MAY THE “FORTEZZA” BE WITH YOU ! Discovering the Campania Region, the wines and… the witches!

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY CESARE ZUCCA

Campania Region, Italy.
Torrecuso
is an enchanting medieval ‘borgo’, that offers a suggestive view of the Taburno and the Valle del Calore. Its origins date back to 216 BC, probably on the initiative of some Etruscan refugees from the Tuscan town of Chiusi who called it “TurrisClusii”.
Today is a small village characterized by narrow, winding streets, which surround the square on which stands the splendid Palazzo Cito, adapted into an ancient tower; the building was the residence of the feudal lords of Torrecuso and today is the town hall.

The soil is sunny and lends itself well to growing grapes; here is produced the Aglianico del Taburno, which makes this place an important station for food and wine tourism.
In the last decades the production of other typical vines such as Falanghina, Coda di Volpe and Greco has been increased, all included in the Taburno D.O.C..
I will take you to the best of the wineyards in Torrecuso, the great Cantina La Fortezza and invite you to taste its excellent wines, but allow me to start witha little history of this magical land…
Torrecuso is located close to Benevento, a town mythically traced to the arrival of a Greek hero back from the disastrous Trojan war. In this case it would have been Diomedes to found it and on the Beneventan soil the Greek prince would have met and almost met with death with Enea, a Trojan hero.
Historically, the first settlement dates back to the Osci, and then passed under the control of the Samnites. The first ‘bad’ name was Maleventum that means a ‘huge disaster’, then luckily changed to the positive name of  Beneventum  when the city became a Roman colony, in 268 BC.
Throughout the Roman period the city became one of the most prosperous since it represented a very important junction for the main commercial routes and roads. 
Although tortured by violent earthquakes and barbarians invasions, Benevento gained the reputation of a city difficult to conquer: even the Franks and Charlemagne himself had to stop at its borders. In 1077 Henry III ceded the city and the entire area to the Church, which held power until the unification of Italy.
For a few years, in 1798, it was occupied by Napoleon’s troops,then in the hands of the Bourbons, then again of the Church.
Here come the witches!
Benevento has always been in the popular belief the capital of witches, in that peasant and genuine territory where legends and traditions have a weight, the nightly Janare were the most ferocious species of those witches.
These were women who possessed the knowledge of the occult and magical rites, such as invoices and the evil eye, capable of ruining life. According to tradition, in fact, it was necessary to place an upside-down millet broom or a bag with grains of salt in front of the door, counting which the witch would have lingered until dawn, when the light, her bitter enemy, would have forced her to flee away, leaving the inhabitants of that house or that room in particular in peace.
T
here was a widespread belief that these witches gathered under a walnut tree on the banks of the Sabato river to worship the devil. Aggressive and acid, they use to go around naked and celebrate the Sabbath, or demonic rites: banquets, dances and orgies.
“Ointment ointment
take me to the Benevento nut
above the water and above the wind
and above Benevento ».There are still janaras around  today?
I asked several Benevento citizens, but apparently the malifigcent witches aren t no more. Perhaps some older women are preparing healing natural ointments or infusions, as regular herbalists. But hey, I’ ve been told that you can recognize them, because they are the last ones to leave the church after the mass…
Strange…Are the witch going to church?
The only surviving witch is the Strega Liqueur, a traditional drink obtained by the distillation of about 70 herbs and spices from all over the world. You can drink it neat, icy or mixed in long drinks or cocktails.Let’s move from the legends to a truly magic reality…
I am taking you to La Fortezza Vineyards, located in Torrecuso,
where their headquarters extend on the east slope of the Regional Park of the Taburno-Camposauro: the slopes are a succession of vineyards, woods and small clearings, which only in the last hours of the day the Monte Taburno profile subtracts light and heat.In the middle of the vineyards stands the beating heart of our business: the cellar.
Entirely coated in stone and well integrated into the surrounding landscape is made up of two bodies. In the upper part a Villa and wide open spaces primarily intended for lawn: a charming place by sweeping views looking towards the Apennines that separates the Campania from Apulia. The underlying body, which opens more than two gates in medieval style strictly processed hardwood, home to the productive activity itself: a perfect blend of tradition and modern technology.The barrel vaults, that dominate the area destined to accommodate the aging of wine, entirely coated in terracotta bricks and partially dug into the tuff, bring us closer to an idea of ​​the cellar to those who were the old “cellai” of rural farms, that is, those places that were intended to keep as much wine as food.
The local processing, where there are machines for wine making, bottling and labeling room, steel tanks and warehouses for goods destined to commercialization complement the wine cellar, with a production potential of about two million bottles.Here La Fortezza’s grape varieties:
Let’s start with the Aglianico del Taburno, a generous quantity that allows an accurate selection in the vineyard for the various sales lines and to guarantee the production of wines of the highest quality such as the Riserva, whose grapes come from a vineyard of about seventy years of age.  Falanghina del Taburno, whose exposure of the vineyards gives us the best results in terms of sugar content, perfumes and acidity of the wine without having to resort to cuts in working phase. By the time we select in outside the vineyards of Greek and Fiano to be allocated to our products by imposing a strict and meticulous discipline of crop for producers: once the land and its vineyards identified, these are followed in all the basic steps until the collection that takes place under our supervision.
Want to go bubbles?
I like to point the Sparkling Falanghina, the Aglianico Frizzante and the precious “Maleventum”  a brut obtained with the charmat method.
Last but not the least I like to mention the delicate rosèe Aglianico dl Taburno, perfectly pairing fish and the fragrant Olio La Fortezza, both excellent choice if you are having a local great dish with baccalà (salted codfish) a remarkable specialty of this territory, which I had the pleasure to taste at a typical restaurant Trattoria Nunzia, in Benevento.
Sweet finale? Do you love chocolate?
Well, while you are there, take a trip to to San Marco dei Cavoti to visit the Antonio Autore Artisanal  Factory that produces the one and only handmade ‘croccantino’.a delicious traditional recipe of a bar of sugar, almonds and hazelnuts. It will be a pleasure for your eyes and for your mouth!

