Italian Christmas FEAST of The 7 FISH


Mangia Italia
The Feast of The 7 Fish
My Aunt Helen used to make the famous Italian Christmas Eve Dinner, “The Feast of 7 Fishes,” The 7 Fish of the Seven Sacraments. I know she made it because I
used to hear her talking about it when I was a little kid. Although I shared
many wonderful meals with my dear Aunt Helen, I never had the pleasure of
having the famous Christmas Eve Dinner “La Vigilia” Feast of 7 FishFeast of 7 Fish with her. We always had Christmas Eve dinner with the immediate family and Aunt Helen had the Christmas Eve with her brother and sister and other family
members. Aunt Helen was born in Salerno, Italy and was my Uncle Franks (1 of my Mother’s 3 brothers) better half. So for our Christmas Dinner my mother would
make an Antipasto of Salami, Provolone, Peppers, and Olives, followed by Baked
Ziti and a Baked Ham studded with cloves and Pineapple rings.
The first time I ever had the mystical dinner was about 12 years ago with my cousin
Joe, his family and my girlfriend Duyen. We had been talking about this famous
Italian Feast a few weeks previous, and were thinking of making it.  Joe told me he wanted to have  the Christmas  Eve  Meal of  The Feast of The 7  Fishes, known
in Italy as  La Viglia (The Vigil) or “La Festa Dei Sette Pesci,” which is also known in Italian-America as The Feast of The 7 Fish, that signify the 7 Sacraments. Now, how’s all that for a mouthful?
This Dinner, La Vigilia originated in Southern Italy, especially in and around the
environs of Napoli. The Feast of The 7 Fish is a Southern Italian tradition that does not exist in the rest of Italy, it is of the South. La Viglia, or “The Feast of the  Seven Fishes” as it isknown to Italian-Americans commemorates the waiting (Vigil) of the Baby Jesus to be Born at Midnight and the Seven Fish represent the Seven Sacraments of  the Roman Catholic Church. Some also that the Seven Fish might signify the 7 Days of Creation, or The Seven Deadly Sins, but most believe the 7 Fish pertain to the Seven Sacraments.
So Joe asked me if I wanted to make this festive and all important dinner, to
perform the ceremony. He didn’t need to ask twice. I had never made it before
and was dying to do so. For a long time I had yearned to partake  in  this celebrated old  Southern  Italian Ritual, and this was my  chance. Naturally I was excited, so was Joe.

The anticipation of the Great Feast to come was of happy expectations and excitement.
And what for the menu? I know Aunt Helen made Bacala, Shrimp Oreganata, Mussels, Baked Clams, Calamari, Octopus, and eel, all much Loved Southern Italian (especially Napoli and Sicily) Creatures of the Sea. We decided which fish we wanted and how  to  cook each one.  Much thought and planning went into the menu and its execution.  Joe wanted; Langoustines, Lobster, and Bacala. Alexandra asked if I would make Stuffed Calamari. We also decided on Shrimp Cocktail, Baked Clams Oreganata, and Cozze al Posillipo. The menu was set. Duyen helped me with the Calamari which we stuffed with Shrimp, parsley, breadcrumbs, and Peas. We braised the Calamari with tomato, White Wine, and herbs, and if I must say so myself, the Calamari came out superbly.  The Stuffed Calamari were a lot of work to make, but well worth the effort as they were a huge hit with all. The Macari boys, Joey, Edward, and Tommy, as well as sister Gabriella,  Alex, Duyen,  Jose  and Sergio from Barcelona were all in
attendance.
The Mussels Posillipo were cooked with garlic, white wine, parsley, and tomato. The sauce is great to dip your bread into. This dish was one of my mother’s favorites back in the days when few Americans other than those  of
Italian  origins ever ate these wonderful little bivalves. Now-a-days every-body does. As a young boy I remember my mother sending me to Bella Pizza in East Rutherford to get an order of them for her. She always gave me a few and I have Loved them ever since.
Joe helped me to cook the Langoustines. They are hard to find and I had to order a
ten-pound box from Silvano in order to get them.  The best way to cook langoustines is to split them in half and sauté them on each side in olive oil with a little butter and garlic. We served the Langoustines the same way as Silvano does as we feel his recipe is the best and everybody loves them that way.  The Langoustines are served with a salad of thinly shaved fennel and celery dressed in olive oil and lemon with some split cherry tomatoes. Absolutely delicious!!!
The Lobsters we prepared the best way possible, the New England way, steamed and served simply with drawn butter and lemon wedges. There’s nothing better on
Earth, well except for Sunday Sauce of course.
Well, that Christmas Eve Dinner The Feast of Seven Fishes was quite a wonderful
experience. It was a huge success but quite a bit too much work and actually, too much food, everyone was kind of full already by the fifth fish. The following year we decided on incorporating the Seven Fish into three courses instead of seven separate  ones  as it’s just too much,  too much to eat and too much to cook, a lot of work, and who needs to  work that hard on Christmas.  It was a good decision. We
still had 7 different fish, which is a must. Serving these 7 Fish in three courses was a good idea as it is much more manageable that way, both to cook and to eat.
On this Feast of The 7 Fish in “3 Courses” we decided to make the Stuffed
Calamari, which I would not have  chosen again  because it  was  a lot of work, but it was Alex and Joe’s favorite and they said that it was a must. This was our Antipasto Course. 

