Wonderful off- the -beaten -track EATERIES on the Amalfi Coast!

 

As the years fly by from when I first moved to the Amalfi Coast (yikes! over 30 yrs ago now) many things have changed in the culinary arena all up and down this magnificent coastline.

Delicious Scampi Risotto – a ‘secret’ recipe of Roberto, owner/chef from A Paranza Risorante in Atrani

 

When I first arrived in Positano the best meals you could find were generally  in a local Nonna’s kitchen or a next door neighbours back yard,  and this is still valid today. But when you are a traveller and dont know the next door neighbours or a local ‘Nonna’ what do you do? I was always amazed at  how delicious these simple and  traditional dishes were, the local restaurants I found back then………were not so amazing.

Zucchini rolls stuffed with fresh anchovies & mozzarella. Beautifully crafted by chef/owner Gennaro at Acqua Pazza in the town of Cetara

 

I had come from living for a few years between Milano and Firenze where the restaurants were excellent, so I was deeply spoilt. But today things have  changed,  it’s hard to get a bad meal  anywhere on the Amalfi Coast today, the restaurants generally excel in all areas; food, service and ambiance. Hence my one of my happiest projects was to write Amalfi Coast Recipes (Penguin 2012).  I felt driven to share this fascinating mix of simple folk and their inherited cooking skills  with some extraordinary chefs who had put their talents to serving exquisite dishes to the public by opening excellent  restaurants or simple eateries.

Today the Amalfi Coast restaurants offer delicious dishes at all levels, whether you are wanting a fine dining experience, a large long and slow meal on a hill top or overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with friends & family or even a full day out  blending a seaside excursion with amazingly good food. …..AND there really is something for every budget!

Here are some of my favourite off the beaten track eateries  on the Amalfi Coast. Naturally there are also the nominated classic spots that TripAdvisor will promote, which are sometimes valid, but certainly not aways! So here are a couple of  amazing dining spots which I think are a must when visiting.

 

Naturally getting to all these ‘out of the way’ places is not alway simple, but today everywhere along the coast is accessible with one form of transport or another.

 

To make it easy for you, I can organise all these bookings with transport to and from these wonderful venues, just let me know the day you’d like to go…….even if I haven’t organised your accommodation. amanda@my-amalfi-coast.com 

 

A PARANZA – Atrani.

My advise for a great meal in the spot is;

Hop on one of the many hydrofoils or ferries from the main beach in Positano heading to Amalfi. When you get off here (apx 1/2 hr) , there is a quaint little pathway that leads to Atrani from behind the main Cathedral of S. Andrea right in the heart of town. This is an apx  short walk of 20 mins and so pretty! You will pop out in the main piazza of Atrani and  just down the road from A Paranza restaurant. OR if you do not want to do this short walk, let me know and when I make your restaurant booking, I will advise the owners of A Paranza that you will require a pick up from the ferry in Amalfi.

Atrani4815

The delightful walkway from Amalfi is only about 20 mins and well worth it.

After lunch a wander around this delightful jewel of a town is a must. A coffee in the piazza or a swim down at the towns very accessible beach very close by the main piazza and  restaurant are must- dos.

The little piazza of Atrani which is connected to their tiny beach.

The little piazza of Atrani which is connected to their tiny beach.

 

Heading home you can hop on another ferry or hydrofoil in Amalfi, (make sure you pick up the time table when you head over to Atrani form Positano as it may change from season to season) OR a Sita bus that goes right through Atrani every hr will have you back in Positano in apx 30 – 45 hr. Tickets have to be bought from the bar when you get your coffee after lunch.

 

This is a charming daytime distraction from the bustle of Positano.

The majestic coast village of Atrani

The majestic coastal village of Atrani

 

 

ACQUA PAZZA – Cetara  

A lazy image of Cetara - the great fishing village of the coast.

A lazy image of Cetara – the great fishing village of the coast.

 

Nello one of the great fishermen of Cetara!

Nello one of the great fishermen of Cetara!

 

This adventure is a full day out right up the other end of the Amalfi Coast, apx 1 hrs drive by taxi OR apx 1 1/2 hrs by bus.  A lunch in this spectacular fish based restaurant is a worthwhile day out.

 

Acqua Pazza restaurant is nestled in the heart of the tiny fishing village of Cetara, one of the only coastal towns which do not rely on tourism for their income, they still have their small fleets of fishing boats which go out each day…mainly for tuna and fresh anchovies, the town specialty. This is what Acqua Pazza do best, they actually have their OWN fishermen who fish exclusively for them and prepare some of the most mouth watering and sophisticated seafood dishes I have ever tried!

 

However I would first  head  to the next town (and the last one on the Amalfi Coast), called Vietri sul Mare where they produce some of the most exciting ceramics in Italy. I can organise a car to take you hear, wait for you to shop and then bring you 10 mins back to Cetara for a delicious meal before heading back to Positano or Praiano.

 

Vietri are brilliantly organised with exceptional shipper to transport your purchases back home, wherever you live on the planet! while you enjoy a delicious meal back in Cetara they will be wrapping your goods madly for transport!.

Naturally if you are on a budget and would like to avoid the taxi charges, all the above can be done on the Sita bus with a little organisation & extra time. Let me know and I will book your restaurant for you. I would however suggest a short taxi right between Vietri and Cetara to your luncheon destination as the Sita buses only travel every hour or so. Then a Sita bus home to Positano or Praiano

 

Let me know and I will book!

 

 

Buon appetito!…and believe me, your appetite WILL be bigger in a smaller hidden away spot!

PS MORE Amalfi Coast off -the -beaten -track restaurant recommendations in our next Newsletter and Blog!

 

 

 

Oh Dio!…Don’t miss the best rental properties on the Amalfi Coast!

