The nights at Vico. Festa a Vico – the finale.

The nights at Vico are magical. The sound and smell of the sea, the starry sky and wonderful people cooking delicious food and being a lovely company could be my description of heaven. I had to skip the first evening, but the second and the third were unforgettable.

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Andrea Berton’s Trout. Photo: Vincenzo Pagano/Scatti di Gusto

The second evening was a charity dinner gathering twenty of the Italian best chefs who presented themselves through a dish of their choice. Everything was delicious – from the gin tonic oyster made with Hendricks gin, tonic and cucumber by the Roman chef Oliver Glowig, over the Andrea Berton’s (Ristorante Berton, Milano) trout with horseradish cream, quinoa and trout’s eggs and many other dishes which were all special – each in its own way. But there was a dish that stood out: risotto di Gragnano by Nino di Costanzo (Dani Maison, Ischia).

Risotto di Gragnano by Nino di Costanzo. Photo: courtesy of Vincenzo Pagano/Scatti di Gusto
Risotto di Gragnano by Nino di Costanzo. Photo: courtesy of Vincenzo Pagano/Scatti di Gusto

Gragnano is the capital of pasta and Nino has enough sense of humour and love for his territory to create a humorous tribute – a special pasta in the form of rice which he combined with the flavour of the traditional filled pepper which gave to the dish delicious intense creamy flavour. In a quick chat I had with him he explained: “I developed this particular form of pasta in collaboration with the pasta producer Gentile – my wish was to create a pasta dish which would be cooked in the same way as risotto, creating a Gragnanese risotto – so a Neapolitan risotto (because us Neapolitan people are great in creating imitations).” We really enjoyed in the idea and flavour!

Photo: courtesy of Festa a Vico
Photo: courtesy of Festa a Vico

The evening finished with a beach party and fireworks.

Next/last evening was the so called Night of the stars which gathered in the bay of Vico around hundred Italian chefs. It was an evening full of a fantastic energy and wonderful dishes. Sadly I was that day enjoying also the lunch created by the young chefs, so after twenty courses at lunchtime my palate was not able to take any more complex flavours except two desserts which nicely concluded the lovely day.

Dessert by Viviana Varese. Photo: courtesy of Alessandro Austa
Dessert by Viviana Varese. Photo: courtesy of Alessandro Austa

The dessert that totally won me over was created by the cheffe Viviana Varese from the restaurant Alice in Milano.  A wonderful composition of zabaione, half cooked meringue, almond cream and chocolate crunch with a touch of coffee. One of the best desserts I ever had!

I feel terribly sorry that I haven’t been able to try the dish below and many other delicious dishes created for that evening. This particular one was created by Giuseppe di Iorio, the executive chef of the Aroma restaurant in Rome, and has totally enchanted Alessandro, my friend who joined me for that evening. He was returning to Giuseppe again and again … It must have been really delicious! Slow cooked calves cheeks were combined with passion fruit gelée, red cabbage purée and cacao and rice chips.

The calves cheeks by Giuseppe di Iorio. Photo: courtesy of Alessandro Austa
The calves cheeks by Giuseppe di Iorio. Photo: courtesy of Alessandro Austa

Next year Festa a Vico will happen again so if you missed it this year, you have another chance next year to enjoy fabulous days in the bay of Vico with lovely people and delicious food in the stunning setting. Thanks again to all the organisers and chefs for the wonderful experience.

Andreja Lajh

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