Food and Wine

Southern Italy Wines Leading a “Revolution”

Even I do not usually think of whites when I think of Southern Italian wines. This, however, is a huge oversight. The white wines of Southern Italy are poised to become more popular than ever as recognition spreads to wine enthusiasts.

“It’s time for a fashion update. The big buzz right now is for whites from southern Italy, the land of still-active volcanoes, sun-drenched beaches, and 80 percent of the country’s olive trees. It’s also where you’ll find off-beat grape varieties few wine geeks have ever heard of. The best of the bottles that are made from these are great wine buys, offering surprising depth and character at bargain prices.” -Bloomberg Business

According to this recent article by  Elin McCoy, The “White Wines of Southern Italy are Leading a Revolution.”








Aglianico Emerges From the Bottom of Italy’s Boot

Aglianco is my very favorite variety of red wine! I look for it for every special occasion, as well as when I just want a comforting glass to conjure up evenings of the past in front of an open fire in Irpinia.  I was so pleasantly delighted to see a number of bottles to choose from when I took a walk down the aisle at a grocery store a few weeks ago. Just a few years ago, I’d have had to go to a large or specialty wine shop to find even the most well known, Masterberardino. The link to the New York Times article above is not new but it was brought to my attention by a friend the other day.  I’m so excited that others are discovering Aglianico.

Casa del Cipresso Table

Local Irpinian Aglianico wine



“In the local dialect of Avellino, the Campanian province east of Naples, mesali means “tablecloths,” a sign of hospitality. Now, it is also the name of a new association of restaurants sprinkled around the mountains of Irpinia…

Irpinia’s rustic soups, homemade pastas, ricotta, legumes, black truffles, chestnuts, and heirloom fruits and vegetables, along with the area’s three DOCG wines — whites Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino and powerhouse red Taurasi — will have you baaing with pleasure.” — Faith Heller Willinger, Gourmet, January 2007 (Click to Read the Full Article)

The 11 member restuarants of this new gourmet food association in the Avellino Province (Irpinia) can be found at .  I have included some on my “Great Links” page – some do not have websites, but you can find contact details on the Mesali Website. Bon Appetito!

Italy Holiday Rental – Would you like to stay at Casa del Cipresso in Irpinia? Please contact us at . Copyright © 2007 All rights reserved.

Naples, Southern Italy – Home of the Pizza!


Who DOESN’T love pizza?  In Naples, Italy (Campania), it is taken to an entirely different level!  This article, from, By Dina Modianot-Fox is guaranteed to make you hungry!

The Art of Pizza

Cooking up the world’s most authentic pie in Naples, Italy

By Dina Modianot-Fox

Sitting in Ristorante Umberto, owned by the Di Porzio family for three generations and one of the oldest and most popular pizzerias in Naples, Italy’s southern megalopolis, Massimo Di Porzio talks about pizza as though it were human. “The dough should be moved carefully,” he says, “as if it were a baby.”

You have to understand: Naples is the traditional home of pizza and a place where people take their food seriously. So seriously that they masterminded an Italian law, passed three years ago, specifying what is real Neapolitan pizza—and it bears little resemblance to what we chow down in the United States in record numbers, an estimated 350 slices per second, amounting to a $37-billion blockbuster industry. Credit-card thin at the base with sparse toppings, the Neapolitan version is American pizza on a slimming diet.

But Di Porzio, not only a restaurateur but also an international economics graduate, will not be drawn into a food fight over which version is better, or condemn such U.S. creations as Pizza Hut’s “Stuffed Crust Pizza” or Papa John’s “Hawaiian BBQ Chicken pizza.”

“We are not the pizza police,” he says, reacting to some media description of the law passed in Italy in 2004 and currently being considered by the European Union, giving three pizzas—Marinara (tomato, garlic and oregano), Margherita and Extra Margherita (both with tomato, basil and mozzarella)—the same name protection as fine wine.

“I love all kinds of pizza,” continues the open-minded Di Porzio, who is general manager of Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN)—verace means real—the non-profit organization of pizza-makers, called pizzaioli, that helped write the law. “In New York,” he says, “we found some good pizza, other not so good, but these other pizzas are a different product—not the Neapolitan pizza.”

The Neapolitan pizza, as defined by law, is made from a specific kind of wheat flour and yeast, round, no more than 14 inches in diameter and cooked in a wood-fired oven at temperatures above 905 degrees Fahrenheit. Only top-quality ingredients can be used, including two local delights: plum tomatoes from San Marzano and, for Extra Margherita, mozzarella made from the milk of water buffalo, whose numbers have soared along with the cheese’s popularity.

But since the law went into effect, no one has been hauled into court for not pouring the extra virgin olive oil in a circular pattern starting from the middle, or for mixing the ingredients in a different order than the one prescribed by the painfully detailed regulations. The backers of the law—not all Italian pizzaioli are advocates—insist this is not about punishment but rather information regarding a key aspect of their culture.

