Throwing a dinner party? Having guests and want to surprise them?

Throwing a dinner party? Having guests and want to surprise them?
Look what I did: I prepared a yummy bonanza of different pastas… So what’s so special?
I used Fruit Paccherini by Rustichella d’Abruzzo, made of a mix of fruit puree and semolina (100% durum wheat semolina and 35% organic fresh puree of fruits)

Flavored and colored naturally without the addition of dyes and preservatives,bronze-drawn and dried slowly at low temperature

5 Flavors: Kiwi, Pineapple, Peach/Apricot, Berries, Pomegranate,

11-13 minutes boiling time , if you like really al dente, otherwise just shut off the fire and let the pasta rest in water an extra couple of minutes.
This colorful novelty is perfect to those who love to try and dare new gourmet recipes. Rustichella d’Abruzzo, a four generations pasta excellence since 1924
Here my dishes!
I am proud of the sophisticated combination of Peach/ Apricot mixed with garlic steered  cod. lots of lemon and a zest of orange. Very chic!                    Here come the juicy Pineapple. I made a semi-cold dish with hot sausages, saffron and greens, quite an exciting combo of sweet and spicy.  With Kiwi I went a little exotic. I made a cold pasta salad with lemon, pomegranate, black radish to which I add Greek yogurt previously warmed up. The hit of the night?  the Berries pasta. I simply followed Rustichella’s suggestions written on the box and made a very successful veggie carbonara, with a zucchini julienne, eggs, pecorino cheese.
It was a big success!
I still have a box of Pomegranate for the next party … Any idea?

 

For more info
Rustichella d’Abruzzo

 

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MATERA, Italy. The city, the Sassi and the best Lucanian dishes


Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world. By day the sunlight enhances its white. At night, it looks like an immense nativity set up under the starry sky.
Its quarter I Sassi, ancient dwellings dug into the tufo, where the roofs serve as a base for the houses that have developed on higher levels. These were dug entirely into the rock and represent one of the most striking examples of exploitation of natural resources to obtain suitable conditions for the life of a large community. In the caves often lived more families and despite the lack of space, almost all daily activities took place in the cavities of cave-houses: from handicrafts to weaving, from food storage to animal care (dogs, chicken, pigs, horses and donkeys were living with the family as primitive source of heating). The temperature was constant and guaranteed by the characteristics of the sea tufo , so the inhabitants did not suffer too much from the cold in winter and found a shelter from summer heat. This way of life for years has been seen as a sign of backwardness and incivility. The inhabitants of the Sassi were often considered as primitives living like animals. In 1952 Sassi was considered “the Italian national shame”and abandoned in the late ’50s, Sassi was able to be redeemed until they became Unesco World Heritage in and will be the 2019 European Capital of Culture. Its amazing scenario has been used s a set for Mel Gibson “The Passion” Pier Paolo Pasolini “The Gospel According to Matthew “King David”, Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt “, and the remake of “Ben-Hur “.

I took the Gran Tour of Sassi,
an intense 3 hours guided tour and I learn so much about the history of this amazing city. The tour begins in front of the Cathedral, in the upper part of the City, and then goes deeper into the tangle of narrow alleys, caves, cellars, churches, small gardens, tiny squares and districts. I was able to discover in detail these unusual dwellings partly carved out of the limestone. It s a long walk, so wear comfy shoes.

Matera is also well now for its cooking tradition, a classic example of Italian peasant cuisine, using free ingredients combined with a fair amount of labor and know-how to  turn an odd edible food into a delectable dish.
Here my choices:
 ll Terrazzino  
View, ambience, real food, rich menu, moderate prices and …did I mentioned the view? Welcome to Il Terrazzino, one of the oldest deck restaurant in Sassi Eustachio Persia welcomed me with a dish of local cold cuts, including my fav lampascioni, bulbs of a common wildflower in southern Italy, then I ordered lamb, and…surprise! iIt came wrapped in yellow strawpaper.
This place used to be a cantina, told me Eustachio, just wine, no food.So people used to cook it at home and take it here, all wrapped up in paper tto keep it warm, then tear the bag and eat it paired with a nice glass of wine.Then came the crapiata a soup of different legumes, cereals and potatoes typical of the Basilicata cuisine of rural tradition, prepared in great quantity every year on the first day of August in the district La Martella, close to the cultivated fields and served to the inhabitants. Eustachio took me downstairs, to the 17 century cellar, which incorporates the typical architecture of the Sassi and was refurbished to retrace moments of daily life of the peasant life,

Baccus
Simple yet elegant restaurant Located in the Sassi area, Baccus is well know for its Chef Carlo Pozzuoli who likes to reinterpretate typical local dishes and flavors of the past  in a modern way.

 

 

Starting with super crunchy chips of red peppers, followed by fagots of ziti with cream of yellow and red peppers, bundled in a slice of sweet scamorza cheese topped by goat ricotta curlS.

 

 

A soupy Dish with tagliolini pasta with black and white chickpeas, considered ideal fro pregnant women, since it contains a lot of iron.
The menu dedicates an attentive search of local herbs, like the cicoriella, the sivone and other fresh leaves variously used in cooking: in salads, minestrone, simply boiled with oil and lemon, or as a filling of ravioli and pansotti or excellent omelettes.

 

 

 

Carlo and his wife Mariella were wonderful hosts. Not only keeping me company at the table but also surprising me with a taste of a sweet heart shaped Sporcamuso, (begrime the face) a dessert so full of cream that I inevitably ended up with hot pastry cream all over my face.

