THE BEAUTY OF THE BUFFALO.

If I could choose an unconventional pet, it would definitely be one of these girls. They are so kind, docile and…..GENEROUS! These charming females have supplied all of Italy  and afar for many centuries with one of the countries most delicious products. But where would I put her? certain not in my back yard!

 

I just have to wait to visit her when Im on the Amalfi Coast. She is just down the road from this magnificent holiday destination, the Amalfi Coast  and has been for centuries! yes the region of Salerno is one of the biggest producers of buffalo mozzarella  in all of Italy.

Beautiful Buffalo. Her name is Divino!

Beautiful Buffalo.

Mozzare is the verb meaning ‘cutting by hand”  then separating eatable size balls of this delicious milk produce from the milk curd to then consume. If the similar dairy product comes from a ‘cow’ it SHOULD be called ‘fior di latte’, (flower of milk), but not mozzarella which SHOULD be strictly reserved for the Buffalo variety. By the way it is  a ‘milk’ product and not a ‘cheese’ as it will go off within days. Theoretically cheese does not go off within a few days. Having said that Mozzarella from the Buffalo lasts a lot longer than Fior di Latte from the cow, not to mention the superior flavour. 

Theories of it’s origin are plentiful but the most likely is that the Arabs introduced the water buffalo into Campania around the year 1000. Either way, these animals have been around for a long time. Their original used was to plough the fields due to their strength and wide hooves which resided sinking terrains, they were plentiful and were seen everywhere along the roadside. Today they are preciously enclosed on very rich farms especially equipped for them, but none as grandly as this one particular farm just outside Salerno.

Room temperature please... always!

Room temperature please… always!

Meeting these wonderful creatures while visiting the Amalfi Coast has several benefits!  This one rare Organic Buffalo Farm is just near the Temples of Peastum (previously known as Poseidonia after the God of the Sea) outside  Salerno, apx 2 hrs from Positano, the furthest town from Salerno  OR one hour from Vietri sul Mare, the capital of the famous ceramics and the closest Amalfi Coast town to Salerno. Paestum boasts the oldest and best preserved Greek Temples out side of Athens and are an absolute treat to visit after you have done a tour of the Buffalo farm and if you like, made your purchases. They supply  fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, yogurt, butter and dont forget you can grab an unforgettable Buffalo milk gelato on the way out!

This Organic estate still supply cold styrofoam boxes to take your produce away  as they have plenty of private clients who fly in for just 24 hrs from Milano to equip their own kitchens with these delicious delicacies.  This Tenuto (Estate) do not supply any commercial activities  (shops, restaurants, markets are not allowed to purchase here ) as their demands for larger quantities outweighs that of the private buyer. For once, we private clients have the precedence!!! Not only,   Mozzarella should NEVER be refrigerated! Sacrilege! not even the cow variety.

With only a head of 600 buffalo and all treated homoeopathically, these beasts are  heavily spoilt  with all creature comforts, at the end of your visit, you will WISH you were a buffalo on this Estate! All the life stock bugs are kept at bay with hanging pots of citronella and organic products scattered around the farm area. All 600 buffalo are named and treated accordingly as a family. There is Cioccolato, (Chocolate) Veloce, (Speedy)  Coccolo, (Cuddly) and the list goes on……And they have a group shower twice a day to stay refreshed, clean and bug free and any time they are feeling like a massage they simply head over to the massage car wash and slip under one of those big bottle brushes……sometimes with a friend

Giuseppe is  head Honcho in this place & knows each Buffalo by name!

Giuseppe is Honcho in this place & knows each Buffalo by name!

After this wonderful visit you could have them hold your produce, but buy early as it’s generally finished by lunchtime. Then pick it up on your way along the Amalfi Coast for lunch.  I have some great seafood recommendations on your way home in the quaint fishing village of Cetara just outside of Vietri and apx 1 hr from Positano. But before heading off to lunch this is a great opportunity to visit the close by  magnificent Greek temples of Paestum. There are three in all and one fabulous small and well contained museum just over the road holds many treasures;  which I studied dutifully in High School! But many of these treasures in the Paestum museum were not only recovered from  the Greek Temples  but also  from previously civilisations going back as far as the prehistoric ages! Excavation bought so many remarkable artefacts to light.

