancolella:

The grape variety biancolella is found in the land surrounding the Gulf of Naples in Campi Flegrei, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, and the islands of Capri and Ischia. Of these areas, Capri, Ischia and Campi Flegrei have attained DOC status. The biancolella is used as the primary grape variety in some white wines, as well as a blending variety with other grapes. The finished product is a dry, white wine with fresh yet subtle fruit hints and a touch of almond finish that pairs beautifully with local fish entrees. Two wines with a high percentage of biancolella, or about 85%, are Casa D’Ambra Forestera (DOC) and Cantine Pietratorcia (DOC). The blend of biancolella and forestera also produces a sparkling wine.

It is on the island of Ischia that the biancolella grape is cultivated the most. The salty sea winds, ashy, volcanic soil, and high elevations on Ischia have contributed their environmental elements to the cultivation of this grape known only to these areas in Campania. Ischia has limited land to offer within its island confines, and biancolella grapevines are seen growing on terraces. To harvest them, a rack-and-pinion trolley is accelerated along a monorail, and the grapes are harvested by hand, very carefully. As with aglianico, this biancolella grape variety is also said to have first been brought over and cultivated by the ancient Greeks. Overall, this wine is by no means rare, though it can be hard to come by due to its specific geographic location. Thus, the biancolella is yet another reason to visit the windswept views of Ischia, the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Naples, and the sweeping vistas of Campania.

TOURING INFORMATION:


Vineyard Adventures is happy to provide tours to wineries to discover biancolella. Send us an email


Sources:

Books, Madison. 1,001 Foods to Die For. Andrews McMeel Publishing 1 Nov 2007.

Garwood, Duncan and Josephine Quintero. Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Lonely Planet 2005.

Gold, Susannah. “Italian Indigenous Varieties: Biancolella Bianca From Campania.” avvinare.

Hawkins, Anthony. Winegrape Glossary.

I Vini Campani.” Ristorante President Pompei. Paolo Gramaglia 2004.

Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Encyclopedia of Kitchen History. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Books, Inc. 2007.

Succulent and juicy with a layer of crisp crackling, it is impossible to resist the siren call of freshly roasted porchetta. Though the dish has since spread throughout the country, it originated from central Italy, where it is ubiquitous in butcher’s shops, and commonly sold on the streets. During holiday fairs and festivals, large crowds of people will queue in front of food trucks for a porchetta panino, or bring porchetta slices along for a summer picnic.

To make porchetta, the inner organs and bones are removed from a whole pig, then the meat is rolled, heavily salted, and layered with aromatic herbs—usually rosemary, fennel and garlic. Next, the roll of meat is bound and roasted on a spit in an oven. Traditionally, porchetta is cooked in a wood-burning oven, but this is more difficult to clean and results in uneven cooking, so nowadays stainless steel ovens are popular. After cooking, the porchetta is put on display to attract the attention of passerbyers yearning for a taste.

Fans could argue all day about who offers the best porchetta, or even what region the boasts the best style of porchetta, but the town most frequently associated with the meat is Ariccia, located in the foothills southeast of Rome. Every fall, during the first weekend of September, Ariccia hosts a Sagra della Porchetta, or Porchetta Festival. The fair has been taking place annually since 1950, and offers a packed program of concerts, street performers, fireworks, and of course, all the porchetta you can eat.

Next time you pass a butcher’s shop with a sign labeled “porchetta oggi” (porchetta today), be sure to stop in for a fragrant slice of porcine candy!

TOURING INFORMATION:

Sagra della Porchetta
Ariccia (RM)
September (first weekend)
www.aricciafestaecultura.it

I once asked a Campanian chef which book I should pick up to learn Neapolitan cooking. His suggestion was Frijenno Magnanno. I’m not quite sure what I was looking for when at the bookstore, but I do know I passed over the cover at least 10 times.

