Industrial or design? A posh stay in Hamburg

In my last trip to Hamburg I got the chance to visit and stay in Hotel Gastwerk and The George, two great properties owned by Fortune Hotels Group.
They have different style and decor, both friendly, welcoming and worth to spend one (or few) nights there.Let’s start with the industrial red bricks Gastwerk. The name says it all, It was a squared and rigorous red bricks gas factory. Roughly 120 years ago, the old gas plant provided light to the streets and houses in West Hamburg. In the impressive and carefully restored industrial building, built with brick and steel, modern design and historical architecture form a fascinating harmonic setting. Gastwerk is first Hamburg’s design hotel.

The building welcomed me with a large hall with a wide, meticulously well lighted reception and two unforgettable metal elevators, one red and one yellow lighted.                                                 The industrial adventure was already starting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

141 rooms, lofts and suites, some with modern walls with a contemporary feeling, some with bricks walls (I love them), like the loft-like one where I was staying, giving the perfect atmosphere of and warehouse.

In addition to that Gastwerk boasts a configurable conference area, the Mangold restaurant (I didn’t dine there, so no idea of the food) the L.BAR, the beautiful SPA, free parking spaces in front of the hotel and underground.   Here and there you’ll discover classy touches of fresh flowers, old  black and white pictures, original gas machines, and a splendid old water boiler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second Fortune Hotel is The George, located in the hearth of the vibrant Saint George area.                                                        This venue is a triumphant tribute to the apotheosis of a ‘boutique hotel’ concept, where design meets furniture, lighting and that smell of trendyness…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reinterpretation of English style in Hamburg results in rooms swathed in warm colors ranging from cocoa to Champagne, lamps with delightful pleated shades and stylish wallpaper in a variety of designs.                             Super comfy mattresses, a nice view of the Lake Alster, not to mention that sweet & cute ‘Welcome Cesare’The George Hotel is a four-pearl property flush with a Great-Britain-in-the-’60s design, with 125 stylish rooms that all have flat-screen TVs, minibars, and free weight, a party-vibe bar, the supercool rooftop Campari Lounge in the terrace with a spectacular view of the Alster, a defined breakfast buffet that included a fine selection of cold cuts, imported cheeses, fruits and vegetables, and…

 

Yes! there is Da Caio, italian restaurant (where I could not resist peeping at the menu, which I found correct in dishes choices and…right spelling, which is always a good sign for an Italian eating in an Italian restaurant abroad…

Here info
Hotel Gastwerk
The George,
Fortune Hotels Group.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT PORCINI MUSHROOMS!

Chef Stefano Maddalin, cadorino by birth, after 5 years of hotel school and various experiences around Italy, he is currently taking care of the restaurant La Žìria, located at the Hotel Monaco Sport Hotel, Santo Stefano di Cadore, in the province of Belluno,Italy.
I met him in his native village, a magical location in the heart of Val Comelico, ideal to spend the holidays in complete freedom, surrounded by wilderness of the majestic Dolomites Mountain.
Stefano showed up with a beautiful basket of porcini mushrooms just delivered minutes before.
Our conversation went obviously right to the ‘king of mushroom’ Let’s talk about porcini then.
Where to find?
Preferably in the fir woods.
How to catch?
Simply use your hands and a small knife. first digging the heart, then reaching the root and cutting with the knife.
How to carry at home?
Use a wicker basket, possibly with wide intercom, so the spores can pass through  the cracks and return to sow the ground.Never store them in plastic bags.
How to clean? Remove the earth with a small knife, then brush the remaining dirt with a small brush. Never throw them underwater because they get damaged.

 

How to cook?
As you prefer: deliciously raw in salads, cut very thin and garnished with fresh lettuce, cherry tomatoes or simply sprinkled with parmesan, salt pepper and lemon or the way I cooked them tonight, as a stuffing, with ricotta and onion

 

 

to fill our traditional casunzei, home-made pasta ravioli seasoned with poured butter and a little scratch of poina, typical smoked cheese from our territory.
A local dish to pair porcini ?
Typically cervo in salmì, dear slowly marinated and cooked with red wine and spices, to take away that wild taste, a common mistake is to sprinkle on some lemon, I don’t like that, I prefer to garnish or top with cocoa, raspberries or blueberries.
Let’s imagine that you are the guest of honor on the final episode of TV Master Chef, what would you create to impress the audience?
Well, I worked in starred restaurants, where the dished and the presentation could be very laborious, but personally I prefer the simplicity, a dish where the ingredients are synonymous of reality and they  are not disguised by other flavors.
So, what is never in your fridge?
Frozen foods, preservatives, I love my cuisine to be the most fresh, real and natural as possible.
A twist of your traditional mountain cuisine?
Canederli as a dessert. Canederli are bread dumplings and can be considered part of ‘cucina povera’ (cuisine of the poor), as they are made of simple and inexpensive ingredients: stale bread moistened with milk and bound with eggs and a small amount of flour. I sweeten them and topped with berries jam and elevated them to a tasty dessert.Text and photos by Cesare Zucca

 

 

 

 

PORTICO DI ROMAGNA. Chef’s Paradise.

Welcome to Al Vecchio Convento a so called Albergo Diffuso, which best can be translated to “Spread out Hotel”, situated in Portico di Romagna a medieval village , in the Appennine Hills between Florence and Ravenna in Tuscan Romagna.
In the kitchen you’ll find the men of the Cameli family: dad Giovanni with his two sons, Massimiliano and Matteo and the flamboyant mamma Marisa

Their cuisine is real, simple, never boring.
I tried a Matteo’s masterpiece:
a creamy tagliatelle alla canapa with basil, literally melting in my mouth.

 

 

 

 

Then the amazing crema di ortiche, a nettle soupy cream enriched with potatoes , onions and fresh herbs.

The hotel is famous for his restaurant and the real , simple yet sophisticated menu, not to mention those Marisa’s cakes…
Experimenting a Albergo Diffuso means living the town the nontouristytourist way having as neighbors local inhabitants and letting yourself being absorbed by the relaxed rythm of local life. I met with Chef/Owners Matteo and Massimiliano Cameli, who not only manage the venue, but also promote the territory while organizing cooking courses that provide the Guests with the amazing discovering of the great local food culture  and learning how to make typical, Italian recipes such as home-made pasta, risotto, truffle, mushrooms, home baked bread and pizza while Massimiliano will take you on wine and gastronomy tours discovering local wine and olive oil producers,They organize horse-riding, trekking, cycling in the National Park, excursions to the Art-city Ravenna.and all levels Italian language courses, in the suggestive old Canon’s house, on top of the village, not to mention the exciting truffle hunts guided by Matteo and his dogs.

 

Every year Portico hosts Chef Sotto il Portico. The event, organized by the Pro Loco Portico di Romagna in collaboration with Al Vecchio Convento, is a cuisine bonanza featuring a valange of international chef sharing their culinary creations with visitors.
A festive meeting of different culture and tastes

In this year team Laura Verhust, pastry chef of Madam Bakster https://madambakster.be/ in Gant, Belgium prepared two vegan dishes, lemon avocado pie with almond crust and rusberry coulis .A warn rice pudding cooked in homemade almond milk, fresh vanilla and wild berries. Both no gluten, no sugar, no fat, no lactose, no butter, no eggs and…miracosly delicious.

Argentine born Carlos Horacio Gimenez representing Ryotek Restaurant in Rykiavick, Iceland, served a shared tuna with avocado, picked melon, fresh coriander and amarillo pepper that he brought with him from South America.
Omar Gallego from Barcelona cooked a crunchy taco with pork cheek cooked in red wine, coriander, tomato, garlic and ajoli. I wanted something easy to eat, easy to go, he said, that could perfectly go with a nice beer.
From Stockholm, Axel Zuber food scientist, restaurant Kitchen inspector of kitchens loves to cook , For his fifth time in Portico, he created a piatto per bambini a colorful dish for kids: kinda a homemade hot dog style sausage in a salted croissant happily paired to colored vegetable cubes made with vegetables.
Encocado de bacalao was the cod dish made by Marco Alvarez who likes fusion between dishes of different nationalities like Thailand and Ecuador. His dish was garnished with pea pureè, spicy coconut, corn sauce in Aonoriko seaweed crust.

