White cavolfiore (cauliflower) is widely and internationally known, such a common vegetable that the average dinner-partier does not think twice about the origins of that hard, bumpy, white vegetable among the others on the veggie and dip platter. The white cauliflower is actually relatively new in terms of cultivated plants that humans have been munching on since before recorded history.
Along with at least a dozen varieties, the white cauliflower was cultivated from two native plants from Asia and the Mediterranean. This plant, its growth stunted so that the flowers never bloom and its mass covered with its leaves so it stays as white as snow, came from broccoli. Broccoli arose in Italy, some varieties evolved into cauliflower, and the vegetable was known throughout Europe by the 1500s. Italy still produces cauliflower today. Campania is the single most productive region with 40% of Italy’s white cauliflower grown here; Le Marche and Tuscany are two other key areas. The season lasts from October to May, and thus white cauliflower and its colorful cousins, such as the green and angular romanesco, are great cold-weather vegetables. Even though the stark whiteness of cauliflower may lead one to wrongly assume it is poor in vitamins, the opposite is true. It is rich in potassium and folic acid, and one of the highest vitamin contents is Vitamin C: a half a cup of cauliflower gives an entire day’s worth.
White cauliflower and its variations can be pureed to a creamy, smooth consistency, baked, steamed, boiled, roasted and eaten raw, to name a few preparation methods. Its tendency to lose structure and turn to mush can be avoided with a 20-30 minute precook at a low temperature (130-140 F / 55-60 C) before undergoing a final long cooking (this can be applied to other foods, such as apples, carrots and potatoes). In Naples, especially around Christmas and New Year’s Day, the insalata di rinforzo is served. This “Reinforcement salad” is a hearty dish featuring cauliflower, peppers and olives.
These restaurants offer the traditional insalata di rinforzo during the holiday times.
Hotel Palazzo Sasso
Via San Giovanni del Toro 28
84010 Ravello – Amalfi Coast
tel + 39-089-818-181
Agriturismo Il Cocchiere
Via Piano del Principe, 229
80040 Poggiomarino – Naples
Via Capodimonte, 2/b
80071 Anacapri (Napoli)
The phenomenon of the wine glut, referred to as a “wine lake,” is certainly not confined to the region of Campania. But, when visiting this region rich in cultural and gastronomical history, there are ways to personally counteract the negative consequences that the wine lake causes.
The wine glut refers to too much wine for too few consumers. The extra wine goes to waste or is used as alternative fuel – a terrible waste of energy overall, given that wine and all of its production processes are being used as fuel in the end. The wine lake exists because of low quality and low cost wines produced in huge quantities. Government support has helped to fuel mass production of wine, but this is not the only thing to blame. Huge wine companies themselves are actually pushing for more demand instead of responding to the present demand, making not only batches and batches of poor quality wine, but also various other drinks such as wine coolers, in an effort to tap into the soft drink mindset of consumers.
The wine lake is not simply an overflow of terrible wine, but even of palatable, albeit not “good” quality wine. All countries are guilty of purposefully overshooting the demand in the race towards catering to a consumer culture, including newcomers Chile, Australia and the United States as well as old-timers Spain, France and Italy.
This overproduction of lower quality wine is by no means a new phenomenon, however. Throughout history, wine has been an everyday drink as a source of calories, clean water, and the relaxing, pleasant effect of alcohol. As the demographics of these countries have changed and the average worker does not need the caloric value of wine, less wine of a higher quality is consumed by more people. The out-pour of too much low quality wine has not slowed down.
Allora, as Italians say – well? How to counteract this is simple. Buying from small producers to support their vineyards in Campania is easy to do. Your wine drinking experience will certainly be more fulfilling and gratifying as your taste buds appreciate the flavor of high quality.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover small producers and high quality wines of Campania.
Baldwin, Eleonora. Christmas in Italy. The Reluctant Gourmet. December 2009.
Carter, Marina. Adventure guide: Naples, Sorrento & the Amalfi Coast. Hunter Publishing, Inc.: 2006. Google Books.
