Giorgio greeted us, umbrella in hand, a smile from ear to ear. “Welcome to Villa Matilde!” Rain wasn’t dampening anyone’s spirits on this soggy Saturday. We tasted Fiano and Aglianico, savored delicious bite-sized appetizers, feasted on cici and pasta soup with fresh bread and olive oil while the crackling fire warmed us. What a fine way to spend a Saturday. Well, that was the plan anyway.
I write this from Benevento, where it has been snowing since yesterday. I’m hearing reports that this is the biggest snowstorm in 54 years. “At least it won’t snow in Naples,” we were told. Ah, I just checked the forecast and it is indeed snowing in Naples. Our visit to Villa Matilde was scheduled for today, but the snow threw a monkey wrench into all our plans. The three wineries we were supposed to visit? We’ll save those for another day. I will give my highest compliments to Daniela Mastroberardino, president of Moviemiento Tourismo e Vino Campania and owner of Terradoro Winery for her ability to adjust plans on the turn of a dime. Villa Matilde accommodated us on next to no notice a day early. The experience I described earlier indeed happened and the Villa Matilde staff could not have been more attentive and gracious.
Campania. We’re in the land of Falanghina, Fiano, Greco and Aglianico. After our lunch a lucky few joined Giorgio for a tank tasting of Greco, Fiano and Aglianco Rosé. We bade our farewells and boarded the bus again bound for Benevento. Did I mention it was snowing in Benevento, our next destination. Weary travelers, we arrived via treacherous roads and befuddled drivers at the beautiful Hotel il Molino. Chef Angelo D’Amico prepared a marvelous dinner for us. Lucky for us, due to the unrelenting snow, we had the opportunity to spend some one on one time with him the following morning.
We awoke to find it still snowing. Daniela scrambled and after a brief presentation on Campania, we followed Chef Angelo into the kitchen for a hands on cooking demo. He led us through the preparation of two dishes: one a potato and pasta soup, the other a dish laden with Campanian vegetables. You’ll find a video of us in the kitchen and the recipes, loosely translated from Italian. The recipes seem complex, but trust me, he had both these dishes finished in less than ten minutes and they were scrumptious. Fresh and local makes such a difference.
Early afternoon the sun broke through the glooms and began to melt the snow. We climbed aboard the bus and headed towards naples with one stop left: Cantine Grotta Del Sole. We met below the winery near the lakeside vineyards and visited with Gilda Martusciello, whose family has owned the winery for four generations. Their vineyards are planted in four areas: Phlegraen, the Sorento Peninsula, Irpina and Vesuvius and they grow and produce Falanghina, Piedirosso, Gragnano, Greco, Aglianico and other varietals. We sat with Gilda and members of her family while we watched pictures and heard the story of their winery while tasting four of their wines.
We said our goodbyes and boarded the bus one final time as we made our way to Naples. The International Wine Tourism Conference 2012 behind us, we look forward to IWINETC 2013 in Zagreb, Croatia.
Recipes: (more complicated sounding than they are to make)
PASTA AND POTATOES WITH TOMATO BASKET AND ANCHOVY DRIPPING:
ingredients for 4 people:
2 dark potatoes
oil of olive
1 spoon of chopped and browned onion
30 g of black pig
320 g of mixed pasta
cetara anchovy dripping
1 fillet of anchovy
Laticauda pecorino cheese
How to prepare the base:
In a large saucepan heat oil with onion, mashed garlic, pig and tomatoes.
Let them cook for about 3 minutes at high fire. Add chopped potatoes and let them brown for a few minutes. Add vegetable soup and let it dry.
Do it as many times as potatoes need to rupture.
Add other spoons of soup and let the pasta cook in it for 7/8 minutes stirring continuously.
Prepare dishes adding a handful of grated pecorino cheese.
50 GRAMS EACH OF THESE CLEANED AND WASHED VEGETABLE:
1 CLOVE OF GARLIC
1 SPOON OF CHOPPED ONION
200 GRAMS OF STALE BREAD
HOW TO PREPARE:
CHOP VEGETABLES AND SCALD INTO BOILED AND SALAD WATER FOR 3 MINUTES
IN A WIDE SAUCEPAN HEAT OIL WITH GARLIC AND ONION.
COOK THEM FOR A FEW MINUTES AT HIGH FIRE, ADD VEGETABLES AND LET UNTIL LIGHTLY BROWNED.
ADD THE STALE BREAD AND A CUP OF SOUP. LET ALL COOK FOR A FEW MINUTES.
ADD A HANDFUL OF PEPPER AND THE CACIOCAVALLO GRATED.
Tom Plant, http://wineormous.com