 


Da Mario
‘We represent the tradition. My family managed this restaurant since the 50’s’ told me Anna, owner of the popular Ristorante Pizzeria Da MarioSince then we are always been loved by the people from Matera and from all over the world. Many celebrities have eaten here: Richard Gere, Mel Gibson just to mention few’                                         

 

 

I went there for lunch and followed Anna’s suggestions, starting with a tasty orecchiette alle rape with anchovies and toasted breadcrumbs, then I tried home made strascinati pasta with cardoncelli mushrooms and garnished with the typical crunchy peperone crusco, fried red pepper. Da Mario is know for its pizza. I tried a baby Margherita, perfectly cooked. ‘I love my town, peaceful and quiet, I run the restaurant a cosy BnB called Sassi Belvedere although sometimes I need some noise… some that’s why I have a place in Milan, where I go , like an escape little vacation, but then I am happy to be back in my Lucania ( the ancient name of Basilicata) Sorry I still call it Lucania.. perhaps it’s because I like the old things…
I don’t blame her..
Where I stayed.
Residence San Gennaro, located in the inner courtyard of the old “neighborhood”, once the fulcrum of the days of the inhabitants
Super friendly host Francesco delighted me with anecdotes about the city, gave me tips took me to the prehistoric hypogeous cave below the residence, embellished with a precious Nativity and prepared a great breakfast that included fresh local products. I stayed in Guerricchio suite, that has a kitchenette, a delightful double bedroom, a private bathroom and a cute little balcony to enjoy the view on the enchanting Sassi of Matera. It is At the entrance an artistic work of great value welcomed me. “Girasoli di Guerricchio”, a Lucanian artist to whom the suite is dedicated.

I also loved

Casa Noha
An amazing gateway” to the city, charting its history thanks to an innovative communication project, where the walls, the ceilings and the floors will take to an extraordinary journey through the history of Matera from its origins to the present day.

MUSMA
(Museum of Contemporary Sculpture Matera)
This unique museum provides the perfect environment for the symbiosis of sculpture and the characteristic carved sites in the Sassi; the exhibition galleries, in fact, consist not only of the rooms of the Palazzo, but also the vast hypogea, where the works of art are revitalized by the strength and beauty of the surrounding rock hewn spaces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering ALIANO, Basilicata.


My dear friend Stanislao De Marsanich, President of Parchi Letterari Italiani (Italian Literary Parks) invited me to a unprecedent destination in the Basilicata Region: Aliano. Why did I said unprecedent?
Aliano is probably the less populated village in the Southern Italy I have ever visited. 600 inhabitants, mostly older men and older women still wearing the traditional black long dress , with their hair wrapped in a black scarf, two small bars, few stores , that close in the afternoon for a long siesta, the amazing nature around , populated by calanch wich are deforested, sandy soiled, rocky hills, a church, two restaurants (Locanda con gli occhi and Sisina Contadina). Aliano is a little village n the province of Matera, located in one of the most unusual, scenic, magical and spiritual places of Basilicata. The surrounding clay landscape is characterised by naturally eroded gullies and ravines, typical of this part of the region. This is the rough, moon-like landscape of Calanch.
I walked along those ridges of breathtaking cliffs, In the silence of the badlands and I hear nothing but the sound of my own footsteps.Loliness, abandon, misery, poverty and the lunar scenario were crucial source of literary inspiration for Christ Stopped at Eboli”, Carlo Levi’s 1944 memoir about his long exile in the area. Carlo Levi was born in 1902 in Turin, Piedmont, to wealthy parents. His father was Jewish and a doctor and his mother was the sister of Claudio Treves who was an important socialist leader in Italy. After attending to the University, young Carlo pursued is passion: painting. In 1929, Levi co-founded an anti-fascist organisation called Giustizia e Libertà for which he was arrested in 1935 and exiled to Aliano, a timeless place where ancestral customs reign: witchcraft, love potions, charlatanerie, He lived the for nearly a year, painting, working as a doctor and observing the daily hardship of the villagers that he would later narrate about in his book, ‘Christ Stopped at Eboli On those days, the malaria was decimating the population, already living in dire poverty and Levi tells what he lives, what he sees, the life of its inhabitants, their customs, painting a region abandoned to his sad fate and writing beautiful pages about their hunger, heir fear ad their beliefs. When Carlo Levi arrived in Gagliano , supposed to stay there for three years under house arrest, he said he had “the impression of having fallen from the sky like a stone in a pond”. The book tells the story of suffering and injustices, where the peasants have more confidence in their tribe, and in their family, and have very little respect for institutions that do not bring them any security or well-being. The toddlers mortality was enormous, nearly 50% died simply because their parents could not afford medical assistance.Dispate all the negative things, Levi fell in love with Aliano where he asked to be buried. In Aliano.The Literary Park s dedicated to him as well as a museum that offers personal letters, documents and drawings related to the period during which Levi lived in Aliano. I Walked around the city center, where venues and places his book relive in plates reporting extracts from. In the silence of the badlands, I hear nothing but the sound of my own footsteps.

 

 

Let me tell about Aliano’s houses…

 

They have facades somehow mysterious , sinister or curious, they look magical with some sort of exoteric message.The most famous is La casa con gli occhi (the House with the Eyes) which the small windows create a gloomy wing, beyond which the gash due to the roof’s falling down allowed the pale sun to enter.Aliano has its own dialect, “Alianese”, and the population keep many old traditions. One particular example is that, during Carnevale (a catholic festival that takes place a few weeks before Easter) village men, dressed in paper mache masks, hats covered with streamers, wearing long underwear and cow bells, march down the town’s main street, throwing flour at gathered crowds and making grunting noiss.Very interesting the Museum housed in the old oil mill under Carlo’s confiscation house, with the original millstones still present, and all the home furnishings, work tools and much more. Aliano recently opened a Museum dedicated to American artist Paul Russotto whose parents were originally from Aliano. He is known for his paintings and drawings that examine the subject of time and the vacillations between the abstract and the figurative. His subtle over painting creates dense textures which often seem to be clearly aware of the historical range of abstraction and the way it brushed up against figurations, from the cave paintings through contemporary figures. I stayed at La Casa De’’Americano a cozy two bedroom family managed bed & breakfast, and had my meals at their restaurant called La Locanda con gli Occhi. Dishes are simple and respect the alianese cooking tradition, from yasty cold cuts to hearty fresh vegetable soups, to lamb,

 

to ferrizzuoli pasta with fried breadcrumbs topped with the typical peperone crusco,
the local sweet red pepper, served dried
and crunchy.