Europe burns its wine lake. Nature News. June 2007.
McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner 2004.
Phillips, Kyle. Cavolfiore: That’s Cauliflower, A Winter Gift. About.com 2011.
Resnik, Hank. Youth & Drugs: Society’s Mixed Messages. DIANE Publishing 1990. Google ebooks.
Veseth, Mike. Money, Music, War and Wine. The Wine Economist. May 2010.
The Vitellone Bianco dell’Apennine Centrale IGP, or white veal of the Central Apennine mountain range of Protected Geographic Origin, is superior quality veal that is raised in Campania near the Apennine mountain range. The cattle and steer are also raised in other Italian regions near the Apennines, including Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Le Marche, Molise, Tuscany and Umbria. Three robust and, frankly, gigantic breeds are part of the white veal IGP category: Marchigiana, Romagnola and Chianina. All three breeds were used as draft animals up until the mid-1850s, when Italians began to breed them for meat instead of for work. The environment in the mountains is one of the most important factors that contributes to the high quality of meat: not only have these breeds evolved and been bred to fit the Alpennine environment like a glove, but the animals feast daily on quite a wide variety of flora.
The Consorzio di Tutelo del Vitellone Bianco dell’Apennine Centrale IGP is the protection agency that requires specific parameters of weaning and husbandry in order for the calves to be of IGP quality. The period before weaning can be in pastures, stabled, free range and fixed. The calves must be weaned solely on their mothers’ milk, and then afterwards are free-range or bred in stalls. Butchering happens from 12 to 24 months, often around 16 to 20, and only in certified butcheries.
When buying this meat, one can always be sure that is is, indeed, the Vitellone Bianco IGP. This is because the Consorzio is the first protection consortium to electronically track the calves and meat from their origins. With every package purchased, one may trace the package number back to the original farm. On each package, a unique label that marks it as true Vitellone Bianco IGP is stamped. The meat is lean with an average GPI value of 2%, and its delectable flavor, juices and texture are best brought out with the simple and traditional preparation method of grilling and drizzling with extra virgin olive oil immediately before serving.
A producer in Campania:
Via Venafrana, Km 4700
81050 Presenzano (CE)
Agristor Le Due Torri
Strada Statale N 85
81050 Presenzano (CE)
Cantina del Vesuvio is situated in the center of the Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio (National Park of Vesuvius) in Naples. Maurizio Russo, the owner and viticoltore (wine producer), has a long family history of viticulture and enology in his family. Today, the vineyards are in the middle of a transformation to becoming organically certified. The Cantina del Vesuvio has vineyards in Vesuvio, Sorrento, Capri, Pompeii and Naples.
Traveling to the vineyards, one will be greeted warmly by Maurizio Russo and take a tour of the vineyards and winery, chat with Maurizio and, of course, drink a glass of wine. The territory and natural simplicity of the area are found in the bottles of wine the Cantina produces. These wines are numerous: First, the three most typical and traditional wines of the region, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco, Rosso and Rosato DOC; Maestro Rosso IGT (100% Aglianico); Mariè Bianco IGT (100% Falanghina Pompeiano); and Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC Rosso Riserva “Sigillo Ceralacca.” (80% Piedirosso, 10% Aglianico, 10% Olivella). The Cantina also produces Grappa del Vesuvio, Distillato di Albicocche (apricot spirit), and, in keeping with tradition of the region, Extra Virgin Olive Oil del Vesuvio.
The Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC Bianco is composed of 80% Coda di volpe and 20% Falanghina, with a floral profume and a fresh, light and fruity taste. The Rosso is 80% Piedirosso, 10% Aglianico and 10% Olivella, with a full body and intense scents of violet and the native ginestra flower of Vesuvius. White peach is predominant on the palate. The Rosato is composed of 80% Piedirosso and 20% Aglianico, with similar tasting notes as the Rosso. Because the Lacryma Christi tends to have a soft palate and be rich in alcohol, it nicely complements seafood, including sautéed clams, crustaceans, fish stews and seafood risotto. Grilled vegetables and semi-firm cheeses pair well with the wines, as does the local mussel dish called Impepata di Cozze.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover wine from Cantina del Vesuvio.