 

I used to visit this area at Xmas when the red myrtle berries where ready for picking with Adolfo, my son’s grandfather, a long time before Marco was born. Adolfo couldn’t care less about those Doric temples which sent me into a delightful spin, he had spent too much time in concentration camps in Greece during the 2nd WW to have any affection for their sacred temples.  But he loved to steal the Myrtle berries from the massive bushes that were scattered over the fields around these temples. We would all be give plastic bags and were instructed to fill them with Adolfo’s precious berries. He would then rush back to Positano and make litres of his Myrtle Berry Liqueur  to see him through to the next Spring. A couple of 2  litre bottles where always stashed under his bed to keep his thirsty kids away!  But before heading home we would always stop in a local trattoria for a massive Buffalo based lunch in the sun. My God, what a treat.  I would stand picking my bag of berries whilst hypnotised by these breathtaking temples. Naturally we would stash our booty in the bushes if we saw any official looking guards lurking.

And every time I had a sip of Adolfo’s magnificent Myrtle Berry Liqueur during the year, I would think of Paestum with it’s Buffalo and Temples!

Adolfo’s Myrtle Berry Liqueur recipe was sacred. Good luck first finding those berries outside of Italy! OR that recipe…..I never did get it!  Daniele, Adolfo’s youngest son and great chef has interpreted this recipe with Mangos, strawberries and many other exotic  fruits available in Australia. Perhaps I can squeeeeze this recipe from him on his next trip to Australia. Sadly Adolfo is no longer with us, thank the Lord Daniele has so many of his wonderful recipes in his head…..AND in my book! Amalfi Coast Recipes! 

you cant see them, but the myrtle berry bushes are everywhere!

you cant see them, but the myrtle berry bushes are everywhere!

ALL FOTOS BY C.COULSON

Since the Greek era, not only the temples where highlighted but also the  wonderful digestive myrtle berries which were sacred to the God of Venus. These berries were understood to be the symbol of love and poetry.  How amazing these temples in Paestum (the ancient Poseidonia) is surrounded by Myrtle berry bushes!  Perhaps they were planted by the Greeks as a gesture to the God of Venus?

The myrtle berry was then used in perfumes and natural pharmacology & also renown for it’s magnificent oils which hold  astringent and anaesthetic properties, but is  was also used in cooking  to give flavour to meats. Although known and well cultivated in Sardinia, it found it’s way to Campania and this nearby town to the Amalfi Coast but who knows how long ago?

The internet is full of Sardinian Recipes to make Myrtle Berry Liqueur, but most anglo countries will not sell you 95% proof alcohol in a 2 lit bottle from the local deli for just $20!!! which is how we used to make it in Positano! You also have to find fresh Myrtle berries…..the rest is easy.

But one  tip when preparing Buffalo Mozzarella to eat!  Fresh is best! This juicy dairy product contains a lot more liquid than the cow’s variety, Fior di Latte, and if used in cooking will exude even more and give your dish quite a watery consistency. For this reason I do not love cooked Mozzarella (from the Buffalo)…..not even on a pizza which is much better prepared with the traditional  Fior di Latte variety which is naturally a bit sturdier, and better still if we are talking pizza, a few days old!

Caponata with Mozzarella di Buffola.

Agatina Semprevivo – Positano

You will find the “caponata” salad all over Italy and it is quite different in every region. The Caponata in Campania where the Amalfi Coast lies is generally prepared  with dried hard bread known as  le freselle or in Neapolitan “o viscuòtt” that has been quickly soaked to soften then dressed like a salad with herbs, tomatoes and oil. Sometimes other goodies like tuna or mozzarella are added. In this case we will go with the delicious and juicy ‘true’ Mozzarella……Buffola. The Sicilian one however is more like a ratatouille – a stew of “nightshade” veggies.

Although Agatina is originally Sicilian, after 40 years in Positano she prepares her caponata in pure Campania style! and will always use an excellent Buffola mozzarella if available.

Now just toss those torn big juicy chunks of  buffalo mozzarella on top! Foto by S. Griffiths

Now just toss those torn big juicy chunks of buffalo mozzarella on top! Foto by S. Griffiths.