For more info

Naples. Di Martino Pasta Heaven

Naples:
I discovered a real gem!

 

Two floors of pasta Heaven, right in the middle of the Piazza Municipio, destined to become one of the most beautiful square in Europe, right in the center of enchanting Naples, facing the spectacular Castello dell’Ovo,  overlooking the blue Mediterranean sea and boasting 120 different kind of famous pasta di Gragnano, to buy, to taste, either on-site or to go, while cruising the streets of one of the most magical city in the world…

What else you looking for?

Welcome to Sea Front Di Martino Pasta Bar. Since 1912, three generations of the Di Martino family have owned and run the company in Gragnano, an ancient town that over five hundred years is producing the highest quality of pasta using the best durum wheat semolina pasta mixed to the local spring water, while the slow extrusion of the dough through broze die, gives to pasta a very rough surface able to hold the sauces and keep the tasty flavors.


Di Martino launched a revolutionary style to fully appreciate the food that truly represents the traditional Neapolitan cuisine: the one and only spaghetti.
Let ‘s start from the beginning. A street level super furnished pasta store and lovely hostesses, welcome Neapolitans and tourists.

 

 

 

Here you can buy the all formats of pasta (over one hundred) among cute gadgets like magnets, aprons and exclusive boxes designed by Naples lovers designers Dolce & Gabbana.

 

 

On the corner, you will find a takeaway window that sales (for only 5 Euros!) a box generously filled of perfectly cooked spaghetti with the richest tomato sauce that literally floods on a slice of bread on the bottom, renewing the traditional way to do the scarpetta.

 

It’s called La Devozione (The Devotion), a tribute of sacred and profane to give solemnity to His Majesty Spaghetti, insanely loved by the Neapolitans and foodies all over the world. Caged in an original and eco-friendly box, either traditionally back and yellow version or the newest designers patterns, there are 130 grams of Gragnano PGI spaghetti Di Martino, stirred in a generous tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, basil, a clove of garlic (rigorously toasted with its peel, as the Chef Gianluca Pisacane told me…)

then sprinkled with fresh basil ripped by hands. Do not use a knife, that could oxidize the basil and finalized with a slice of bread placed on the bottom of the container. All prepared espresso under your eyes, in just 8 minutes, 4 in the boiling water and 4 in the sauce, giving everyone the opportunity to spy the tricks that will make a great pasta dish.Let’s go upstairs. On the first floor you will find the open kitchen restaurant furnished with seats at the desk where you can appreciate a menu based entirely on Gragnano’s IGP Di Martino pasta, from antipasto to dessert, Under your eyes, Chef Pierpaolo Giorgio, starred Peppe Guida’s disciple and its team will prepare an amazing variety of pasta dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started with is the true protagonist in its more than 120 formats. Ideal place for a sophisticated dinner, but also for a quick-lunch, alone or with friends
The direction of the kitchen, the consultancy, the authoritative and wise as skilled longa manus is Peppe Guida. At the stove, in a pleasant way interacting with the gourmets who sit around him and who observe everything with gluttonous curiosity, the good chef, of and pampering to the customer begin with a welcome from the kitchen, which is revealed in a triple taste of delights whose pivot consists of creatively interpreted pasta.
To the gallant Pierpaolo entrusting us, impeccable service with specific cutlery for each dish, and equally impeccable suggestions of combinations, starting from Mista Corta with crustaceans and their bisque to the traditional Devozione

 

Sea Front Di Martino Pasta Bar is located in Piazza Municipio, 1, 80133 Naples
Ph +39 081 1849 6287
For more info click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACUNZO, where the Queen reigns…

T he first real “tomato and mozzarella” pizza dates back to the mid-1800s, but the official recognition and approval as a specific product of deserved value dates back to 1889, on the occasion of the visit to Naples of the sovereigns of Italy King Umberto I and the Queen Daisy. The story tells us that Raffaele Esposito, the best chef of the time, created for the occasion an extraordinary pizza “tomato, mozzarella and basil” whose colors deliberately recalled the colors of the Italian flag. The pizza was called Margherita. and dedicated to the Queen.Today pizza is pure science, where the research and the mixing of the different flours gives life to a light, tasty and fragrant dough.Today the art of the Neapolitan ‘pizzaiuolo’ (pizza master chef) is a World Heritage!

Unesco‘s 12th Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage responded positively to Italy’s submission, since flipping the dough, topping it and baking it in a wood-fired oven is part of the country’s cultural and gastronomic tradition. The master pizza chef takes care of his preparation with a maniacal attention, conditioning his life to the rhythms that the processing, leavening and handling required by the dough.
                                 

Acunzo is a historical pizzeria since 1964, located in the posh area of Vomero, in Naples.
The menu is divided in 3 sections: Classic, Special, Gourmet.
A celebration that spans from the classic pizzas made with the original ingredients to the newest innovative and elaborated versions.The slow leavening of the dough for over 12 hours, is one of the strengths of this place that was among the first to join the traditional pizzas some more innovative creations, the result of hybridization of the pizza with the vegetable side dishes of the kitchen Neapolitan house such as friarielli, peperoni, and that has been able to gain for this reason the appreciation of the Vomero people.