Baldwin, Eleonora. The Wines of Campania. Italy Mondo! April 2010.
Cantina del Vesuvio. Luciano Pignatoro Wine Blog. May 2011.
Italian Food DOP and IGP. Forums.cooking.com document.
Vineyard Hopping – Trecase (Na) – Cantina del Vesuvio. Andiamotrips. Sept 2010.
Vitellone Bianco dell’Appennino Centrale IGP. Naturalmente Italiano.
Uova ‘Mpriatorio (oo-oh-vah m-pree-ah-tor-ee-oh) is a simple Neapolitan dish that features a sizzling red tomato sauce with two or more sunny-side up eggs cracked into it, served with a hunk of bread to sop up the good juices. It is an expression of the Neapolitan and Campanian way of utilizing the simplest, freshest ingredients to showcase the seasonal variety and create something delicious.
The name says a bit about the dish itself. “Eggs in Purgatory” is the literal translation. Priatorio is Neapolitan dialect for “purgatory,” and may be a twist and combination of the words pregare and Purgatorio, or “to pray” and “purgatory.” And of course, if one is in purgatory, then prayers are a way of being saved.
The question remains – why the colorful name? In Italian cities on the streets, near churches and in back alleys, there are the occasional indented corners and walls where Christ or the Madonna are honored as small religious figures surrounded by votive candles and flowers. Some of the votive candles can be seen in Naples as white souls rising from the red flames of purgatory – much like the white eggs floating on the surface of an often spicy hot tomato sauce. Simple recipes can be found all over the internet in both Italian and English.
As this is such a simple dish, it will likely be found in many traditional restaurants both in Naples and around Campania. Here is one agriturismo that features it:
Agriturismo Tenuta Montelaura
Via Due Principati 101, Contrada Pozzelle
Celzi di Forino (Avellino), 83020 Italy
The Catalanesca uva (grape) is a relatively rare cultivar today. It was brought over in the 1400s from Catalogna by Alfonso I d’Aragona, hence the name “Catalanesca.” This grape took to the volcanic soils of Campania and Vesuvius well, like other Campania grapes have done. The wine became regionally popular and was considered one of the more highly esteemed cultivars of the Vesuvius area until about 60 years ago. Even today, one can find Catalanesca cantine (wineries) that date back to the 1600s. There are not very many, however, and those that exist produce wine exclusively in the Vesuvius National Park area in Somma Vesuviana, S. Anastasia, S. Ottavio and other small towns.
The grape itself is golden and oval, not growing in close bunches. It is high in sugar, making subtle wines that reach their peak after at least two years of maturation. Uva Catalanesca has traditionally been a late-harvest grape, harvested in October, November and even December. Because the skin is thick, it protects the grape from toadstool fungus and allows late maturation. This crunchy grape is sweet and juicy and can be enjoyed on its own, in the mixed fruit salad called Macedonia, and in pastries and savory dishes alike. Excess grapes have always been consumed as such. Only recently in 2006, uva Catalanesca was added to the official wine grape list.
As example of a wine produced from 100% uva Catalanesca is the Casa Barone Vino Bianco 2007. The color is a deep straw yellow, and the wine’s structure is good, both light and firm. It has floral aromas of acacia blossom, magnolia and broom, with a fresh and persistent taste. It pairs well with fish platters and pastas that feature light sauces or vegetables.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover wine from uva Catalanesca.
Catalanesca White wine. Bravo Italy Gourmet.
Ravone, Angela. Uova in purgatorio. Città del Monde. Apr 2011.
Santilli, Luisa. Ars Alimentaria. April 2010.
Uova in purgatorio ” ova ‘mpriatorio.” A Cucina e Mammà. July 2011.
Uva Catalanesca. Regione Campania – Assessorato Agricoltura. 2009.
