Interesting but yet so true. What you ask? The similarity of a beautiful country and its love for food and passion for high-flying sensuous machines. Little did I know that I would be flying down the Italian countryside in a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano !! When my cousin said, ” just wait and see” I would have never imagined. As I hopped in this amazing work of sheer beauty I was totally in awe. Thoughts of the late great Enzo Ferrari raced through my mind. My hair stood straight on ends and my blood was rushing through my body. What could possibly be better than this. “Ahh!” I spoke too soon. As we started racing through the busy streets of Napoli we gravitated towards the beautiful coast line of Amalfi and buzzing by the gorgeous Vesuvius on the edge of the Mediterranean. I leaned over and gently asked my Zio ( uncle ) “where are we heading”, he said, “We must hurry the truffle hunt will start soon” “Soon?” “Yes!!”” We must make it too Alba in 5 hours”. “5 hours!!” “but Zio Alba is over 1000 km from here and that is over 10 hours !!! “Dont worry,” he remarked, “that’s why I brought the Ferrari for this trip”. I could only laugh. The optimism of Italians is truly one of our great traits next to the ability of making great pizza. Need to get somewhere quick, grab a Ferrari !! Forget the Zip car ! Well off we go. ” “By the way we will need to stop in Parma first”, my Zio said. “Parma?” “Oh, you need to pick up some exquisite Prosciutto”, ” No, no, no we need to pick up the dog.” “Dog!!” “Yes the Trifolau’s (the truffle hunter) dog was left in Parma for final training and the hunt will start soon.” “We must travel quickly”! Well that can’t be too hard in a V12 6.0L 48V MPFI DOHC Machine that hits 0-60 in under 5 seconds ! As we flew through the streets of the Italian countryside I felt mesmerized by the beauty in front of me. As we started our ascent out of Napoli we passed through Caserta then by Frosinone and eventually into the capital Roma. When entering the Lazio region that’s all I could think about was the iconic “Pecorino Romano Cheese” Ohhhh so good !! And the most wonderful and exquisite artichokes in the world that grow abundantly in and around the Roman region. That’s all that I could imagine - Roasted baby lamb and artichokes drizzled with xtra virgin oil and shaved pecorino! We took a quick pit stop for an espresso at a small cafe. In one quick shot (which is the way the Italians drink their coffee) We finished our espresso and were off to the races again in the F599! As we raced ferociously through the Lazio region we entered the jewel of Italy – Toscano, Crossing through the tremendous wine vineyards and into two of my favorite cities, Florence and Sienna. We stopped quickly again, this time we stopped at a small trattoria on the outskirts of Pisa. We ordered the menu Turistica : Panzella, bread and tomato salad - Bistecca alla Fiorentina -Torta Rustica. We enjoyed the fantastic food with a wonderful wine. Badia a Coltibouno Chianti Classico 2004. ( I highly reccomend it )The wine was thick, loaded with plum and cherry flavors, and some tobacco. The tannins were moderate. Perfect !” Giovanni, Giovanni we must go hurry we must be in Parma soon the dog is waiting, Please !” We raced through Florence and right into the Emiglia -Romagna region passing Prato, Bologna and Modena eventually stopping at our destination Parma. As soon as we entered I could smell the intense aroma of Prosciutto permeating the air. Down one small street then up another and there we were in the center of one of the most beautiful farms I have ever seen. My uncle jubilant as ever! “We have reached the destination of the dog!!” one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever seen. The “”Lagotta Romagnolo ” currently the only breed recognized for sniffing out truffles.” He is a Master Sniffer ” said Zio. Final destination – Alba. We would make it just in time for the trifolau to have his mighty trained canine. Between the months of October and November are the best times to cultivate the ” White Diamonds of Italy.” The White Truffle also none as ” Alba Maddona ” The truffles grow symbiotically with oak, hazel, poplar and beech trees.they can reach 12cm diameter and 500 g, though they are usually much smaller. The flesh is pale cream or brown with white marbling. Italian white truffles are very highly esteemed and are the most valuable on the market: White truffles will typically sell between $ 1,000 and 2,200 per pound. The white truffle has a taste like no other. They are generally served raw, and shaved over steaming buttered pasta or salads or fried eggs (the latter is recommended by many gourmets as the best way to enjoy the flavour). White or black paper-thin truffle slices may be inserted into meats,under the skins of roasted fowl, in foie gras preparations, in pâtés or in stuffings. Some speciality cheeses contain truffles as well. The high- light of our trip is that in these months of October and November is exactly when the Fiera del Tartufo takes place( Truffle Fair ). One of the most exciting times in Piedmonte, without a doubt. Every Trifolau dreams of this beautiful time when they will bring home the greatest culinary treasure in Italy – “The White Truffle”. Who will bring the biggest truffle to the fair this year ? The largest recorded truffle cultivated to date was by Luciano Savini and his dog Rocco ( 3.3lb ) One of the largest truffles found in decades, it was unearthed near Pisa and sold at an auction held simultaneously in Macau, Hong Kong and Florence This record was then matched on November 27, 2010 when Ho again paid US$330,000 for a pair of white truffles including one weighing nearly a kilogram.Now, I understand the importance of this beautiful dog and his necessity at this special event. My Zio’s friend Marco and their dog Fabio were front-runners in the competition. Will they unearth the mother of all mother white truffle ? Without the Ferrari there would be no dog, without the dog there would be no Truffle. G. Maione
The oliveti – olive groves — that produce award-winning Cardum extra virgin olive.