INFO
La Fortezza
Torrecuso, Benevento
www.lafortezzasrl.it

Antonio Autore
San Marco dei Cavoti

Cesare Zucca
Milanese di nascita, vive tra New York, Milano e il resto del mondo. Viaggia su e giù per l’America e si concede evasioni in Italia e in Europa.
Per WEEKEND PREMIUM fotografa e racconta città, culture, stili di vita e scopre delizie gastronomiche sia tradizionali che innovative.
Incontra e intervista top chefs di tutto il mondo, ‘ruba’ le loro ricette e vi racconta il tutto qui, in stile ‘turista non turista’.

GORI WINERY, FRIULY, ITALY: FROM MAGNIFICENT MAGNIFICAT TO HISTORICAL VERMUT, FROM RIBOLLA PRECIOUS GRAPES TO A LICIT DRINKABLE CANNABIS!

You want more?
I really enjoyed the Friulano, pure expression of the territory, the Chardonnay, the fruit of an international vine that finds here a suitable habitat, thus becoming one of the most characteristic white wines of the region; Sauvignon, also in this case an international grape variety which, thanks to the frequent daily temperature changes and to the fresh and dry soil, enhances its characteristics.
Finally I lusciously indulged in a glass of Ribolla Gialla, which comes from a native grape known in the 1300s and since then present on the table of the Doge of Venice and which finds its optimal position in the hills.
The winery is an extraordinary example of architecture integrated into the landscape, a symbol of the Gori family’s love for their land. Developed on three levels, it has been designed with respect for tradition and, despite being equipped with all the modern equipment to limit the use of permitted chemical products as much as possible, its construction is inspired by the old principles for the correct vinification and aging of wines The stainless steel containers and on the lower floor, excavated inside the hill, the wooden barrels are optimal and help red wines in their ripening phase, respecting their typicality and taste. Furthermore the use of refrigeration allows to obtain long and not tumultuous fermentations: in this way the wine retains the aromas and the aromas that the grape has obtained during the maturation, making the use of chemical products superfluous.
The tasting area welcomes guests with its contemporary design and the large window overlooking the vineyards and allows natural light to illuminate the environment. A place to live a sensory journey that, through the wines and recipes that best interpret local raw materials, leads to the discovery of the stories of these lands between territory, history, culture, traditions, excellences.Let’s party!
Magnificat ,the newest Gori creation, boasts the Classic Method sparkling wine signed Cantine Goritells while its excellence and expresses at the same time the joy for the result achieved after years of study and work. It starts with the harvest, which takes place between the last days of August and the beginning of September and, as for still wines, is performed manually in boxes of only 20kg, we proceed with the selection made with soft destemming on the sorting table, yes continues with fermentation in steel tanks and with bottling until manual disgorgement, after a stay on yeasts of at least 24 months. Finally, no sugar or “liqueur d’expédition”: only sparkling wine from the same cuvée to obtain a Zero Dosage with minimal residual sugar, a dry, elegant and natural taste, now increasingly appreciated.
Magnificat becomes part of Cantine Gori only in the magnum version, with 1.5 liter champagnotta bottles that make its evolution more stable and protected and enhance its sensory characteristics. The cuvée of Pinot Noir (60%) and Chardonnay (40%), typical blends of the eastern Friuli hills, best expresses a terroir that has always been devoted to the production of wine and to which the Cantine Gori are deeply linked.