Acunzo is part of Naples history, simply mentioning its iconic Pulcinella 1969 (the traditional Neapolitan puppet) boasting mezzanelli pasta with meat sauce ,bufala mozzarella, ricotta cream, mushrooms, eggs, ham, 24 months old parmesan cheese and creole pepper.
II was curious about the attuali ( contemporary) pizzas, so I tasted (and loved) the SVB  with local salsiccia,  seasonable greens, burrata cheese from Andria in a soft cornice , compact and crispy.FinallyI had to try the Acunzo hit: their pizza e pasta, stuffed with a succulent mix of pasta, cheese, tomato sauce.eggs and basil.
A great full meaI, I must say !

The list is enormous and tempting… a good reason to go back!
Pizzeria Acunzo

 

 

 

Maestro NINO ROTA’s opera buffa, operetta, musical and more…

Last night, the beautiful San Carlo Theatre in Naples, hosted the première of Il Cappello di paglia di Firenze (The Straw Hat of Florence) an alive, surprising and amusing musical farce based on the vaudeville Le Châpeau de paille d’Italie by Eugène Labiche and Marc Michel, with the music of  the great composer Nino Rota who also wrote the libretto helped with his mother Ernesta Rinaldi. This little jewel, that echoes opera, operetta, musical theatre and contemporary sounds, was welcomed by a resounding success that led to a very unusual circuit in Italy, initially performed in the 50’s at the Piccola Scala in Milan under the direction of Giorgio Strehler.
The piece follows the tradition of Donizetti opera buffa, with a sparkle of Rossini, Verdi, Lehár, a reminiscence of some classic movies soundtrack from West Side Story to The Magnificent Seven, and, of course an atmosphere that irrevocably take us to the Federico Fellini‘s masterpieces, such as 8 ½, the Dolce Vita, La Strada, remarkably animated by Rota’s music. Set in the magical atmosphere of Paris,the story turns around an elegant straw hat from Florence, real protagonist of a continuous paradoxical misunderstandings, exchanges of person, plot twists and naturally happy ending.Young and energetic Valerio Galli directed with vitality the San Carlo orchestra and choir. Elena Barbalich ‘s featured an animated direction, perhaps a little too horizontal, having often the big cast (nearly 40 people) all aligned on the same level, Tommaso Lagattolla‘s amazing costumes who’s palette spans from pastels from a glamorous red, black and white evening gowns number. I loved the impressive and athletic cast: Pietro Adaini Gianluca Buratto Bruno de Simone  , Dario Giorgelè, Marco Miglietta, Roberto Covatta just to mention few, and the  primadonnas Zuzana Marková, the ‘diva’ Anna Malavasi as the Baroness of Champigny, the flamboyant Anna Maria Sarra who irrevocably reminded me of the notorious Gradisca from Fellini’s Amarcord.
In the middle of the audience a unexpeced violin solo performance  by Salvo LobardoThe highlights? I have to mention the irresistible choir performance of Io casco dalle nuvole a Broadway musical like moment with eight identical blonds seamstresses silhouetting against a fuchsia background, the very Verdi inspired change of the guard, , a unexpeced Salvo Lobardo ‘s violin solo performance in the middle of the audience, the colored umbrellas floating over the stage and, last but not the least, the lovely clown with his white had and his trumped , who took me to the magical world of Fellini.for more info Teatro San Carlo

 

Beauty has no mercy, are we all Dorian Gray?

Lights and stage special effects, accuracy of the image, a catching opera-rock soundtrack, excellent performances, Federico Marignetti superstar able to carry a non-stop tour de force, perhaps some lack of  narration of the original history. 
La bellezza non ha pietà (Beauty has no mercy), tells the anguish of a perfectly contemporary icon. The long monologue-like written by Daniele Martini focuses on the the obsession for beauty and for its maintenance. Martini starts from the consideration that we are surrounded by thousands of Dorian Gray: the portrait has been replaced by the selfie stick, able to capture an evergreen image. The narration begins when Dorian has already turned thirty-eight and is now a mature man. Although his appearance is unchanged over time, his soul, trapped in the painting that he has hidden for years, bears monstrous and unmistakable signs of unmentionable events. Each of these signs has a story, an emotion that Dorian relieves as it reflects on the experience, starting with the encounter with one’s own beauty. Daniele Martini music follows the emotions of Dorian, and makes the show interesting and animated.The piece, strongly promoted by fashion icon Pierre Cardin, who designed wardrobe for Dorian and his soul (role performed alternatively by Marco Vesprini, and Thibault Servière Emanuele Gabba direction and stage design shines thanks to 3D projection and a huge wooden cube which turning easily follows Dorian’s agony,wickedness and cruelty. A prestigious theatrical tour will take Dorian to Florence, Venice, Bari and other Italian cities


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An organic and vegan toast up on the hills of Marche, Italy