 

 

 

 

 

Fabio Jesus, from Sintra, Portugal, works with known Bartlett catering. He prepared a Vino Santo and peach cheesecake, watermelon sorbet, fresh raspberry sauce and roasted white chocolate. You have a lots of different textures, says Fabio, a bit sour, a bit sweet, some alcohol… to party!

 

Stuli, from Iceland created a summery dish with a lobster and crabs patè floating in a dark green cucumber gaspacho
Was fun to check people s reactions. Some ‘experiments’ were much loved, some…less.
I am talking of Finland Mikael Mihailov’s spicy papaya salad, served with tomato-chilly foam,  caramelized nuts, nitro kaffir lime drops, crispy rice and dried vinaigrette with seaweed. Great intentions, nice presentation, interesting prospectives, but to me the contrasting ingredients were not going anywhere…

 

 

 

Some Chefs became instantly popular, like Scottish Scott Forte his ,,, was super requested and pretty soon sold out…So I tried it the next day (there is a lunch time repeat) I wasn’t very impressed, perhaps because the heath of the day didn’t really suit the quite winterish dish.

 

 

 

Let’s go to my favorites!
Croatian Toni Milos, manager of Martinis Marchi restaurant located in a historic castle in Maslinica on the island of Šolta’s west coast, eenchanted the guests and me with his perfectly coocked octopus, pan roasted with leeks, red onions and served over arrugula. (I loved, I had it twice…)

To British George Gordon Brandford, now adopted by Vecchio Covento, goes my ‘Most Suprising Dish Award’. A vegan watermelon steak served with cucumber, gin granite and crispy tonic water. The watermelon slices were first carefully barbequed then ignated, to obtain an unknowen substancy. The technique was just amazing. I never tasted something like that. Bravo Gorgon!

Last but not the least!
Matteo Cameli
from Al Vecchio Covento. To me Matteo in more than a chef, he is a visionary and a poet. His challenging dish was a risotto al fieno

 

I like to run in the morning, Matteo told me, in a very cold day, I had the vision and the comfort of a warm hay essence. I made it, distilled bio hay, added herbal essential oils to obtain a concentrated broth to be cooked with a 7 years old arlecchino rice, garnished by tasty crusty layer of burned goat , garnishing with wild herbs and flowers. I made it, I closed my eyes, tasted it and yes, the aroma of my fields in a sunny day was all there.
I tried his risotto. I rated 9, then I had a bite of those crunchy goat’s milk croutons and the my score went up to 10!

Beside the hotel activities, the venue offers various initiatives like Italian language classes, excursions, vistit to local oil and wine producers, exciting porcini and truffle hunts, cooking courses for the guests who are interested in discovering some secrets of the Italian food culture. It’s possible to do just 1 lesson or 2 or 3 or the whole cooking-week.
A venue, a village and a vacation to remember….

 

 

 

 

for more info
Al Vecchio Convento, Portico di Romagna, (Forlì) Italy

 

 

 

Discovering beauty: Nobis Hotel, Copenhagen

Nobis Hotel Copenhagen is housed in a historic 1903 building that hosted the Royal Danish Academy of Music since 1972. Back then, at Christmas time, an orchestra used to play on the reception level, while the magnificent marble staircase was filled with a chorus singing carols that would ring through the entire space creating magical moments.
                                                                     The building’s imposing sense of space and elaborate detailing gives the interiors a natural grandeur. Here neoclassicism meets a contemporary design created in collaboration with celebrated architectural firm Wingårdhs under the leadership of star architect Gert Wingårdh. Furniture, lighting fixtures and the abstract rugs were designed exclusively for Nobis,

“We shave been looking for some years to find the right location for Nobis Hotel Copenhagen. Finally when we stepped into this building it all felt exactly right” says Alessandro Catenacci, founder, owner and CEO at Nobis Hospitality Group. As a frequent traveler, I want a hotel to be elegant, comfortable, friendly and efficient, but I don’t need all that unnecessary excess and artificial service still often associated with luxury in the traditional sense’.
The hotel boasts generous high ceilings, original details such as delicate cornices, hardwood oak floor in chevron pattern, the bathrooms are clad in grey Bardiglio marble from Italy                                                                                     Every room is furnished with a curve-shaped special designed dresser and desk made by Wingårdhs, window details, contrasting abstract patterned rugs, angular poster beds in steel with lush cotton sheets, placed in the heart of the room creating a majestic center-piece.
Nobis, offers different room categories:
Nobis Suites, comfortable sitting area, a spacious sofa, armchairs, a luxurious bathroom with a spacious shower, a relaxing bath tub and separate toilet in addition to that you will find a dining area seating up to 6 people suitable for casual meetings. Private Nordic influenced meals made to order can be delivered from the restaurant.
Deluxe and Superior Suites boast exceptionally high ceilings, deep arched window niches creating a light and graceful atmosphere.
Junior Suites, spacious living with exceptional ceiling height. Thoughtfully placed in the corners of the building, they have two large windows with deep niches facing two directions.
Looking for more categories?
You have the Superior Suites, where the hardwood oak floor in chevron pattern together with deep window niches and flowing drapes in subtle colors gives the room a soft elegance. Finally two gorgeous Penthouses giving that luxurious loft feeling with charming rafters. Thanks to eight windows facing multiple directions, they offer an outstanding view over beautiful Copenhagen. The full penthouse floor takes up 240 square meters and is available upon request.                                                                                                  You will find a well equipped wine room, the simply luxurious SPA made in pink marble and natural wood with sauna, steam room, relax area in seducing shapes of gray. A minimalistic yet chic breakfast is served both in the lounge or outdoor terrace. You will find fresh vegetables and fruits, from avocados to berries, an excellent selection of cheeses and cold cuts, including a yummy patè de campagne
Nobis location is great: next to Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen Central Station, City Hall Square. Right in front the breathtaking Glyptotek Museum, currently hosting a magnificent exhibit High on Luxury  I spent a marvelous afternoon getting lost in those beautiful galleries.
A venue not to be missed, exactly as the Nobis, where I found authenticity, quality, care and richness in details.

for more info
Nobis Hotel Copenhagen

 

 

 

 

Crazy, dreamers, revolutionaries. ‘Donne’ are the women of Milton Fernandez


 

Milton Fernàndez, writer, poet, director, editor who since 2011 is also artistic director of the Milan Literature Festival, has collected them in his volume Donne. Crazy, dreamers, revolutionaries published by Rayuela Edizioni.

I had the pleasure to attend to the book presentation at the sumptuous Sala Della Musica, located at second floor of the magnificent Ca’ Sagredo in Venice.

                                                               The author ranges from 17th century France to Mexico in 1910, from the mid-nineteenth-century slave-making America to Argentina in 1977, in an attempt to understand the many ways in which men have written and determined the history of women over time.
The stories are short and very intense, the lives of the protagonists are all real, those of women who silently or publicly have marked the history of all.
There is Clara de la Rocha, colonel and Mexican revolutionary; Martine De Bertereau pioneer of French mineralogy; Sojourner Truth, the first black woman in history to bring a white man to court and win the case;                                                                ; Azucena Villaflor, one of the Argentinean mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; Lilly Parr, English champion of a sport that has always been the exclusive preserve of men; Rose Mapendo, founder of Mapendo International, an organization that helps refugees from African wars and bring together broken families.
Fernàndez is a man who with deep respect seeks to enter the mystery of women, with eyes and pen full of amazement at what they have endured and overcome.
There is so much gratitude in these stories, as if the book were a way of thanking them for the moral and intellectual lesson they gave the world.
But there is also a lot of bitterness and pain; the stories of yesterday resemble tremendously those of today and the parable has not ended:

 

 

 

The Sabines are kidnapped by Romans led by Romulus, as they are necessary for the birth of a nation.
Innocent women assaulted, molested, victims.