A traditionally popular and economically valuable dish of the island of Capri has been the quail. The common quail, Coturnix coturnix, is a small bird in the pheasant family with rusty red plumage mottled in black and white.
Historically, Capri depended on quail hunting as a large part of the economy. Flocks of hundreds of thousands of quail used the island off the coast of Naples as a temporary resting ground in their migrations to and from the mainland of Italy in the spring and autumn. The quail of springtime were not as tasty as those that feasted all summer long in Campania and Puglia to return in September fat and healthy, which were hunted with more vigour and attention. At the time, quails were caught in nets, which were strung between poles of about 30 feet high and 50 feet apart. In 1775, the bishop of Bourbon Ferdinand II chose the island of Capri as his summer residence, where he enjoyed quail hunting so famously that Capri earned the nickname Bishoprie of Quails. One report from 1793 states that up to 12,000 quail were netted in a single day, and 150,000 in fifteen days. Other methods were employed to catch quail, including the potentially dangerous poaching; scrambling over the cliffs of Capri in search of the small bird did not always end well for the hunter.
Today, quail are not hunted as much as they had been in the past, although quail hunting by rifle is still a popular sport. Quail is prepared much like other poultry, including braising, roasting, or accompanying with various wine sauces, such as the traditional white wine, pancetta and peas; less commonly, the decoratively mottled eggs are eaten.
These restaurants offer regional specialties:
Ristorante Buca di Bacco
Via Longano, 35
80073 Capri, Napoli
Ristorante Al Grottino
Via Longano, 27
80073 Capri, Napoli
Hours: Sun – Sat., 12:00-2:00pm, 7:00-11:00pm
Via Migliera, 18
80071 Anacapri, Napoli
For a more luxurious stay, try this hotel or its restaurant, which also offers quail:
Via Capodimonte, 14
80071 Anacapri, Napoli
The winery of Quintodecimo in Avellino was founded in 2001, making it relatively new compared to the other vinicole highlighted in this series. Owners Luigi Moio and Laura di Marzo bought a small parcel of land that today has expanded to about 8 hectares just outside the village of Mirabella Eclano. The winery’s name derives from “Quintum Decimum,” the name of an ancient farmhouse during the 8th Century AD, a time when Mirabella Eclano was known as Eclanum. The philosophy of this winery is to stay small and produce a limited amount of only the finest wines that authentically express the typicality of the area’s indigenous grapes. In keeping with this philosophy, Luigi Moio, a professor of Oenology at the University of Naples, combines his knowledge with his experience of being part of a family of wine makers. While remaining loyal to traditional grape varieties and creating single varietal wines, he also carries out small-time research on the soil, location and equipment usage of the vineyards and winery.
The three white and two red wines produced in Quintodecimo are of grapes that are common in the vocabulary of Campania wine: Greco di Tufo, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino and Aglianico. The white wines, aged in oak barrels, are single varietal wines that represent the grapes splendidly. Fiano Avellino DOCG Exultet Bianco is smooth and rich; Greco di Tufo DOCG Giallo d’Arles Bianco is fruity, warm and golden; and Falanghina Via del Campo Bianco is fruity and mineral. Both red wines, the Vigna Quintodecimo and Terra d’Eclano, are also single varietal and express Aglianico beautifully. Vigna Quintodecimo is a DOCG Aglianico Taurasi Riserva, aged for 24 months in barrels and another 24 months in the bottle; and Terra d’Eclano IGT is aged for 18 months in wood and another 6 in the bottle. Both have full bodies and balanced tannins, with a nose of liquorice and spices and a fruity flavor. Both age well; none of Quintodecimo’s wines are aged for less than 18 months.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Quintodecimo.
Capri: La Cucina Italiana. Da Gelsomina. Sept 2003.
Chi Siamo. Quintodecimo: Vignaioli in Mirabello Eclano.
Phillips, Karen. Vineyard Hopping – Mirabello Eclano (Av) – Quintodecimo. Andiamotrips. June 2011.
Pignataro, Luciano. Quintodecimo. Luciano Pignatora Wineblog. Sept 2007.