Welcome to the enchanting hills of the Marche region where the past lives in the present and the soundness of its traditions merges with the strength of the innovations in a constant striving for quality in its wines.Today I choose the winery CIU’ CIU’,located in S. Maria in Carro, Offida in the province of Ascoli Piceno. Ciù Ciù wines are the authentic expression of the company’s commitment and tradition, the result of research and quality in both the vineyard and in the cellar, but also of a natural wine-growing ecosystem of quality with a “terroir” (microclimate, soil and subsoil) that is unique and irreplaceable. The hospitable and elegant Ciù Ciù showroom is open to anyone wishing to embark upon a tasteful experience such as this: the red and white organic wines are matched with samplings of products typical of the Marche tradition, bringing out the best in them and offering an explosion of taste in perfect harmony. If you want to live this experience, book your tasting. A range of organic red wines that express quality, derived from the natural wine-growing ecosystem of the range of hills that slope downwards from Offida to the sea. In 2017 Rosso Piceno Bacchus has been voted by Forbes one of the best 10 european red wines These red wines owe their bouquets, tannin and colour to distinguished grapevines. These genuine products harmonically embrace the most modern and state-of-the-art wine making techniques to enhance the quality of the wine. The Rosato is a delicate organic and vegan wine rosé wine with an intense colour and a fruity bouquet, which is selected from Sangiovese and Montepulciano grape varieties growing up the “Piceno” hillside. Last but not least , two wonderful sparkling organic Spumante wines boasting a vibrant colours and an intense bouquet; the Pecorino Merlettaie and the Passerina Altamarea, great with Ascolana style stuffed olives and fish courses. Here how to book a Ciù Ciù tasting

An Italian tradition, wrapped by hand…with love.

Welcome to Dronero: a tiny medieval town in the province of Cuneo, Italy
It all started in 1964 when Celestino e Giuseppina Brignone purchased the previous activity of Munsù Einaudi, a sophisticated pastry chef working in France since1920,

 

 

 

They opened the Pasticceria Brignone and since then three generations of pastry chefs have been taking care of the traditional pastry as well as innovating it with new flavors.
Top of the line is the original totally handmade White Dronerese, created in 1890 and made of two crumbly meringues and a heart of chocolate, rum and custard (the classic recipe) or with Gianduja cream, with Piedmont Hazelnuts IGP. From the preparation of the meringues, to the drilling, to the filling with the sac à poche, to the double wrapping with the classic white or red and green glossy paper… the only utensils used for the production are the hands of expert people working at Brignone cooking a ‘made with love’ Dronerese.

 

 

 

FOOD ARTICLES and RESTAURANT REVIEWS by Cesare Zucca

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screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-12-50-30On my first night In Athens, I discovered a real hidden gem called Nice n Easy, a cosy restaurant song offers a beautiful menu based on quality and simple organic ingredients, carefully chosen. The dishes, created by the well known Chef Christos Athanasiadis, are a blend of Mediterranean flavors, keeping an eye to the tradition and the innovation. In the ‘savvy&healthy’ menu I found the place of origin of each ingredient, calories, and the nutritional value of each dish. Many of them have a screen legends ’signature’ from. Between the pastas stands up (who else…) the Sophia Loren, a gluten free vegetarian dish with skioufihta pasta, wild mushrooms, organic baby tomatoes and aged Cretan Graviera cheese flavored with thyme. Talking of screen goddess, here comes Audrey Hepburn grilled wild mushrooms with gorgonzola, flavored with thyme and Brigitte Bardot, where carrots, zucchini, baby corn, soya and bamboo sprouts meet noodles made of konjac root, that has zero calories, is rich in fiber and, thanks to the glucomannan, it absorbs liquids in the stomach, improves the level of glucose in the blood and decreases cholesterol, helps to detoxify the body and to stabilize the glycemic index and cholesterol levels. Viva la Bardot! I loved the gluten free Sean Connery, baked wild fresh salmon with barley crust, herbs and citrus, on quinoa tabbouleh with mustard- honey sauce. For meat lovers I suggest the succulent Frank Sinatra, prime beef flank tagliata with marinated grilled zucchini, organic baby tomatoes and truffle oil.All paired with an intense Thema 2016 made of assyrtico, probably Greece’s most striking white grape from Drama, Northern Greece.More than anything, ‘nice n easy’ is a way of living. It’s the food, it’s the music, it’s the people and it’s the moo. Nice n’ easy in open all day for lunch and dining, coffee and cocktails, and a fab Sunday brunch.

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At the last Milano TuttoFood, I met with Carlo Bolli, active producer of Palaghiaccio historic farm dated back more than one thousand years ago on the most rich soils of the Mugello valley, I tried a real excellence of Tuscany, called Grand Mugello Ubaldino, a straw-colored cheese compact, derived from simple ingredients: raw cow’s milk, cultures, rennet, salt. then the rich and creamy Gran Tartufo Toscano, regarded as an authentic art in Tuscany, It is aged in the “Ubaldini Grottos” located beneath the medieval Palagiaccio dating back around the 1200’s.Finally a big surprise, the Tonno di Firenze. (Firenze’s tuna). It is produced by baking white pieces of beef in white wine, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and flavors. It has light hazel color, tastes and tones of light and delicate tuna
The beef is called tune because it’s smooth, tender and easy to cut as a piece of tuna. www.palagiaccio.us/

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The unexpected lugana

At 2018 Verona Vinitay, I had a wonderful surprise when I met with Montonale winery that produces Montunal Lugana, made from the selection of the best bunches of Turbiana and takes its name from the vineyards near the small village of Montonale, near southern shore of Lake Garda, a much-visited tourist destination.                                                                     The harvest is performed exclusively by hand, September through the end of October, while the grapes can reach a perfect ripeness thanks to the great sunlight exposure and the good ventilation.
Let me tell you: lugana in not one of my favorite white wines, but I have to tell you that I definitely  loved this one, which was rich in flavour and pleasantly aromatic.
Lugana is a white wine produced between Lombardy and Veneto . An intense pale yellow colour with brilliant hues, offers to your nose intense floral and fruity scents, dominated by aromas of white peach and lemon zest, with balsamic hints of thyme and sage and an intriguing mineral impression of wet. The palate boasts a perfect balance between freshness and concentration with a nice mineral flavour adding elegance and persistence.
It matches the best with whitefish, as trout, perch or the delicate lavarello, one of the most prestigious and appreciated fish of Lake Garda.