 

May and October are my favourite times of the year on the Amalfi Coast. You miss all those crazy High Season crowds, get the best properties at the best prices and have space to move around and enjoy the entire coast with tranquility; just one example is that restaurant bookings are  not always necessary so you can enjoy a more spontaneous vacation.

Hotel poseidon  positano 1779

if you are not already booked for 2015, things are already filling up fast for the High Season period (June – end Sept) but there are still plenty  of amazing properties, villas and apts available in May and October and most of these are already full for the High Season period.

So here are my tips:

If you are a big swimmer, I recommend October. The wonderful Mediterranean Sea has had the sun on it for 6 months and it is now nice and warm. Whereas in May the water is still a  bit chilly from the previous winter months……..like Aussie water all year round!

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The locals are less frantic and less ‘hungry’  in October and more chilled out as they have had a good 6 months to get the hospitality pressures out of their system.

I always remember the month of October with great affection. Being often the most sensational month of the year with not a cloud in the sky and one jaw dropping day after another.

But the spring flowers are in full bloom in May and the coastline will take your breath away at every turn!

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In May the locals have had a long and quiet winter so are raring to go, exposing their sensational  Amalfi coast to you in the most nurturing way, and will frequently do back flips to please you!

Some activities may not  yet be fully operational in May whereas October all activities from boat hire, restaurants and shops are generally well established, or may have simple shut down at the end of Summer…some beach establishments close at the end of Sept but most town restaurants are still in full swing!

In any case these are the two golden periods of the year to visit the Amalfi Coast. Positano being well equipped with shops, hotels and plenty to do, is often very functional most of May and October. Whereas a lot of smaller villages open their doors generally from June through to Sept., but this doesn’t mean they are not great for day trips during the quieter months!

Here below are some of my favourite spots to stay during the mid season of May and October. All my clients receive a ‘fabulous things to do while visiting the Amalfi Coast’  list and most activities, restaurants, boat tours and excursions I can book for you before you leave home!!!

Casa Divina

3 bedrooms  with king size beds
1 bedroom with queen size
1 bedroom with 2 full size single beds
5 baths – 1 with shower and tub, 4 with shower
Living room with TV, iPod system and DVD player
Generous kitchen and dining room
Garden terrace with sofas, armchairs and large outside dining space plus the enchanting view!
Terrace solarium located at bedrooms level
Terrace solarium at lower level with showers
Satellite TV
Wifi
Air conditioning
Winter heating
Dishwasher
Washing machine
Microwave
Private access to beach
Daily house cleaning  with possibility of a cook at home and cocktail time (by appointment only)

Casa Isabella

Sleeps 4 pers in two queen size double bedrooms
A fifth person can sleep on the sofa bed in the living area
One bathroom has a tub and the other a shower
Beautiful terrace and solarium
Generous airy living room  with dining area
Fully equipped kitchen
Air conditioning for the warmer months
Heating for the cooler months
Washing machine
Dishwasher
Microwave oven
Sky Satillite TV
Phone
Shared pool

 

la Colombina

 

  • La Colombina – sleeps 4 pers. – 1 bedroom.
  • Large master bedroom with en-suite bathroom with tub and shower.
  • The living area has a comfortable sofa bed  that becomes  two single beds or a double.
  • Off the small living area is a second bathroom with shower and washing machine
  • Adjoining the living room is a pretty small but fully fitted kitchen.
  • Both rooms have large window balconies overlooking the sea.
  • The best feature of La Colombina is the dining and sunning terrace off the kitchen area
  •  air conditioned for the summer months and heated in winter.
  •  satellite TV, inbuilt safe, & CD player
  • A private path  takes you down to a small intimate beach below. On the way is a  dip pool built just below  the Torre Porta  (an 11th C tower  owned by the same family) and shared only by guests of La Colombina & La Colomba Villette.

 

Colomba

 

La Colomba  – sleeps 5 pers- 2 bedrooms.

  • Spacious master bedroom with Queen Size bed and French doors onto the large terrace.
  • En-suite bathroom with tub and separate shower.
  • The second bedroom is a twin, (can be a double) also with its own bathroom, shower only.
  • The generous living area has a large divan which is suitable for one adult to sleep on.
  • The kitchen is small but fully equipped with dishwasher, microwave oven and washing machine.
  • Very generous sunning and dining terrace looking onto the Mediterranean Sea and Positano.
  •  Air conditioned for the summer months and heated in winter.
  •  Satellite TV, inbuilt safe, & CD player
  • A private path  takes you down to a small intimate beach below. On the way is a  dip pool built just below  the Torre Porta  (an 11th C tower  owned by the same family) and shared only by guests of the tower and the Villette Colomba & Colombina.

 

Torre Porta

Sleeps 2 pers ( tower) + 1 adult or 2 children ( annex)
Large shower bathroom in Tower
Small fridge and hot plate for tea or coffee in Tower
In built safe
En-suite bathroom in Annex
Fully equipped kitchen in Annex
Large dining and sunning terrace between Annex and Tower
Dip pool
Star Gazers terrace at top of tower
5 mins walk down gentle pathway from Positano’s internal road
Private staircase down to small beach.

 

Prices below are per week and in euro. Each property owner decides on their High, Mid and Low season period. The owner of the below properties does not have a Mid Season but her Low season goes for the two weeks from April 25 to May 9 and from October 3 through to the Xmas period. As you can see from the prices list below, there is a big difference between High and Low season! This is 6 weeks of  Low Seaason and fully available and wonderful accommodation… so BOOK NOW!

TORRE PORTA                    High Season – 3.300 Low Season – 2.200
COLOMBO VILLETTA            High Season- 3,900  Low Season – 2.600
COLOMBINA VILLETTA        High Season – 2.550 Low Season – 1.700
CASA ISABELLA                    High Season – 2.950 Low Season – 2100
CASA DIVINA                       High Season – 10.400 Low Season -  7.200

 

If you would like more information on one of these properties, a different property or would like some excellent suggestions and bookings made for activities ,restaurants, tours or fucntions just contact me at amanda@my-amalfi-coast.com

For more properties go to www.my-amalfi-coast.com 

Buon Viaggio e buon divertimento! (Happy travels and have fun!)

