Tag Archives: italian

Altamura winery & Ciccio Napa Valley

Many of you know that Altamura winery is one the only winery in Wooden Valley located within the Napa Valley appellation. The winery was established back in 1985, by Frank and Karen Altamura, making a conscious decision of taking a hand approach to how they produced wines, where a natural production limit is established. My favorite is their Cabernet Sauvignon. Their exacting, no compromise policy in the vineyard, where they believe is where 90% of the wine is made is the secret to what you get in their bottles.



The owner Frank, knew winemaking was his calling, ever since he graduated from High School and began working with his cousin. But his formative years of becoming a great winemaker were further developed at Caymus, where he worked for five years. His passion for developing great grape varieties from Burger to Zinfardel, as well as refining concepts of soil and climatic effects, and every bottle of Altamura, is a reflection of Frank’s winemaking approach of quality over quantity. After 20 years, The Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese are raved about for their rich texture and intensity of the elements unique to each vineyard site.

If you are ever in this neighbourhood, a stop at their new restaurant aptly named “Ciccio,” which is term of endearment in Italian. For this is the terms you use to call a friend, your nephews,…because of the cuteness of their cuteness and the affection you feel towards them… Hey Ciccio. Much of that sentiment is reflected in this former Old Grocery store, where Frank Altamura would shop as a child. Now at Ciccio, you can pair Altamura wines with locally grown foods and veggies. The delicious menu and easy on the wallet pricing has kept this place packed from day one. The only downside of this place, is that they do not take reservations. But, then to further note of this family hospitality in nature, heaters were placed outside the porch to keep the crowd warm as they wait up to an hour for a table.



A must is their oven-fired pizzas with locally sourced ingredients some on the Altamura ranch. Chef Polly Lappetto will make you feel right at home. The details like the orange handles cutlery and touches of this colour throughout, shows that no detail is to small or left to chance in this cozy restaurant. A must from the bar is the Frank’s Negroni.

Coincidentally, while I was writing this blog…my doorbell rang, and what you know it was a courier delivering a package addressed to Cosimo Commisso from: Altamura Winery. Must be the Altamura Cabernet 2012, striking, elegant and refined, I had ordered a few weeks earlier. Cosimo Commisso signing off…as I have to go pair some really, special special wine… think ripe dense blackberry that is opulent, elegant and refined with some holestyle porchetta.


Truffles Season Q&A – Part 1

If you love truffles, then you have to add truffle hunting to your bucket list. Imagine learning how to find truffles from a truffle hunter as you walk through the woods, your senses heightened at the thought of tasting a decadent meal after being rewarded with finding the prize. In this series of blogs, Cosimo Commisso will share his passion for truffles and how to cook them, what wine to pair them with, and what restaurant to visit to taste truffle-based dishes.

1.What is the best season for truffles?

The Italian black summer truffle season is from May through early September (Campoli near Sora in the Apennines has a summer truffle festival in June), although they can be obtained all year round. In early July, therefore, you should find Italian summer truffles in markets, or even go on a truffle hunt. White truffles can only be sold from the end of September, and white truffle fairs are held in October and November.

2. How many species of truffles grow in Italy?

Depending upon the variety of truffle (at least eight species grow in Italy), these delicious fungi are harvested from late summer to early spring by experienced gatherers known as trifolau.

3. Which one is your favourite and why?

White Truffle aroma — the taste is very refined.

4. White truffles are generally served raw and shaved over steaming buttered pasta, salads or fried eggs. Do you have any other suggestions on how to use this rare delicacy?
  • White truffle over gnocchi
  • Grilled asparagus on eggs and white truffle
  • White truffle over linguini
  • White truffle on veal paillard.
5. What recipe can you share with us that makes use of this type of truffle?

Potato Gnocchi in a cream butter emollition — which is one of my favorites

6. Is it true that the white truffle (tartufo bianco) is mostly found in Piedmont, Italy, and often referred to as the “king?”


7. White truffles are usually only reserved fresh and never cooked. How do you like to use them in your recipes?

Shaved, preferably, and no later than four days after picking to enjoy the full aroma.