Southern Short Guys and their Walnuts
I've got a new favorite restaurant, outside Naples in Sant'Anastasia, called 'e Curti, dialect for "short guys" since the owners, two brothers, were Lilliputian midgets. On the way to the restaurant I passed huge piles of garbage bags-the area, but not the entire region, is still suffering from a garbage-corruption scandal. I met dynamo Enzo d'Alessandro (great-nephew of the brothers), who makes Italy's greatest walnut liqueur (nucillo in dialect), and his mother Angelina in the kitchen-she showed me how to make her incredible potato croquettes, gave me a taste of the dough and I was hooked. Her husband Carmine and daughter Sofia work the dining room, and selected my menu. Angelina explained that she prepares the food she's always known, isn't interested new ingredients or techniques, and I was impressed. Eggplant rolls, local salumi, wild mushroom and bean soup, "garbage pail" pasta, lamb with peas, ricotta custard tart, walnut cookies and, of course, a glass of Enzo's incredible nucillo with dessert. Sonia will help choose an appropriate wine from her impressive selection of regional gems. Address and info, please.
The recipe that I simply had to get was for a pasta with "garbage pail" sauce-nothing to do with the scandal Enzo explained, but a traditional dish for Christmas eve, made with "garbage" leftover from lunch-olives, capers, nuts, raisins, a few cherry tomatoes to bind the sauce. Like the restaurant, it's become a favorite. Check it out on the recipe page of this site.