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

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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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https://nontouristytourist.com/2018/10/17/bric-paradiso-roero-docg-riserva-2013-memory-of-the-sea/

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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.
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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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

An Italian tradition, wrapped by hand…with love.

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

FOOD ARTICLES, CHEF INTERVIEWS, RESTAURANT REVIEWS by Cesare Zucca

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

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

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The unexpected lugana

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

What a (sweet) journey…

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

A ‘NICE AND EASY‘ INTERVIEW WITH CHEF CHRISTOS ATHANASIADIS

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 


 

THE COLOMBA, EASTER SWEET TRIBUTE TO PEACE

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

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

 

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

90′ RAPIDA. A new FUTURISM brings the fastest cooking pasta in the world.

Italy,1909. The ‘futurismo’ artistic movement is born!!
Industrial, energetic, creative, daring, combative, controversial and ..super fast! Launched by the Filippo Marinetti’s tribe of innovative artists as a tribute to modernity, speed, violence, war, and the machine. Painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, poetry, fashion, cinema, music, theater, dance, typography and interior design and food! avantgarde, innovation, revolution, rebellion.. those guys were real punks of the era! To celebrate the rhythm of futurism, Rustichella d’Abruzzo created the amazing “C” shaped 90′ Rapida Spaghetti that connects the futurist concept of speed with that of a ready-made pasta in the shortest cooking time: only 90 seconds to boil and they are ready to be served with your favorite sauce. This revolutionary ‘speed in cooking pasta’  ( not a not a precooked product) reduces usage of gas, electricity and water, is  highly digestible, rich in perfume and flavour  of weat.Rustichella draws its origins from the ancient pasta factory Gaetano Sergiacomo, founded in 1924 in Penne, Italy and uses only the best durum wheat semolina selected, with a higher gluten content, mixed with pure mountain water to give a unique flavor and tenacity to its pasta, now available in more than 70 countries worldwide.
luckily I was invited to aFuturistic Dinner’ by lovely Rustichella owner Maria Stefania Peduzzi who entertained her guests with an amazing ‘one of a kind culinary experience’ inspired to the artistic movement. The futuristic dinner took place at RED la Feltrinelli , located i the trendy area Isola, in Milan. Chefs Zonfa, Martin Sirmais, Cristian Di Tillio and Giuseppe di Mauro created a daring menu that started with a colorful dish of  finger food featuring the famous PolloFiat, followed by spaghetti 90 “Rapida, Paccherini with fruit and a variety of desserts. All served with futuristic poetry and music thanks to the actress Franca Minnucci who and Vincenzo Di Nicolantonio’s Work Music in Project.


 


 

 
 

 

A CLOSER LOOK AT ROMAGNA…UNIQUE WINES WORTH THE TRIP

By Philip Sinsheimer
Photos by Philip Sinsheimer, Cesare Zucca

Cesare Zucca already related our fabulous trip to Romagna last June with its various highlights, where the warmth of the people rivaled the heat of the constant sun.
Today, the “vino-Phil” that I am will focus on the unsung grace of the wines of this region, overshadowed by Emilia, its twin sister to the West, which rolls on the fame of products as famous as Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico de Modena, Mortadella di Bologna and, for the wines, Lambrusco.