 

I was living with 3 other people under the age of 35 at the time and they were all very fascinated with my excitement of finding this collection. “Oh, that book? My grandmother has that book.” At least they were nice enough to explain to me that frijenno magnanno essentially means “fry it and eat it” in Neapolitan dialect.

Although they seemed not to care, for me it was perfect. It feels like the cookbook one would get at a county fair in Nebraska. There are no chefs involved, its a collection of recipes that came  from the neighbors, complete with the names of those who submitted the recipe. I didn’t really know any Italian grandmothers at the time and thought this would be a grand way to learn the traditional recipes and take advantage of the Pignasecca market that was a short walk from my apartment.

Needless to say, I spent far too much time trying to find the best way to attack the project, seeking The Perfect Apostrophe, and before I ever got started, it was time to leave Naples for low season.

I’ve decided there is no perfect or elegant way to execute this project. Quite a few of the recipes are in dialect, some ingredients are amazingly hard to find in the standard American supermarket and some of the recipes seem a little to simple to highlight in a blog post (Rabbit in Beer: open beer, pour beer in pot, boil rabbit).

So starting next week, I and the contributors are flipping coins, drawing straws and just opening to a random page and hoping to bring you a classic Neapolitan recipe.

Does anyone have a dialect dictionary I can borrow?

 

annurca - Napoli nel sapore di una mela

Image by hidden side via Flickr

A is for annurca:

The apple has a distinct American identity, with Johnny Appleseed nearly as well-known as Santa Claus. Yet the Annurca apple is, indeed, a regional specialty of Campania that has nothing to do with America. I challenge you to think beyond the Red Delicious and perfectly-stacked pyramids of Gala apples at the supermarket and transport yourself to the countryside in Campania.

The Annurca apple is grown in every Campania province, where about 60% of apple consumption is of the Annurca variety. The apple’s origins lie in Pozzuoli, a city north of Naples where Homer reported Hell resided.  “Annurca” derives from “Mala orcula:” mala for the derivative mal, which means “bad,” or mala, which means “underworld;” and orcula, for the Hereafter of Hell. This did not dissuade the locals from eating it, and one can even see frescoes that closely resemble the Annurca apple in Herculaneum at the Casa dei Cervi.

Mala orcula was changed to anorcola, annorcula, and was listed officially as annurca in 1876 in G.E. Pasquale’s Manuale di Arboricultura. Today it has taken a noble leap from apple-of-the-underworld to being nationally known as “Queen of Apples” for its desirable qualities.

What makes the Annurca apple unique and desirable? First, its long history, as well as cultural and economical ties to the region, helped to grant it IGP status. Also, its harvesting methods are unique: the apples are harvested green, and then lay dormant in the sun for 20 – 50 days to redden. The end product is a crisp apple, small in size, with rough, red stripes on the outside and dense, crisp, bright white flesh inside.

TOURING INFORMATION:

Giaccio Frutta
81041 Vitulazio CE – Località Fontana, 8
Tel. +39 0823 990686
Fax.+39 0823 967621
Email: giacciofrutta@libero.it

Fattoria di Varcatura
Open from May to October – Christmas – Easter
80014 Giugliano in Campania (Napoli)
Viale dei Pini Nord, 2
Località Varcaturo
E-mail: famiglia.coronella@virgilio.it
Reservations: prenotazioni@fattoriadivarcaturo.it
Tel e Fax: +39 055 2479573

Fattoria Antico Borgo dei Briganti
Via S. Giorgio, 25 Giffoni Valle Piana (SA)
Email: anticoborgodeibriganti@virgilio.it
Tel: +39 339 5944148


A is for aglianico:

Nusco_Paternopoli 13

The Aglianico is a grape variety with a tale of a noble past, a downfall, and a rise to popular, yet underrated, wine-making. The grape clusters are full and dark and produce an inky-dark wine that is rich in fruit and chocolate flavors, smoke, and sometimes a bold hint of iron. It pairs well with meat-based pasta dishes as primo, and hearty plates of game, steak and sausage as secondo. It is 100% of the Taurasi wine, which is only one of three DOCG wines of Campania, and is a large percentage of numerous other wines such as Falerno Rosso and Irpinia Aglianico.