 

 

 

 

Here a lavarello recipe from Trattoria La Goccia that offers local dishes prepared according to the typical Lake Garda recipes , such as bigoli with lake sardines and the pike in carpione. There You ‘ll meet with Stefano, an “oste” in the traditional Italian way that entertains and delights the guests with suggestive descriptions of the dishes and anecdotes of the place.
Ingredients:
Lavarello or Perch of Lake Garda
White flour
Onions or shallots
Lemon peel
Toasted almonds
Lugana or Chiaretto wine
Milk butter
Extra virgin olive oil from Lake Garda
Salt
Preparation:
Wash and clean the perch carefully and floss the obtained fish filet to create the husking.
In a pot prepare separately a sautéed onion with extra virgin olive oil and lemon peel. Place the perch in the pot with the addition of butter and simmer with wine until reduced. Place the fish on the plate and add roasted almonds just before serving.

 

I suggest to paired it with the Montonale rosé chiaretto named Rosa di Notte, bright pink colour with slight copper hues, scents of red roses, strawberry and pomegranate stand out in the alluring bouquet. The palate has a silky, velvety texture, glazed by refreshing notes of raspberry and intriguing savoury minerality
Buon appetito!

 

Summary of DANCE, OPERA, MUSICAL, MUSICAL THEATER articles by Cesare Zucca

Ravel Project is a triptych structured tribute to the always fascinating music of Maurice Ravel .A new production by Jas Art Ballet ensemble, founded and directed by principal Andrea Volpintesta and the international prima ballerina Sabrina Brazzo a prima ballerina at  in Milan who performed on the most famous stages in the world such as Milan La Scala, Paris Opera, London Covent Garden, Moscow Bolshoi and NY Metropolitan, .
The show starts with
Piano where three couples alternate on a suggestive piano composition played by Stefano Salvatori. La Valse by Giorgio Azzone the research by many young people searching for a dark new world of alcohol and drugs. Loving and hating each other. The piece reminded me some intense duel scenes from West Side Story The metaphysical landscapes of Giorgio De Chirico are the inspiration for the final ballet Bolero where the original composition has been revisited by the choreography among the musical arrangements by Massimo Margaria, In a breathless run, the faceless dancers seem to struggle in a ritual of love dialogue, and contact
see full article

Thursday, December 10th. It will be an amazing night for opera lovers.
It will happen in one of The Space Cinema, a  great chain of movie theaters                      all over the Italian territory, hosting two long waited live performances                                 from London Royal Opera House. I am talking off Mascani’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, two short works, each recognized as the masterpiece of its composer, are presented together in a new production of the award-winning Damiano Michieletto. Exaggerated and cheeky, tender and inventive, energetic and ironic: 40 years old Michieletto is considered the richest talent of Italian directors, who come and go between lyrical and dramatic theater.The two masterpieces, set up as Sergio Leone westerns, will reveal their western soul…
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Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Massine, Pina Bausch, Martha Graham, Kenneth MacMillan, Maurice Béjart, Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasiliev those are just few names of extraordinary choreographers who were enchanted by Igor Stravinskij’s The Rite of Spring, the legend where in spring a virgin was sacrificed to propitiate the benefit of the gods with primitive rituals celebrating the advent of spring,with a unique score that contains many novel features for its time, including experiments in tonality, rhythm, stress and dissonance. that attack and conquer every listener.
Hungarian choreographer Marinel Stefanescu staged it in 1986 with a show at the Valli Theater in Reggio Emilia,  It was a great success and was requested in many Italian theaters and for several tours abroad. Last night, the Teatro Manzoni di Milano hosted Liliana Cosi and Marinel Stefanescu‘s company Nuovo Balletto Classico, featuring Dorian Grori and Rezart Stafa, a strong couple of male principals, while Elena Casolar and Michela Mazzoni seamed  to me to be less stable on their movements. I have to mention the energetic and convincing ensemble of 25 young talented dancers…
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Put together the “Swan Song ” a vaudeville by Chekhov about an old actor in a
theatre after the lights go out, the eternal music of Tchaikovsky, the genially irreverent choreography and direction by Fabrizio Monteverde and a bunch of older, aching, curved dancers who want to live one more time the tragic love story of Prince Siegfried and Odette/Odile. The result is an amazing new version of one of the most celebrated ballet in the history The Swan Lake, this time retitled Il Lago dei Cigni ovvero il Canto
see full article
Here it comes again. The magic world of Mummenschanz hypnotizes one more time.
The group of four mimes debuted last night at Teatro Carcano in Milan, Italy.
Despite some technical issues, the show captured the audience, as usual.
The performance started with two huge hands…
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What a (sweet) journey…

Let me take you to Venice to taste the traditional cake Veneziana. It’s delicately soft on the palate and it’s delicious for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. It’s a mixture made of milk, eggs, flour and butter, topped with sugar and almonds.
Loison created two
new tentalizing Veneziana one with chocolate and spices, the other with apricot and spices.
From the Madagascar Vanilla (Slow Food Presidium) to the prized mix of Lampong Black Pepper (Indonesia), Timut (Nepal) and Jamaica, from the Asian turmeric to the South American Tonka beans, with an eye to Cuban and Venezuelan cocoa
Tw
o new delicacies that seem to pay homage to the Serenissima Republic, for seven centuries a crossroads of peoples, cultures and flavors.
The amazing packaging, signed “Sonia Design” showing off images of the lagoon atmosphere, of magnificent traditions and magnificent architecture, taken from ancient postcards kept at the Loison Museum.
The two veneziana will be previewed at Vinitaly, in Verona from April 15th to 18th,
at Area C Sol Agrifood stand A10.
A tasty opportunity to celebrate the 80-year anniversary
of Loison’s sweet journey.