Viktorija. Quintodecimo Winery. Winery Visits.
Trower, Harold Edward. The Book of Capri. Naples: E. Prass 1853. Digitized book.
Webster, Thomas, et. al. The American Family Encyclopedia of Useful Knowledge. New York: Derby and Jackson 1856. Digitized book.
The image of Italy may recall baskets of tomatoes, plates of pasta, fragrant basil bouquets, and platters of hard and fresh cheeses. It is perhaps surprising, then, to learn that the humble potato is one of Italy’s most widely cultivated vegetables, second in national production only to the tomato. It is in fertile Campania, together with Emilia-Romagna, that the highest quality and quantity of potatoes are produced. They are grown principally in Naples, Caserta, and, to a smaller extent, in Salerno. The most popular variety is the Patata novella, or “New potato,” of the Solanum tuberosum species. This name derives from the homonymous Spanish word for potato, which together with the American name derives its nomenclature its origin in the Peruvian Andes. There, “potato” is nahuatl patatl. For a brief period in 16th century Italy, patata was called tartifola in reference to its similar visual characteristics as the truffle mushroom, tartufo. Patata, however, is the name that held fast in both Spain and Italy. The Patata novella is also known as primaticcia because of its early harvest, which takes place from May to June.
An early harvest means that the potato’s skin is delicately paper-thin, and can practically be rubbed off with one’s fingers. Discarding the skin is undesireable, though, because of the flavor and nutrients it imparts, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C; along with fiber and iron. Again, thanks to the volcanic Campania soil, rich in elements like selenium and flouride, does the Patata novella have these desirable characteristics.
Patate novelle most commonly grow as light brown to red skinned, with white to yellow innards; but variations include hues from light brown to violet, and white to rich yellow inside. These potatoes are sometimes eaten raw, and in addition to innumerable dishes one can whip up with potatoes, are particularly excellent in salads of boiled zucchini, basil, tomatoes, and the Campania DOP cipollotti nocerini, a type of shallot.
Agriturismo Tenuta Montelaura
Via Due Principati, 101, Località Pozzelle
Celzi di Forino, Avellino 83020
Agriturismo Sentiero dei Sapori
Via Tutti i Santi, 25
Parco Corona – Agerola (NA)
In March, the Sagra della Patata Novella is held for the appreciation and promotion of Patata novella in Marigliano, Naples. An ad for the event shows that 2011 was the 9th edition, and other information can be found here (Italian).
The top grape of red wines in Campania may be the Aglianico, but Piedirosso is not far behind at all in terms of its excellent flavor, production and pedigree. Piedirosso literally means “red feet;” the reddish grape stems resemble the feet of doves, in particular after they have been snacking on the grapes and crushing the ruby juices from the snapped skin. In various local dialects, Piedirosso is also known as Strepparossa, Palombina and Per’e Pallummo.
Piedirosso, like Aglianico, is an excellent blending variety. And, though less common, it also produces excellent, classic wines individually. Piedirosso is sometimes blended just a touch with Campania’s famous Taurasi, and matches well with Aglianico and Olivella to produce Lachryma Christi del Vesuvio and Sant’Agata dei Goti. Its lineage is noble like that of Aglianico, and up to five different Piedirosso vines are mentioned as far back as the ancient Roman Empire. And, Piedirosso has also had to struggle through a victorious comeback after the devastating phylloxera that nearly wiped out many important grape varieties. Today, its production is strong. Piedirosso is grown in ten DOC areas of Campania: Taburno, Campo Flegrei, Capri, Amalfi Coast, Falerno del Massico, Ischia, Penisola Sorrentina, Sannio, Sant’Agata dei Goti, and Vesuvio.
On its own or blended, Piedirosso imparts a deep red hue, balanced tannins and lively acidity. Its flavor notes often invoke black plums and dark berries, tobacco and espresso, a slight minerality and spices like black pepper and clove. Though still not common as a stand-alone varietal, Ocone Agricola del Monte is one example of a producer that makes a fine wine of 100% Piedirosso.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Piedirosso.