I found astonishing example in the Ca’ Rezzonico Gallery, Venice , in the glorious painting Susanna and the elders by Stefano Ricci, where a young girl Susanna  molested and blackmailed by two older liars.
 In another room I found Felice Ficherelli’s painting picturing the horrible story of Lucretia, legendary heroine of ancient Rome  .Her tragedy began when she was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, son the king of Rome. After exacting an oath of vengeance against the Tarquins from her father and her husband, she stabbed herself to death.What Boko Haram has done, recently in Nigeria, with the kidnapping of 20 girls. News that has been held for a few days on the Western news, but then take refuge among the inevitable facts of existence.
Rummaging in the memory we will always find an important woman, like my grandmother, strong temper, 14 boys to grow up, says Fernandez, who cites the movie Sliding Doors, where the fate of the protagonist could suddenly change and what could she become?

Dancers/Choreographers Pina Bausch and Isadora Duncan also appear in the book, as the first women who had the courage to stage dance as a form of freedom. The author underlines the importance of dance in his life, as a maestro d’ami , he was a master of weapons, like a choreographer of swords.Leonardo Da Vinci, continues Fernandez, described life as a series of moving figures and even the tragic final act of Shakespears Hamlet where all the characters die should be an example of a choreographed moment’.

Thirty-four stories of women who, through the ages and countries of the world, together tell the feminine condition in a complete historical vision.
Milton Fernande Women. Crazy, dreamers, revolutionaries.

Rayuela Editions

 

 

THE ORIGINS, THE SEARCH, THE TRADITIONS, THE SECRETS OF A REFINED CUISINE IN VENICE

INTERVIEW WITH CHEF DAMIANO BASSANO AT L’ALCOVA, VENICE
Damiano, originally from Salento, began his career in Paris and Strasbourg, followed by Spain and the United States. Traditional Italian flavors combined with unique touches are the distinctive elements of its cuisine. He loves experimenting and creating new combinations. Since two years he has been the as Executive Chef of the renowned restaurant L’Alcova, in the splendid Hotel Ca’Sagredo taking care not only of the restaurant and breakfast menu, but also the rich buffets of special events, such as the one tonight, for the presentation of the book ‘Women’ written by Uruguay born Milton Fernandez.

 

On these occasions, will your menu be inspired to the theme and atmosphere of the event?
Certainly. Today, as a tribute to the latin author, I prepared finger food with roast beef and lime, mini tacos and small empanadas that remind me so much of the tiny Pugliese panzerotti.

 


Let’s talk about fish.
Where do you shop?
At the Rialto market. I rely on seasonality and suggestions from my supplier.
From there I decide the menu of the day and make fish dishes that maintain the typical Italian cuisine, always keeping an eye to our international clientele, often with different tastes from ours.
Today, an elderly Venetian told me that this market is becoming increasingly scarce and less stocked. It’s true?
Unfortunately, yes, slowly it is reducing in extension and presence of sellers, a bit like the real Venetians that today are only around 50,000. Even the fishermen confirm that the fish choices have changed and the variety has shrunk. Delicacies like the schie … have become a memory. Today the request is primarily oriented on mussels, clams, sea bream, sea bass, king prawns, tuna, sword.. in other words ‘universally known fish’, available everywhere but preferred by tourists who generally fear experiencing tastes that they do not know.
Sad, right?
Yes, because I think it would be nice to let the customer try the local typicality. I find it genuinely useless to propose in Venice some American scallops, easily available even in New York!
Fruits and vegetables?
Amazingly good. We are supplied by the island of Sant’Erasmo, whose sale and removal was so successful that the Consorzio di Sant’Erasmo opened a sales outlet right here in Venice. We hope for good … too much success sometimes spoiled.
A fish that you love to cook but which you gave up, given the doubtful reception of the international customer?
I have no doubt; the spatula, which I would love to cook especially after my Sicilian experiences. Even my supplier told me ‘Damiano, the spatula is not so difficult to procure, but there is no request, I am sorry … pick up another fish’.
It reminds me a bit of the phenomenon of globalization. There are no artisan shops because of the large chains promoted by consumerism. So mothers or grandmothers who cook in a trattoria, are not there anymore?
Well, I find them when I go back to my Salento. There is still some small osteria without a specific menu. Grandma cooks daily 2 or 3 dishes according to what she found at the market. And they are all spectacular!
Do you cook at home?
Almost never, I prefer to go out with friends, I rarely make a salad and if I am really  in the mood, I make my favorite dish: spaghetti tomatoes and basil. I love simplicity!
Never in your fridge …
Prepacked mayonnaise and mustard.
Always in your fridge …
Cherry tomatoes.

 

The top dishes of tonight’s menu?
Spaghetti, zucchini and wild mint creamed with bottarga, then fresh sea bass sauteed with salt, oil and thyme and served on a summer panzanella with red onion and fresh gherkin.
So there is a touch of Mediterranean heritage in your kitchen for the Serenissima?
Of course, here I revive perfumes and tastes that I always keep in my heart, naturally adapting them to an international clientele of a certain level.
About the Mediterranean thing… try my semifreddo with basil and my apricot mousse with rosemary ….

DINNER AT THE ALCOVA, THE RESTAURANT OF THE LUXURIOUS HOTEL CA’SAGREDO, VENICE
Prosecco on the table, (with which I adopted with throughout the all dinner) and small varied sandwiches, including a delicious black fennel bread.                                                                 
As a starter a pie of beets, figs, almonds and mini melon balls. I’m not a big lover of sweet and sour, but I found it pleasant.

 

Here is comes a more determined and tasty stewed moscardino with polenta, a typical Venetian dish. As pasta dishes, I tried the spaghetti with zucchini and mint, creamed with bottarga. Honestly I found the flavors a bit ‘disjointed, perhaps not very connected, I definitely preferred spaghetti with cuttlefish ink served with crispy cuttlefish, al dente, tasty, light and not too saturated of fishy flavor.                                                                              Then a chef recommendation: fresh sea bass served on squares of a slightly acetate panzanella bread garnished with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions.

 

The pairing with the panzanella didn’t really appealed to me, but I respect the intentions of Bassano, who’s Salento’s origins like to add to the menu a little of Mediterranean cuisine and the aroma of the local herbs, as in the grand finale:
a mousse
with basil and a spectacular rosemary semifreddo.
Fresh and refreshing, with an extra point to the rosemary!

 

Restaurant L’Alcova

Hotel Ca’Sagredo

Hacienda Chichen: discover the most revered Mayan site the smart way!


Chichen Itza, located inland of the Yucatan Peninsula, about 200 km East of Cancun, is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico with over 2.6 million tourists in 2017.
Do the math…                                                   .That’s on average over 7000 visitors a day. Even though the site is not limited to the iconic Kukulcàn pyramid (photo 1) and covers a very large area (over 300 hectares), that is a lot of human flesh roaming around! Especialy when one considers that the most popular way to visit the Unesco world heritage site is via tour operators organizing day trips from Cancun or Merida, creating a huge influx of fully loaded buses arriving around 11 AM or so every day. Arriving with the sun at its hottest among hordes of tourists had always been a deterring idea to me. I had sacrificed the visit of wholly site during my passed 3 visits of Yucatan, favoring the ruins of Tulum and Cuba, less crowded and still awesome examples of the might and splendor of the Mayan civilization. For this fourth visit this last spring, I was determined to visit the legendary Chichen Itza in the best way possible. Staying overnight at the Hacienda Chichen revealed to be the smartest answer possible. Smart because by staying overnight in this historic hotel located a few hundred feet from the archeological site enables to start exploring the grounds as early as 8 AM, before the arrival of the crowds. Smart, because the hotel combines genuine elegance and great service while respecting authenticity and ecological responsibility. Follow me, let me show you the way…When I arrived from Tulum around noon at the Chichen Itza bus terminal, I was left at the main entrance of the site in one of the largest parking lots I have ever seen: hundreds of buses still unloading their loads of tourists from every continent. The line to the ticket booth was long, the heat dreadful. Instead of joining the frenzy, I hopped in a cab and 10 minutes later, I was discovering the old-world charm of the Hacienda Chichen. The check in was a breeze and the welcoming cocktail made of pineapple and Chaya leaf juice refreshing as heaven (pic 3). I was later to learn that it had been freshly made from the organic garden of the property, providing a lot of the fruits, vegetables and herbs used by the kitchen

 

The front desk offered to arrange the purchase of my ticket to visit the site the next morning, without any surcharge, avoiding the hassle to wait in line. They also offered the possibility to have a legitimate private guide for the visit, but as usual, I declined in order to feel totally free and visit at my own pace. The afternoon was mine to relax and enjoy what the Hacienda had to offer. The 28 rooms set in a total of 12 cottages spread out on the lush grounds were originally built to host archeologists who helped excavate the site. Now they are opened to all offering soothing air conditioning, large bed, beautiful sheets, large bathrooms, fresh flowers and hammocks on the front porch for those eager to adopt the Mayan way to take a nap at the sound of singing birds

 

 

 

Another way to relax in a horizontal way is to indulge in one of the treatments at the Yaxkin spa. And that’s exactly what I did, with the 45-minute Pakal treatment, a Maya healing ritual focusing on the head and the upper body. The soul is also soothed by an initial prayer in Mayan language by my charming therapist.