 

 

3 TIMES MAURICE. Ravel music pulses on stage.

Ravel Project is a triptych structured tribute to the always fascinating music of Maurice Ravel .A new production by Jas Art Ballet ensemble, founded and directed by principal Andrea Volpintesta and the international prima ballerina Sabrina Brazzo a prima ballerina at  in Milan who performed on the most famous stages in the world such as Milan La Scala, Paris Opera, London Covent Garden, Moscow Bolshoi and NY Metropolitan, .
The show starts with
Piano where three couples alternate on a suggestive piano composition played by Stefano Salvatori. La Valse by Giorgio Azzone the research by many young people searching for a dark new world of alcohol and drugs. Loving and hating each other. The piece reminded me some intense duel scenes from West Side Story The metaphysical landscapes of Giorgio De Chirico are the inspiration for the final ballet Bolero where the original composition has been revisited by the choreography among the musical arrangements by Massimo Margaria, In a breathless run, the faceless dancers seem to struggle in a ritual of love dialogue, and contact.

 

 



Royal Highnesses at your table. Since 1467, a story that continues.

Today I take you to Tenuta Carretta one of the most historic Italian wineries, founded back in 1467 and located in the Roero area, in the South of Piedmont Region, Italy .The property’s vineyards also extend close to the Langhe, such as 2.6 hectares in Barolo on the prestigious Cannubi hill, from which the nebbiolo grapes destined for the production of the celebrated Barolo Cannubi, a wine of grand character, elegance and longevity.Thanks to the vines’ exposure to sun and to the particular microclimate, it is a wine of grand character, elegance and longevity, thanks to the exposure to sun and to the particular climate.

 

Not to mention the iconic 2010 Barolo Cannubi Riserve 100% nebbiolo grapes , with a  minimum refinement of 60 months, of which at least 36 in barrel and 18 in bottle. Enjoy its scent of roses, citrus notes, cacao and spices.

 

 

Yes, Tenuta Carretta is preparing to showcase their wines in the industry’s biggest fairs in Verona, Italy called Vinitaly,  the largest Italian wine show hosting the best winemaking all over Italy
Verona, April 15-18, 2018  at Pavillion 10, Stand R4

Tenuta Carretta is a splendid winery that sets the stage of an amphitheatre of unique and evocative vineyards. They make up a part of the touristic ‘wine mosaic’ through which visitors can follow a guided trail through the vineyards Guided visits to the winery, the elegant Charme Hotel and a welcoming Enoteca – Wine Shop, make up the rest of the mosaic.I saved the best for last…
Two high-end restaurants where your dishes will take to meet  the royalties of the territory: the tartufo bianco di Alba ( Alba’s white truffle) and the porcini.

 

 

 

 

Did I made you eager for all that?
Well, here how to make a reservation to this  Paradise…

 

A ‘NICE AND EASY‘ INTERVIEW WITH CHEF CHRISTOS ATHANASIADIS

A ‘NICE AND EASY‘ INTERVIEW WITH CHEF CHRISTOS ATHANASIADIS
by Cesare Zucca

Where do you find inspiration to create a dish?
I look at the nature around me. I observe at the seasons, I look at what grows out of the soil, the characteristics of a place, is there a sea, is there a mountain at the area? In general, I look at what nature has given me and take those natural and local resources and create something new.
What convinced you to become a chef?
My grandmother had a big impact on me and influenced much my decision. She passed me on her love for food and the idea of being authentic, all of which helped me find my talent as a chef from a young age.
How do you express your personality in the kitchen?
I have to say I’m strict but very tolerant to mistakes as I believe that we learn the most out of our mistakes. Most of all I try to inspire my fellow chefs to love the kitchen environment even more through the position of a leader and not a manager. Is there a food you love only if cooked by another? Ravioli with anthotyros cheese dipped in butter that my grandmother used to make.
How relevant is the greekness in your dishes?
Hugely relevant.
All of my dishes and all I create spring up from the greekness that had been developed since the day I was born and have intimately within me.

What or Who inspires you? Why?
I get inspired by geometry, shapes, clean lines and colours. If I had to name someone I would say Thomas Keller because his dishes are very constructed, because of his creativity and the way he converts a food scene through his unique “plasticity” and last but now least I really like his personality.

 

 

 

Connery, Monroe, Elvis…Nice n Easy menu has often stars names. Why?
Because the creativity element that stands out within the nice n’ easy restaurants is authenticity. We believe that the old era of Hollywood is one of the most authentic ones in the history of arts. We’ve tried to find elements that each Hollywood star liked and combined those with our plates.

Eros and food, a proven combination.
Your aphrodisiac dish?
Ganache with back chocolate and chilly.
A food we will always find in your fridge and one that we will never find.
You will always find basil because I really love and use it frequently in many of my dishes. You will never find coriander as I’m allergic to it.

You are the guest of honor in the Mater Chef Grand Finale. What would you do to impress the audience?
I would be myself. You can only impress by being the authentic you.
On your chef’s life, any curious episode?
300 pieces of wedding cake that were completely destroyed by the truck that was transporting them to the location and we had to make up for it within only one hour. We did it!
Open the drawer and tell us your dream.
To end up, after a long journey, to my beginnings; in a small restaurant by the sea in a beautiful island with only 5 tables. I want to serve people feet naked, go fishing in front of the restaurant and to live the everyday sun along with the authenticity of the location.

 

They were 30. They became 9. Yesterday only 1 ….