BACI BACI XXX

 

 

 

 

 

SLOW FOOD – but not so slow!

Wow there are so many dietary issues floating around today, that I sometimes wonder how we could possible replicate our ancestors dishes with what is available today. Perhaps we can’t but we can certainly make a huge effort to improve our eating habits and stop ‘bolting’ through our meals! Viva SLOW FOOD & its founder Carlo Petrini!  It HAD to be an Italian who picked up on the madness of fast food and introduced Slow Food. Unfortunately Carlo has now moved on, but the movement has made it’s important mark and still attracts thousands of clever food lovers. I wouldn’t go anywhere in Italy without their wonderful yearly edition food guide which you can pick up at ANY corner Edicolo (newsagent)  in Italy on your way in. it will guide you to the best hidden eateries all  over Italy without having to mortgage your house!   Food and eating it is one of the essential things that keep us alive on this planet and certainly the most enjoyable. There should be NO excuse for it to harm us. Yet when we look around at increasing allergies and diseases created by bad diets, wrong foods and careless eating addictions… It is a crime and we should all be doing our best to improve our eating habits to enjoy better health, not to mention tastier and more scrumptious food!

One of the best ways to achieve this is to start in your own kitchen. Learn to cook delicious food, the Internet is packed with amazingly good recipes and simple too! you will see all those packaged &  processed foods disappear slowly from your pantry. They will be replaced by wonderful whole foods that are fresh, nutritious and delicious!…  which people tend to steer away from simply because they have no idea what to do with them and no time to do it! And because you are a modern day clever bunny, you will also sort out what works for you time-wise. Not everything has to take 10 mins to prep but also shouldn’t always require 3 hours!

a quick 20 mins in the oven for this delicious baked fish!

a quick 20 mins in the oven for this delicious baked fish!

Here is an Amazing Pasta Dish and also yummy as a  gluten free dish for me cause I am gluten intolerant… but feel free to chose a  delicious durum wheat  pasta. This recipe will take you no time at all.  I developed this  after years of watching and learning different pasta cooking methods on the Amalfi Coast. My son’s grandfather Adolfo Bella was a great lover and cooker of ‘reduction’ pasta, meaning you add the raw pasta to your almost cooked pasta sauce or in his case, legumes! His specialty was Pasta with fagioli-  beans or  ceci – chick peas or  lenticchie - lentils.  He was a great believer in the  pressure cooker and would toss in all the ingredients together ( you know how long those legumes take to cook? FOREVER! – but not in the pressure cooker). Into the pot it would all go (except the pasta) for an hour or so then at the end he’d simple take off the lid and stir in the pasta for 10 – 15 mins at the end. Genius and unbelievably good. See Amalfi Coast Recipes for all the above recipes. but I prefer a good ol’ solid iron pot. The pasta absorbs all the delicious flavours of the ingredients and if the water runs out before your pasta is ready, just add a bit more boiling water, but not too much until the pasta is cooked.  This leaves you with an incredibly creamy, tasty and scrumptious dish.

Choose a wonderful seasonal green vegetable with a bit of body………..not a floppy one. Brussels sprouts are fabulous if you like them and they are in season….the baby ones are to die for.! I love my mandolin and would shave a few veggies into a bowl & toss in some garden leaves while preparing this dish. Dress it with good quality extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt and munch away while you cook your pasta. The best time to eat a raw salad is just before a cooked dish.

 

Reduction Pasta – 30 mins prep time. 

Your vegetable pasta sauce boiling away gently WITH the pasta already cooking inside! genius for creaminess.

Your vegetable pasta sauce boiling away gently WITH the pasta already cooking inside! genius for creaminess.

Ingredients:

250 gms of pasta ( I use Olive Green Organics gluten free pasta) a mix of spaghetti and penne is best for this dish OR your favourite wheat pastas, a mix of several types  of pasta is perfect and give this dish body and texture

 300 gms of green vegs (e.g.broccoli or  brussels sprouts or beans or asparagus) blanched in the steamer until very al dente.
1 lg clove of garlic diced
4 anchovy fillets
1 sm fresh chilli pepper
2 tblspns of coconut
aoil drizzle of fresh extra virgin olive oil
chopped fresh basil or parsley to garnish.

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Method:

While your veggies are steaming, heat your coconut oil on a medium flame in a heavy based fry pan. Add the chopped fresh chilli, diced garlic and anchovies. When the garlic is lightly browned remove from heat. In a separate pan heat the other tblspn of coconut oil and sauté your veggies on a medium flame. Add your veggies and broken up raw pasta to the garlic and anchovy mix and sauté gently for 30 secs then add boiling water to the fry pan to just cover the pasta and veggies. turn up the flame to boil the ingredients and see the water evaporate slowly, add more boiling water if necessary. All the pasta will absorb the flavour of the vegetable your are using. The pasta in this dish should be quite well cooked, not al dente. It is a very comforting dish and the kids ADORE it! There is nothing sophisticated about this dish, it’s all homely and nurturing. When it is almost done taste  for salt and add a generous pinch of sea salt if necessary -  you may need it as the pasta is very unsalted  & neutralises the salty anchovies. When the dish is cooked, turn off the flame and add your garnishing herbs and a big drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  if you are a cheese eater, this is when you had a generous handful of freshly grated parmesan. If you are dairy free, add some finely grated (a coffee grinder will do this trick for you) brazil nuts or almonds. This dish will bread your heart, but NOT your wallet! ……..and should take no more than a 1/2 hr.

 

Finish off with a great espresso! 

 

creamy delicious espresso is the best!

creamy delicious espresso is the best!

