Chapter 4 – Campania
Do you know Calitri? What if I say Irpinia?
When talking about Campania, we immediately figure in our mind the views from Positano, Capri, the Amalfi Coast and Naples, with its food culture.
Naples is indeed the city of street food par excellence, I remember when I went there last time, being overwhelmed with the smell coming from the food trucks and food shops all around the streets of the historical center.
They were tempting me all day long with their frittata di pasta (made with pasta leftovers), pizza fritta (yes, fried!) and cuoppo fritto (a cone shaped paper full of fries, it can be with squids or meatballs).
Also, one of my favorite places in Campania is for sure the small town of Sorrento, famous for its lemon trees and everything made with lemons.
I know that most of you were expecting a food and wine pairing from the coast side, but this time, also if both me and Carlotta love those places, we decided to go and explore a lesser known area.
That’s mostly because of the purpose of our regional food and wine pairing series: to let you discover lesser known gems out of the most touristy paths, that can really transport you to the true essence of Italy.
Click here to scroll down to Canazze di Calitri food part.
That’s how we arrived in Irpinia, especially Alta Irpinia in this case, which is a very important wine region in southern Italy. You can find here a bigger DOC Irpinia which covers the entire Avellino province, and 3 smaller DOCG: Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino and Taurasi.
Today is also a very important and touching anniversary, that we wanted to honor by talking about this region. The 23rd November of 1980 a violent earthquake hit the regions of Campania (Irpinia area especially) and Basilicata making almost 3.000 victims in this area.
Those terrible facts we don’t want to forget after 40 years, so we thought this time to make a very deep regional pairing, exploring Irpinia our way, so with a traditional food and wine pairing.
The wine I chose for this week is a very special treat. A wine that comes from Alta Irpinia, Calitri village, contrada Tufiello, made with 100% Fiano, a very diffuse local white grape variety, but grown in a mountainous area, where vines survive at 800 meters a.s.l. in volcanic soils.
The wine is Montemattina from Il Tufiello small winery, in total 2.5 hectares of vineyards.
The grapes are harvested by hand in early October and are left in contact with skins for two months. How could I not find an orange wine from Irpinia?! 🙂
Both fermentation and aging are made in stainless steel, the wine stays 12 months in these vats before being bottled and a couple of months in bottle before going into the market.
The result is an amazing wine, a small gem, very hard to find, but one of the most beautiful expressions of Fiano I have ever tasted.
The color is golden, due to the maceration, and bright, extremely vivid. The nose is an explosion of stone fruit and yellow flowers, citrus notes, orange blossom, candied orange peel, than dried fruit, hazelnuts, also grassy notes like hay. My suggestion, especially considering the food pairing we are offering today, is to drink this wine at a higher service temperature than we usually do for white wines, so maybe around 16 degrees or room temperature, to better enjoy all the complexity of its bouquet.
In the mouth the wine is round and smooth with a great minerality but the acidity, accompanied with a small tannic sensation is the most vibrant sensation at every sip. The finish is saline, long and elegant.
The structure of this wine is perfect for the food, especially with the Canazze di Calitri. It was really a perfect combination that we could find wine and food from such a small village.
Calitri is a very small town right on the border with Basilicata, in Avellino province. It is called the Positano of Irpinia, as it is located in the hilltop and it shows these colorful houses, very particular. It’s very famous for 3 things: the cannazze (typical pasta shape), the pottery art and the cheese. Thanks to Carlotta we are going to discover together the recipe and the history of this traditional dish, the Cannazze with ragu.
To pay homage to Campania’s historic tradition of pasta, especially machine-made, dried pasta, Carlotta decided to share the recipe of one of Calitri’s local dishes, Cannazze di Calitri. The name has origins that date back to the ‘700s, when this long, tube shaped pasta used to be left to dry on canes, and was therefore called cannazza. It is the dish that represents and was cooked for young married couples, so it obviously had to be made with ziti, which in neapolitan dialect means bride.
In more recent times it has become the pasta dish that every family makes for a Sunday lunch – you’re not considered a local if you don’t eat it on Sunday’s, apparently.
The ziti are coated in a rich, flavourful tomato sauce and topped with vraciole (braciole in Italian) – thinly sliced veal wrapped up with pine nuts, parsley, garlic and Pecorino – another symbol of nuptials, as the wrapping of the two elements symbolizes the union between two people.
I do found a wonderful Fiano from the exact same town, produced just a few hundred meters from where you can taste a delicious dish of cannazze if you’re ever lucky enough to be in the area, you can find her whole wine pairing discovery over here.
If you would like to discover the recipe of canazze made by Carlotta, check her website at the following link: https://www.lapanzapiena.com/collaborations.html