Alexandra and her mom helped me,  so the amount of work was cut down
and  divided into three, “A good thing.”
The stuffed calamari took care of two of the seven the shrimp that were stuffed
into the squid.
The second course (Primi) of Linguine Frutti de Mare consumed four of the Seven
Fish required for the meal.  It consisted of Mussels, Clams, Lobster, and Scallops cooked with garlic, oil, herbs, and just a touch of tomato.
The seventh and final fish was fresh Cod that I roasted and served with a sweet and
sour onion sauce (Bacala Fresca Agro Dolce). Everybody went bananas for it especially cousin Joe who raved at each and every dish I put down.  It’s a pleasure cooking for Joe as his for eating and for the Italian American way of life, the food, the wine, the rituals. Joe truly Loves and savors the experience, so I always love
to cook for him, Alexandra, their children, or just about anyone for who savors
the experience so well. This goes the same for my cousin  Anthony Bellino his wife Debbie and  their three girls Chrissy, Danna, and Allison,  along  with all my
close friends and family.
It makes cooking a joy rather than a chore. When cooking for family or friends,
you give two of life’s great gifts,  a tasty  Home-Cooked meal combined with a
little bit of Love.  Scratch that. “A whole lotta Love!”
If you don’t want to go so crazy, with 7 Fish as it’s quite an undertaking, you should try to do an odd numbers; 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11. Three (3) is a Nice Number and Represents the Holy Trinity of The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Buon Natale!
LEARN HOW to MAKE
The FEAST of The SEVEN FISHES
ITALIAN CHRISTMAS DINNER
“La VIGILIA”
In THE FEAST of THE 7 FISH
by Daniel Bellino “Z”
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Positano Amalfi Coast Cookbook – Travel Guide

“IT’S ALMOST HERE” !!!

POSITANO

The AMALFI COAST COOKBOOK – TRAVEL GUIDE

COMING November 28th 2020

“The BEST THING to HAPPEN in 2020”

AMAZON.com

Yes boys and girls, Ladies & Gentlemen, it’s almost here. Positano The Amalfi Coast Cookbook / Travel Guide is coming. It will be available on Amazon.com on Novemeber 28, 2020, “The Best Thing to Happen in 2020,” so the saying goes. The book is like no other ever written on Positano, Capri, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast. Anyone who gets it, will see that it’s one of the best Italian Cookbooks ever published on the specific region and cuisines of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. There are lots of great recipes that I have collected and developed over a 35 year period of going to the beautiful island of Capri, Positano, Napoli, and the Amalfi Coast of Southern Italy, which most people have just recently discovered in the past 15 years or so, I made my first of many wonderful trips way back in the Summer of 1985. I’ve been going ever since, and have stayed in and explored almost every inch of this one of the World’s most beautiful areas, and in particular, the food, the people, and the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast, the surround area and islands.

