Last Friday Monica and I had to hit Napoli for less than 24 hours to attend some personal business. Just a quick visit, with no time to wander around. Well, there is always a positive side in most things of life: what a better chance to take back some specialty food that we don’t find in Rome, and that is best eaten fresh, to share with friends? So we did it. We arranged for a lunch at home back in Rome on Sunday, and chose our quick menu. In fact it was not the time for complex recipes, rather something quick and easy to serve. Neapolitan food on the grab. I thought it could be interesting to share, so I’ll go straight to the menu.
Some of the food mentioned below is registered as “traditional products” by Campania region government; you can tell by the link to the related page.
Starter: “Taralli ‘nsogna e pepe”. Taralli are a kind of salty bagels, like you find in many places specially in the south of Italy. There are many good ones in Apulia, for instance. This kind is typical from Napoli. It is larger, the dough is made with lard (“‘nsogna” in Neapolitan) instead of the more common olive oil, and pepper, and it is flavored with whole almonds. It is the kind of “chain food”, in the sense that it makes you a serial eater and you can’t stop. In Napoli, with friends, we used to eat them by the sea, with beer; simple ingredients for simple relax, but very tasty. This time we had them with an excellent white wine also from Campania: “Le Serole” by Terre del Principe, a wine made with one of the many local historical grapes called Pallagrello bianco. Excellent match.
Second starter: “Fiordilatte di Agerola“. This is a kind of mozzarella made with milk from a special breed the “agerolese” cow. This breed can be found only on the mountains above Sorrento, in the area of a little town called Agerola. Here in the middle of 19th century a general from the Borbone army experimented with breed mixing. The result was this breed that produces large quantities of great tasting milk, which is used to make some traditional cheeses: one is the Provolone del Monaco (but that’s another story), and the other one is Fiordilatte. Like mozzarella, also fiordliatte is at its best for the first 18-24 hours after production. We drank the same white wine with fiordilatte, also a good match.
Main course: “Pasta with Soffritto“. In spite of the name there is nothing fried. Soffritto is a spicy sauce made with pig offal: a very tasteful way to use what used to be the least valuable parts of the animal. In Naples most butchers make it with their recipe and sell it in their shops. We got some supply as we can’t find it in Rome, and we have also pending commitments with other friends on this subject :-). Here we switched wine, a red one from the same producer called “Piancastelli” and made from Pallagrello nero and Casavecchia grapes, also from Campania. No wonder: there are more than 400 grapes in Italy!
Dessert: “Migliaccio”. This is a typical dessert for the carnival period in Napoli. It is made with some of the same ingredients as other traditional desserts like Pastiera or Sfogliatella: ricotta, eggs, sugar, semolina, milk, lemon skin. Simple ingredients and simple procedure (Monica made it in a short time) but great result: two slices each were a sign of uniform success. Here we drank some homemade liquors, same concept as the more famous limoncello but with other flavors like meant and wild fennel. We also had my mother’s famous “Nocillo“: this is a walnut liquor with much more complex taste, with a wide bouquet of flavors given by cinnamon, cloves and a few other spices.
Maybe it was the spirit of the food, maybe it was the good company we had, or most likely the combination of both, we had all this in the “traditional style”: we sat at the table until past 6pm, chatting, sipping liquor and enjoying the moment. A Neapolitan Sunday in Rome!