I loved the fact that the room was very large, not one of those cubicles where on feels locked up. The outside garden was present in the room with the use of various herbs and plants, including a refreshing aloe vera jelly applied on the face.Totally relaxed, I finished the afternoon by lingering by the superb swimming pool, large and square as I like them to do laps at length. .Recycled and chemical-free water added a guilt free sensation to the overall pleasure. Time went by and before I knew it was time to meet the general manager for a grand tour of the property, including the restored church where weddings can be organized, surrounded by the beautifully maintained vegetation).
No wedding the evening of my stay, but I still felt like a very special person, enjoying an evening drink on the beautiful front patio at the sound of a traditional trio singing deep from the heart local ballads.
For dinner, I ventured across the street to the humbler Villas Areological hotel (http://www.villasarqueologicas.com.mx/chichen-itza.html)
that I wanted to check out for its restaurant serving a variety of traditional dishes from Yucatan. The best, by far, was the cream of Chaya soup and I appreciated the selection of Mexican wines. The night was young, but the day had been long, so I was eager to return to my beautiful room for a good night sleep. At 8:20 Am, I recuperated my ticket to visit the site and was guided to the private entrance specific to the Hacienda. I was alone when I crossed the gate and after a ten-minute walk, I was facing the beautiful Mayan pyramid with the company of a couple of iguanas, but not another human soul. 

 

 

The morning air was cool, and the silence only broken by singing birds. All the merchants on the way were focused on unpacking their things, leaving me unburdened. Besides the famous pyramid, I loved walking through the gigantic ball game field practically alone

As well as discovering the sacred cenote (sinkhole) and the perfectly aligned columns without the eye sore of groups of tourists ruining the geometry of the monuments.    After three hours of walking at my own pace, I went back to the Hacienda, walking against the growing flow of visitors and the solicitations of the souvenir vendors, they were in full swing mode, trying to sell their T-shirts and miniature statues probably made in China!
The heat had risen and a last dip in the pool after a refreshing outdoor shower felt like pure bliss. At noon I was packed and ready to leave this magical place.                                       
A short taxi ride took me to the small town of Piste where I tasted a delicious and original pozole de coco, lightly sweetened and perfectly chilled (pic 20), then hopped on a collective to reach Valladolid after 24 hours of total serenity, visiting the most famous Mayan site in the best way possible…
the nontouristytourist way!

Text and photos by Philip Sinsheimer

 

 

HACIENDA CHICHEN RESORT AND YAXKIN SPA 

http://www.haciendachichen.com

Tel: +52 999 920 8407

 

 

 

A ‘HYGGE’SUMMER IN COPENHAGEN

In summer Copenhagen is an ideal destination: favorable weather, long and sunny days, smiling, polite and serene people. It seems that everyone here discovers the secret of happiness: hygge, a Danish word that invites you to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and live alone or with friends, at home or outside, special and happy moments.
Find yourself singing on the beach around a bonfire, have a nice picnic at the park, attend an outdoor concert, participate in a street festival or take a bike ride … these and more are the little pleasures of life that feed the hygge spirit in the life of the Danes.

To find out right away just do this test . The result is a real personalized treatment based on hygge, released with all the tips on how to get it on a trip to Denmark.
Useful and precious, a true friend! I’m talking about the Copenhagen Card, a pass that allows you to visit as many as 86 museums and attractions, use all public transportation for free and benefit from discounts on tours, bars and restaurants.


I also used it for a tour of the canals and the port. 1 hour, audiogude in all languages, a show of ancient and modern architecture, a sea of photos. passing the numerous bridges of the city. But pay attention to be seated: the bridges are very low and the risk to bump your head on it, it s quite possible.
 Tivoli

 

 

The oldest playground in the world. You will skip over breathtaking roller coasters,you will be projected into space, you will remain suspended in the air more than a thousand other rides in the charming gardens where the oriental facade of beautiful
Hotel Nimb stands out.

After the aerial acrobatics, I finally relaxed in the Brasserie, famous Nimb restaurant,
French cuisine, refined menu, excellent wine list, good service and relaxing atmosphere (apart from the crowded side room that celebrated a noisy birthday…) I tasted the Chef’s specialties, a delicate mollusk bisque served with scampi and carrots, a crunchy turbot à la meunière, sprinkled with lemon drops, ending with a puff pastry stuffed with strawberries and cream, all paired to my favorite Sancerre Domaine de La Garenne, deliciously fruity, In short, a dinner worthy of the unique atmosphere of the location.
Copenhagen history boasts of royalties and magnificent castles,Here my favorites
Amalienborg Palace, a must for anyone with a taste for royal history and the life of Denmark’s royal family who still resides inside the palace. Experience royal history at the museum and sense the present of one of the world’s oldest monarchies from the beautiful palace square where you can watch the changing of its famous guards called Den Kongelige Livgarde. Every day you can experience the changing of the guards, as they march from their barracks in 100 Gothersgade by Rosenborg Castle through the streets of Copenhagen and end up at Amalienborg, where the changing of the guard takes place at 12:00 noon.
Christiansborg Palace famous for its hall covered with 17 giant tapestries, which tell 1000 years of Danish history, It is a gift from The Danish business community in occasion of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe 50th birthday,. Bjørn Nørgaard painted the full-size sketches upon which the tapestries were woven. These impressive royal rooms host the official receptions in the presence of the Queen, between a sparkle of uniforms and great evening gowns. Better to avoid arriving by car or taxi, the protocol prefers that the guests present themselves in a carriage…

 

As a food lover, I could not resist the temptation to descend into the legendary Royal Kitchens to discover the background of an official banquet, browse the Queen’s recipes and admire one of the largest collections of copper crockery in Europe.

 

 

To be or not to be…
I recommend a small excursion outside the city. Helsingør 30 minutes by train.
The famous Castle of Kronborg, better known as Hamlet’s house, reigns there. In fact, here Shakespeare set his drama. Gossips say that the writer had never been there, but would have been an actor in his company to tell him about this mighty fortress, from whose park, littered with cannons, you can glimpse Sweden. Suddenly the walls resound with the voices of the characters of Hamlet, which appear, like ghosts, perfectly interpreted by talented actors who bring to life the tragic events of the drama, You could spend a whole day in Kronborg, and live many experiences, guided tours through the casemates and the halls, explore the passages and towers, see a play and relax admiring the sea – but if you prefer, you can get an idea Kronborg concrete even in just one hour. Kronborg is open all year round (except 1st January, 24th, 25th and 31st December) from 11am to 4pm. In the summer (June, July and August) the schedule is extended: from 10.30am to 5.30pm.
After all that drama I needed a…great meal and I went to the renowned restaurant Brasserie 1861, where I met the Chef. His name is Casper Stuhr Sobczyk I can describe him as a gentle viking with the sweetest smile and… smoked sardines tattooed in his arm.
They called him ‘the king of herbs ‘for his passion for vegetables and fresh products from the field. His passions are: fish, molluscs, entrails as lamb’s brain, (not so popular in the quite skeptic Northern Europe), He started with French cuisine, passed to the molecular and ended up with mixing them two styles. ‘I like to play with the ingredients, says Casper, like for example, pairing strawberries to balsamic vinegar. I worked in Danmark a lot, including the Copenhagen National Library. I got good reviews and I started my new adventure here at Marienlyst Hotel, In my my fridge at home, there is always place for eggs, probably because my wife loves them, lot of vegetables and of course several max sizei Pepsi. I Love Pepsi… ‘His friendly Verona born partner Fabio Ciccarelli started serving a surprising appetizer: a revolutionary version of the traditional blini, made with caviar white sturgeon, to be mixed to crème fraiche on herbal waffle. The ingredients just melt perfectly together.