Yes I have a wealth of knowledge that you will not get and most other cookbooks or travel guides of the area. Did you say travel guide you say? Yes, this book is like no other ever written on the Amalfi Coast in that is a cookbook and travel guide, with true stories of Naples, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast written by me. Why both a cookbook slash travel guide. Well, I love cooking and I love travel, and I am, if I must say so myself, well versed on both. I worked in the restaurant and wine business in New York for more than 30 years, cooking for 10 years, and then as a wine director specializing in Italian Wine. I got to know and become friendly with hundreds of Italian people who make wine and own wine estates all over Italy. Yes my knowledge of wine, food, cooking, writing Italian Cookbooks, and Italy and World Travel are quite extensive, and I bring this experience to you within the front and back cover of this book, Positano – The Amalfi Coast Cookbook / Travel Guide.

This book first started out as a travel guide of Positano and the Amalfi Coast with Naples and Capri. Yes a travel guide, with essays as well as having 30 or so recipes of the best loved most popular dishes of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Somehow as books often do, it morphed into something else. It became more of a cookbook than a travel guide, but never-the-less, a travel guide as well, not only in the traditional travel guide sense of chapters on specific places, and info on the best hotels, and restaurants in Naples, on the islands, and all around the coast. So, info in the traditional sense, but a great deal of wonderful info and little known secrets translated in the stories I tell of my frequent trips and all the eating, chatting, maneuvering around and all sorts of little tidbits for you to divulge.

There’s no pictures you say. Yes this is true, no pictures other than the beautiful cover (“I think so”). No I don’t do pictures in my books but stories that people seem to like quite a bit, “my storytelling of food, experiences, travels, and what-not.” If you want pictures though, you are in luck. I’ve created a companion website to this book, Positano-Amalfi-Coast,com, and it has all the gorgeous pictures of Positano, Naples, Capri, and the whole of the Amalfi Coast that you could ever want, they’re on my website, so use it in conjunction with this book.

Why the recipes. I love food, especially Italian Food, my specialty, and I love the food of this area, and I want to tell you something. The reason for all the wonderful recipes that I’ve amassed over the years, through having so many meals at wonderful restaurants, trattorias, and pizzerias in Naples and all around the coast, talking to the cooks and chefs, going home and re-creating these dishes, and writing up recipes on how to make them, and jotting everything down. It’s been a 35 year journey. I want you to read the book and pick out the dishes you love, maybe you had a certain dishes at a special little trattoria where you had a most memorable time, and now that you’re home and you miss being on the Amalfi Coast, you want to learn how to make that special dish and cook it at home for friends, family, and loved ones. It’s a way to relive all those wonderful memories of Capri, Positano, the Amalfi Coast, no matter where you stayed or went, this book will help you relive all those wonderful times, as well as help you plan future trips whether you been there before, or this will be your first time, we are here to help and inspire you to have the Dream Vacation of your life. This is my hope.

Daniel Bellino Zwicke

Spaghetti Nerano – Recipe

SPAGHETTI NERANO

“SPAGHETTI with ZUCCHINI”



SPAGHETTI NERANO – Recipe


Spaghetti is one of the most famous dishes of the Amalfi Coast. The dish comes from the town of Nerano on the coast of the Sorrento Peninsula just across from Capri. The dish was created by Maria Grazia at her trattoria in Nerano. The primary ingredient of the dish is Zucchini with Povola or Caciocavallo Cheese grated into the pasta. Many restaurants on the Amalfi Coast and Capri serve this dish, and most locals know how to make it, and cook it at home, especially if they happen to have a little garden growing Zucchini, Tomatoes, and other vegetables. It’s easy to make and soul satisfying. If you’ve been to the area you may have already eaten it, and so know you can make it back home. Enjoy.

Ingredients :

3 medium sized Zucchini, washed



4 tablespoons Olive Oil



1 tablespoon Butter



3 cloves Garlic, peeled and cut in half



¼ cup fresh Basil, washed and leaves torn in half



¾  cup of grated Caciocavallo Cheese



1 pound imported Italian Spaghetti



Sea Salt and ground Black Pepper



Slice the Zucchini into ⅛” rounds.



Fill a large pot ¾ full of water, with 2 tablespoons salt and bring to the boil.