Castaldo, Dr. Antonio. The History Box. March 2010.
Cipollotto Nocerino DOP. Regione Campania – Assessorato Agricoltura.
Hyland, Tom. Guide to Italian Wines: Campania. Wine Lovers Page.
Maresca, Tom. Campania – The World’s Original Vineyard. Wine News.
Patata Novella Campana. In Campania.
Piedirosso Wine. Wine-Searcher.
Potatoes: Patate Novelle. Nature Service.
Prodotti Tradizionali della Campania: Patata Novella. Sapore di Campania.
Venuso, Maddalena. La patata: Umile richezza della terra. Terre di Campania.
Jellied pork, or gelatina di maiale, has a strong Irpinian heritage, specifically in the Upper Valley of the Calore River. In the local dialect it is Ilatina ‘r puorcu. Jellied pork was, at a time when the majority of Italy’s population did not have access to abundant food like today, a way to reap nutrition from almost every part of the pig. This included the feet, head and tail, which were used as the main ingredients in preparing jellied pork. After the pig has been cooked and the choice hunks of meat consumed, jellied pork was – and still is – the ultimate leftover recipe.
The head, tail and feet are cut up and left to sit in water for a day before being boiled with bay leaves. Once the meat detaches from the bone, it is removed and cut up further. The fat is skimmed from the cooking broth, which is next boiled with herbs and then left to sit in its serving dish to solidify (caused by the natural collagen). Traditional recipes call for salt, vinegar, spicy pepperoncino, and more bay leaves; the addition of wine (Fiano di Avellino is best); pine nuts and raisins or grapes; and lemon juice and rind. An unexpected addition, often a secret ingredient, is cocoa powder. The gelatin is served with other meats, or can be canned and eaten at a later time. It is also refreshing when served chilled on a hot summer day paired with fresh tomatoes and olive oil, boiled tomatoes and vinegar, on a salad, or with virtually any vegetable.
To say that jellied pork is traditionally of Campania would be both accurate and inaccurate. To use the leftover parts so as to waste nothing is truly a universal concept. And, employing the use of collagen in creating satisfying and flavorful dishes has been discovered in many countries. To name but a few, jellied pork has variations in Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Ireland, Scandinavia, and Switzerland.
Agriturismo Tenuta Montelaura
Via Due Principati 101
Contrada Pozzelle, Forino (AV)
+39 082 576 2500
Osteria del Maiale Pezzato
Via C.Coccio 2 | 12060 SINIO (CN)
+39 017 326 3845
Via Martiri Ungheresi, 12
97012 Chiaramonte Gulfi (RG)
+39 093 292 8019
To understand what the Janare Azienda Agricola encompasses and what it portrays, a bit of background knowledge must be explained: first, La Cooperativa Agricola La Guardiensa; and second, Southern Italy’s Old Religion tradition with witchcraft. La Cooperativa Agricola La Guardiense, or the Farming Cooperative of the Guardiense, was founded in 1960 with the membership of 33 vineyards of Benevento. Today, it has over 1000 members in the area, encompassing about 2000 hectares of hilly countryside in Guardia Sanframondi, San Lorenzo Maggiore, San Lupo and Castelvenere. La Guardiensa distributes nationally and internationally and is one of Italy’s biggest cooperations and distributors of wine. It has become a symbol of quality, progress and economical success while still respecting traditional production methods.
In 2000, Janare Azienda Agricola was formed within La Guardiensa for the benefit, protection and promotion of Benevento’s DOC grapes and wines. Janare produces and sells two lines of DOC wine: Cru and Selezione. They include Falanghina, Aglianico, Greco di Tufo, Fiano, and Piedirosso.
The name Janare is the key to this winery’s identification with an age-old religion in Benevento. It has no translation in English. Suffice it to say that its history is detailed, long and fascinating, and only touched upon in this post (some informative links in English and Italian are among the sources).