 

 

 

 

                                                             Then a salted unusually cooked burned salmon, followed by a mackerel with foie gras, green peas. As a main dish , I tasted halibut with asparagus that burned for few minutes to maintain the crunchiness.

Every dish was so intense, so fresh and so herbal.
No wonder why Chef Sobczyk is the ‘king of herbs…
’In the summer, Denmark is a foodies paradise with its festivals and gastronomic events Do not miss the Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival from August 24th to September 2nd, during which Copenhagen becomes a huge Nordic restaurant and definitely stop at the new street food Reffen, an urban playground recently opened, that mixes crafts and culture.

Reffen is a place where the people of Copenhagen are invited to take part in the development. 54 start-ups in the form of food stalls, bars and creative workshops many confirming the dogmas “Reduce and Reuse”.

 

Mermaid yes or no?
The most celebrated mermaid statue of The Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s children’s story, sitting on a stone at Langelinie in the harbor of Copenhagen, Denmark. Honestly I saw her from the boat and I have to say that the invading ‘selfie addicted crowd’ didn’t appeal to me… So I went at night, and here she was, alone, shining on the dark, mysterious and looking like wanting to splash in the water any minute,
That, I call a magic encounter with Miss Mermaid…for more info
#visitdenmarkstories @govistdenmark.

 

Why I loved Hamburg, Germany and why I want you to love it too!

I started my Hamburg experience with an avalanche of photos and selfies on board of the Stadtrundfahrt double-decker bus, providing earphones in all languages. In a couple of hours you’ll know the city, get off when you want, visit and get the next one. An indispensable tour, also in a mini-cruise version with Harbor Cruise You will enjoy the aquatic view of the city, of the immense port and of the colossal cargo ships with gigantic containers.
Hamburg means bricks, red bricks, so my next stop was Speicherstadt.

 

Almost a kilometer of old warehouses with typical red bricks, used as storage for incoming goods: oriental carpets, tea, raw coffee, cocoa, tobacco, spices. Among the attractions: a kaffeerösterei, an old coffee roaster, where you can also enjoy decadent cakes with strawberries and cream.

 

 

 

Chocoversum,  a true chocolate triumph,
Manufactumtrendy shop and the Spice Museum  where you will find and taste everything: European spices, Asian and Indian flavors, exotic perfumes, 50 varieties of pepper, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, mustard seeds and the most expensive ones: orchid vanilla and saffron.

 

Miniatur Wunderland Models of trains and landscapes in miniature? I was doubtful …well, I was amazed. Two huge floors where landscapes and cities of all the world have been meticulously reconstructed with airports, motorways, railways in great turmoil and crowded by a thousand minuscule people, including a team while washing Pope Francis car…

 

 

 

Travel and read.
130 bookshops stocked with second hand books! Passengers are allowed not only to read them during their journey ,but also to take them home.

 

Elbphilharmonie
Extraordinary glass structure, with windows that look like eyes. With its perfect acoustic, hosts concerts and shows. You get there with a spectacular 82 meter escalator that runs through The Plaza, from which you can enjoy a great view.
Perfect location for a drink or a snack at the Beer & Dine and a little shopping in the well-stocked book, music and souvenir store. Tickets can be booked 18 weeks in advance and children up to three years do not pay.
Hamburg and its museums. I chose two. Kunsthalle, 700 years of art, from the great masters of the Renaissance until 1800 with Manet, Caspar David Friedrich, up to the German expressionism (which I adore) and the contemporary avant-garde .
MKG  Great museum with unusual exhibits: famous deco posters, precious vintage pianos, sketches and 30s dresses, a space dedicated to design furniture, photo galleries avant – garde and much more.
It is true that the hamburger was born in Hamburg?
The most famous meatball in the world is ‘made in the USA’ or ‘made in Hamburg’?
The name would leave no doubt, but the Americans boast its paternity.
The Germans claim that it was cooked in the houses of Hamburg and then it was exported to the USA, while for the Americans it would be born in the port of Hamburg, a municipality located in the state of New York and the inventors would have been the Menches brothers who in 1885 would propose the first sandwich stuffed with meat during the country festival Erie County Fair.
Legends aside, here you will find space burgers. The best from Burger Lounge, Jim Block Jungfernstieg, Dulf’s Burger , Otto’s Burger Grindelhof and Schanze .
HafenCity. It is the new futuristic district of Hamburg, area of ​​creatives and artists,
To get there they have specially built the metropolitan U4 line. in 3 stops from the center you have already arrived. Here you can breathe fresh air, the spaces are open and many Hamburgers get away from work to go for a drink or a snack.

 

I stayed at the brand new 25 Hours HafenCity Hotel where I had a great time. I felt like a sailor, the rooms look like a ship’s cabins, with prosperous painted models on the bathroom walls.

 

Here atmosphere is easy and relaxed , The motto says  COME AS YOU ARE! There is also free access to a spectacular spa in stones and wood. In the morning a rich buffet breakfast is set up, there you can find everything, including rote gruetze, my beloved raspberry, blueberry and cherry sauce served on lean yogurt. Yummy!

 

 

 

What does a real Hamburger drink?
Beer, of course! It has been produced in Hamburg for over a millennium and has become an icon of German culture. Here some popular ones.
Ratsherrn, one of the city’s most famous artisan breweries From pilsner to light beers. Galopper des Jahres, popular and animated. The members of the staff are true fan of craft beer, so be sure to ask for their recommendations: they know what to suggest for every taste and palate. Blockbräu, a terrace with a wonderful view.
My favorite? Altes Mädchen An incredible variety of excellent local and around 70 international beers, also combined with tasty German specialties.Remember, the real Hamburger does not drink Coca Cola!

The preferred alternative is fritz-kola, rich in caffeine and lemon. It was born in 2002, invented almost for fun by young friends Lorenz and Mirco and produced with a really amateur process. Imagine: the labels were photocopies and they were glued by hand on the bottle …
Today it is the national soft drink.

 

 

Red lights …
night and day!

The St. Pauli district was once a bad area full of noisy pubs, frequented by criminals, sailors and prostitutes. Today the taverns have become artistic skyscrapers, like the Dancing Towers, which seem to really dance, while the smoky haunts of the past have become fashionable places.

But the raunchy survived: sex shops, theaters, striptease, burlesque and the inevitable bouncers who invite you to enter. In addition to the ‘sensory’ attractions, the neighborhood is full of super-trendy shops, new boutiques, hip clubs and bars

Keep walking around the St.Pauli district,
head towards Markstrasse and the surroundings of KarolinenvIertel.

There You will find small bars, self-managed restaurants, flowers, perfumes, mini boutiques and lots of vintage. If you are ‘bio’ dive into the Rider Markt Halle, and a relaxing drink from Zoe the bar of the different sofas. For more chic and exclusive products, head to Hole Bleichen.

 

 

 

Then it comes the time for…
beauty and relaxation.

After a long walk, it is right to take a relaxing break in Jungfernstieg, in the heart of Hamburg with a fantastic view of the Alster river. Here Nivea Haus awaits for you, this is the official store of the famous face cream, born in Hamburg in 1929. Here you can find classic or brand new creams for face and body, cosmetics, revitalizing treatments, relaxing massages, as well as manicures and pedicures.

 

Plus a really cute souvenir: your ‘Nivea’. You ‘ll be photographed and in a second …you’re on the cover of the famous blue box. I couldn’t resist …

 

 

So, what do you think?
Am I fine for a cream cover?

 

 

 

Are you a pizza lover… but intolerant to lactose ?

