June’s installment of #ItalianFWT takes us back to southern Italy, to the beautiful and delicious region of Campania. As you can see from the map Campania is located on the south western side of Italy, at the front ankle of the boot. Campania is filled with great people, sites, food, wine and culture and it is on my list of places to visit when my husband and I travel to Italy in the fall. Among the many fantastic cities and provences within Campania are Naples, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Capri and the ruins of Pompeii with the great Mount Vesuvius. For you foodies out there it is important to note Campania is credited as the birthplace of pizza, spaghetti and Buffalo Mozzarella! Campania is yet another perfect region to explore the wonders of Italy.
Naples is not only a word class city but also the region’s capital. A destination unto itself many of the original Greek ruins lie under years of history; however, the Roman ruins are still numerous. Naples is home to many gorgeous churches, cathedrals and basilicas as well as an epicenter of art and music.
A short distance off the coast of Naples lies the Isle of Capri. This beautiful and mysterious island is a popular tourist spot for its natural beauty as well as historical sites and great shopping, food and culture.
While in the area of Naples and the Amalfi Coast make a stop in Pompeii to see the excavated ruins from the 79 AD eruption of Mt Vesuvius that destroyed the entire city. Excavation began in 1748 and has continued on and off through today.
Who can resist a ride on the “scariest road in the world?” The road along the Amalfi coastline twists and turns, dipping deep into gorges only to steeply climb back up again toward the surrounding cliffs and mountains toward the ocean. The natural beauty of Amalfi can only be experienced this way.
Sorrento offers the perfect place to stay in Campania, relaxed and quiet and centrally located between Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Furthermore, the Sorrentines are hospitable people who welcome tourists with open arms.
As with all Italian regions, Campania offers great food and wine! In researching the area of course the first food item I discovered was pizza; Margherita Pizza to be exact, originally crafted for Queen Margherita of Savoy. However, Campania is also home to calzones and great fresh produce and seafood. Tomatoes, olives and lemons grow abundantly and the Mediterranean coast offers access to a variety of seafood such as mussels, squid and fish. Furthermore, apparently the meatball originated in Campania as well. So I set out on my cooking and eating journey through Campania. I began with a traditional Napoleon Margherita pizza purchased from a local pizza joint. It was delicious and paired beautifully with the red wines below. Another night we had a dinner of Caprese salad (fresh Buffalo Mozzerrella from Campania, beef steak tomatoes, fresh basil with a touch of EVOO and Balsamic glaze) served with Italian meatballs in marinara and roasted squash and zucchini; another great pairing with both red wines below. Another night we enjoyed fresh white fish simmered in San Marzano tomatoes from Campania with olives, garlic, chopped shallots and fresh basil along with steamed artichokes that paired beautifully with the Greco featured below. Finally, we enjoyed spaghetti topped with sautéed pancetta, peas, garlic, diced zucchini, tomatoes and shallots and topped with Italian parmesan cheese. Another truly delicious Campanian meal that paired well with the Greco white wine.
As I just mentioned I served four different Campania style meals with three different Campania style wines. The main red grape that is cultivated in Campania is Aglianico; the main white grape is Falanghina; however, I decided to hold off on the Falanghina for another article and highlight the lesser known Greco Bianco for this article because it was a truly delicious wine.
Feudi Di San Gregorio Lacryma Christi Rosso 2010 DOC: This wine poured a deep scarlet red and opened with dazzling aromas of red fruit, spice, floral notes and earthiness. On the palate this complex wine offered an array of flavors including red cherries, raspberries and pomegranate with spice, dry dirt, candied violets, wet tobacco leaves, herbal notes and a hint of vanilla on the mid-palate. This wine was velvety smooth, rich in body, round acidity with well integrated tannins, medium in body but full of flavor that continued to evolve until the very last sip, leaving a lingering dry finish. This wine was crafted of Piedirosso and Aglianico grapes; aged four months in stainless steel tanks and an additional month in the bottle prior to release; 13.4% alcohol. This wine received 91 pts from Robert Parker who said “Readers will have a very hard time finding a better wine for the money.” Not only did this wine pair elegantly with Neapolitan style Margherita pizza, meatballs and Campania style fish, it was also an excellent meditation wine. $17 at Jimmy’s Italian Grocer; $19 on wine.com.
Legend has it that the vines on Campania’s Mount Vesuvius originated from the tears shed by Jesus Christ, thus Lacryma Christi, meaning tears of Christ.
Villa Matilde Rocco dei Leoni Aglianico: This wine poured a vibrant violet into the glass and met the nose with aromas of black and red fruit, spice and earthiness. On the palate this wine offered flavors of wild blackberry, black cherry and plums with Asian spice, toasted walnuts, tobacco and tar. This full body wine was palate coating with rich acidity and deep tannins, leaving a bit of a bitter taste on the tongue; however, once paired with food this wine was beautifully integrated and a seamless accompaniment to Neapolitan style Margherita pizza, meatballs and even Campania style fish. This wine was fermented in stainless steel, then a traditional stay in large ovals followed by 3 months of bottle aging before release. 12.5% alcohol. SRP $16. Click here to find this wine near you.
Cantina del Taburno Greco White Wine 2012 Beneventano: This lovely wine poured a beautiful golden yellow into the glass and met the nose with an array of aromas from stone and orchard fruit, with white floral notes and minerality. On the palate this crisp wine crafted of 100% Greco Bianco grapes offered flavors of apples, pear, fresh herbs, minerality and a touch of spice notes and honey. It had a creamy texture on the palate with a clean and crisp acidity that gave it a lingering finish. This was a delicious wine that paired seamlessly with the Campania style fish dish, steamed artichokes and the spaghetti dish. This wine was extremely food friendly and would pair well with seafood, light pastas and poultry. 13% alcohol. SRP $15. Click here to find this wine near you.
One final fun fact, if you enjoy Limoncello as much as I do you are in luck because Limoncello originated in Sorrento!
I hope you enjoyed this brief Campania journey as much as I enjoyed researching, eating and drinking my way through writing it. Please continue your explorations of Campania by reading my fellow #ItalianFWT articles:
Food Wine Click – Neopolitan Pork Chops and Autochthnous Grapes of Campania
Vino Travels – Campania Food and Wine Pairing: Mussels with Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina
Cooking Chat – Grilled Swordfish with Pasta Margarita
Enofylz Wine blog – A Taste of Campania with #ItalianFWT
Curious Appetite – Strange Foods and Fringe Wines of Campania
We’d love to have you join our Twitter Chat Saturday, June 6, at 11 a.m Eastern time/ 5 p.m. Italian time. Some of our bloggers had last minute computer troubles so we may be a bit quieter than usual! Blogs that were posted as of Saturday 6/6, 7 a.m. ET have live links to their posts in the list above; check back as the others will be sharing their posts soon!
My Song Selection: This is my fourth submission for ItalianFWT so it comes as no surprise to me that Campania, specifically Naples, is an area of great music. Historically, Naples was a huge cultural center with a variety of musical expressions including classical, folk, pop, and jazz. In fact, there is a popular jazz club in Naples called Bourbon Street Jazz and Spirits Bar. Naples and surrounding areas love to party. They host arts and music festivals throughout the summer, including several jazz festivals. So what better way to end our exploration of Campania that with the smooth sounds of Napoli Jazz. This video offers an array of Napoli jazz; to best experience the food and wines click on the “playlist” on the upper left corner and select the 10th song Maria Mari. It’s up tempo beat pairs best with the wine and food pairings of Campania.
Explore Campania through food, wine and culture and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!