La Vecchia Religione, or the Old Religion, was formed around the beliefs of Italic inhabitants, later refined by the Etruscans in 1000 BC, and further evolved in Italian culture in the late 1300s. At this time, three sects called the Triad Traditions were formed, the Fanara, Tanarra, and Janarra. They occupied northern, central, and central-southern Italy, respectively. Janarra was and remains today a religion that practices a form of witchcraft. The name Janarra itself derives from the literally two-faced god whom they worshipped, known as Janus, Ianus, and Giano, among other variations (this is the god after which January is named). The two faces look in opposite directions, making this god a symbol of gates, portals, endings and beginnings. While researching why Janare Azienda Agricola chose this tradition after which to name itself, I found a very simple suggestion. As age-old passions and traditions may coalesce to bear a cult, so Janare Azienda Agricola was born from the passions and strong traditions in the ancient art of wine-making in the people of Benevento.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover the DOC wines of Ischia.
Arrosto di Maiale in Gelatina. The Italian Taste.
Cimmino, Fabbio. La Guardiense: Progetto Janare. 12 Feb 2004. Wine Report.
Gelatina di Maiale. Regione Campania – Assessorato all’Agricoltura.
Gelatine Pig Laurel. Agriturismo Tenuta Montelaura.
Grimassi, Raven. Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft. 2000. Google eBooks.
Janare Colle di Tilio 2010: La Guardiense. Everywine.
Keeley, Janeson. The Janic Tradition. Suite 101. 14 May 2001.
The Triad Traditions. Oocities.org.
Fresh seafood in Campania is an abundant treat that southern Italians are fortunate enough to enjoy daily. Cozze, or mussels, are part of the cornucopia of seafood that Italians call frutti di mare, or fruits of the sea. Cozze have a fresh, delicate flavor that should be subtly enhanced and not overseasoned. Impepata di cozze, peppered mussels, is such a dish that does not overwhelm cozze that have been caught only hours ago, and is quick and simple to prepare. It is popular in Campania, especially in Naples. Cozze are paired with a generously peppered broth spiced with lemon, garlic, olive oil and parsley. A typical recipe can be found here.
Cozze can be wild-caught or farmed. Very few mussel foragers in the world practice their trade today, however; in all of Campania, they are farmed. In northern Italy, Ancona is perhaps the only place in the country where cozze foragers still wake up in the early hours before sunrise to gather the catch of the day. The wild-caught cozze from Ancona are, in fact, a Slow Food Presidia. While many people testify that wild-caught cozze have tasty nuances of flavor that farmed ones do not have, just as many claim that farmed cozze taste better and are more flavorful. In addition, they are meatier, easy to farm and quick to sell. When shopping for cozze to prepare for yourself a dish of impepata di cozze, however, be aware of illegal mussel farming. Because they are relatively simple to farm, unsanctioned hatcheries do exist, and can be unclean and environmentally harmful. Know from which farm you buy your cozze before sautéing them in a peppery, lemony broth. Then, with a cold glass of Ischia Bianco DOC in hand, you can enjoy your impepata di cozze with peace of mind.
Open air fresh fish markets abound in southern Italy. Below, I’ve listed one in Naples and another in Avellino. Fresh seafood is also easily found in the many seafood shops, or pescheria, and seafood restaurants. Look for the words frutti di mare.
The Porta Nolana Fish Market
Nr Piazza Garibaldi, Naples
Metro Garibaldi/bus 14, 110, 125, R2
Hours: 7am-1.30pm daily.