So many of us cannot deal with lactose or have difficulty digesting milk and dairy products …Here the solution!
‘A pizza, the brand made in Naples that distributes homemade artisan pizzas at home and throughout Italy, launches a lactose-free pizza margherita, which can be consumed in complete safety without having to give up the unmistakable taste of Neapolitan artisan pizza margherita and a red pizza, or oil and tomato. Margherita pizza without lactose ‘A Pizza is prepared with lactose less than 0.01% soft wheat flour 00, water, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, salt, basil. It has a long leavening dough prepared by the skilled hands of the master pizza makers. The proposal for intolerant people is also enriched by the Pizza Rossa: one of the most traditional and traditional flavors, to be consumed as it is or to be seasoned with the most diverse ingredients according to personal taste.
These pizzas preserve intact the nutritional values, the taste, the taste and the fragrance of the True Neapolitan Pizza.
The distribution of ‘A Pizza covers the whole national territory through the express courier: the product is packaged in a special “frozen pack” that allows you to maintain the right temperature for 48 hours. In the main cities’ A Pizza is delivered within 24 hours of its shipment.
Enjoy your healthy pizza!

Making tasty dishes without salt, fat and sugar ?

I met Marcello in Venice a while a ago, Back then he introduced me to his revolutionary concept La Cucina del Senza® a non salt-sugar-fat cuisine.
So, it is possible to make tasty dishes without the addition of salt, fat and sugar ?
YES! According to Lucia and Marcello Coronini, journalists, food critics and life companions and authors of the new book MANGIARE CON GUSTO E VIVERE 100 ANNI  EATING WITH TASTE AND LIVING 100 YEARS       Researches have selected different foods with substances able to improve the quality of life and lengthen their life. Several books have been written on the importance of these foods called smart, longevity or life saving, able to protect against diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, tumors, etc.
70 recipes carefully studied by the authors who inserted 80 LIFE SAVERS ingredients
into the dishes, a splendid marriage was born with La Cucina del Senza, eliminating fat, salt and added sugar, balancing the metabolism, disinfecting the body and helping to eliminate excess fat naturally, the use of life savers enhances the effects on health. Coronini himself lost 5.5 kg without going on a diet and his pressure has normalized.
Some lifesavers will surprise the reader like the coffee that you do not expect or the bargain that everyone thinks is rich in sugar, while in reality it contains only 4 g in 100, and then the caper that has incredible properties and to finish the dark chocolate and “authentic” mustard. In addition to that, you will find new ways of cooking that simplify and lighten the preparation
Here one of my fav
HUMMUS WITH BEETROOTS AND CHICKPEAS
Hummus is a vegetable sauce that has Lebanese origins and is widespread throughout the Mediterranean (Egypt, Greece, Syria, Turkey and Israel). This version, of a beautiful cyclamen color, contains ingredients with important nutritional properties. If not consumed immediately put it back in the refrigerator in an airtight container, it will be stored for a couple of days. The thaina sauce is a sauce made from sesame seeds.
INGREDIENTS AND HOW TO COOK

500 g of drained canned chickpeas
or 300 g of dried chickpeas
200 g of already cooked beets
100 g of thaina sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 small red onion
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of spicy paprika  or spicy chilli powder
3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil of olive
1 lemon
1 tablespoon of thyme or parsley

Cook the dried chickpeas if you use them in water without salt added after have left them soaking for one night, if for reasons of time instead you have to use chickpeas in box, wash them under running water warm or immerse them for 3 minutes in boiling water (that will go away light taste of closed and you will eliminate the added salt); drain and remove them the external skin. Cut the beets into pieces and put them in the mixer with chickpeas, the thaina sauce, the private garlic of the soul, the chopped onion, lemon juice, paprika, cumin and oil. Add little with little water to give the right consistency: it must not be neither too hard nor too soft. Blend at intervals Sprinkle with fresh thyme or parsley. This sauce is perfect with bread croutons, hot wholemeal bread and paired with cooked vegetables.

MEET THE GRILLO AND CHOOSE HAPPINESS

The seasonal climatic conditions in 2017 were normal. Winter was relatively cool and dry as was Spring, leading to an early budding of the vines. Temperatures in the summer months were typical for the region, with the exception of a small four-day heat wave at the beginning of August when highs reached up to 44°C. The grapes were left thankfully healthy in spite of the spike in heat.

The plants had developed a balanced state between leaf and cluster due to the normal conditions throughout the year, so the grapes were sheltered with enough shade from the leaves to withstand the sun while still ripening very well. The aromatic and phenolic properties of the grapes were perfect

 

 

Today I choose Grillo Costadune Sicilia DOC 2017 

Grillo It is a white grape variety that is native to and widely diffused across Sicily, but particularly favoured in the Western regions of the island. It grows medium-sized clusters of spherical grapes that have a particularly thick skin. The vines grow best in high sun exposure and sandy soils, which helps it develop a high sugar content. Harvest generally takes place in the last two weeks of September. The wines end up with a higher alcohol level, a pleasantly wide range of aromas and great structure and minerality in the mouth.
A native white variety that grows in vineyards overlooking the sunny beaches of Southwestern Sicily. It is a wine with a typical Mediterranean character, intensely mineral yet fresh due to the medium textured calcareous soils and altitudes ranging from 80 to 200 m above sea level.Ageing takes place in steel for three months and then bottle for another three resulting in a fresh and mineral wine with strong notes of citrus and basil.  It hits the mouth with intense flavours of the seaside, fresh fruit and an underlying sapidity.
It is best paired with those spectacular sicilan grilled sardines, roasted vegetables, fresh cheeses and white meats.

 

 

 

 

for more info
mandrarossa.it 

 

WINE articles by CESARE ZUCCA

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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… Milan, April 6th Berlucchi from 7.30 pm at Mercato Duomo Davide Oltolini will host a wine tasting featuring the classic Brut, Rosee and Saten Franciacorta Berlucchi ’61,
and including the new Nature, with five exquisite dishes large tapas like,
spanning from cold cuts, to veggies, to cheeses that representing the Italian excellence in the world of gastronomy. The event will take place in the beautiful Franciacorta Lounge right on Piazza Duomo. Wine tasting and food 35 Euros.IMG_9345 copy


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The Non Tourist Tourist is famous for discovering hidden gems.
Last summer I discover a jewel into a jewel into a jewel…
The incomparable  Tenuta Venissa Resort located in the island of Mazzorbo, which is home to a vineyard that has been able to overcome the challenge of the high tide for centuries, giving rise to a wine with characteristics that are entirely unique.                          Matteo Bisol created not only an amazing five star resort, but also a unique wine nested in a unique bottle

Made from the dorona grapes, that brings minerality and delicate flavors such as peach and apricot.

 

 

 

 

Dorona stands for italian d’orata, (golden), while hand-crafted glass bottle boasts a hand made label enriched by gold foil. The vegetable gardens and orchards are located on the estate property beside the vineyards, and they are tended to by nine pensioners from the neighboring island of Burano

Dinner was amazingly pleasant.  Matteo Bisol enchanted me with the history of his family, dated back to 1542, producing the renowned Valdobbiadene Prosecco and Desiderio, the patriarch of the family, nicknamed Jeio.

info at Venissa.it

 

Text and photos by Cesare Zucca
Back in the 70′ the iconic Fiorucci New York store discovered that music could actually influence and improve the sales. screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-10-27-57“Never play slow music, told me the legendary store manager Enrico Baroni, the man who helped the Fiorucci empire to bloom. Slow rhythm makes costumers slowing down; they loose the excitement of a new purchase and easily get bored of the shopping adventure. In our store we play loud up-tempo music either pop or disco and most importantly without any interruptions. That causes a shopping rush and improve the appetite of buying”screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-10-33-41
The world famous Japanese wagyu cows, in order to produce the tender kobe beef…non only are pampered with massages, drink beer and sake, but also spend their days  lessening to Mozart! The body relaxes, the muscles stretch and they seem to enjoy the music vibrations.