The Aglianico is thought to be the oldest grape cultivated in Italy, with a history that stretches as far back as the 6th Century B.C., when the Greeks brought it to Campania. It flourished in the hot, dry climate and was heralded as the Falernum wine of kings and poets, produced in the hills of Falerna in modern-day Catanzaro. The name aglianico is a nod to its Greek heritage. A bit of mystery surrounds the exact origins of the name, because it derives either from the Italian word ellenico (Hellenic), or perhaps from the word eleanico, from the Greek island Elea. In addition, there is speculation that the Aglianico is native to Italy and was not brought over by the Greeks, but was instead named by them.

In the 19th Century, the Phylloxera pest nearly wiped out the Aglianico vineyards. It was not until the late 1960s that its comeback surged from the vineyards of the Mastroberardino house and the Avallone family of Villa Matilde, a time when only three wineries commercially produced Campania wine. Today, over 120 producers exist, many of them in the mountainous Avellino region, also known as Irpinia.

 

TOURING INFORMATION:


Vineyard Adventures is happy to provide tours to wineries to discover aglianico. Send us an email


Sources:

Aglianico” Winegeeks. 19 Jan 2011.

Bonetto, Cristian and Josephine Quintero. Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Edition 3. Lonely Planet, 2010.

Carlo, Pasquale. “All the Flavors and Colors of Naples and Southern Italy” Luciano Pignataro Wine Blog 21 Oct 2010. 2 Mar 2011.

LaVilla, Joseph. The Wine, Beer, and Spirits Handbook: A Guide to Styles and Service. John Wiley and Sons, 2009.

Lista della cultivar della mela” World Lingo 2011, WorldLingo Translations LLC. 5 Mar 2011.

Magnaparma. “Aglianico D.O.C. Ross – Origins” The Italian Food Valley Magnaparma 15 Sep 2010. 1 Mar 2011.

McCarthy, Ed. “Wine” Campania Foods Blog Feb 26 2011.

Melannurca (Campania Annurca Apple)” Taste of Sorrento 2005. 19 Jan 2011.

MikeMo. “Aglianico” Vinvillage 17 Dec 2009. 3 Mar 2011.

Pelecchia, Thomas. Wine: The 8,000-Year-Old Story of the Wine Trade. New York, New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2006.

Simonis, Damien and Duncan Garwood. Italy. Lonely Planet, 2004.

“Hmm… let me see what I’ve got from Campania…,” mumbled my local wine seller as he rummaged through his extensive, yet unorganized, collection. “Here are my Taurasis; they’re good… but quite pricey. Oh, here’s one that’s reasonably priced. But unfortunately, it’s crap,” he adds apologetically. “I’ll find you something perfect.”

And indeed he did. The 2005 Irpinia DOC Aglianico Cinque Querce from Salvatore Molettieri was exactly the type of wine I was looking for. A grape I was familiar with from a producer I was not. With 11 hectares of land to his name, Molettieri works among three vineyards. The soil that he works with is known to be well suited for viticulture in southern Italy and his wines don’t disappoint any expectations.

After bringing home my carefully chosen bottle, I didn’t have to think hard about how best to pair this beautiful red with my dinner. I opened up a jar of homemade tomato sauce that I had canned earlier in the season and enjoyed a simple but classic dinner: la pasta al pomodoro e il vino rosso.

This Irpinia Rosso has a complex nose with chocolate aromas. Both the deep color of the wine and the age it carries had me excited to taste it right away, but I allowed it to decant while I finished cooking dinner. High tannins and a medium-full body present themselves right away, while the moderate cherry flavors linger. Dinner turned into dessert, as the wine was just begging to be paired with some dark chocolate I had stashed away… che fortuna!

Described as “practically a young Taurasi,” I feel satisfied to have sampled such a great vino Campano. I can’t wait to make another trip back to the wine shop to see what else the region has to offer!

