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Simon Sunwoo

Cooks Tour Continues

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This is my first time posting on the Italian board so I would like to briefly introduce myself. I am a cook who is investigating the great cuisines of the world. Born and raised a Southern Californian, and having worked for Wolfgang Puck at Chinois and Spago, I have now been in Europe for over three years; over two years at L'Oustau de Baumaniere in Les Baux de Provence, France and now almost a year at Can Fabes in Sant Celoni, Spain. Being emersed in the Mediterranean climate for so long, I search to round off my experiences now in Italy. Piedmont would be my first choice and I have a connection at Don Allfonso near Naples, but I am always up for suggestions. My only critieria is that the cuisine must lean more towards the traditional than the innovative, but have a healthy regard for both.

As explained I am a cook, i.e. I make peanuts for a living and would like to take the meager savings from my labors and travel/look for work in Italy. I will most likely be flying into Rome early part of Sept then taking the train down to Don Alfonso near Naples, in all for about 7-10 days. Where should I look? I will definitely be dining in Don Alfonso but need suggestions for a couple more. Again anywhere easily accesible by train from Rome to Naples, large enough to have a need for cooks and representative of the region.

Afterwards, I will be flying to Turin/Torino in Late October for the White Truffle Festival in Alba but do not know the best ways to take advantage of the event, nor do I actually know the dates of the event--meaning looking for inexpensive accomodations, tours/guides, transportation etc..

Simon

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Simon, what a wonderful quest!

We were at L'Ostau de Beamaniere many years ago and it was just wonderful. Our son who about 8 at the time had a complete food epiphiany there.

If you find yourself heading thru Umbria, please PM for some local 'beta'.

Good luck!!

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Simon,

welcome to the Italy forum. The area around Sorrento has quite a few nice eating places which fit what you're looking for. Don Alfonso is certainly a good restaurant though from what I've heard it is a bit on the downward curve and definitely more innovative than traditional. A couple other restaurants which might be worth trying out are:

- Taverna del Saracino, Vico Equense, loc. Seitano, via Torretta 9 (0818028555). The chef, Gennaro Esposito, is one of the young guns of Italian cooking and his style is creative with a very strong Neapolitan influence, mainly fish dishes. He's recieved the Gambero rosso 3 forks, the highest award from one of Italy's top restaurant guides, last year. It's also probably one of the best bargains at this level in Italy, the tasting menu is at 60 € and the wine prices are really honest. I'll be trying it at the end of September.

- Quattro Passi, Massa Lubrense, loc. Marina del Cantone, Nerano, via A.Vespucci 13 (0818081271). I've only heard good things about this place and if the legend is true Alfonso Iaccarino takes his guests here when his restaurant is closed.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Albiston--thanks for the reply. Since both restaurants are around the same area--or should I say on the same peninsula, I should be able to go to all three. Indeed, I've heard wonderful things about Napolitan food--from an Italian coworker nonetheless. He has just come back from vacation so I should be able to get the ball rolling through him with Don Alfonso, but again I was looking for a more solid footing in traditional fare.

Would you recommend a different region altogether? My goal in life is to be able to take my acquired experience to supplement my abilities to cook "California cuisine." I've heard that Piedmonte and Lombardi tend to be more rich than the cooking of the south, which is not to say that it could not be incorporated into a Californian's chefs repetoire. Also of interest, but just through vague notions and recommendation is Tuscany.

Also, any news on the white truffle festival in Alba?

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Would you recommend a different region altogether?  My goal in life is to be able to take my acquired experience to supplement my abilities to cook "California cuisine." I've heard that Piedmonte and Lombardi tend to be more rich than the cooking of the south, which is not to say that  it could not be incorporated into a Californian's chefs repetoire. Also of interest, but just through vague notions and recommendation is Tuscany.

Simon,

it depends pretty much on what rocks your boat, I would say. Every regional, or sometimes strictly local "Italian" cuisine has its interesting points, methods and recipes. I for one love Sicilian cooking, with its mix of influences, from Arab to Spanish. The difficult thing in many Southern regions is to find high-end restaurants that combine innovative and local-traditional cuisine. In the North you definitely could find more.

What you say about Northern Italian cusine is true only to a certain extent. Veneto and Liguria have a long tradition for seafood and the cooking on the cost is lighter than the one you would find inland.