Ingredienti:

6 thick slices of mozzarella di buffola chopped into 2 cm squares or better still, just ripped apart with your clean fingers at the last minute before serving.

6 slices of  oven dried ciabata bread OR freselle

400 gms of ox heart or bullock tomatoes 

1 white Onion

4 Basil leaves

3 good pinches Oregano

100 gm EVO   

Pinch of Salt 

200 gm of fresh rocket

Metodo:

Cut onion into chucky slices and tomato into rough wedges. Add rocket.  Dress with salt oregano and oil

Using 2 -3 day old bread if you don’t have time to make your own freselle Put the bread in oven at 160 for apx 15 – 20 mins until hard and golden. When cool run the hard bread or freselle under cold water for a few seconds. They should soften immediately. Break up the bread with your hands into large bit size chunks.

Add to onion/tomato mix and toss well adding drizzles of extra virgin oil ionce you have added to Mozzarella di Buffola on the top. Eat immediately while drinking a chilled glass of white – Falanghina or Fian d’ Avellino.

. BUON APPETITO!

To get more information about our fabulous organic Buffalo Farm experience, just contact me and let me know what sort of day you’d like to spend in and around Peastum…..I’ll do the rest and give you some great eatery options on the way home as well! amanda@my-amalfi-coast.com

THE AMALFI COAST IS MAGICAL – no matter what your budget! PART 2.

When I think of my Mum Maggie travelling to the Amalfi Coast in the gentle winter years of her life, it’s a very different  itinerary to my sons’! Here are some lovely  easy suggestions I hope she’ll approve of. I’ll let you know when we return next October… Fingers crossed she’ll love it!

Me and Mum travelling!

Me and Mum travelling!

My Mum is not a princess by any means and has always embraced simplicity and minimalism, especially if it comes in all white! This is a wee challenge on the Amalfi Coast as there is so much colour…starting with the gelato coloured houses which cascade down the town, but the charm makes up for it.   For Maggie I  believe travelling has to embrace the functional with the least amount of fuss at the same time. Naturally we’d all love to be helicoptered onto the roof of our hotel in Positano to avoid all the roadside curves, inevitable summer traffic, not stand in  cues for the ferry to Capri or Amalfi and certainly not hang around outside the local eateries waiting for a table!

I recommend the following B.A.T. when travelling in summer to ANYWHERE in Europe!

1) BOOK as much as you can before departure. I can help with this, especially if you are obliged to travel during those busier months. Accommodation is paramount and if you want a good choice I suggest doing this at LEAST 6 months prior to departure. 10 months is ideal! Then book all those other  fun things you’d like to do! Get those bookings in place, restaurants, boat hire, treks, tours, Pompeii, etc…. you can always alter them once you are there but an initial booking is the best way to go. I give my clients all the necessary phone numbers once bookings are in place so they can alter or  cancel bookings if necessary on their arrival. This is also a courtesy to restaurant or venue to make space for other keen travellers.

2)  AVOID Peak Season, July and August! It is extremely crowded and often incredibly hot! Two good reasons to stay away… unless you are a BYT! (Beautiful Young Thing) who ADORE these two things about the Amalfi Coast during Peak summer months…..CROWDS!

 Peak Season on the coast!

Peak Season on the coast!

2)  TRANSFERS are essential to  book before leaving home. Most importantly  taxi/limo pick ups from the airports to your hotel or B & B plus any other necessary internal transfers during your stay whether it be for a day out on a boat heading to a seaside eatery or a taxi to drive you out to the organic Buffalo farm to savour their mouth watering mozzarella, gelato and yogurt via the ceramic  village of Vietri for a little shopping.

This is what I might suggest to Maggie for her trip…

For her arrival I would suggest a few nights in Roma to get over the long haul trip from Sydney, staying somewhere central  & close to the shops/restaurants area so she has easy access to move around without getting tired but also  have her hotel handy so she can slip back for a little nap if she gets tired of walking around. The Gregoriana Hotel is small and quaint and very central in Rome. More up market but in the same vicinity as the famous Ingelterra and Hassler hotel.

if your budget can afford it, then a private limo pick up in Rome to drive you directly to your accommodation in Positano is  450 euro one way & well spent being only 3 1/2 hrs on the autostrada in total comfort. OR if you can swing a direct flight into Naples which is much closer to the Amalfi Coast and I can have a limo pick you up and get you into Positano for just 120euro and apx 1 hr. All my drivers speak excellent English and being natives to this area, are a wealth of information, so ask away! They are full of ‘consigli”! (advise) and also know the best spots to stop for an espresso on the way down to the Amalfi Coast. 