These are in the hills of the island of Sardinia, 120 miles west of the Italian mainland.Cardum tastes of its namesake cardoon, a member of the artichoke family.Shepherds live in the hills; sheep graze in the oliveti. Their milk becomes piquant.Pecorino-romano cheese — pecorino means “from sheep.” Cardum pairs well with it. Sardinian mountain cuisine is spit-roasted pork and lamb, so Cardum pairs well
with that, too. And since Sardinia is an island, Cardum and fish and seafood are a natural combination. In fact, sardines are named after the island.Of the approximately three dozen olives indigenous to Sardinia, Bosana Nera di Gonnos
and Tonda di Cagliari have been specially selected for Cardum. The
meanings of Bosana and Gonnos are obscure, but the Nera tells us that they are black. “Tonda” means “round,” as in “rotonda.” Cagliari is the name of the 3,000-year-old seaport town at the southernmost tip of Sardinia.
Every year, from October to December, the olives are harvested by hand and
immediately sent through a traditional cold stone press. This produces an oil
with a deep smell of fruit and cardoon. The finish is slightly biting with a hint
of agreeable bitterness, a whiff of fresh oregano. The Cardum xtra virgin Oil from Sardinia has been a favorite of mine for many years. I used the Oil Liberally at La Campania !! It truly is my secret weapon in my cooking tool box. Oils are very similar in nature ( when describing ) as to wine – The Cardum Oil has a brisk nose that hits you with hints of fruit and cardoon, as well as the bite of the Sardinian air ! and the finish WOW, plenty of fresh Oregano and thyme with just the right combination of bitterness. Every cook needs this oil in their lineup! My favorite complement was to my ” Filetto Di Maiale Arrostito ” ( A continous favorite at La Campania in the winter months ) Buterflied Pork loin with broccoli rabe, pignoli nuts and sweet yellow raisins. My trick was to sear the pork first before the roast. But not in a pan….. I would place the pork directly on hot apple wood ambers, and really sear it, i mean really sear it ! then I would drizzle the Cardum oil liberally over the Pork, and slowly roast. Ahhhhh the smell of the seared pork with hints of the apple wood and that fruity sensously bitter Cardum Oil. WOW …. I love the kitchen !
” Ci Vediamo Domani ! ” – untill tomorrow ! -
-Giovanni ( John ) Maione
Hello ! My name is Giovanni ( john ) Maione. My new website is lartedecucina.com. Were not quite live yet but will be within the next couple of weeks. Well, ill tell you a little bit about myself and my site. Were an e-commerce site that will be offering delicious Italian products shipped right to your door ! Anything from hand pressed Sicilian Olive Oil to the finest cut of specialty cured meats, fine mushrooms and our hand made sauces. Thats just for starters ! There will be a wide selection of fantastic top quality European products that will be sure to dazzle you. I learned my art from my wonderful Mother. She taught me the beauty and passion of the Italian cooking and country side. We would spend hours together making hand-made pasta – ” gnocchi ” and ” Pasta fagoli ” ” Veal Osso Buco with Broccoli Rabe ” and countless other wonderful Neapolitan dishes. Ahhh what beautiful memories. my passion and love of the kitchen it truly is a blessing. In an Italian sense the art of the kitchen is a true joy and love. After working for many years in different kitchens around the world I settled into the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston and spent five years working under Executive Chef Jamie Mammano. From there back in late 1997 I went onto a joint venture and opened La Campania restaurant with my father and brother. I spent the good part of 12 years there as the executive Chef / Owner. On this new concept “Larte De Cucina ” You will be able to order the great products that I used and made, that contributed to so many great meals at the Four Seasons and foremost La Campania. Till next time Ciao ! and hope to hear from you soon ! Grazie, Giovanni ( John ) Maione.