Something I wanted to add yesterday and forgot about. If I had to chose a place to work in Italy, both from reputation and from what I've read from Italian chefs who have staged there, I'd really try to spend some time in the kitchens of Santini's restaurant Del Pescatore in Canneto (web address edited). I am no chef so I don't know how easy this could be, but since you'll be at Don Alfonso you might have a chance to get some really good contacts.

BTW one thing you should not miss, if you haven't had it already, is Neapolitan Pizza but strictly in Naples. I'll be there for a few days end of September so if you're still there and feel like meeting for a pizza write me a PM so we can arrange something.


Edited by albiston (log)

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Divina--yes I've heard so much about Slow Foods and would love to go. I looked up the event on their site and it looks well organized and informative. My only worry is that the 60 euro membership plus the event cost might make it too expensive. Will have to investigate more.

Hathor-- I am in no doubt that your son had a food epiphany, I sure did. Love the cuiisine almost as much as the area. Btw, what is "beta"?

Albiston-- I would love more than anything to work in Dal Pescatore. My roommate, the asistant sommelier at Can Fabes, and his girlfriend ate there last summer and raved about it. Not only was the food divine but the winelist was spectacular as well. I will try to send my resume there but need to first get it translated into Italian. Unfortunately, I will not be able to share a slice of Napolitan pizza with you unless you will be in the area btwn the 8th-12th of Sept.

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Simon, While there is wonderful high end food in Campania (I very much enjoyed Don Alfonso), so much of the lower end food is wonderful because of the fantastic ingredients available, especially the tomatoes and the cheeses. While not overly fancy, it is rooted in the traditional, Agriturismo Seliano is a wonderful base to sample the traditional fare of Campania using fantastic local ingredients.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Welcome Simon,

Great to see you are on the move, Maybe in the future we will be direct competitors - or better yet, partners! I am also from the So Cal area.

I start my stage at 'La Locanda di Bu' near Avellino (Campania) next week! Sorry I can't help too much with restaurants in that area - I hear great things about Don Alfonso though. Try checking out a Gambero Rosso guide for Italian Restaurants. Look up the area you want to go to and then find one with a score or description that matches what you are looking for.

Have Fun!

Ciao,

Ore

spelling!


Edited by Ore (log)

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Ciao!

if you are in Italy in late October you should hit SLOWFOOD in Torino!

OCtober 21-25th!!!

I am in Florence.. I would say Cibreo.. within budget and inspiring!

Señor Rancho Gordo himself, faithful eGulleteer, will be in attendance at this event! ¡Cuanto le gusta!

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Ore--Congrats on the big move. Keep us posted on your findings and experiences. How, btw, did you land your job? And where in So Cal did you work? How long are you staying for? Maybe when I make it down to Campania, I'll stop by.

Tanabutler-- Sorry, but not familiar with Senor Rancho Gordo, although if he is a fellow egulleteer, that makes him extended family to me. Most likely will be at the Slow Foods event in Torino for the entire time. Depends on what lands on my doorstep.

Albistion--I spoke with my fellow cook, Gianni (my Don Alfonso connection) and he informed me that Santi Santamaria is very close to the Santini's. I am told it is the place for learning pastas and great seafood. Very small kitchen however. Anyhow, Santi has been away for quite some time now and will be in Galicia for two more weeks, but when he gets back, I will definately ask for his assistance. I hear only great things about the place, apart from the fact that there isn't much to do outside of work.

Still seeking any information on the white truffle festival as most of the tourists sites are quite vague.

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Albistion--I spoke with my fellow cook, Gianni (my Don Alfonso connection) and he informed me that Santi Santamaria is very close to the Santini's. I am told it is the place for learning pastas and great seafood. Very small kitchen however. Anyhow, Santi has been away for quite some time now and will be in Galicia for two more weeks, but when he gets back, I will definately ask for his assistance. I hear only great things about the place, apart from the fact that there isn't much to do outside of work.

Simon,

I wish you the best of lucks with the Santini.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who would very much appreciate reading your impressions about Don Alfonso and any restaurants you might be trying in the area, if you will feel like sharing them with us.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Hathor-- I am in no doubt that your son had a food epiphany, I sure did. Love the cuiisine almost as much as the area. Btw, what is "beta"?

