Friday, March 2, 2018

Memories and Flavors of Campania + Feudi di San Gregorio Aglianico Rubrato 2014 #ItalianFWT

This month, Jeff of Food Wine Click is leading the Italian Food Wine & Travel bloggers in an exploration of Aglianico. You can read his invitation: here.

The Aglianico Shootout
Take a look at all the great ideas from our group...

Me and Rikke, Amalfi Coast, July 2001

I've been to Campania twice - once when I lived in Rome after college and once when I led a family trip to Italy for a three-week vacation. With the au pairs, we took a train from Rome to Naples and spent the day in Pompeii. With my family, we stopped for a couple of nights along the Amalfi Coast and visited Pompeii, too. Both of those visits were pre-digital; I was shooting slide film back then. And I had great intentions of scanning some slides to post with this, but time got away from me. Sorry. One of these days I'll be able to share all of my photos. Till then, I'm taking photos of prints or slides themselves. Silly, I know.

Positano, July 2001
But I wanted to showcase the dusty hues of Positano against that cerulean blue water and matching sky. And the ruins of Pompeii that we had to ourselves on that chilly day in March 1997.

One of these days, I'll get this binder full of slides digitized. And I really wish I hadn't written the photo captions in Italian when I labeled them. My Italian is getting very, very rusty. Oye.

My memories of Campania are similarly rusty. But I remember wandering through the ruins at Pompeii with two other au pairs who had also studied Latin. We laughed that in California (me), Denmark (Rikke), and the United Kingdom (Catherine), teachers were using the exact same Latin book. Caecillius est pater. Matella est mater. Quintus est filius. Grumio est coquus. Cerberus est canis. But, with almost 15 years of Latin between the three of us, we wandered the ruins and were able to translate most of the text we encountered. That was so much fun.

I remember being chased through the streets all the way to the train station. I guess the three of us were quite a sight. The young men chased us with cat-calls and lots of inappropriate gestures. When Rikke, Catherine, and I finally collapsed on the benches at the station, we were in tears and passed the bottle of Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio between us to soothe our rattled nerves. In the thirteen months I lived in Italy, I never felt harassed like that. That was not so much fun.

The fish market in Naples was one of my favorite memories and I'll talk more about that when I share my recipe below.

When I returned to Campania with my husband, two friends, aunt, uncle, and three cousins, we stayed at a pensione on the Amalfi coast for a few nights while we explored the area. The dramatic coastline, the craggy rocks along the coast, and hairpin turns on the roads, and the flocks of tourists reminded me of where we live in California. Like here, we tried to avoid those touristy spots as much as possible and enjoy the sheer beauty of area. But sometimes, those touristy spots were just right for catching our breath and having gelati.

My Aglianico
I was able to locate a bottle of Feudi di San Gregorio Aglianico Rubrato 2014. Feudi di San Gregorio, in Campania, is located in the village of Sorbo Serpico and was founded in 1986 as a joint venture between two families: the Ercolino and the Capaldo.

The Aglianico varietal was completely new to me. One of the reasons I love belonging to these groups is the opportunity to expand my palate and learn from all these bloggers along the way. This month was no exception.

Recent DNA testing of the grape shows that it's not related to any previously identified grape varieties in Italy nor is it related to any grapes in Greece. It thrives in volcanic soils and the Mediterranean sun. Its inky hue is moody and, as its high in both acid and tannins, the taste is similarly dramatic. 

I loved the intensity of the wine I found. It had notes of berries, fennel, and nuts. On the tongue it was full-bodied and spicy. What a delight!

Caprese Salad Skewers by the Precise Kitchen Elf

On the Plate
While I considered what to share from Campania, I considered the ubiquitous Caprese salad. Named for Capri, an island on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, this is on our table from the moment tomatoes are ripe until they start to get mealy. 

My Pizza Magherita from my #PrettySimpleDinner Party, February 2018

I also thought about making Pizza Margherita, but the art of making Neapolitan pizza is included on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage. So, my version definitely isn't that. Traditionally Pizza Margherita must be made with the San Marzano tomatoes that grow on the volcanic plains south of Mount Vesuvius and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, a cheese made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio in a semi-wild state. My version is tasty, but the real deal is amazing!

Totani e Patate

In the end I wanted to make a seafood dish for this event as walking through the seafood market in Naples tops the list of memories from Campania. Located not too far from the train station and the sea, through Piazza Nolana, proceed through the medieval gate Porta Nolana and make a left onto Via Sopramuro. It's one of my favorite memories of Naples. Seafood on ice. Seafood in buckets. All against the backdrop of these enormous brick-lined streets. Think clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp, squid, octopus, eel, sea bass, sword fish, anchovies, sardines and trays and trays of bacala, salted cod.

Totani is the name of these flying squid from Italy. I had local-to-me squid, but it worked just as well. Here's a little how-to on cleaning squid.
Ingredients serves 4

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1/2 C sliced onions
  • 4 organic potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1/2 pound squid, cleaned and cut into large pieces
  • 1 C dry white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 C fish stock
  • 1/2 C fresh tomatoes (cherry tomatoes halved, larger tomatoes cored and wedged)
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • sliced bread for serving

Heat olive oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Stir in the potatoes and toss to coat. Add in the onions and cook for a few minutes until the onions are softened. Pour in the wine and stock and bring to a boil. 

Nestle the squid into the potatoes. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are fork tender, approximately 30 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for just a moment until they are warmed through. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately with slices of bread.

Looking Forward
Next month, I'll be hosting the group. Join us as we post and chat about La Primavera e Verdicchio. Look for an invitation post soon. Until then, cin cin!


  1. Isn't it such a beautiful area. I remember when I visited Pompeii I was so fascinated by how much of the ruins are still intact including the writing on the walls. Nevermind the beauty of the Amalfi coast. How did the aglianico stand up to that dish you prepared?

  2. Camilla, thanks for taking us along on your visit down Memory Lane. Your photos were wonderful reminders of the charm and beauty of Italy. I'm also intrigued by your dish - flying squid is new to me! But it looks and sounds delicious. Cheers!

  3. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your old images. There is something about the ‘dusty’ imperfection of photos before we could make them into artistic creations at the gentle touch of a screen.

    Thanks for sharing a seafood dish here. Aglianico seems to lend itself to braised meats, but this is beautiful.

    Lovely post!

  4. Your dish has me drooling. Isn't it funny that your research stated the grapes were not from Greece and mine stated that they were brought over by the Greeks.

  5. Your Italian memories make me want to visit Italy even more! I so agree with your sentiment that there is so much to be learned participating and reading the blog posts from groups like this, not to mention loads of fun!!
    I've never made squid at home, you may have given me the push I needed.

  6. Love your story Cam, you've spent some nice time in Italy. The Margarita Pizza- would love to taste the real deal, as well as a seafood dish with an Aglianico. Nice that you went to the sea versus the land with your pairing. Cheers!

  7. Lovely dishes and lovely memories, Cam.

  8. Thanks for sharing your history with us!

  9. The stew looks delicious -- how did it work with the wine? And love the memories form you trip. My husband took Latin in HS and we always joke that it's been rather useless in his life. Good to know we can put it to good use if/when we visit Italy!


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