Can music influence the aging process of wine?
In the magical atmosphere of the Podere Rocche dei Manzoni in the beautiful Langhe territory (in Piedmont region, province of Cuneo) resident wine producer Rodolfo Migliorini and  one of the most influential living composers, Italian Maestro Ezio Bosso. screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-09-47-47
Recently this extraordinary couple of creative souls and long time friends invited press, friends and all the people who in recent years have “filled rooms” of the company
The occasion was to introduce the brand new sparkling wine named Valentino Cuvèe 185th Door, an exclusive, limited production (only 1500 bottles and 150 magnun size) of the  spumante cuvèe made with classic chardonnay, pinot noir and locally rarely used pinot meunier. . During an informal press conference, Rodolfo and Ezio unveiled the convincing theory that music can actually influence the wine making process, from the vineyard to the final bottle.
Obviously many questions:

How a sparkling wine may get refined listening to music? Which kind of music?
Bosso selected among his works a “symphony for the wine”: a suitable composition to act during the wine aging process and to influence the second fermentation of yeast. Loudspeakers were installed in the vineyards and in the cellars. After a minimum of 4 vintages assembly, a percentage which varies according to the characteristics of each of them, 185th Door, during its life in the bottle, which lasts at least 8 years, is subjected to a measured musical stress and controlled to optimize the activity of yeast.“We are the first to have thought of applying the vibrations of music to a sparkling wine refinement process, says Migliorini, At first, we proceeded by trial and after 12 years this project is still in an embryonic basis. However, with the data collected during the trial I can say that thanks to the music the activity of yeast is faster and the product is improved.  Certain notes and sounds have frequencies that the wine seem to .. listen , enjoy and mature with a pleasant aging. In the coming years we will try to understand how to further influence the activity of the yeast, thus modulating the music according to our needs“.img_9277-copy

Why 185th?
What’s behind that door?
Ezio as a co-composer of this innovative method, loved have a very unique and personalized name: The ‘door’ is linked to the theme of ‘the rooms’ the common thread of his recent albums.The 185, takes us the alphabet where the R (Rodolfo) is the18th letter while the E (Ezio) is the 5th. Ezio continues “The sounds coming from a violin and  a cello, from a full orchestra or simply from my piano were able to pass through wood and cement of the barrels to create a chain of harmonies that reborn in a chain of wine.

FASHION    MARRIES GAVI DEI GAVI LA SCOLCA AT MAISON VERSACE
Milan, October 6th Vendemmia di Montenapoleone

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MANDRAROSSA WINEYARD TOUR 2016
A spectacular adventure in the land of Sicilyscreen-shot-2016-09-23-at-12-12-31

AURUM, In the name of gold 
Are you a wine lover? Do you like to discover new tastes while sipping a nice glass of white or red? Do you enjoy to end up a dinner with a sweet touch of dessert wine?
Or …do you indulge meditation?
Here several good reasons to visit the Euganean Hills, to get acquainted with the local wines, starting from the typical Fior d’Arancio, a very golden Moscato to a variety of whites with the typical straw-yellow color and jasmine scent, The hills produce Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon reds, the Chardonnay, , the Merlot, to my fav, the sparkling Serprino.
I forgot… most importantly, are you ready to discover a hidden gem in Italy? Breathtaking panoramas, art, culture and good food?
Already excited? Well, hold your glass…
On the panoramic outdoor of the Villa Beatrice, a former Convent founded in12th century, on the top of the hill, we tried the Quota 101 wines, I loved the Malterreno an authentic expression of the Euganei  territory.  Authentic and true. The grapes are hand-picked in September, when the sun has made them nice and ripe. Warm yellow color, scent of Summer, in the mouth it is velvety and well-structured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop at Paolo Brunello’s Cantina Vignale di Cecilia,  located in Baone.

My fav was the white Val di Spie, an experimental trip in the world of sparkling wine, blinks its eye to the traditional natural fermentation in the bottle, while maintaining its natural yeasts, followed by the first born at Vignale, the red Passacaglia made with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera boasting a long maceration as well as the handmade mixing of fermenting grapes.

 

In the evening I met with lovely Elisa Dilavanzo, owner of Maeli Colli Euganei featuring the yellow muscat
from these amazing volcanic hills, where Elisa decided to “work towards the production of a wine that is rich in emotion whilst at the same time a worthy ambassador for this prestigious territory”.Sparklyn Moscato Giallo IGT
Muscat 85% Chardonnay 15% Destemming and soft pressing, maceration on the skins for three days, pressing, fermentation on natural yeasts without added sulphites. The wine is bottled on its own yeasts with in-the-bottle secondary fermentation using the original must following the time-honoured method.
Grand finale with a wide varIety of Zanovello wines, hosted by Mr. Franco Zanovello, President of La Strada del Vino and owner of Cà Lustra wines. I ended my journey with the iconic Passito, born in the year 1200. Only in the Euganean Hills that the 100% Fiori d’Arancio muscat grapes keep that strong Mediterranean character, cheerful and vigorous.
Intense aromas, thick and colorful skin, crunchy pulp,are the hallmarks of this archaic variety that likes bright and dry sites. It’s a farmer’s tradition to harvest the ripest grapes and let them dry on racks in the old barns with the dual aim of producing a strong sweet wine and rustic cakes for the spring-winter festivals. Its intensity and complexity allow it to enter the category of “meditation wine.”Believe me, no many other places on earth would enrich a meditation time like being on the top of one of those volcanic Hills, specially after sipping a glass of a delicious wine…
The team of the Raffles Siem Reap, engaged us to pay a visit to a real jewel., located in their sister property in Phnom Penh, I am talking of the historic a place that exudes the charm of old school luxury. Not only do the walls spoke of history but, the service evokes a tempo of another time, a pace where the demands of productivity are not part of the game. Not to say we waited a long time for our cocktails, we waited just the right time for it to be made to perfection!
The signature cocktail is the Femme Fatale,
created for Jacqueline Kennedy during her 1967 visit in Cambodia.The bar boasts a selection of 54 hand-picked gins and among the most recent offerings you can pair your libation with a spoonful of Giaveri caviar from Italy for a very friendly $5.We were hosted by the young French F&B manager of this legendary institution,
Thomas Bianco. Thomas had the barman create on the spot a cocktail combining ingredients I loved: bourbon, fresh lime and ginger juice, simple sugar and mint leaves. Shaken with egg white and served on the rocks with a splash of angustura bitters. What a treat! Thomas coined the name Tsin-Tsin for the cocktail in a heartbeat, combining the first letter of his first first name and the first 3 letters of my last name for an inviting chin-chin ring to it. It is now on the menu of the Elephant Bar, sealing in history the final touch of a night made of whimsy, fun and good taste.
Info for The Elephant Bar at Ruffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh  at
http://www.raffles.com/phnom-penh/dining/elephant-bar/

 

Moet Ice Impérial breaks the tradition and launches a new style, a genuine drink experience that mixes unexpectedly sparkles and ice cubes to strawberries, raspberries and lime. 
Moët & Chandon created more than 270 years of elegance and savoir fête  now blended harmoniously with an irreverent yet inimitable spirit of celebration. Moët & Chandon created more than 270 years of elegance and savoir fête  now blended harmoniously with an irreverent yet inimitable spirit of celebration.

                                            A glizzy white bottle with the inevitable black tie, golden label and silver reflections Moët Ice Impérial is perfect synthesis of the Maison’s values: elegance, glamour and pioneering spirit.An  ideal drink for exclusive summer excursion in the trendiest locations all around the world: from the beaches of Acapulco, Rio de Janeiro and Saint Tropez, to Los Angeles, to the magnificent Duomo Terrace in Milan

Yesterday I went to the picnic lunch at the Palazzo Monti della Corte , in Nigoline right in the heart of the Franciacorta region, one of the best producer of sparkling wine.