They were 30. They became 9. Yesterday only 1 ….
Hey, this is not an Agatha Christie novel….It’s what happened between
nine chefs who made it to the final culinary competition UPVIVIUM , hosted by ALMA, the International School of Italian Cuisine in Colorno (Parma).
A large passionate audience and two juries, a technique and one of the press (including myself) attended to a bonanza of dishes, all inspired to the convivial table concept, where a main dish can be combined to a variety of different sides.


Bettolino di Foce di Comacchio  from UNESCO Po Delta Biosphere Reserve won the first place,“It’s a very strong emotion for us – said a visibly moved Alessandra Margherita Verduci, head of Bettolino di Foce – Surely this victory fills me with pride and makes me feel even stronger the sense of belonging to my territory that I love and that I live all the days. Our restaurant has been converted into an old ‘casone’ that was part of the Foce Fishing Station. Our philosophy is that of “you eat what you fished” accompanying simple recipes to products such as Comacchio salt, salicornia, an herb harvested here, pumpkin and our own radicchio ,Winning this edition of the UPVIVIUM contest makes us happy for the suggested  theme the convivial table. wich reminds me of my childhood, when my grandmother put everything on the table, not that much, but always a great joy. 

 

The second went to my favorite, Agriturismo Montagna Verde di Apella (Licciana Nardi – Massa Carrara) in the Biosphere of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, which also won the ‘Premio Stampa’,Great emotion also for the Montagna verde Maffei’s Team  the young chef Luca won two awards, ‘I dedicate this award to the passion, the strong bond with our land and the rediscovery of ancient traditions’ says Luca“.The flavors of Lunigiana are those that go to make up the convivial table presented by the Agriturismo Montagna Verde. The central element is chestnut polenta which for centuries has been the base of the rural Apennine family. To realize it the Maffei use their production D.O.P. high quality, distributed under the Azienda Agricola Borgo Antico brand of Maffei Barbara. The other ingredients are the home made honey and the rabbit of the farm, La Valle di Fivizzano, the sheep ricotta (excellent!) Boschetti Giancarlo di Tavernelle, the Moro’s beer of Pontremoli and China Clementi of Fivizzano, used to make a reduction.

Third place for the “Fèsta granda” by Don Pedro Restaurant in Ponte Arche, Comano Terme (Trento) in the Alpi Ledrensi and Judicaria Biosphere Reserve.

 

 

I was a part of the invited press, and I have to say that we all were left with the tipicaly Italian expression ‘acquolina in bocca(mouth-watering) since we had no chance to taste the dishes….just watch and smell..

Well , looks and scents were amazing tho,,,
Enough to make me happy !

 


 

When the art of restoration shines up the beauty of the art

The Sale delle Arti located in the magnificent Reggia di Venaria in Turin, Italy, is hosting the exhibition LA FRAGILITA’ DELLA BELLEZZA (The fragility of beauty) that covers almost 40 centuries with  212 restored masterpieces including Titian, Van Dyck, Morandi, Burri and Twombly.

The exhibition itinerary is organized according to a chronological / thematic logic that focuses on the fragility of our heritage.and ends significantly with a room dedicated to works damaged by the earthquake.

 

 

You will be able to see the frescoes of the Tomb of Henib, from the Egyptian Museum of Turin; the precious Head of Basel, from the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria; the Portrait of Caterina Balbi Durazzo
by Anton Van Dyck, from the Royal Palace of Genoa,  St. Jerome of Tiziano, from the Pinacoteca di Brera, to 17th century painted Harpsichord, from the National Musical Instruments Museum. Rome.

Several informative meetings on the restoration and a series of educational workshops will be organized by the Educational Services of La Venaria Reale and the Conservation and Restoration Center.

 

 

 



Sale delle Arti, Reggia di Venaria, Turin.
F
rom March 28th till September 16th, 2018

To know more about this majestic exhibit click here

 

 

 

 


THE COLOMBA, EASTER SWEET TRIBUTE TO PEACE

 Colomba di Pasqua is a traditional Italian Easter yeast bread. It is shaped like a dove (colomba in Italian), the symbol of peace and resurrection. The birth of the colomba dates back to the year 572, when King Alboin, after three years of siege, captured the town of Pavia in northern Italy on Easter Eve. Evading the guards, an old baker was able to reach the king and offer a dove-shaped leavened bread. “Alboin,” he said, “I offer this symbol, as a tribute to peace, on Easter day.” The sweet scent and the convincing message persuaded the king to give a promise of peace. That’s the legend.The dove we know today has a more recent origin and, I should say, a more prosaic version of the history. In the early 1930s the Milanese company Motta specialized in panettone, a cake produced only for Christmas. Unhappy to have their machinery unused for many months, Motta decided to package a similar product to be sold during the Easter holidays.
The shape of the sweet dove was a choice dictated not only by symbolism, but also to welcome the arrival of the spring. The new cake was (and still is) a huge success. It is typically soft, fragrant outside and moist inside, naturally leavened for a whole night, then filled with a mixture of flour, sugar, eggs and candied orange. After a long rest, the dough is portioned in different sizes for an additional four hours of leavening, then covered with almonds, sugar and amaretto. Since its birth, the colomba was enriched by many variations and a variety of different icings and fillings.

After baking, it must rest at least seven hours before it is finally packaged.

 

So many colombe
From Loison to Fraccaro to all those of the Regina Colomba event, held in Milan a few days before Easter. I would like to mention the very young pastry chefs of Alma, the celebrated  International School of Italian Cuisine in Colorno, near Parma, where I discovered and tasted their very soft creation: the colomba with chocolate and black cherry flakes. Pleasantly  soft and spongy and intensely fragrant.
A sweet message of peace.