Pescheria La Sirena Di Sasso Margherita
Via Nazionale, 179
83013 Mercogliano Avellino, Italy
+39 082 568 2239
Ristorante da Ciccio
Via Luigi Mazzella 32, Ischia
+39 081 99 16 86
Hours: closed Monday
The Island of Ischia off the coast of Naples is characterized by a volcanic landscape lush with Mediterranean foliage and swept by sea breezes. This beautiful island, a popular tourist destination, was declared DOC in 1966, making it the first area in all of Italy to bear DOC status. Wine has been produced there for ages, beginning from the time the Ancient Greeks of Calcide introduced grape cultivation and the Ancient Romans called the island Enaria, meaning “the wine land.” The Cup of Nestor, an archaeological treasure, evidences the fact that the Ancient Greeks were the first to cultivate grapes. As a quick and interesting side note, the cup dates from 750 – 700 BC, before Enaria, when Ischia was called Pithekoussai. It is the earliest example of Greek writing. The lines written on the cup are fragmented, but what is there has been translated (here is an example), and seem to refer to inebriation. By the 1500s, Ischia was exporting its popular wine to the markets of Dalmatia on the mainland. Today, there exist seven categories of Ischia wine: bianco, spumante, rosso, Biancolella, Forestera, Piedirosso (called Per’e Palummo locally), and Piedirosso passato.
The local and traditional method of grape cultivation is called “in curratura.” It is said to guarantee high-quality wine. It began with the Ancient Greeks, and differs from that of the Ancient Etruscans and Romans. In the hilly landscape of Ischia, terraces are cut into the volcanic slopes and reinforced with walls built of greenstone and tufa (tuff rocks). In curratura methods are yet practiced, but are in danger of fading away due to its slower and labor-intensive techniques, coupled with higher demands for wine due to the large tourism influx.
Ischia Bianco DOC has a straw yellow tone, with soft, pleasant, dry and balanced flavors of limes and green apples. Ischia Rosso DOC is of a ruby-red hue, also dry and balanced. It is slightly more tannic and earthy than the bianco. Restrained berry and other subtly juicy flavors are combined with spicy scents. Brief descriptions and summaries of all seven Ischia wine categories can be found here.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover the DOC wines of Ischia.
D’Alise, Luigi. Ischia Wines DOC. 23 Oct 2007. Ischia.
Gastronomy – The Products of the Coast. Villagio Baia Serena.
Mussels in a Black Pepper Broth. Global Cookbook. Cook Eat Share.
Ischia Italian Wine. Italian Wine Center.
Ischia DOC. Regione Campania – Assessorato all’Agricultora.
Mora, Faustino. Nestor’s Cup. Archaeologies of the Greek Past.
Petrini, Carlo. Mussel-bound. 28 Apr 2005. Slow Food.
Stanwood, Les. Mussels: How to Forage or Farm Them. Mother Earth News: The Original Guide to Living Wisely.
The Island of Ischia: Where the Puttanesca Sauce was Invented. Puttanesca Sauce.
Typicalness from Campania. Inside Italy.
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.
Azienda Agrituristica: Fattoria Antico Borgo dei Briganti di Granese Ennio
Via S. Giorgio, 25
Giffoni Valle Piana (Salerno)
Agriturismo Bosco Farneto
Caserta, Italy 81050
Agriturismo Barone Antonio Negri
Via Teggiano, 8
84084 Fisciano (Salerno)
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.
“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.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover the vineyards and winery at Antica Hirpinia.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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 Gaetano Faella S.a.S
P.zza Marconi, 13,
80054 Gragnano (Napoli)
Pastificio Di Martino
Via Castellammare, 82
80054 Gragnano (NA) Italia
Pastificio dei Campi
Via dei Campi, nr.50
80054 Gragnano (NA)
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.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Greco di Tufo.
Anderson, David. Greco di Tufo DOC – Smooth White Wine from Avellino. 24 April 2006. Italian’s Insight to Travel Italy.
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.
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.)
If you’re feeling especially wine geeky on your next trip to Piemonte, head to the Corkscrew Museum.
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.
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.
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.
Hotel de la Ville Restaurant
Via Palatucci 20, Avellino, Campania 83100
Phone: +39- 082-578-0911
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
Trattoria Di Pietro
Corsa Italia, 8
Melito Irpino Avellino 83030
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.
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.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Epomeo IGT.
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.
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.
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.
Fattoria di Varcatura
Open from May to October – Christmas – Easter
80014 Giugliano in Campania (Napoli)
Viale dei Pini Nord, 2
Tel e Fax: +39 055 2479573
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.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to provide tours to wineries to discover aglianico. Send us an email
“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.