Festa a Vico di Gennaro Esposito: Food and Wine Immersion

In early June, 130 top chefs converged at Vico Equense on the Sorrento Peninsula, Amalfi Coast south of Naples for the 3-day annual benefit Festa a Vico., this year supporting health causes. It is the brainchild of chef and native son, Gennaro Esposito, an internationally renown chef whose Michelin starred restaurant La Torre Saracena, is there. The Fellini-esque garden (above) was the scene of the Saturday night gala.

It is within the walls of the 13th century Giusso Castle , built to protect the city from Saracen invaders. IMG_9331

The parapets overlook the bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius.
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All was quiet as the tables were being set up and I talked with the artisan bread maker from the Forno San Marco.
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And Francesco de Filippis, a vintner, who grew up in Vico Equense but is now in Tuscany at Cosimo Maria Masini,. IMG_9343 Shaking Francesco’s well-calloused hand was confirmation of how intimately involved he is in the daily work of making biodynamic wines that were my favorites of the festival.
Daphne IGT: white wine (100% Trebbiano Toscano) delicate complexity from a 4-day maceration on the skins.
Nicole IGT: red wine (100% Sangiovese), an authentic but elegant version of the Tuscan classic.

When the 200 guests arrived at the festival, crowding the stands where chefs were putting together dishes, I gave into the “full immersion” experience and gave up on trying to identify which chef was making which dish.
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The one exception was Chef Valeria Piccini’s dish from her Da Caino in Montemerano near Grosseto, Tuscany.
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Which I managed to photograph as it was being assembled.
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The night before, Street Food, was much the same. Chefs were working in every corner of the town and patrons wandered through the streets deciding where to spend their food and wine tickets. A happy chaos of eating and drinking “a la grande” ensued.
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That night, my favorite was a young chef, whose daughter was with him, who had made a shrimp dish with celery and green apple.
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On the third night, on the beach at Marina di Acquea, Gennaro Esposito was at the entrance greeting the arriving crowd.
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I dropped my camera and note pad into my purse after taking this shot. There was simply nothing to be but give in to the fun, chaos and pleasure of the experience.
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