I find coffee a great digestive after a meal. I think all the ‘milk’ we add to coffee in Australia has ruined our ability to create a decent ‘espresso’. Crowds are sipping cappuccinos and lattes after huge lunches of meat or fish! – yuk! what a nasty combination in your tummy. In Italy a cappuccino is only served for breakfast and generally the only ones that come out of a bar after 10am are for the tourists.. Being allergic to dairy has taught me over the years to appreciate a great espresso!………but first I have to find one.   I head to Haberfield in Sydney where all the Italians kill for a good espresso. I go to Papa on Ramsay st for a decent espresso but also to gaze at the amazing pasties.  OR I’ll go to Randwick Sydney where I can find an excellent espesso at Parc coffee shop http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/70/751696/restaurant/Sydney/Parc-Cafe-Randwick OR  Ruby’s in Queen’s Park just around the corner. http://www.rubysdiner.com.au/   Generally I find Espresso here bitter and quite invasive. The espesso I get in Italy is smoooooth and rich and does not require 3 teaspoons of sugar to make it palatable!

Marco Bella i- enjoying the espresso ride as much as any Italian could!

Marco Bella i- enjoying the espresso ride as much as any Italian could!

My son, who is an excellent barista tells me that the type of coffee you grind for an espesso and a cappuccino SHOULD be quite different. The cappuccino coffee being stronger and slightly more bitter ( which becomes softer when the milk is added) ………can often give you a nasty bitter espesso!   So if you know where to get a great espesso near your place, I’d love to hear from you. Lets make a list of great espressos in Australia…NOT best cappuccino, or latte, or flat white, cause they are really…a dime a dozen!

 

Lunch on the Run – 10 mins prep time. 

yummy sardines and salad atop a slice of nutty crunchy toast makes the best Non Slow Food lunch!

yummy sardines and salad atop a slice of nutty crunchy toast makes the best Non Slow Food lunch!

I am always flat out at lunchtime but lucky enough to be able to prepare my own lunch. So I know what I am getting but it needs to be a fast prep!  I want something mouth watering but don’t have hours to kill.   Good quality  sustainable canned fish are perfect. I love sardines and mackerel!  Best brands are: FISH4EVER  & also GOOD FISH, both can be found is good health food stores. Buy a nutty delicious bread ( I have sauced some excellent bakeries in Sydney who produce appetising grainy gluten free breads). Some fermented veggies – most health food store sell them but go to this link to make your own mouth watering probiotic fermented veggies It is super easy and fast and just basically makes itself over a five day period. Avocado is a must! Fresh tomatoes, herbs and if you are passionate for mung beans like me to add that ‘crunch’ , then this is where they go!

Ingredients:

2 slices of excellent quality nutty bread. For great Gluten free breads and other couture breads, go to Tin Bin bakery in Bondi  or Organic Bread Bar in  Paddington Sydney.

A can of sustainable good quality sardines or mackerel

A drizzle of extra virgin olive  oil

mung beans to taste

fresh raw spinach leaves

1 tablespns of fermented veggies (sauerkraut)

1 small avocardo  & 1 small tomato.

fresh lemon juice   pepper and salt

Are you ready for a 5 mins feast?

 

Method:

Toast your bread till super crunchy.   Smother both pieces with half an avocado each. Top with thick slices of ripe tomato then layer with fish (as much as you like!)   Now add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. then top with mung beans and spinach leaves with a dollop  of fermented veggies   Lastly add pepper and salt to taste and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.   Be generous, let it topple over, doesn’t matter. These flavours together are killer good!

Buon Appetito !

My Favourite Artist on the Amalfi Coast………and you wont BELIEVE his studio!

If you have had a chance to look at my first book, MY AMALFI COAST - Penguin 2008, you will have noticed that I have a handful of favourite artists on the Amalfi Coast. Some now deceased, others departed for far away destinations, but one who remains a true ‘aquistato’ (adopted) Praianese , (from the town of Praiano) is Paolo Sandulli. Paolo was originally an import from the inner Campania village  of Avellino where some of the best Italian wines are grown today.  After years away studying art all over Italy and Europe, Paolo finally settled on the magnificent Amalfi Coast just 8 years after I arrived in the mid 80’s, so I guess you could say, we were fresh adopted locals at the same time. He is by far my favourite artist on the Amalfi Coast today!

Paolo with his wonderful sea sponge haired girls!

Paolo with his wonderful sea sponge haired girls!

Paolo ensconced himself almost immediately inside the magnificent Torre a Mare, the breathtaking tower down by the sea in Praiano  where he has worked now for more than two decades. The tower, which Paolo set up as his suggestive and refined small work studio was reportedly built in the mid 1200’s but others historians say it was in fact the mid 1500’s, either way for us Anglos, it’s old!!!! …….and totally charming.

Torre a Mare in Praiano, Paolo's pride and joy studio overlooking the Mediterranean.

Torre a Mare in Praiano, Paolo’s pride and joy studio overlooking the Mediterranean.

This ancient delight is a joy to visit even today and view Paolo’s works scattered throughout the tower, inside and out – wonderful paintings of round sexy girls, the plump female form being a favourite of Paolo’s. You will also see  a huge variety of colourful ‘sea sponge’ haired female busts in all shapes and sizes. His girls are voluptuous and sexy – his males are lined and weather beaten, the local fisherman of Praiano inspiring Paolo daily.  But all in all his figures come alive and project a feeling of great joy! just like Paolo’s wide embracing smile, his art forms follows the same path of happiness and amusement.

Make sure you call before visiting the studio during the day, so you are sure to find Paolo at home. Studio Praiano : + 39 089 874149. He is a delicious host and will happily show you his wonderful tower and the fabulous art within. He also has a very efficient delivery service all over the world if you make any purchases. I have spotted his work in many parts of Italy, including the magnificent hair  foliage of the “head” vases at the 4 star Palazzo Murat in Positano or the delicious ‘dessert room’ in Il Riccio restaurant by the sea in Capri where you will see one of Paolo’s robust and sexy sculptures of a girl  straddling a giant squid. Many visiting guests have also told me they have spotted his work aboard all over Europe!