Beta: it just means local info. Its sort of climber slang...when you are new to an area and need to find your way around.

Maybe we will try to get to Slowfood event in Torino...will keep watching this thread to see where you wind up.

Have fun for all of us!!

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Update--Will be flying into Verona on the 7th and need to get to Del Pescatore. Does anyone know the best way to do this. I might be the only one on egullet willing to take a bus to a three star. Will probably be taking lunch there on the 8th and then taking the Eurostar from Verona to Naples. Then on to Don Alfonso, where a fellow cook had worked (he filled me in on how to get there by public transport) and a couple of side excursions (Capri and Pompei) then up to Rome to fly home around the 15th. Since I will be dropping half my budget on these two aforementioned restaurants, any recommendations on less expensive restaurants would be appreciated.

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OK to narrow down the recommendations list near Naples, I will be staying in Sorrento for two nights, as of for where I don't know. My budget is short, but since good pizza is cheap I could manage to spend one more meal of 50 euros inc wine. My budget is short also in part because I will be dining at a three star at Parkheuval in Eindhoven, Holland--as well. So any 12 euro or less meals or options will be appreciated as well. Thanks.

Dosconz- the Agriturisom Saliani looks very interesting because for full board its 60 euros/day. How much are the rooms and how far from Don Alfonso is it? There web site is kind of vague so any further comments you have on it would be appreciated.

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Simon,

Sorrento has a few nice restaurants, not breath-taking but fine. They are, in average, overpriced compared to Naples and surroundings because of it being a tourist location. Caruso, restaurant and "shrine" to Enrico Caruso, has quite a good reputation but I always found it way too posh and expensive for the quality of the food. A better tip is Il Parrucchiano (aka La Favorita, corso Italia 71): the food, local fare, is pretty well made but not more. A pleasant place, especially if you dine in the garden, to sample Sorrento recipes.

There's quite a few decent places under 35 € around there, but most are somewhat difficult to get to if you don't have a car. A good place to check these out is the Slow Food web site. You'll have to register, for free, to look at their osterie tips, but it's worth the bother. Their Osterie d'Italia guide is entirely online.

Sorrento has at least two very good pizzerias, but I sadly forgot the names. I'm sure that if you ask around you'll get a few good tips.

For more info on Salone del Gusto just follow this link.

(edited for clarity)


Edited by albiston (log)

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Hi Simon,

You will really appreciate the food of the Piedmont. I have attended the Fiera Nazionale Del Tartufo Di Alba several times. It is always around the 11-26 of Oct.

I don't know the exact date for this year but assume is near the same. Hope this helps. You mentioned white truffle.. so maybe you mean a different event.Good luck with your adventure!!

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Something in my bones and the mild weather and some rain for a change this summer tells me it could be a great season for white truffles. Anyone agree?

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You'll find the program of Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo.

It take place from 1st october to 7th november but all the interesting things are in the weekends.

I'll be there 16/17 octoer

Usully Alba is fully booked months in advance but if your very lucky this is THE place to go. Is quite near Alba but is enchanting.

Poderi Einaudi is a great winemaker with just 4 rooms which they use as B&B.

If you want a hint for a good and not expancive restoraunt Locanda del Borgo Antico and Posta are surely place to visit.

So you can have a walk till the Barolo's Castle and drink some wine.

kisse


Edited by vesnuccia (log)

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Vesnuccia,

welcome to eGullet and thanks for the nice tips. I'm sure we'd all be very interested to read how the Fiera del Tartufo was once you come back.

ciao!


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Dosconz- the Agriturisom Saliani looks very interesting because for full board its 60 euros/day. How much are the rooms and how far from Don Alfonso is it? There web site is kind of vague so any further comments you have on it would be appreciated.

Seliano is in Paestum, which is a bit of a hike from Don Alfonso. It is better as a destination than as a base. It is in the center of buffala country with the best mozzarelle from unpasteurized milk, so it has particular interest as a gastronomic source of special products. In addition, the Baronessa Cecilia Baratta and her family are gems. While it is not a place to learn haute cuisine, it is probably as good a place as any for getting a handle on Campanian country fare. The ingredients and technique are stellar.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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