After checking into your hotel/villa in Positano, please dont expect a villa for just 2 pers, the smallest villas generally start at 6 pers ( three bedrooms). If you are one or two pers a lovely apt would be perfect, but please also remember in High Season (May to Oct) they are only available for a full week from Sat to Sat, so check your calendars before booking!

If you cannot work the Sat to Sat dates into your travel time, then you are best to opt for  any of the following charming hotels or  guest houses, and please remember I have many other amazing choices in each category. Here are a few simply examples:

For a quaint 3 star hotel ( which generally have no pool but are very nice enjoying the same views as the 5 stars next door!)  I have some delightful Residence or  suite apts down near the beach for apx 250 euro a night for a  large superior suite or some charming hill top spots for less with breathtaking views.  If you’d like a pool then you’ll have to move up to a 4 stars hotel, I have several depending where you’d like to be in the town, up high with an amazing view or down on the beach with easy water access.These are apx 350 – 400 euro. I do however have one fantastic 3 star B & B which has a pool AND a private beach! you really have to get in early for this one!  If you’d like something a little more up market then a wonderful 5 star hotel might be your choice. There are several magnificent ones in Positano ranging from 800 euro to 2500 euro a night. A handful are very central then there are a couple just on the outskirts of town which enjoy total peace and tranquility.

I can book any of these hotels or apt/villas, so just give me some dates and a few details about your needs and I will send you a list of choices. PLEASE REMEMBER FOR ALL BOOKINGS, Xmas is never too early to book for the your summer holiday the following May through to Oct! This will give you first choice and help avoid disappointment. Contact me on:  my-amalfi-coast.com

My Mum is not a walker or hiker (neither am I) so the Walk of the Gods is a miss for us. However this is a fabulous day out and a 4 hr trek along the top of the mountain range that surrounds Positano, I have done it and no, it is not a tough walk. The views are sensational and my guide Frank is heaps of fun. He will most likely sing you along to the finishing line and has many other fantastic walks to offer from Capri to other parts of the coast. What my Mum however WOULD enjoy would be the lovely mountain top lunch at the end of the walk. So a hop on the local bus or a 10 mins limo drive up the mountain would fix this!  This way we can enjoy  the same magnificent views and delicious local trattoria food as the hikers!

Walk of the Gods.....spectacular views of the coast!

Walk of the Gods…..spectacular views of the coast!

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Plenty of great food after that big walk….or in our case, just plenty of food with no walk!

A lazy boat trip up the coast to Nerano or Recommone for a fabulous seaside meal is something she would love. These lovely easy  local boats called ‘Gozzo’ will drift you along the coast with a glass of Prosecco in the shade of your boat’s canopy to the amazing grottos, islands and villages ending up in a quaint seaside eatery. This is a fabulous day out on the Mediterranean.

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Us girls enjoying our boat day out on the Med!

One of the many fabulous 'gozzo' boats to hire in Positano to cruise up and down the coast!

One of the many fabulous ‘gozzo’ boats to hire in Positano to cruise up and down the coast!

A drive along the coast to the ceramic town  of Vietri sul Mare is a must if you are a fan of these delightful naive  ceramics and their wonderful history. All the ceramic houses will ship your goods home so contact me re: which are the best to check out. I can also suggest an amazing seafood lunch in the tiny fishing village of Cetara right next door to Vietri after your ceramic  shopping to savour some of the best seafood on the coast.

I am so looking forward to enjoying all this with my Mum this summer when we head over to the Amalfi Coast together!

So anything you’d like booked or  organised on the Amalfi Coast, just contact me. From special events, weddings, a romantic getaway, family fun holiday, restaurant or tour bookings, villas, hotel or apts suggestions –  We do it all!