Paolo is certainly one of the great talents on the Amalfi Coast today and a must to see while visiting this area. Paolo, the great dreamer will stimulate your senses and trap your fantasies forever!

a delightful glass encased couple enjoy the sensational view of the Amalfi Coast from one of Paolo's tower windows.

a delightful glass encased couple enjoy the sensational view of the Amalfi Coast from one of Paolo’s tower windows.

e viva Paolo!

(long live Paolo)

baci baci xxx

MAKE YOUR ITALIAN CUCINA HEALTHIER!

The more I learn about our foods and there healing properties, the more I  become aware of so many things we are doing in the kitchen since a lifetime that perhaps with a tiny tweak we could turn our dishes into something incredibly healing, nutritious……..and delicious! See the following Italian Cucina recipes for healthier eating!

 

Some good Italian reading matter.

Some good Italian reading matter.

Here are a few insights I have come across in the past 10 years in my kitchen:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is terrific, and yes as we all know , ONLY Extra Virgin has to be used, forget that plain olive oil and its nasty counter part “light’ olive oils – they are not good for  you. The net is full of articles, so if you like, have a read! BUT, frying up or heating Extra Virgin Olive Oil , or boiling it away on the stove top for hours is not the best for your inner health. Try Extra Virgin drizzled raw and fresh over anything and everything! The flavour is amazing.  But never heat it up.. For that matter very few fats should be heated. Only Extra Virgin Coconut Oil does not distort it’s health benefits when heated………lard and some other good quality animal fats are also fine to heat but remember alway be gentle when heating fats. Heat will alter the nutritional value of anything! But can also be beneficial if done correctly. E.g.  Some foody experts say that tomatoes have more nutritional value when cooked rather than eaten raw! So heat food gently on a low flame and add some cold water to your fat while heating it  so you keep the temperature low.

Look for that wonderful dark green nectar when choosing a good Extra Virgin!

Look for that wonderful dark green nectar when choosing a good Extra Virgin!

 

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Get those wonderful Spices out of the pantry! Cumin, Cardamon, ginger, nutmeg, oregano, cayenne pepper, basil, parsley, coriander, mint, thyme, bay leaves whether they are  Indian, Asian, Italian or Arabic ……fresh or dried………but fresh out of your garden are always the tastiest and you KNOW they haven’t been sprayed with anything nasty. Remember fresh herbs are always best and tastiest sprinkled on food at the end of it’s cooking……….not at the beginning, which will often cook all all the flavour away by the end.

 

Kale Chip recipes: Take your well washed kale leaves and brush them with Virgin coconut oil – cut out the big spine as it can be tough to chew- sprinkle some  Cayenne pepper or Paprika or Turmeric  ( or all three) over the leaves then pop them in a very slow (30 -40 degrees oven) with the door ajar with a metal spoon or implement for the entire day! and enjoy that fabulous snack in the evening before dinner. I always go for colours when selecting my spices….naturally the orange/red ones have some heat which I love!

Spice drenched Kale chips.

Spice drenched Kale chips.

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3)  Nuts & seeds are fabulous but can really play havoc on plenty of tummies         and digestive systems. If  you ‘activate’ these wonderful foods, they become super digestible, and taste 10 times better. Here’s what you do…………oh, Mr. Google is also FULL of loads of versions of this but this is what I do and it’s very easy. If you can access organic raw nuts without all the salt and additives, all the better!

Activated nuts ready to munch on !

Activated nuts ready to munch on !

My favourite! activated walnuts...........yum. Good brain food too!

My favourite! activated walnuts………..yum. Good brain food too!

 

4) Activated nuts -  In a large glass or ceramic bowl add one tablespoon of good quality sea salt, cold water and your well rinsed organic nuts or seeds, make sure the nuts are well covered and use separate bowls for different nuts. Check out Google as different seeds and nuts require a different length of soaking time. I generally do 12 hrs over night for all nuts but keep them in separate bowls. I then rinse them thoroughly and spread them out on a sheet of baking paper on a baking dish. I then put them at the lower temp in my over (apx 30 – 40 degrees) with the door open a crack using a metal spoon or something similar. I then leave them for a full day in that mild oven ( you are basically dehydrating your nuts and seeds but without a dehydrator!)

That evening you will have the perfect snack!

5) Pesto Plus I follow a classic pesto recipe, loads of fresh washed basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, a clove of garlic (dont over do this or you could ruin your delicate pesto). I omit the parmesan and instead add a whole zucchini, and a well washed bunch of coriander and sea salt with a teaspoon of Chlorella or Spirulina and a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice. When you put it in a container in the fridge, add some Extra Virgin to the very top to stop any oxidisation.

 

Home made GREEN GREEN pesto paste.

Home made GREEN GREEN pesto paste.

 

It just makes a fabulous super green savoury paste to put on  anything and everything! ……..not just your pasta. It also lasts for days in the fridge.

5) RECIPE

Your Parmigiana di Melanzane DOES NOT have to be that heavy greasy “impossible to digest” dish! its all a matter of altering a few tiny thing to adapt to a better way of eating.

There is nothing better than the taste of a grilled slice of Eggplant (Melanzane) so why fry it?

If you are allergic to dairy like me, here is a great healthy and delicious alternative recipes. Yep! no mozzarella or parmesan!

 

The famous grilled eggplant and so so delicious.

The famous grilled eggplant and so so delicious.

 

Very eggplant parmesan !

Very eggplant parmesan !

Serves 4 pers.

Ingredients

2 medium size eggplants

2 cans organic tomatoes (they are generally without the sugar, which is unnecessary)

1 tblspn of organic coconut oil

salt

1/2 a fresh small hotlchill pepper

fresh basil to garnish

Grated brasil nuts

2 cloves of garlic

4 anchovy fillets

 

Method

pre heat your oven to 180 C.

