From Don Alfonso to Maxi, to Baglio Soria: from Campania to Sicily, chefs fly high
Sea bass, sea bream, crustaceans, raw of all kinds. It is in the beauties of the Sorrento peninsula and in the history and food and wine of Trapani, the slice of Sicily from the crescent coast, that among the scents and dazzling colors of a fascinating and luxuriant nature, the doors of great starred restaurants open up. Here, fish is mainly consumed, combining it with the excellent products of a territory full of high quality raw materials. We asked three chefs to tell us about their love and their passion for seafood, the care and skill with which they work the fish and the wisdom with which they combine it with local products. MAXI RESTAURANT Via Luigi Serio, 8 80069 Vico Equense, NA Sorrento Coast, Italy The Maxi di Capo La Gala in Vico Equense (Na) is a food and wine experience and more. The sea, the sounds and the lights of the ships of the Gulf of Sorrento make everything even more spectacular. The dining room, in perfect Mediterranean style and the large terrace of wood and stone lying on the rock, host a contemporary and original cuisine, closely linked to local products and traditional dishes. Here fish reigns supreme, and chef Alfonso Crescenzo knows it well: “The choice of fish for my dishes is always made according to the fishing season, respecting the seasons and what the sea gives. I am very attentive to the raw material, it must be absolutely impeccable ”, he tells us, who adds“ I love all the ingredients that the sea and nature offers, whether they are crustaceans, soup fish, molluscs, blue fish. I love to combine vegetables from the Terre Lavorate family organic farm with my dishes: truffles, dairy products or simple marinades. The birth of each of my dishes starts by accompanying everything with simplicity and attention “. Passion, commitment and meticulous attention to detail and to those much-loved ingredients of the surrounding area are the setting for the cuisine of chef Crescenzo. His dishes are real works of art. A refined restaurant, which earned its first Michelin star in 2009 and continues its journey on the road to taste. “There are some dishes that represent me more than others: certainly the Tagliolini with sea urchins, the migliarini, (sweet river peppers) with summer truffles, which I would combine with a Batar from the Querciabella Company, Tuscany. Bottoni stuffed with Apulian broccoli and mass white shrimp and the fellone crab soup and Nocerino spring onion marinated with apple vinegar, to which I combine a Falanghina exultet QuintoDecimo, Campania. And again, raw lobster alla puttanesca, chard and Jerusalem artichoke with a Mareneve by Federico Graziani, turbot with bitter chicory, morels, garlic and oil, and my red grouper soup and smoked provola air to which I match Colli Tortonesi Timorasso doc from the vineyards of Marina Coppo “. DON ALFONSO 1890 Corso Sant’Agata, 11/13 80061 Sant’Agata Sui Due Golfi, Naples, Italy tel. 0039 081.878.00.26 The Don Alfonso 1890 Restaurant is the mirror of an innovative philosophy, always linked to respect for the culture and millenary food traditions of the Sorrento Peninsula and the Amalfi Coast. Housed in a 19th-century Neapolitan palace, the brightly colored restaurant’s design environments have been designed to enhance with the natural light of the Mediterranean sea, a way to transport the traveler into the extraordinary atmosphere of Southern Italy. “Our menu opens with a phrase from Eduardo De Filippo:” Only after having studied, deepened and respected tradition, do you have the right to put it aside, but always with the awareness that we owe it, at least, to ‘having helped to clarify ideas. Of course, if we remain anchored to the past, the life that continues becomes life that stops but, if we use tradition as a springboard, it is obvious that we will jump much higher “. Innovating, keeping up with the times, is essential, but we want to do it while maintaining a very specific identity, linked to our history, to our land “. Love for the territory, respect for the Mediterranean identity – the basis of the famous Mediterranean diet – and drive towards innovation are the elements that make the story of Alfonso, Livia, Ernesto and Mario Iaccarino unique. “The choice of fish in our preparations comes from a comparison with local fishermen who tell me which types of fish they can find more easily. Then I decide which of those types goes on the menu ”, says the two-starred Ernesto Iaccarino. “I love poor fish, like blue fish, because they are real fish. I start with an excellent raw material, freshly caught, and I try to enhance it with the technique. Each fish at Don Alfonso 1890 is treated differently. for those I now have in paper, I am using direct low temperature cooking, that is, I cook directly at low temperature without doing pre-cooking »he adds. A philosophy in the kitchen, which is based on the principles of the Mediterranean diet, interpreting it in a modern and sustainable way. For chef Iaccarino, fish is: “Identity, culture, history of peoples, it is a universal language but above all it is evolution and contamination”; and he adds “My region offers many possibilities for pairing with both red and white wines. I really love combining Tuscan wines, Piedmontese wines and Italian bubbles with my dishes “. BAGLIO SORIA Contrada Soria, 91100 Trapani (TP), Italy TEL: 0923861679 Baglio Sorìa is a 110-hectare agricultural estate in western Sicily, and it is here that the great dream of the Di Gaetano family began in the 1980s. Firriato was born here, in the hills open to the sea breeze, where the company has planted vineyards, recovered ancient rural structures, cultivated olive trees. In one of the most authentic and fascinating corners of western Sicily, where the crops are part of a truly breathtaking scenery. The view from this hill opens onto a landscape without equal. Imposing, on the right, Mount Erice, with its medieval village, and then the Egadi islands in front, so close that it seems you can touch them. On the left the Stagnone di Marsala with its islets and the theory of salt pans that reach as far as Trapani, characterizing this strip of coast. There is the Sicily of the sun, of the sea, of an uncontaminated countryside. There is the peasant civilization of the Mediterranean, with its traditions and its food. A magical place, where flamingos and storks also nest or stop on their long migratory journeys from north to south. And it is here that history and tradition are combined with the flavors of chef Andrea Filadelfo Macca. A cuisine that is the result of a cultural identity that finds its main resources in the sea and land of Sicily. The territory of Trapani embraces the Baglio Sorìa restaurant, becoming the protagonist: its aromas, the typical Sicilian welcome, the precious food and wine heritage are in every aspect of the structure. The menu of Baglio Sorìa takes shape from nature: from the energy of the plants, from the vitality of the marine fish, from the genuineness that has always moved the Mediterranean diet, intangible cultural heritage of humanity. “Every morning I go to the fish shop and select the one that attracts me the most, we try to use all types, from the poorest fish such as sardines and mackerel to red snapper or grouper. Among our most successful dishes there is the sardine ravioli a beccafico, really special “, says chef Macca. For the chef, the preferred cooking methods are definitely C.B.T. (Sous-vide cooking at low temperature), since it maintains all the properties of the fish and is not too invasive: “I also prefer a light cooking, just seared in a pan”. The Baglio Sorìa menu is pure pleasure to read only. An offer that recalls the Sicilian production tradition and that harmonizes with new flavors, colors, textures and combinations. A choice of coherence and link with the context of the territory, with agricultural and food traditions, with the activities of local artisanal fishing that affect the coasts of this province and the Egadi islands, a true fish field of this segment of the island. “The dish that most gratified me is certainly the fake savory cassatina: it looks like a sweet cassata but instead of being covered with a white icing, there is the mantle of the cuttlefish stuffed with its black, and instead of the cherry a confit tomato” , says chef Macca. The choice of labels was then handled directly by the Di Gaetano family: “We relied on Federico Lombardo di Monte Iato, a connoisseur of Italian and international wine production. This year’s latest novelty, Gaudensius rosé, Nerello Mascalese 18 months Classic Method, shows persistent fruity bubbles with hints of raspberries ”. On the menu, also top-quality Italian wines and French wines, precious witnesses of the excellence of a vital and passionate wine production.