Happy 10th anniversary !
Gori s familily celebrated the first certified organic harvest and was able to celebrate it with its first Magnificat bubbles!
Did you know that the ‘Vermouth’…
The vermouth was officially invented in 1786 by Antonio Benedetto Carpano in Turin,
But they say that this aromatic liqueur has a millennial history. Apparently already the Greeks used to add spices, honey and sea water in wine amphorae, however the legend according to which Hippocrates would be the inventor of Hippocratic wines, precisely wines flavored with honey, herbs and spices, is just a myth, but above all the wines were flavored to mask their defects, given that they were crude and highly perishable products.
Gori, au contraire, decided to the best grapes and best wines to make its great vermouth, simply called THE VERMUT, a product that emphasizes the Friuly territory by selecting the best qualities of Friulian wine, adding creativity, ingenuity and innovation.Aromas of herbs, fruit and spices give strength to our vermouth enhancing typically artisan properties.
Thanks to the richness and quality of the native vines Gori created 3 different varieties:
IL VERMUT ROSSO Ramandolo DOCG
From the lands of Ramandolo, with its fine and lovable taste and its ancient vineyards on the Friuli hills, blended with spices and aromas to give birth to the Red Vermouth.
IL VERMUT CANNABIS Vermouth Bianco e Aromi
A revolutionary yet simple recipe, born from the union of different cultures, but at the same time complementary, with antipodal flavors and which together create an exceptional drink Did I get stoned? not really …Did I get satisfied? A lot!
and finally…
IL VERMUT BIANCO Ribolla Gialla and Friulano
A blend of  Ribolla Gialla and Friulano, embellished it with spices and aromatic herbs, making it unique, classic, but at the same time innovative (and my favorite!) Ready ?
Let ‘s start a great ‘Gori-speed’ tasty journey!

INFO
GORI WINERY
IL VERMUT

CESARE ZUCCA
Travel, food & lifestyle.
Born in Milan, Cesare lives in New York, Milan and the rest of the world, traveling up and down in the US, Italy and Europe. Cesare photographs, tells about cities, cultures, lifestyles and discovers both traditional and innovative gastronomic delights.He meets and interviews top chefs from all over the world, “stealing” their recipes and telling you everything here, in a perfect ‘non-touristy-tourist’ style.

 

 

 

 

DISCOVER ABRUZZI THROUGH THE LENS OF A LOCAL PASTA MAKER: VIVA RUSTICHELLA!