Sauté’ your smashed garlic cloves, anchovy fillets and chopped chilli pepper in the coconut oil on a gentle flame. Do not let them burn, & you will notice that the anchovies will disolve. You can remove the garlic cloves once they are browned,  but I like to leave them in the pan and smash them further with a wooden spoon, mixing them into the sauce. Add your can tomatoes with juices and let them gently simmer on a low flame for apx 20 – 30 mins until they thicken. While the tomatoes are cooking get out your skittle and heat it up nice and hot. Sprinkle with sea salt and add your  slices (apx 1/2 cm thick) of eggplant. When they are well striped, flip ‘em over and do the other side!

In a porcelain or oven proof glass square or stainless steel baking dish, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce, and sprinkle with a few ripped basil leaves, then place a layer of eggplant slices, continue to layer these two ingredients until you end with a layer of tomato. Add your grated brazil nuts to the very top layer and pop in the over for apx  15 mins. take it out and let it rest for 10 mins then sprinkle with more ripped basil leaves and buon appetito!

 

This light and easy dish is so good to pre-prep in the morning and just pop in the oven for 15 minutes when you get home . This is a great dish, even as a main and fabulous with a big mixed salad!

 

BUON APPETITO!……e Buona notte – baci baci xxx

Buona notte from Positano

Buona notte from Positano

Don’t forget this “Hotspot”……. Bella Napoli!

This is truly one of the richest cities in Italy and only an hour from the magnificent Amalfi Coast. Yes Napoli is certainly a city like Rome ” See Rome and Die” is an expression that actually does not exist……what the Italians actually say is ” Vedi Napoli e muore” meaning ” See Naples and die!” intending once you have seen Naples, it is safe to depart this planet as you have seen the best there is to offer. How true this is!!

One of the many magnificent views when approaching Napoli by sea!

One of the many magnificent views when approaching Napoli by sea!

One of the best ways to see Napli, is arriving first by sea! not by road........

One of the best ways to see Napli, is arriving first by sea! not by road……..

Naples being one of the most captivating cities in Italy is an ancient jewellery box full of delightful treasures; from theirs magnificent domes churches with riches dating back hundred of years to their colourful street festivals embedded with pizza eating nomadic locals. There is something for the avid shopper, the antique hunter, the food and wine gatherer, the cultural shop lifter and the art lover……and all nestled atop the wonderful Mediterranean Sea. The salt air speckles the shore line gardens where the local children play in a period Monet-like  painting. The restaurants burst as the seams at lunch and dinner time with ravenous clientele and the breathtaking churches and museums are often full of visiting Italians, not just foreigners. This city is a national treasure.

The magnificent Galleria Umberto is jammed with wonder stores for the keep shopper and for the cultural, just gazing upward to its magnificent architecture might be enough!

The magnificent Galleria Umberto is jammed with wonder stores for the keep shopper and for the cultural, just gazing upward to its magnificent architecture might be enough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes there are grimy dirty dangerous areas which we all avoid, but the bulk of this city is a marvel to the cultured eye and leaves few disappointed.

Firstly get your accommodation sorted. Where you stay in this wonderful city will make all the difference. I like to be close to the action and looking over that wonderful Mediterranean Sea. The Lungomare, sea front, is my choice. The  shops are just on the other side of this hotel  so I can make a get-away when I need a quick shop fix! My choice is a charming boutique hotel called Miramare and its right on the seafront. Enzo the owners has been a friend for decades and was a frequent client of ours in Positano with his magnificent buffy headed scotch dog and red sports car! He epitomised the ‘cool Neapolitan’ and is a true gentleman like only can be found in Naples. Naples aristocracy is some of the finest in Italy and unfortunately a dying breed. Let me know if you need help with your booking, Enzo is a great mate! my-amalfi-coast.com 

If you’d like some a bit more glamorous but still very affordable, the 4 star Gran Hotel Santa Lucia right in front of the fabulous Castel dell’Ovo

If you are on a budget then head to this fabulous spot right near Mergellina port called Hotel Mergellina! they only have 8 rooms, but its cute, very well positioned and cheap!!!

This could be the scene on your breakfast terrace at Miramare in Naples. Wonderful pastries and a magnificent sea views.!

Heading off into Naples for a day requires planning. Do your galleries and museums in the morning. Pick the ones you love and book a taxi through the hotel to get you there. Make sure you check with the hotel that the galleries and museums you want to visit are open that day, I think Monday is a bad day when a lot of stuff is shut! so check this out before going so you dont waste a day.

I love the National Museum, Museo Nazionale. One of the first build in Europe and one of the most breathtaking archeological moments you will experience. Most of the beautiful refined pieces from Pompeii are all here! This is a well worth trip and by no means exhaustingly big.

My second choice would be the Porcelain Museum in Capodimonte, a central area of Naples. This museum is full of some wonderful treasures and will take you back centuries. The Bourbon palace in which this museum is found is another wonder of Naples. Originally erected as a hunting lodge by king Charles VII of Sicily atop this magnificent hill in Naples with the town at its’ feet, this museum offers a lot more than it’s famous porcelains which later became a massive industry in Naples and world renown. There is a lot more than simply percelain to see at this museum and it is prized as one of the best in Naples.

 

The park belonging to the Villa Floridiana found at Vomero in Naples overlooking the port of Magellina is one of the pretties small parks I’ve every seen with one of the most delicious views in all of Italy. This little park embrances an almost 360 view of Naples and its sea. I would sit here for hours just taking it all in. Not to mention the wonderful coffee houses and shops at its back door.

Lunch in Naples is a must! Here is what you can expect to find: from the finest delicacies of the sea through to the famous puffed up fried pizza. And they do everything brilliantly!