BUON VIAGGIO ! and make sure you get a copy of my fabulous travel guide, MY AMALFI COAST before going  and BUON APPETITO. – check out my second book, AMALFI COAST RECIPES.

ciao!

THE AMALFI COAST IS MAGICAL- no matter what your budget!

Whether you are as wealthy as the King of Brunei  or as poor as a church mouse, The  Amalfi Coast holds the same enchanting magic for everyone on this planet !   From the budget to the not- so -budget trip to the Amalfi Coast please read on…

We swim in the same silky blue sea, we marvel at the same breath taking panorama and we sleep under the same star studded sky! We all share the same enthusiasm when travelling to any magnificent destination like the Amalfi Coast, rich or poor, no matter what our budget is!

The magnificent  & very vertical Positano!

The magnificent & very vertical Positano!

PART 1 – Young, cool and possibly……..poor!

When I think of my son in his 20’s travelling to the Amalfi Coast I often wonder where he would stay and how he would enjoy this stunning coastline if he had not grown up there and known half the village! not to mention a good part of his family who still live there. But If Marco returned for a holiday with mates and did not know this area at all, here are a few things I might suggest:

The BYT’s of today (Beautiful Young Things) may be short on $$’s, but the one thing they appear to have in abundance is TIME! So take it easy and hop on the train OR bus at Rome Termini train station to head down to Naples then onto the Amalfi Coast.

Most overseas flights from the Southern Hemisphere arrive into Rome. If you have not managed to build into your International ticket a  reasonably priced domestic flight from Rome to Naples (the closest international airport to the Amalfi Coast) then hop on the Airport train into the Roma Termini train station (apx 1/2 hr). The taxis into Rome SHOULD be capped at apx 50 euro, but could take over an hour if traffic is bad.

At Rome’s Termini train station you can purchase your train ticket to Naples. The AV (Alta Velocita’) take only one and a half hours. Then there are a zillion other trains which take longer but cost less. The faster you go, the more you pay so ask at the bigletteria (ticket office) re times and prices.

Once you arrive in Naples, if the weather permits and the ferries and hydrofoils are running, it’s a quick taxi stop to the port, or a bus if you are game!. The ferry/hydrofoil may stop in either Sorrento then the island of Capri, if its the PEAK season DONT get off in Capri, this island can get over crowded and quite costly! Save if for a few years down the track., Stay on board and head to Positano, the first stop on the Amalfi Coast coming from Capri. These sea routes to the Amalfi Coast generally only run in the high summer season, June – Sept, so make sure when you board the ferry that you are going to  POSITANO!.

Gelato coloured houses of Positano.

Gelato coloured houses of Positano.

In my opinion by sea is the best way to arrive. You come into the wonderful beach area dotted with seaside eateries and boats with the entire town as a vertical backdrop like a breath taking theatre scene. you then simple walk up into the town or hop on the local bus that circumnavigates the 5 km town to your pensione (B & B) or room rental.

Alternatively once you arrive into Naples Central train station, don’t leave the main station, just head to the Biglietteria and you will see signs to also purchase tickets to the  Circumvesuviana. This is the little train that circumnavigates all the small town around Naples and the Vesuvius. It is apx an apx one hour ride to Sorrento which is your destination and the end of that line. If you are travelling alone e especially if you look decidedly foreign, like I did,  I probably wouldn’t suggest this trip at night, there are some very colourful characters hopping on and off this train who could be trouble. I did however catch this train at all hours but only with my Postanese partner  on tow who spoke fluent Neapolitan and was built like a refrigerator!   From Sorrento you must buy another ticket and hop on the SITA bus for Positano which leaves from right outside the little Sorrento train station and you will be in Positano at the ‘top’ of town so just walk down to your accommodation. The bus ride is apx  30 – 40 mins.  If you are not sure where your B&B or apt is, ask at Bar Internazionale which is literally AT the bus stop

 

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The institutional BAR INTERNAZIONALE! an early morning coffee and home made pastry, a mid day snack of pizza on the run, a cocktail before dinner, a late night grappa or leave a message for a local! They will get it!

The captivating pyramid of Positano.

The captivating pyramid of Positano.