Harking from before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, falanghina is a grape variety indigenous to the Campania, with a long, storied tradition of cultivation in the region. It is believed that falanghina was a component of Falerno, a fine wine imbibed by the ancient Romans. By the 1960s though, the triple threats of phylloxera, wartime damage, and disinterest had nearly doomed the falanghina vine to a quiet extinction. Luckily, a lawyer by the name of Francesco Avallone took a shining to this orphaned grape. Spurred by his passion for ancient history, Avallone worked to cultivate falanghina once more, and is credited with single-handedly returning falanghina back to its rightful place in the canon of Italian wines.

Today, falanghina is one of the most popular white grapes in Campania. For a recent dinner party, I picked up a bottle of 2009 Sannio Falanghina from Mastroberardino, a well-reputed producer from Atripalda, not far from Pompeii and Naples. The Mastroberardino family has been in the wine-making business for over 130 years, committed stakeholders in preserving Italian vinification traditions and culture. In particular, they strive to protect and valorize native grapes, such as Fiano, Greco, and Aglianico, and view themselves as interpreters in the enological world, just one piece of the holistic cultural message embodied by their wines.

This bottle of Sannio Falanghina impressed me with its floral and fruity aromas, with particularly strong notes of pineapple and citrus. The wine was straw yellow in the glass, and when swirled, it showed a good amount of viscosity in the body. In the mouth, the falanghina had a bracing acidity, with additional citrus, acetone, and mineral flavors, reflecting its origins in the volcanic soils of Pompeii. The wine ended with a short, clean finish. Simple and elegant, the cutting acidity of this wine is best suited for pairing with rich, buttery sauces and seafood or poultry courses. Keep falanghina in mind for the next time you serve seared salmon with beurre blanc!

Sources:

“Falanghina.” I Nostri Vini. Mastroberardino.

“Falanghina.” Vinoe’ Web

Mack, Joel. “Feudi Di San Gregorio Falanghina Sannio 2007.” Napoli Unplugged

“Sannio Falanghina.” Campania Wines

Among the wines of Campania is the Lacrima Cristi del Vesuvio DOC, literally “Christ’s Tears of Vesuvius.” The Rosso Lacrima boasts a lineage that goes back over 2500 years ago when the ancient Greeks brought over the Aglianico grape. The Aglianico is combined with the local Piedirosso grape. The Bianco Lacrima hails from two native grapes, Coda di Volpe and Falanghina. Both the red and white wines show the Campania penchant for colorful names: Piedirosso, or “red feet,” refers to the red root ends of the vine, and Coda di Volpe, or “fox-tail,” describe the animal-tail resemblance of the grape clusters.

“Christ’s Tears of Vesuvius” wines take imaginative naming to another level. These wines are backed by several versions of a folk-lore, each of which recounts Lucifer’s fall from heaven. As the Lord cast him from the skies, Lucifer clutched at heaven, snapping off a piece that he relinquished when passing from Earth to the lower, fiery depths of his present home. The Lord cried tears of sorrow that rained upon the piece of heaven that Lucifer grabbed, from which grape vines sprung and contributed to the region’s first wine. This piece of heaven on earth became Naples and the surrounding areas.

After a quick online search, I found that most Lacrima Cristi wines sell for a reasonable price of $15 – $25. Several producers make this wine, including Mastroberardino, Sessa, and the De Angelis family in Sorrento. The De Angelis estate is the oldest Lacrima Cristi producer on the coast of Sorrento, and it is from them that I chose Lacrima Cristi del Vesuvio Rosso and Bianco DOC 2009.

From my admittedly limited wine-classifying experience, I found that the ruby-red Lacrima Cristi is an earthy wine. The initial note is spicy black pepper, followed by undertones of dried fruit. I imagine this wine would pair well with a large plate of pasta all’amatriciana or all’arrabbiata. The Bianco Lacrima Cristi is pale-gold in color, and agreeably smooth, sans the initial spiciness of its red counterpart. It has a tropical-fruity scent that melts into a crisp citrus flavor, and is less complex than the red. Both wines would undoubtedly be crowd-pleasers, and are more suited to a casual setting.