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of it, as it seems to be exported pretty much everywhere. Quite an achievement for a rather peculiar red wine, both fizzy and often sweet. Clearly, not the best bottles are exported… I still need to sip a Lambrusco that I would actually want to drink.Regardless of quality, Lambrusco has acquired fame. But, can you tell me anything about wines from Romagna? Sorry? I can’t hear you… Well, my guess is: not so much. At least, that was my case before discovering this region with my own eyes and mouth! Before, I knew it only for the famous beach town of Rimini (birthplace of Federico Fellini and of beach umbrellas according to some, and the historic city of Ravenna, which served as the capital of the Western Roman Empire (from 402 to 476). But wines, no, “I was dry”, as we say in French, not a clue as to what to expect…
I didn’t have to wait long to be initiated. As soon as we arrived at the charming Fattoria Faggioli where we were hosted during our four-day press trip, we were offered a red wine which reflected perfectly the delicious home cooked pasta and the general atmosphere: no fuss, big heart, big flavor, frank and bold (photo). It was a Sangiovese which, I was told right away, was the most prized and celebrated red grape of Romagna. Everyone tends to associate the noble grape with Tuscany, the region immediately to the South, with its world-famous Chianti and Brunelo di Montalcino. Even though Sangiovese has not reached those level of notoriety in Romagna, the region can definitely boast of a deeply rooted wine culture. After a few glasses, an old saying came up, revealing the generosity of the Romagnolo people and their love of wine. If a stranger knocks at the door of someone in Emilia, he is offered a glass of water, in Romagna… a glass of wine!. This sense of hospitality connected to wine culture was perfectly exemplified during our visit of the medieval town of Bertinoro. The symbol of this perched little city is its 13th century column with twelve metal rings, named the “column of hospitality” photo). Each ring was associated to one of the local noble families and when a traveler arrived into town and tied his horse to one of the rings, he would automatically become a guest of the family associated to it We didn’t arrive on horses, but were just as warmly welcomed at the beautiful visitor center with an in-depth presentation of the local wines. This was my first encounter with Romagna’s most celebrated white wine: l’Albana, unique to this region. The 2016 “I Croppi” from Celli winery (photo) revealed a white unlike any other. Golden in color, the wine had a serious body and boasted 14° of alcohol. One of the distinctive tastes I noticed was a lingering ripe apple flavor and it felt like it had some tannins. It is actually sometimes called the red wine made in white and it can pair meat dishes as well, if not better than seafood. We tasted a local 100% Sangiovese, bold and rich with 14.5% alcohol, but my second thrill came with the second white wine we tasted: the 2016 San Pascasio, Romagna Pagadebit DOP (photo), from the Campodelsole winery. Unlike the Albana, this white had a vivacious acidity and a refreshing minerality. Aromas and flavors of exotic fruits and elderflower were delicious. I was wowed and seduced immediately. Pagadebit is made from the Bombino Bianco grape, which, unlike Albana, is not unique to Romagna. It can be found in central Italy all the way to Puglia, but it has definite terroir characteristics here in Romagna and must count for at least 85% of the grapes for the Pagadebit di Romagna DOC. The name is a story in itself. “Paga-debit” – literally “pays your debt” in Italian – comes from the grape’s reputation for being high yielding and a reliable crop for vineyard owners to grow, assuring that each vintage would enable them to pay off their debts. But the latest report regarding the 2017 vintage is rather alarming and almost puts in question the validity of the promising name. My source is Mauro Sirri, co-owner of the Celli winery in Bertinoro. In his 34 years of winemaking experience, he has never seen such precocious harvest, which started on the 8th of August, about 3 weeks before than usual, due to high temperature and scarce rainfall. So much for those who have doubts about global or local warming! The oldest vines, benefiting from deeper roots, reacted better, but the average yield still dropped by 50%, putting at risk the financial balance of wineries.
On the positive side, Albana seems to gain some appeal outside the borders of Romagna. On November 25th and 26th 2017, Bertinoro will host the first Albana Trophy to find the best expert of this wine in order to be its ambassador both nationally and internationally. I wish I could go, perhaps you can, I know you should! The little town will be having many events for the occasion. You just cannot miss having a meal at l’Osteria Cà de Bè with a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and fantastic food (still thinking about this rabbit…). The wine collection is also exceptional (photo du mec?) and I really liked the 2016 Albana “Neblina”, produced by Givana Madonia, which had a very pleasant acidity
After my initiation in Bertinoro, I was better armed to appreciate the following tastings of Romagnolo wines. The first one came soon after at the Cantina Poderi dal Nespoli (link? http://www.poderidalnespoli.com/en/), a winery established in 1929 about 16 miles to the South-West of Bertinoro, with a beautiful tasting room and a wide diversity of wines. There was of course various Sangiovese based reds and out of the lot, my favorite was the Prugneto, Romagna DOC, Sangiovese Superiore, made from 100 % Sangiovese grosso: a wine full of life with a bright ruby color, an intense bouquet of ripe red fruit which didn’t translate in the palate into anything jammy, allowing a certain freshness to shine through and soft tannins to carry notes of violet and plum. Yum!
But, once again, my focus was more on the whites. The Campodora, a 100% Albana showcased the typical golden yellow color of the grape and a rich smooth taste of stone fruit and acacia flowers. But what made it shine for me was this beautiful balance between ripeness and acidity. This freshness, I was told, was to be attributed to vines perched at a higher altitude and a careful picking of the grapes in the morning, before it got too hot. Their Pagadebit (blended with 15% of Sauvignon Blanc) was fresh and vivacious with a floral nose and a crisp finish. Besides those two established whites in Romagna, we had the chance to discover a third one, called Famoso, in reference to the name of the grape which it was made of exclusively. Ironically, this indigenous grape from Romagna has been rediscovered in the last ten years or so after a period of abandonment. Fame comes and goes I guess. And what a flamboyant come back this was in the glass with this 2016 vintage: totally charming white, light, with only 11.5° alcohol, but intense with its floral aromas, notes of tropical fruit, and a long, clean, lip smacking finish. Cesare and I fell in love with this rarity and decided to buy a few bottles to take home and share with others. In spite of its name, Famoso won’t be in the aisle of your supermarket anytime soon! Look for it at your specialty wine store, but better yet, plan a trip to Ravenna.
If you have the chance to go in the summer during the Festa Artusiana in Forlimpopoli, your will be able to discover the beautiful Casa Artusi  (where you can take traditional cooking classes, as well as learn about one of the legends of Italian cookery in the name of Pellegrino Artusi whose monumental La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene was first printed in 1891 with 700 regional recipes. The whole town during these few days pays homage to the legendary food writer by putting certain of his recipes on the menu of established or ephemeral restaurants. Food stands abound and enable you to taste specialties from Romagna and elsewhere. Beverages are also part of the feast of course, from local microbrewery beers to local wines.                                                                                                                                                                         One stand had me taste an Albana Passito, sweet and intense, beautifully balanced with just enough acidity to make you want to have another sip. This final tasting note still lingers in my mind and the unique wines of Romagna will have me go back again, that is for sure.