Although the flatbread-with-topping idea is generally attributed to the Greeks, for centuries pizza has for been associated with Naples and its long struggle with poverty. Cheap to make and requiring few ingredients, pizza was a staple by the 18th century, sold on city streets and served on ships sailing from the Port of Naples (that’s how Marinara got its name). In the post-World War II era, residents were so poor that many bought pizza on credit, paying for it eight days later—when they got another one. This practice, called oggiaotto, was featured in the 1954 film L’Oro di Napoli (The Gold of Naples) and is still honored by some pizzerias.

Naples’ history is replete with pizza legends. A local pizzaiolo is said to have made the first Margherita in 1889, adding mozzarella to the tomatoes and basil to give the pizza, which he reportedly named after a visiting Italian queen, the colors of the Italian flag—red, white and green.

Much more recently, Di Porzio tells of the “the Dean of Pizzaioli,” VPN founder Vincenso Pace, who began making pizzas when he was ten and was so skilled that he altered the proportion of the ingredients according to the weather—for instance, adding more salt it if was hot, less if it was cold.

The VPN has taken the gospel of authentic pizza-making around the world, training locals and certifying restaurants, especially in Japan, where tourists returning from Naples have fueled interest for traditional pizza, and the United States, where the national branch has certified 16 restaurants.

At first, gaining fans for the Neapolitan pizza was “something of an uphill battle,” admits Dino Cardone, marketing director for VPN Americas. But recently, he says, the challenge has been to meet the demand for information, training and certification.

And what does a real Neapolitan pizza taste like? To someone used to American-style pizzas, a little bland in the beginning. But then you start enjoying the freshness of the ingredients and the lightness of the crust—the more you eat it, the better it tastes.

That said, don’t count on having it delivered. The law states that the real thing “should be consumed immediately, straight out of the oven, at the pizzeria. If the pizza is removed from the pizzeria to be eaten later, it can no longer carry the certification of a true Neapolitan pizza.”

Dina Modianot-Fox, a regular contributor, recently wrote about “Ancient Rome’s Forgotten Paradise.” Posted July 25, 2007. Updated July 31, 2007

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 Bread from Calitri, Avellino, Campania, Southern Italy

I have to admit, I pretty much love all Italian food….but when I am away from Southern Italy, what I miss the most is the bread from inland Campania! 

We have been known to buy a loaf of bread from the bakery, or even the supermarket -becasue even the supermarkets in Southern Italy have wonderful, fresh bread delivered daily-in Calitri and call it a meal! (and maybe along with some fresh deli meats and Caciocavallo Cheese or Buffalo Mozzarella  (Mozzarella di Bufala) produced locally)

Bob Rinaldi writes, in the “recipes” section of “When I was a young boy I would ask my grandmother about Italy. She told such fantastic and exciting stories that as a young man I began to take romantic trips to the home of my family in the mountains of southern Italy. One story that Nonna told often was of bread. She complained that the bread in “‘Merica” was too white and that was why people got sick so much. It took years of research and the patience of my teacher and bread coach Sharon Masone but here it is; the bread from the ovens of Calitri.”

Pane di Calitri

“Bread from the Ovens of Calitri”, Avellino in Hills of Southern Italy

(Click for the Recipe)

Vino“Those wine lovers who have heard of Aglianico usually know it as the variety that makes Taurasi, Campania’s most famous red wine.  But Basilicata is Aglianico’s Italian home–although it originated in Greece, as did most grape varieties in southern Italy.  Aglianico arrived in what is now Basilicata around the 7th century B.C., and shortly after made its way to Campania…Monte Vulture is in northwest Basilicata.  The eastern slopes of Vulture, around the towns of Rionero, Barile, and Melfi, are the sites of the best Aglianico vineyards.  The soil, composed largely of deposits from the ancient lava flows, is rich in potassium and tufa, the porous calcium carbonate stone that is ideal for grape growing.  The late-ripening Aglianico variety thrives in this soil and climate” Discover the Mount Vulture home of Aglianico…right across the the Campanian border (Calirti, Avellino) in Basilicata (Potenza) and the slopes of Mt. Vulture!  READ the full article/review about some of  the Aglianico del Vulture wines, by Ed McCarthy,


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Recipe – Foods from Southern Italy!

I don’t own a lot of cookbooks…actually…I don’t own ANY Italian cookbooks.  I just love all the Italian recipes you can now find on the internet!  I wanted to share this one from the Avellino province in Campania, Southern Italy (Calitri, to be exact!) It’s from “Molto Mario” on the Food Network. (Click the link below to view the recipe – don’t worry, you can substitute pork for the wild boar!)

Wild Boar in the Style of the Eastern Side: Cinghiale di Calitri

Italian Kitchen

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