Sources:

beau. “Divine Tears, Red Feet & Foxtails.” Basic Juice.

“De Angelis Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio Rosso.” Total Wine and More.

“De Angelis Rosso Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio 2001 – Italy.” The International Wine of the Month Club. Vol. 6 No. 4.

Lynch, David. “This Month: Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.” Babbo Ristorante.

For as long as I’ve been an Italophile, it took me a long time to get to Venice. I’d heard differing stories from my friends who had visit and the quote that kept me away was “Venice has become Disneyland.” Knowing there were still unseen parts of Italy without crowds and made for tourist streets, why did I want to bother with it?

It was finally time to bite the bullet and visit Venice after the whirlwind days of VinItaly 2010. Being that close and having a couple of days to spare it was time to get the “Really! You haven’t been to Venice!?” comments out of my conversations about my stem to stern travels in Italy.

When I was offered a room at Palazzo Abadessa right off the Strada Nuova, I jumped at the chance. Up to this point I was believing all the negativity about Venice. It was April and it was crowded. It felt like there were more Americans on the ferry than on a New York City subway car. Everyone that caught my eye on the Strada Nuova was wearing bright white sneakers and toting a Rick Steves guidebook. (Then I actually saw Rick Steves!)

Blink and you’ll miss the turn to get to Palazzo Abadessa, but this simple turn leaves the crowds behind. Those working on their sightseeing checklist would walk right past this narrow alleyway. In classic Italian style there is a simple sign hanging high from the wall on the street signaling the entrance to Abadessa.

Many of the tour books give you the standard facts you need to know, but they all leave out the best part, the owners. This review from i-Escape.com gives the perfect short review:

Live like a Doge in a beautifully restored Baroque palace with a peaceful walled garden and private jetty

Step back into the 18th century. Surrounded by gorgeous antiques, paintings, damask walls and flexible floors, warmly welcomed by owners Maria-Luisa and Giovanni-Battista Rossi and their charming staff, you’ll feel like a temporary member of a historic Venetian family.

Tucked away off the Calle Priuli in the bohemian Cannaregio quarter, fronted by a secret walled garden, this was the private mansion of the Priuli family of Doges. The Rossis bought it in 1975 as their home and, after a quarter century of loving restoration – seeking out the perfect period detail, the finest pieces of furniture – opened it as an intimate hotel. Marisa (as she is known) grew up in a Palladian villa “surrounded by beautiful history”, then ran several factories in Vicenza, inviting clients to the Abadessa (the ‘Mother Superior’) for weekend breaks. Now she loves her life as doyenne of an elegant palazzo hotel, welcoming cultured folk from all over the world.

Palazzo Abadessa is, no doubt, a high-end hotel. However, if you allow yourself some time to experience the location, it will grow to feel like an intimate B&B with Marisa and the staff taking good care of you. The breakfast buffet is wonderful and the coffee will continue to arrive if you so desire. Prosecco flows freely during the aperitivo hour and is best enjoyed in the garden. If you happen to miss social hour, a bottle of the beautifully labelled Bel Star prosecco is included in the mini-bar offerings.

When I went to the desk to ask about the best transit options to Murano, they called a private water taxi and arranged a tour of one of the last few glass factories that still remain on the island. Abadessa has their own dock at the back door and the taxi delivered me to the back door of the factory. For me, this felt like I was dodging a pack of paparazzi.

I’m looking forward to my next stay at Palazzo Abadessa, not necessarily for hotel, but to have another chat with Marisa.

Palazzo Abadessa
Calle Priuli, Cannaregio 4011, 30131
Venice, Italy
+39.041.2413784

Coming Soon….  Part II: The food & wine experience: Bisol Prosecco, the Mazzorbo project and Venissa.