Another favourite eatery in Napoli is the wonderful and central Terrazzo Calabritta, right on the corner of one of the best shopping stretches (Via Calabritta) – although quite a short street it has some great shops and this little eatery rests right on the corner of Piazza Vittoria and Via Calabritta. My darling ex mother in law Lucille took me here ages ago after a heafty day shopping and we enjoyed one of the best seafood lunches I’ve ever had! They do a fierce pasta fatto in casa too! (home made pasta)

If you are feeling a bit more relaxed and want a classic scrumptious and delicious Neapolitan pizza, head to Ciro’s 50 Kalo’ in Piazza Sannazzaro. This is the latest and hotest spot for pizza in Napoli today!

Ciro's famous pizza from 50 Kalo' in Napoli!

Ciro’s famous pizza from 50 Kalo’ in Napoli!

 

To wrap up your very busy day in Napoli and just at the other end of the very short Via Calabritta is Piazza dei Martiri with the iconic Gran Caffe La Caffettiera, so have your after lunch coffee sitting here in the piazza with all those wonderful Neapolitan legends and watch the world go by! Even if you don’t know how important they are,  THEY certainly do!

Nothing like that rich Neapolitan caffe!

Nothing like that rich Neapolitan caffe! 

  BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY IN NAPOLI NOW……CONTACT ME!                  FINE

The best side trip ever!

One of the best side trips while visiting the Amalfi Coast has to be the island of Capri. Although it is NOT official apart of the Amalfi Coast, it is so close and so pretty….it might as well be!  But you have to be organised, well informed and have plenty of energy to made the most of the fabulous island.

If we are talking summer and you are on a budget, just do a day trip as accommodation in Capri can be very expensive during the summer season. Then again the masses disappear at night and the island becomes an enchanted mix of locals and eclectic fun visitors itching to kick up their heels!

Otherwise head to the island in the quiet season (my favourite time)………March and/or October, avoid the crowds, enjoy the locals and embrace the space in the all the restaurants and bars!

1) Organise your itinerary. If you are a walker, then get your trekking guide sorted before you go. I can help with booking your English speaking guide.  He will show you the magnificent walk of Napoleans’ little fortresses, Google them……..they are delightful and run along one of  the top ridges of the island- a true paradise. Visit the little chair lift that leaves from the main piazza in Anacapri and will allow you some of the most spectacular views in Capri and the famous Vesuvius mountain in Naples. Make sure you walk down to i Faraglioni to enjoy a wonderful meal by the sea at Fontelina or Da Luigi.

The sensational Faraglioni rock that jut out from the Mediterranean Sea and face the Amalfi Coast. If you can see them clearly  from Positano.........this indicates bad weather coming, do prepare!

The sensational Faraglioni rock that juts out from the Mediterranean Sea and face the Amalfi Coast. If you can see them clearly from Positano………this indicates bad weather coming, do prepare!

 

Naturally you will have to eat something delicious at midday and if you are in the vicinity of i Faraglioni, I heavily suggest Fontalina or Da Luigi. If you are on the Anacapri side I recommend Il lido di Faro……….amazing fish under salt! Both are fantastic spots for sunning and swimming, which oddly enough is not so easily accessed in Capri unless on a boat or yacht!

 

The fish recipe in world! baked under salt. Il Lido di Faro do an excellent one!

The best fish recipe in the world ….baked under salt. Il Lido di Faro do an excellent one!

 

If you are near the Grotto Azzurro you cannot go past Il Riccio and their famous dessert room. It will blow your mind……..and you taste buds!

Mouth watering desserts from the 'Sweet Room' at Il Riccio, heavily guarded by a siren mounting a giant squid   . The magnificent work of great sculptor Paolo Sandulli from Praiano.

Mouth watering desserts from the ‘Sweet Room’ at Il Riccio, heavily guarded by a siren mounting a giant squid . The magnificent work of great sculptor Paolo Sandulli from Praiano.

Delicious macchiato cafe to accompany all those wonderful desserts!

Delicious macchiato cafe to accompany all those wonderful desserts!

There are plenty of less expensive spots to eat, so do your research before going, especially if travelling in high season. The restaurants are packed!

2) Do your research of the island and know what you want to see. If you are not a trekker but a keen shopper…make sure you head to the right area. Around the main clock piazza is a great start and just up the path from the Marconi Outlet which is well worth a visit for some summer cashmere!….

Brightly coloured cashmeres for summer...........,my draws are full of them from Marconi Outlet.

Brightly coloured cashmeres for summer………..,my draws are full of them from Marconi Outlet.

 

3) Distribute your energy well when planning a day trip to Capri. Don’t try and see and do everything in one day. You will leave exhausted and hating the entire experience. Do a little sight seeing, a little shopping and a lot of swimming, sunning and eating!

 

PS here is a great website tip if travelling to Capri……this will get you there.

A bird's eye close up of i Faraglioni in Capri

A bird’s eye close up of i Faraglioni in Capri

Baci Baci e buon viaggio!

xxx

Best trip up the Amalfi Coast!

There is a new little vehicle to rent in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. It’s a mini electric car where you sit one behind the other like a motorbike, but the driver has a steering wheel, rear vision mirrors, seat belt, break pad and accellerator, and a roof! AND you feel like you are on a sailing boat…..it is so green and so so quiet, except for its very loud horn, which is important in Italy. Not to mention the two doors which open like a fancy Ferrari (up! not out!).

I had the best days zooming up the coastline to Ravello for a wander and caffe in the piazza then down to lunch at the magnificent Torre Normanna in Maiori, apx 45 mins from Positano. This little car also charges in decent, so cruising down from Ravello we gained more juice! Not to mention our darling parking man at the Torre Normanna who plugged us into their 220 V electricity plug on the roadside and charged us up for a good run home after lunch and a swim.

Best little joyride up the Amalfi Coast! and you don't even need to ride a vespa, just drive a car!