Tasting a Berlucchi Brut, one of the most recognized product of Franciacorta

Tasting a Berlucchi Brut, one of the most recognized product of the Franciacorta region.The territory of Franciacorta is a section of the Province of Brescia

The annual Franciacorta Festival will entertain again his visitors with a two days tour de force of exquisite food and superb wines.
Saturday 25 will be dedicated to the discovery of the territory, its wines,its products and its food. Photo N.Tirelli
The wineries will organize little events, guided tours and tastings during the day, while in the evening the best restaurants, diners, farms and the Strada del Franciacorta venues will offer their menu, dedicated to local food and wine culture


South Tyrol is waiting  for you. 300 cellars, 100 artisans of Italian taste. 150 international wine producers! Merano is hosting the annual WineFestival, an international wine&food bonanza,  one of the most exclusive places and occasions for all industry operators, where the recurring keyword is always “excellence”.In addition You will find the best Italian wines produced organically, biodynamically and naturally, the  Beer Passion experience, where the artisan flavour becomes beer, Consortium: the Italian protection consortia are presented within the Gourmet Arena, charity Wine Master Classes. where the revenues of which are given to charity and spectacular show cooking among,seminars and workshops for discussion on the future of wine in Italy and Europe.November 5th-10th
More info at www.meranowinefestival.com

Imagine: a secret bottle kept in the cave for years (sometimes more than 30). It’s the rich and velvety wine called sciacchetrà. This aged treasure resurges in occasion of a wedding as the greatest gift that the family of the groom could offer to the bride’s family. I had the privilege of opening a bottle than was more than 10 years old. It reminded me of a rich passito straw wine, sweet and liqueur-like.
see article

TERRACE TIME

Chiantigno Photo © Cesare Zucca 2016

Chiantigno Photo © Cesare Zucca 201

On the Rooftop of the Hotel, that is called “Terrazza Boscolo” by Dama, Sommellier Diana Zerilli will create two exciting drinks Chiantigno, born from the encounter between Chianti Colli Senesi Mormoraia,with Campari, Gin, Angostura, Rosmarine and Ice Tropical Wine, con Vernaccia San Gimignano Mormoraia,
with Honey, Mango, Ice.

The Villa Il Palagio perches elegantly at the top of a long steep drive, overlooking the distant Tuscan hills and the undulating countryside which has always had profound agricultural significance. Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 13.19.50The nearby medieval town of Figline Valdarno was known as the “barn of Florence” for its abundant corn supplies. Grains, wine, oil, sugar beets, peaches, apricots and cherries have long been grown here. Not only…Palagio has been the summer retreat for
Sting and Trudie’s family and friends for more than 15 years.Palagio produces an excellent red wine.
A blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvigon Biodynamic wine. Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 10.26.06Named after Sting’s song “Sister Moon”
this was the first IGT Toscano wine produced at Il Palagio.

MILAN EXPO 2015
Wine Pavillion, a true multi-sensorial experience. Tasting Settesoli.
Great surprise at Expo 2015!
I visited the Wine Pavilion boasts a wide array of communications tools, as it narrates the history of wine-production.The exhibit brings all five senses into play, with taste taking priority. Some of the best-qualified sommeliers are on hand to arrange wine-tasting experiences blending tastes with aromas.IMG_7903

I attended to the Cantine Settesoli tasting hosted by charming PR Roberta Urso.IMG_7871 copy

IMG_7876 copy

My favorite wines?
Inzolia, a very reasonable price for a great white wine. Light and fruity, just the way I like it. Roberta suggested fatty fish such as halibut or dory with potatoes and cherry tomatoes to go with.
Grillo, with a distinct aroma of jasmine and citrus.To be served with grilled vegetables, medium seasoned cheese, legumes soups, raw meats.
The legendary Nero D’Avola with its ruby red, and a brightly intense taste, smooth and warm, with a distinctive scent of marasca, local red cherry, excellent with raw meat and grilled white meat.IMG_7892 copy

The Mandrarossa wines are the toprange of Cantine Settesoli.
They come from the careful selection of both the vineyards and the vines, together with the harmonious combination of local culture, traditional farming and winemaking technology.
The tasting ended up with an amazing finale.

The “meditation” chardonnay CALADEITUFI  calaMandrarossa Vendemmia Tardiva, produced in a small vineyard that slopes down toward the coast, between sandy dunes and wild vegetation. the breeze refreshes the grapes that are left to ripen on the plant.   Deliciously perfect as a  “solo” wine or ‘solo’ wine or accompanied by light cheeses, desserts, dry fruits. Settesoli is the largest wine company in Sicily, Twenty million bottles are made in a year and they are sold in 35 countries. “Settesoli is a stellar constellation, said proudly Cantine the general manager Salvatore Li Petri, each producer is a star”.

 
From Friday Feb 26th to Sunday 28th  “Wine Festival I am Romagnolo” where quality food and wine enthusiasts will enjoy local Sangiovese, Albana, Pagadebit *and more img_4542-copy

Try the wines of 30 wineries of Romagna, dozens of winemakers of the territories of Forli, Faenza, Cesena, Ravenna and Rimini
Purchase the cup,  and ticket “Euroromagnoli”, enjoy the guided tastings tours.
Entrance to the Festival is free.
Info at  Sono Romagnolo


Colomba is a traditional Italian Easter yeast bread. It is shaped like a dove (colomba in Italian), the symbol of peace and resurrection. Soft and fragrant, colomba is a generous cake with butter and eggs, filled with raisins and candied orange peel. Italian Easter yeast bread..The colomba could mean not only a peace message but also solidarity. Like in the case of the artisanal Colomba Arcobaleno (Rainbow Dove)  created by the Milanese sommelier Diana Zerilli  who supports gay rights and gay issues in Italy, such as marriage and child adoption. Her colomba is made with Sicilian Avola almonds, Calabria cedar, kneaded with Vernaccia Mormoraia, a traditional white wine from San Gimignano,d zerilli

Beside food, Diana passion  and expertise is (of course) wine. Twice a week, she gives classes and wine tasting at Hotel Rubens in Milan. Each class will introduce an Italian region, with its local wines and food.
March 10th Wines from Valle d’Aosta
March 17th Wines from Veneto and Diana’s Chiantigno drink tasting
March 22th Wines from Piemonte.Classes will continue in April, after Easter Holi days. Each class costs 35 Euros.zerillisommelier@gmail.com
To celebrate their wines, Villa Matilde owners Maria Ida and Salvatore Avallone, invited distributors, buyers, bloggers to spend a wonderful time in Cellole, in the Caserta Region, The location boasts a wonderful vineyard, a restaurant, a swimming pool, several bedrooms and, of course, good wines and delicious specialties from a traditional or revisited cucina napoletana. We were all invited and the Villa looked really festive.

 

During the all event, guests were invited to try the wines.I loved the golden and soft Falanghina Roccamonfina a  sophisticated fruity white that brings hints of pineapple, banana, yellow peach to rose and sage a great glass to star you meal , served with appetizer , light dishes, fish and white meat. Then the Mata Rosé, elegant sparkling wine obtained from one of the oldest and noble native Carnation vines, the Alleanic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My special applause goes to Terre Cerase Rosè, (I have to confess:I had 4 glasses) with a floral the bouquet of morello cherries, black and red wild berries, plus delicate hints of spices, ideal with fish, poultry, veal and making an outstanding paired with bufala mozzarella. Last but not the list the reason why we all were there. We were graciously invited to Celebrate the king of the Villa, His Magesty Falerno del Massico, a red wine famous in literature and history is a blend of aglianico and piedirosso; the clusters are carefully quality-selected from the hillside vineyards on the San Castrese estate growing on the slopes of the extinct Roccamonfina volcano, in the province of Caserta. Showing a deep red, its intense, rich bouquet is brimming with fragrant sweet violets, cherries, blackberries, and raspberries, finely balanced in all teir components. The “Falerno Party” started with the Exclusive Ceremony of opening and tasting Falerno del Massico aging in Amphora:
What an entertaining show! Fabio Gennarelli (Wine Making Director) opened one of the “Phitos” the traditional clay Amphora used exclusively by Villa Matilde, followed by an a unique sensing experience: the Vertical tasting of Falerno del Massico Vigna Camarato spanning from 1995 to 2010.  A parade of eight glasses where every “millesime” was telling his own story. Not to mention the final dinner stuck between tradition and  innovation, created by the chefs of “Taverna del Falerno”and the “Grand Hotel Parker’s 5 Stars Restaurant”  pairing their dishes with the new Villa Matilde baby born: sparkling Spumante Mata Falanghina, with its warm golden reflections and a fine and elegant perlage, thanks to the long stay on yeasts. Just put your nose to the glass to feel delicate scents of ripe fruit mixed with hints of yeast and crust of bread. The taste is fresh, elegant and harmonious, with acidic and intense fruity notes typical of the Falanghina, which are accompanied by pleasing sensations.
A dinner that brought
the culture of food of Napoli and Campania.ending with a nice souvenir that anyone who is a little superstitious would have love it . A little red corn, mounted on a Villa Matilde cork, a traditional “Good Luck”
for the Neapolitan people.

 

      


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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

 

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