 

When you have settled  into your accommodation (check out my well priced guest houses  http://www.my-amalfi-coast.com/guest-house or perhaps a small apt http://www.my-amalfi-coast.com/appartments,) you may feel like sleeping for 24 hrs  possibly from ‘travel fatigue’….! after I suggest heading down to the beach area to check out La Brezza bar a great meeting/drinking/ Internet spot for the young right on the beach. You will find a mixed bag of guests at breakfast (they do good veggie and fresh fruit juices ) but definitely a younger crowd at night!

Chilling out at LA BREZZA bar. They do a mean Sptritz after a long day in the sun!

Chilling out at LA BREZZA bar. They do a mean Sptritz after a long day in the sun!

You can get take away pizza from most of the beach front restaurants and have your own feast sitting on the beach. All the delis in Positano sell beer and wine so make this a good stop, not a restaurant. The local bars also sell these products.  If you are in the top part of town, then head to:

Bar Internazionale, the local bar that sells home made pastries, pizza, snacks, drinks, alcohol and is open from early morning till late at night.

 Music on the Rocks for some late night dancing and fun after midnight you can head down to the main beach, but beware there is a cover charge  to get in OR if you have the energy to hop the local bus to Praiano (6 kms away) then  the local disco built into the rock face and accessed by a vertical lift is Africana  also great fun….and a bit less expensive.

C’era Una Volta just around the corner from Bar Internazionale at the top of town is great for an inexpensive and hearty lunch or dinner

 Bar Bruno is only a few minutes up the hill from the main square Mulini in Positano, Great views and not too costly. But they are very popular so book! Lunch and dinner.

Ristoante Capricci on the main beach also have great snacks and restaurant food.

 Pupetto Hotel/Ristorante on Fornillo Beach is a terrific not expensive pizzeria and restaurant. They also a good beach bar and the hotel is a very pleasant 3 star if you can afford it, apx 180 euro a double in high season.

 

FORNILLO BEACH is a much less expensive spot than the main beach of Positano and an apx 15 mins stroll from the main beach around a panoramic pathway heading to the right looking out to sea. It has a great local atmosphere, sometimes great music &  very relaxed, there are a lot of card games happening in these beach bars. The food in all beach bars (apx 4) is good and simple. you’ll get big salads, sandwiches etc at a decent price. But like everywhere if you sit on the beach beds with brollies they change between $10 – $15 euro for the day ($15 – $20) but it is like your house for a day and can be worth the money sitting on your own bed under the sun eating a fabulous giant size panino (sandwich) dripping with fried goodies and mozzarella cheese and a cold beer!

If you want something a little different, then head out of town on a SITA or local bus to the area of Arienzo (apx 5 mins) and walk down the hundreds of stairs to Arienzo beach You can get the boat from the main beach, but this is just for the restaurant clients and you may not want to eat in the restaurant, although it is well priced and a plate of pasta if you can stretch your budget is well worth it. It is very simple and lovely. They also do sandwiches outside the busy lunch period, (1 – 4pm)

The delicious beach of Bagni Arienzo where the water is crystal clear and the food is delicious!

The delicious beach of Bagni Arienzo where the water is crystal clear and the food is delicious!

The Bagni Arienzo family! great spot.

The Bagni Arienzo family! great spot.

If you do the stairs you can sit on the free side of the beach on your towel and enjoy this magnificent beach purchasing a sandwich or drinks from the restaurants, if you haven’t already bought your own with you.

But dont forget, the local delis have delicious food and are your best friends if trying to travel on a budget. They are open into the evening and quite late and do delicious sandwiches all day, naturally toward the evening supplies finish.

Here are a some more fun young spots, (that should not break the bank!) around Positano with decent nibbles and/or good food. They all sell alcohol.

 

Bar Li Galli ( at  La Sponda) finger food.  

Collina Positano Bakery (Piazza Mulini) finger food

Bar Delicatessen. finger food. 

Wine-dark house (Beach area). very good restaurant and finger food. 

Lounge Bar Paradise ( Beach area). finger food, great snacks and fabulous multi screen room to view all international sporting events together with the  less enthusiastic sporting fans, a great view of the twinkling beach of Positano!

Snack Bar L’Alternativa (Beach area ) only snacks, non grog.