Place the Olive Oil  in  a large frying pan, and turn heat to a medium flame. Add the Zucchini and start to cool. Sprinkle the zucchini with about ½ teaspoon each of salt and Black Pepper. Add the butter and garlic and cook the zucchini for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.

Add about a ¼ of the pasta cooking water to the pan with the zucchini, turn the heat to low and cook for about 6 minutes on low heat. Stir the zucchini with a wooden spoon as it is cooking.

Put the spaghetti into the rapidly boiling water and cook according to the directions on the package and the spaghetti is al dente (slightly firm to the bite) usually about 10-11 minutes.

After the zucchini has cooked for a total of about 11 minutes. Turn the heat off. add the Basil and stir. Taste 1 piece of zucchini for seasoning to see if you want to add any more salt or pepper.

When the spaghetti is cooked, turn the heat off and drain the spaghetti into a colander, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water in case you need to add to the sauce.

Return the spaghetti to the put that it cooked in. Add all zucchini and all the juices from the pan in the pot with the spaghetti and stir.

Add half of the grated Caciocavallo cheese and stir. The consistency should be just slightly loose. If it is too tight, add a little pasta cooking water and stir. 

Plate the spaghetti on 4 plates, giving each person an even amount of zucchini. Drizzle a little olive oil over each plate and serve.

Note :  It’s best to make the dish with Caciocavallo Cheese, but if you can’t find, a combination of half grated Pecorino and half of Parmigiano Reggiano is a good substitute, or just Parmigano or Pecorino on their own.

Note II : Once you know how to make Spaghetti Nerano, you can make little variations, simply by adding one other ingredient that marries well with the dish. A great addition to this dish is to make Spaghetti Nerano just as above, and to add 4 or 5 pieces of sauteed shrimp on to each plate. Just have the shrimp ready and cook them in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt & pepper, and cooked for about 2 minutes on each side. Turn the heat off and add 4 or 5 pieces of shrimp to the plate with the Spaghetti Nerano and enjoy.



Excerpted from POSITANO The AMALFI COAST COOKBOOK / TRAVEL GUIDE by Daniel Bellino Zwicke … November 2020



POSITANO

The AMALFI COAST COOKBOOK 

/ TRAVEL GUIDE

COMING NOVEMBER 25, 2020

CLICK HERE to READ MORE

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Pete Hamill has Passed Away – RIP

 

Screenshot 2020-08-05 at 2.20.20 PM

Pete Hamill at his favorite Watering-Hole

The Lion’s Head

Greenwich Village, NY

 

 
It is a most sad day in New York today. Those New Yorkers with the good sense and capacity to know who this great man was, one of The Great New Yorkers of all times. Hamill passed away Wednesday, August 5, 2020, and New York and The World has just become a much less interesting place,” without Pete in it. Hamill may very well be the “Last of The Great Celebrity Newspaperman.”  Hamill wrote 10 novels and a couple collections of short stories, and he was a top author, he will most be remembered as a Newspaper Reporter. This he would tell you himself. His style was muscular, sometimes gritty, and always of energetic prose. 
 
Over his career Hamill worked (wrote) for The New York Post, New York Herald Tribune, The Daily News, Village Voice, and New York Magazine. He penned numerous articles for Esquire, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and other magazines. Hamill was at his best telling the story of his beloved city New York. He could seamlessly write great articles on crime scenes, crime, courthouse drama, of New York and the Worlds Power Brokers, and just about anything. He was a natural storyteller, and with so much knowledge with an encyclopedic take of New York, in his later years Hamill was often featured as a speaker in television documentaries the great metropolis, its history, places, events, and characters, The Heartbeat of New York. We all know him for his books and thousands of magazine and newspaper articles, but if you have never seen Pete Hamill talk about New York, people, anything, do yourself a favor and seek these documentaries out. He had a wonderful voice, and he could besides penning a story, Hamill was great at telling (vocally) as well.
 
Yes we have lost another great one in Pete. I know it sounds cliche “we’ve lost another great,” yes it may sound cliche, but it is as true as can be.

Pete, thanks for being here, gracing New York with your presence, telling stories, writing of the city we both love. You will be missed.

Daniel