Best little joyride up the Amalfi Coast! and you don’t even need to ride a vespa, just drive a car! your friend in the back and you up front!

A full tank of electric juice will get you up to Ravello for some shopping, coffee and a cruise around town, and you will recharge as you come back down the hill. 10 mins further along the coast is the town of Maiori and the magnificent 12 century tower of Torre Normanna which is now the home and charming restaurant of the Proto brothers from Minori just down the road. Ivano and Daniele run the dinning room which caters for weddings, parties, celebrations and plenty of handsome romantic couple, while Gigi and Massimo run the wonderful kitchen creating extraordinary dishes for the diners. This is a special treat and a fabulous day out.

Massimo & Gigi are truly passionate cooks delighting in feeding us not only delicious local food but with  5 star presentation and paying attention to every little detail including all our needs, allergies, intolerances, likes and dislikes.

Both myself and Tess my girlfriend try to avoid gluten as we are both of low tolerance. Well Torre Normanna not only bake their own hot little gluten free bread rolls but also dished up the most delicious gluten free sea food pasta! Trust the Italian to know how to make a delicious GF bread roll…..I was very surprised! I thought wheat was their poison till their dying day! We were in heaven.

IMG_3253

This charming man watched over us as we swam and climbed in and out of the Med!

 

precious swimming water for an after or pre lunch dip!

precious swimming water for an after or pre lunch dip!

 

After lunch we just flopped around on some beach beds and swam in the sea! what a fabulous day out. A sunset silent drive back to Positano topped of one of the best days I have had on this coastline.Contact me so I can book your car and your lunch. I promise you WONT be disappointed. AND Torre Normanna is also one of the hot spots on my Gourmet Safari in Sept/Oct so book now.

Buon appetito e buon viaggio!

baci baci xxx

Gourmet Safari on the Amalfi Coast!

Gourmet_Safari_p1_2Gourmet_Safari_p2_2Gourmet_Safari_p3_2TO BOOK CONTACT ME ON amanda@my-amalfi-coast.com

Going Raw…………. Yikes! Not very Italian I know.

It may sound insane but  I am Going Raw for 3 months! I know this is not very Italian but boy its a great prep for that coming Italian stint in Europe this summer. All that gluten (PASTA), dairy (MOZZARELLA & CHEESE), sugar (TIRAMISU), alcohol (WINES) that one loves to enjoy whilst on vacation in Italy is all fine in moderation but is your body ready for it?  This is all very acidic food and quite harmful if you overdose. Before heading off for that fabulous ‘degustation’ holiday, make sure you are ready for it so you dont come home feeling & looking line a like a mozzarella ball yourself!

If you are heading up Kilimanjaro wouldn’t you be training before leaving home doing heaps of stairs, climbing and generally getting fit ? Well eating your way around Italy and the Amalfi Coast is a bit the same, you really should prepare for it.

Breath and go Cuoncio Cuoncio! slowly slowly..........

Breath and go Cuoncio Cuoncio! slowly slowly……….

So apart from doing plenty of stairs before leaving home, very essential on the Amalfi Coast so you dont have screaming sore calves and shins for an entire week when you arrive just getting to and from the beach, try a good  ORGANIC Alkaline diet to get yourself prepped for your big Italian  food fest ! I suggest starting a few months before leaving home. I’m a pretty extreme person so decided to go RAW! Only raw veggies ,sprouted seeds, grains and nuts plus a few berries &  fruits  for three months. This is really a big detox. Go for very little acidic food; no meat, fish, dairy, gluten grains, heavy oils, or sugar………..just plenty of raw veggies, fruit, spouted non gluten grains like buckwheat and quinoa, fermented veggies (I  make my own and they are delicious – recipe to follow) , seaweeds for iodine and  a few seeds and nuts………..but not too many as they too are full of Omega 6, which is something we want to avoid. Think Omega 3 in it’s plant form and this is what we want to achieve for perfect health and energy!

You  may feel a bit “orribile” (horrible) to start with, but that will soon change and  before long you will be feeling on top of the world, full of energy and with little hunger!

A few weeks before you leave, I would start slowly introducing  a few lightly steamed foods, some light  gluten free grain toast, about 20% of what you eat could be now cooked  to get your system used to a regular diet again. Try and stay off the heavy stuff like red meat, heavy dairy, sugar and too much wine. “Cuoncio cuoncio” “slowly slowly” as the locals say while climbing up those long staircases on the Amalfi Coast! The eating is the same deal.

Go veggies! and there is no better place than Italia!

Go veggies! and there is no better place than Italia!

Dont forget the juices and smoothies! The Italian flag is the way to go and these will stop the hunger, up the energy and alkaline your entire system.

La BANDIERA ITALIANA! The Italian Flag - Fresh watermelon juice - creamy almond milk and delicious sweet green veggie juice to fill your day! you cannot beat this for good health!!!!

La BANDIERA ITALIANA! The Italian Flag – Fresh watermelon juice – creamy almond milk and delicious sweet green veggie juice to fill your day! you cannot beat this for good health!!!!

 

See Kimberly Snyder for some great tips & recipes, she is one of the best experts with smoothies, alkaline diet and energy tips and if you are feeling really brave, go the RAW with Kristina. I cant get enough of those fermented veggies and they are so easy to prepare. I make a batch a week and finish the lot!  Here is Kimberly’s fermented veggies recipes  Don’t forget, don’t go nuts with the nuts! they can be dangerous and very fattening! you don’t want to look like a blown up Macadamia nut in your pretty Italian bikini on the Amalfi Coast !
For more tips on preparing for your Italian stint write to me at amanda@my-amalfi-coast.com or for your accommodation  visit www.my-amalfi-coast.com

Kale chips.....and RAW!

Kale chips…..and RAW!

Buon Appetito and don’t forget, all great treats come in small ‘organic’ packages !