TEXT BY PHILIP SINSHEIMER
PHOTOS BY CESARE ZUCCA Have you already been to Abruzzo? No? Well time is due to discover this Italian region, due East from Rome, encompassing part of the Apennine mountains down to the Adriatic Sea where sits its capital: Pescara. But that, you may know already if you’ve had the chance to visit this region that locals like to nickname “Tuscany without the marketing”!Personally, my first Abruzzian experience dates no further than last July, in spite of many trips to Italy, both for pleasure and for research on my book on the history of Italian pasta (Les Pâtes du Terroir Italien. I knew that one of the most typical shapes of pasta in the region was the long threads resembling square spaghetti obtained by pressing down with a rolling pin a sheet of pasta dough against the strings of an instruments called a Chitarra (as it resembles in some way a guitar)One would want to also associate the region with the famous penne pasta (meaning pens or feathers) since there is a town by that name sitting less than 20 miles from Pescara. This brings me directly to the occasion of my four-day trip invited, by one of the most respected pasta manufacturers of not only Abruzzo, but the whole of Italy: Rustichella, a family owned mid-size company which origins go back to the 19th century in the town of Penne.The occasion was the annual celebration nicknamed Primograno (literally “first grain”) by the company in honor of the beginning of the wheat harvest in the area. It is the occasion for the family to host a selected number of importers, chefs and some happy few journalists, and here I am! The generosity displayed was beyond this world… yet, absolutely rooted in Abruzzo! arrived the evening of the big celebration where all guests were united under a tent set in the middle of a field  name ? to experience a culinary experience not to be forgotten in the breeze of a warm summer night.
Despite the number of tables and the absence of a professional kitchen, dishes arrived one after the other perfectly plated and magically hot. Chefs not only showcased the quality of the company’s Rustichella d’Abruzzo pasta, but had at heart to offer some other delicacies, such as this incredibly moist and tasty roasted guinea hen (called faraona in Italian). The magic continued after the dinner with a live band under the stars to shake off on the dancefloor those few extra calories of gastronomic indulgence, but also a firework display like no other. A man in costume at a rather close distance started to dance on a traditional music that was going to stick with our group for the rest of the stay covered with a hat shooting thousands of fiery spurs. Besides the food and the fun, I began to wonder how connected to reality was the celebration.
Was Primograno a mere nostalgic reference to a past when Italy was actually producing most of the hard durum wheat necessary to the making of dried pasta. Is this a question?My research had led me to discover that nowadays the great majority of durum wheat is imported from the US and Canada, fulfilling both quantity and quality necessary to fulfill the avid and well-advised Italian market for pasta, first consumer per capita in the world and by far.I was soon to discover that for Rustichella this celebration was “for real”, honoring the actual beginning of local wheat harvest that was going to end-up in form of semolina in their factory. With the development of local sourcing of ingredients and the “farm to table” craze, Rustichella, very smartly, developed indeed a line of pasta made only of local wheat. It is not only a marketing move, it’s an ecologically and socially responsible investment.A specific green packaging has been created for this 100% local pasta. Like a “cru” of wine, you could almost know which parcel of wheat was at the source of the handful of spaghetti you are holding in your hand. An approach very far from the industrial standardization at stake with the giant pasta manufacturers, for which uniqueness boils down to their single named brand not the actual pasta you’re about to drop in your pot!
Among the various shapes offered in this locally made and sourced line of pasta, I discovered two that I had never heard about. The first one, called “virtu” , is not a single shape, but a collection of little broken bits and pieces of seven shapes of pasta. It is to be used for a very special occasion, once a year, in celebration of spring. A hearty dish combining 7 shapes of pasta, 7 grains and legumes, 7 vegetables and 7 herbs. Now that is purely Abruzzian.The other discovery was the “traghetto” shape. This is a pure creation of the Rustichella R&D department, showing that innovation can work hand in hand with local and tradition. From a distance traghetti look like spaghetti, but they actually have a triangular section (thus the “tra” in their name), as if three capellini had been glued together on all their length. They are in fact extruded from a special bronze drawn that leads to this unique shape of long pasta, not to be seen anywhere else. The result? A different sensation in the mouth and a shape that will capture more sauce than a simple round or flat shaped pasta.The Rustichella team took Primograno as an occasion to have our happy group experience various highlights of Abruzzi from the inland the beauty of rolling hills where wild horses graze the grass to the coastline where one can breathe the salty breeze of the Adriatic while strolling on the beach or eating a fabulously fresh and piping hot fritto misto. Among Abruzzi’s specialties, I really loved those little grilled meat skewers, traditionally made with lamb.I was also really impressed with different local wines that I had never heard about before. For the whites, I loved the “passarina”  that we got to try, made from the grape of the same name yielding an incredible fresh acidity smoothed by a round fruitiness. In several occasions, we got to have fantastic rosés, notably. No doubt about it, Rustichella had it at heart to have us experience the best of their products, but also their region in general. And you should too. You will only regret to have to go back home…  But I have good news for you. First, if you fly back using the airport of Pescara, you will be able to purchase various gastronomic treats at the airport shop and stock up on Rustichella’s 100% Abruzzian green line of pasta. Unlike liquor, no limit there except the size of your luggage! Bring along a pack of traghetti, you will make your landing easier with a little piece of Abruzzi with you. Actually, chances are your trip may be prolonged in your home country, as Rustichella has decided to dedicate most of its production to export. In the following piece I’ll show why and how famous chefs around the world decide to use Rustichella as their primary source of pasta. In the meantime, look around because if you can’t make it to Abruzzi, Rustichella has perhaps already come to you!INFO
Rustichella D’Abruzzo

 

>>>TOP CHEF WITH RECIPE<<< MAURO ULIASSI Uliassi, Senigallia

I met with Mauro Uliassi, the Chef who won 3 Michelin stars, 5 Cappelli Espresso, 3 Gambero Rosso Forks. Mauro opened the Uliassi Restaurant in Senigallia in 1990, creating a cuisine full of contamination, variations, sensations and memories.
What will I always find in your home fridge?
I turned 61 and changed my diet a bit, once there were cheeses and cold cuts, today you can find many ingredients to make a good herbal tea, pleasant both hot and cold so nails of
carnation, cinnamon, orange peel, lemon and ginger. Then you will find healthy food. like chickpeas, lentils, cabbage salads, broccoli,
A priority on your cooking?
The smell is absolutely the sense that guides me in my research and above all in my memory, My brain stores perfumes and aromas that unexpectedly come back to life and I love to bring to my kitchen. And then many memories: beaches, waves, sea …
An aphrodisiac dish?
The cunza, a mix of lard, garlic, parmesan and rosemary that often served on the gnocco fritto, fried dough parcels typical from The Emilia region in Italy. Taste it and you will feel sparks all over your body, but eat a maximum of a couple of times a year.
Aphrodisiac.. but dangerous. You have to pay attention to food, both occasional and what is part of the habit.

