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Sofia Loren • Ischia

Sofia Loren • Ischia

Did you know?
The Statue of Liberty, although a gift from France to the United States, was most likely fashioned after the Liberty of Poetry statue in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy (Center and far right photographs).

Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, son of an Italian immigrant, spent time in Italy and even served under Giuseppe Garibaldi’s command during the Franco-Prussian War. Bartholdi created the Statue of Liberty as a classical Roman deity with a toga to represent the Ancient Republic of Rome. Seven spikes on Lady Liberty’s crown represent the Seven Seas. There is a striking resemblance between the two statues, both with arms outstretched towards heaven.

Famous Italian
Sophia Loren. Romilda Villani welcomed her daughter Sofia Scicolone into the world 20 September 1934, at Rome’s Clinica Regina Margherita. Fourteen years later, the woman the world would come to know as Sophia Loren would dominate beauty pageants and begin working toward her dream of becoming an actress. She would eventually change the spelling of her name to Sophia, and experiment with the last name Lazzaro before settling on Loren.

She would go on to accept acting awards from all over the globe, and become the first and only woman to win a Best Actress for a foreign film at the Oscars in America. But on this day, in the hospital’s charity ward for unmarried women, Sophia was just another child born into poverty. Sadly, Sophia’s father, Riccardo Scicolone, repeatedly refused to marry Romilda. As a single mother, Romilda struggled to support her new daughter. Romilda left Rome and returned home to Pozzuoli near Napoli. One evening Sophia went with friends to the nightclub where the Miss Roma contest was held. She caught the eye of pageant judge and well-known film producer Carlo Ponti, who encouraged her to enter. On a whim, Sophia agreed. She took second place in the contest, but more importantly, won a screen test from Ponti. Sophia was 18 when she landed a sizeable part in Africa Under The Seas. During a career spanning more than 50 years, she has amassed 100 films to her credit. She received an Honorary Oscar® for Lifetime Achievement in 1990, and in 1999 People magazine called Sophia "one of the world's most stunning and age-resistant women.” She is a tribute to Italy and the world.

 To Davide,  Warmly, Sophia Loren

To Davide,  Warmly, Sophia Loren

 

New proverb
Amore è cieco: Love is blind.

Place to visit
Ischia. Not as well known as its sister isle of Capri, Ischia has often been called the Isle of Well Being by Islandophiles. Ischia boasts tropical gardens, panoramic ocean views and over 100 thermal spas. Guided boat tours offer highlights such as Grotta Verde, tour of Aragonese Castle, the picturesque church and the rocks of Santa Anna, Cartaromana Bay and the hot water springs. It’s best to avoid Ischia and most other popular places in Italy from July through August at peak travel times. April-June and September-October are the optimal times to travel to Italy although every month here is special. Poseidon Gardens are one of the most famous Italian thermal parks near Forio d’Ischia. Visit D’Ambra Vini D’Ischia in Forio d'Ischia, a beautiful and highly rated winery. They offer two marvelous tours and wine tastings. Located at Mario D'Ambra Street 16, Forio d'Ischia , Naples 80075. Phone 081.907246.

Before taking the ferry from Napoli to Ischia, enjoy some of Italy’s best pizza at Brandi Antica Pizzeria where they have been making it since 1780! The pizza maker at Brandi in 1889, Raffaele Esposito, was invited to make pizza at the Royal Italian court along with his wife Maria Giovanna Brandi. The couple was asked to prepare for her Majesty the Queen Margherita a brand new pizza, that he named Pizza Margherita after the Queen. This is the origin of one of Italy’s most popular pizzas. Not only is Brandi the oldest pizzeria in Italy, they serve some of the best pizza and other dishes. Salita Santa Anna di Palazzo1-2, Via Chiaia, Napoli. Tel. 081.416928 http://www.brandi.it/

Restaurant and Hotel:
Giardino Eden*** Truly paradise on earth, Giardino Eden’s small resort is set on the Bay of Cartoromano with breathtaking views of Aragonese Castle. Above is a tavern where Michelangelo stayed to complete sketches. The restaurant specializes in fresh seafood and local pastas, all served within steps of the ocean. A few scenes from “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor were filmed here in 1962 and it has for decades been a favorite of Italian and international celebrities. Four pools and two spas. Seven double rooms and apartment for up to six people. Via Nuova Cartaromana 68, Ischia, NA Napoli Italy 80070. Telephone and Fax +39.081.985015 e-mail: info@ilgiardinoeden.it | http://www.ilgiardinoeden.it/home_eng.php

Hotel and Ristorante:
Hotel Umberto a Mare*** Built in 1936, this charming family-run hotel is set above the ocean with private stairs to the beach. The owners Umberto and Nadia Regine are warm, friendly and treat guests like family. It is a romantic setting not far from the historic town of Forio d'Ischia which offers one of the most beautiful beaches of the island. Hotel Umberto a Mare includes a romantic restaurant with superb fresh seafood with local recipes. Favorites include pasta from Gragnano, Pappardelle Zucchine e Gamberoni, Pennoni di Gragnano Scampi and Totanelle. Umberto recommends the L’Ischia Bianco Superiore wine from Chignole Pietratorcia with seafood. Bon vivants salute the entire experience! Excellent wine list. Impressive Michelin Italia 2004 two fork designation and recognized in Gambero Rosso in its “Ristoranti d’Italia” guide. “Guida ai Ristoranti d’Italia 2004” di Mondadori rates the restaurant a 9 out of 10. All well deserved accolades! Via Soccorso 2, Forio d'Ischia NA, Napoli Italy 80075 Tel. & Fax 081.99.71.71
E-mail: umbertoamare@pointel.it | http://www.umbertoamare.it

Book
“Sophia Loren’s Recipes and Memories”. Sophia Loren is more than a beloved movie star—she’s a passionate cook. The author of two personal cookbooks, she's been recognized by the Italian government for her culinary prowess. In “Sophia Loren's Recipes & Memories”, she offers a hundred or so recipes arranged by course--antipasti through desserts. With a like number of photos, most in color, and all sorts of Sophia memorabilia--a shot of the 16-year-old Sophia shows us just how early Sophia was Sophia—the large-format book is also filled with reminiscences of family, home, and work. Cooks shouldn't be disappointed, though. Sophia's recipes, taken from all over Italy as well as her table, include pizzas and risottos, hearty soups, savory fish dishes, and simple but satisfying sweets. The recipes are models of clarity, and Sophia's introductory notes and other asides leave no doubt that the author is a serious, passionate cook. Reading her book and trying her recipes, we come to applaud the star in her apron as well as on the screen. Review by Arthur Boehm.

Recipe
Sophia Loren’s Tiramisu - Serves 8. Ingredients: Eggs, 3 separated . Sugar, 5 tablespoons. Mascarpone cheese, 6 ounces. Ladyfingers, 1 large package (approximately 36) . Orange liqueur, 1 cup. Espresso coffee, 1 cup. Bitter chocolate, 2 ounces, grated. Unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup, or 2 ounces grated bittersweet chocolate.

Directions: Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl and beat well. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. In a third, larger bowl, combine the egg yolk mixture with the mascarpone, then fold in the egg whites to produce a creamy mixture. Arrange a tight layer of ladyfingers in a 9-by-12-inch serving dish. Using a spoon, drizzle about half the liqueur and half the espresso over the ladyfingers. Cover the ladyfingers with the mascarpone mixture and the grated chocolate, and dust it with a little more than half the cocoa. Cover the filling with a second layer of ladyfingers and drizzle with the remaining liqueur and espresso. Place the dish in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours (the Tiramisu can be made 24 hours in advance). Top with the remaining cocoa before serving. Buon appetito!

Italy Heralded by Mauro Battocchi, former Italian Consul General in San Francisco:
How to take your espresso? A Neapolitan Commandment…

I had the pleasure of meeting Carlo Di Ruocco at the Fancy Food Show last week. For those of you who live in the Bay, you may recognize Carlo by his professional calling card, Mr. Espresso.

If you ask him, Mr. Espresso will tell you the precise way to consume a shot of espresso. Carlo, after 32 years in the coffee business, has a right to claim authority on the matter. But before we get into the details of perfect espresso drinking form, let’s take a look at Carlo’s incredible path from Salerno to Oakland.

Carlo was the second youngest of seven brothers and sisters who were raised in Salerno by their single mother. As if that wasn’t hard enough on the family, it was the time of World War II. Food and work were scarce. Coffee, a mainstay of Neapolitan culture, still found its way into Carlo’s young life, and he can still remember roasting coffee with his mother when he was eight.

After marrying a Frenchwoman and starting a family, Carlo decided to follow his older brother and immigrate to America. The year was 1967, and the future Mr. Espresso decided to take the boat across the Atlantic because he wanted to see the Statue of Liberty appear in New York Harbor like so many Italian immigrants had done throughout America’s history.

In Oakland, Carlo worked as an elevator repairman, a trade he had begun in Europe. A mechanic and coffee lover at heart, he began to service and repair espresso machines during his off time. Carlo eventually chose to make coffee his full time work and began importing and selling espresso machines in 1978.

What to call this new business? Riffing off of Joe DiMaggio’s nickname as Mr. Coffee, Carlo decided to name his new venture, Mr. Espresso. The little company, which is run by Carlo and staffed by his immediate family, began roasting and selling beans in addition to the espresso machine business. Mr. Espresso beans were a hit among the bay area epicureans due to the distinct flavor created by a oak wood roasting technique…a process borrowed from Naples.

Over the decades, Mr. Espresso and the Di Ruocco family have built the brand into a premier Bay area espresso machine seller and servicer and coffee roaster. The entire venture was predicated on the idea that the Bay needed good coffee, and today as roasters of nearly one million pounds of coffee beans a year, Mr. Espresso brand beans is doing just that.

The core of Carlo’s business success comes from hard work and attention to the great culinary tradition of Italy. Speaking of culinary tradition, how do you drink the perfect espresso?

According to Mr. Espresso:

  1. Order a short espresso.
  2. Put in a small teaspoon of sugar.
  3. Do not stir.
  4. Wait until the sugar penetrates the lipid cream at the top of the shot.
  5. Drink half the shot in one sip.
  6. Swirl and drink the rest in another sip.
  7. If you did it right, there should be sugar left in cup.

 

Carlo Petrini • Slow Food

Carlo Petrini • Slow Food

Giuseppe Verdi • Torgiano

Giuseppe Verdi • Torgiano