If you hadn’t been a cook?
Probably a musician, I love the classical guitar.
Do you play?
(Smiles).
Pretty bad, I think I play better in my kitchen!

Want to tell me about your recipe?
I called it ‘Benvenuti al mare, Welcome to the sea .
it’s an intense dish, enclosed in a shell-shaped mother-of-pearl bowl that releases the colors and smells of the sea through cuttlefish liver, seaweed puree (kombu, wakame, lettuce, string bean), sea, sea urchins and dried seaweed powder.


Then It comes the water (the broth of clams that is poured warm), that modifies and concentrates the other ingredients.
I pour it from a shell-shaped bowl and 
with this gesture the sea appears with its waves, its reflections and its flavors.
It is an evocative dish, capable of affecting anyone who has been to the sea at least once
in his life. It would be like being hit by a sudden wave, with strength and vehemence, like the first wave that swept us when we were kids.

THE RECIPE: ‘WELCOME TO THE SEA’
Ingredients for 4 people
8g Smoothie sea urchins
8g Smoothie anemones
88g Smoothie oysters
2g Powdered plankton
4g Dry powdered algae
16gFresh chopped seaweed (Green bean, doulce and codium)
200g Clam water
65g clam broth
1/2 dl
of oil
3 cloves of garlic
A ladle of water
A small tip of chili pepper.
Preparation
Pour the oil with the garlic for 1 minute, add the clams and the ladle of water.
Cook until the clams have released all their water.
Filter,
taste it. If it is too bland, you may add a pinch of salt,  if it is too salty you may lengthen it with a little water.
Place all the elements inside a shell-shaped bowl.
Pour the hot clam broth in front of the diner, mix well with a whisk and drink
immediately

INFO
Ristorante Uliassi
Banchina di Levante, 6, 60019 Senigallia (Ancona) Italy
Ph.
+39 071 65463

From NY to Italy. Life is a marathon for Pier…and the others.

Easter Colomba and Italian wines classes by Diana

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.20160229_145836-1024x576The 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.

Here the current calendar
March 10th Wines from Valle d’Aosta
March 17th Wines from Veneto and Diana’s Chiantigno drink tasting
March 22th Wines fron Piemonte.
Classes will continue in April, after Easter Holidays.

vino

 

Each class costs 35 Euros.
If you are interested, you can contact Diana at zerillisommelier@gmail.com

1 hour : learn, experiment, cook… enjoy your dish!

Wednesday July 25th at 11.00 am Pacific time/2.00 pm Eastern time.
I will be hosting a 1 hour cooking online show SOCIALKITCHEN live from Milan, Italy!
CZ chef
You will learn how to make a tempting aperitivo drink made with Rabarbaro Zucca, a rhubarb-based digestive bitter liqueur  created, believe it or not, by my great great grand father and still one of the most traditional and popular drinks of Italy.
anonym-rabarbaro-zucca-2169697-1Then guided by super Chef Antonio, you will learn how to make an amazing hamburger, inspired to the legendary Serendipity’s Burger Extravagant, listed in the Guinness Records as the most expensive burger in the world.
295 US Dollars, no kidding!Serendipity 3 $295 Hamburger

 

 

 
Don’t  worry, our version
will be way cheaper but
equally…

                                                    sensational and gourmet!
Not only…few days before the show, SocialKitchen will email you the list of the right ingredients so you would be actually able to cook and interact live with Chef Antonio himself.
1 hour : learn, experiment, cook… enjoy your dish!

Go to www.socialkitchen.it
Register (it’s free)
Enjoy the show!

DO YOU LOVE ITALY? HERE A NEW APP FOR “ITALOPHILES”

 

ICINY
https://itunes.apple.com/US/app/id814170138?mt=8
The application informs on the Institute, its history and its activities and presents the complete and updated calendar of events organized in New York and the calendar “Main Events in Italy”: a selection of the major events organized or sponsored by the Ministry of Culture in major Italian cities. A perfect tool both for the “Italophiles” of New York and for the American tourist who visits Italy.
APP ITALYitalia