Guarracino Night (between main  beach & Fornillo  beach). restaurant food. 

Da Ferdinando beach establishment  (Fornillo beach) great snacks,salads and panini!…with a cold beer! lunch. 

Grassi beach  establishment. excellent salads and snacks. Also a great free boat service to and from Positano for clients. Lunch 

La Marinella (Fornillo beach)  snack food. 

 

Bar Il Pertuso (Montepertuso)  another different aspect of Positano from above. 

Ristorante Da Costantino (road to Montepertuso but still within walking distance of Positano) Great views, great pizza. Lunch & dinner.

Ristorante La Terra  (Montepertuso)  Well priced restaurant in quiet mountain top area with great views! Lunch & dinner.

This coast in summer is perfect for the young,  you can simply hang out anywhere, on the pebbled beaches, sitting on the low wall on any road curve, on taking a local bus to the next town (just beware of bus timetables as most STOP at midnight …..then it’s a walk home) or just hanging around the town!. It’s safe, fun and you can check everyone and everything out at a glance.

If you want to get on the sea, then try the slow ferry boat to Amalfi or even as far as Salerno it’s a great and cheap way to see the coast, hop off in Amalfi where there is heaps to see and have a few hours wandering around before heading back. Don’t forget to head through the back alley ways behind the main Church of S. Andrea  in Amalfi to the next tiny town of Atrani, only 20 mins walk away! This spot also has an amazing beach for a dip if you are hot!  It is a jewel like village and worth a coffee in their delightful fairytale piazza! …………PLUS you avoid all those curves on the bus!

Get the bus up to Montepertuso from Positano, just a few euro and then head to Nocelle where the Walk of the God ends, you can do it backwards heading towards Praiano! This walk  has  the most sensational views of the coast all the way from Salerno up one end to Capri at the other! once you arrive in Praiano you can head back to Positano by bus!

Here are some great, not over- the -top eateries in Praiano, just 6 kms from Positano and a great alternative for less expensive accommodation! Again check it out !

The Praiano Dome!

The Praiano Dome!

 

Bar Mare at La Praia beach – lunch or dinner

BAR MARE at La Praia.....open till late and right on the beach! also great music!

BAR MARE at La Praia…..open till late and right on the beach! also great music!

Vivarom wine bar – right on the main road. Excellent sunset drinks hole in the wall and fab nibbles. evening

Trattoria S. Gennaro tucked in under the main church. Breakfast, lunch dinner

One Fire – down on the sea in Praiano, its a walk but well worth it. Good music.  Great fun. Lunch

I dont know the following spots, but some are all reasonably new to Praiano and sent to me by a well informed lovely local gal!  Check them out.

Ristorante  “Che Bontà”

M’Ama – Ristorante

Voce e’ Notte Grill and Sunset Bar

Il Rifugio – ristorante pizzeria

and OPENING SOON are:

KASAI (ristorante pizzeria)

LA MORESSA BISTRO

And guys …get onto GOOGLE! it’s all there !

When I was your age GOOGLE didn’t exist but it would have been my best friend if it had! However so much in the ancient parts of the world just never change. the transport into town &  what the young want to do without spending a fortune and still have fun.

And PLEASE get a copy of my book MY AMALFI COAST, grab your parents’ copy or check out the local library, they should have a copy.  Have a good read so you can work out what you’d like to see and do. Its worth photocopying the last 5 pages with all the addresses and phone numbers.

This could be your best friend on the Amalfi Coast!

This could be your best friend on the Amalfi Coast!

Stay tuned next  time for a few slightly more up market tips & hints in PART 2 for a touch more up market trip! some of which I will be doing with my  Mum when we head to the Amalfi Coast this summer

BUON VIAGGIO e BUON DIVERTIMENTO!

 

 

Gourmet Safari with me on the Amalfi Coast – let’s go early October 2015!

One of the best things you can do on the Amalfi Coast is EAT! But how often are we not in the right place for long enough to research those great ‘eateries’, restaurants, hot spots and places to visit? All too often.

My Gourmet Safaris will take all the anxiety away. All you have to do it get yourself to Rome and we will do the rest! And I highly recommend a few days in Rome to get over the jet lag, so a mid/end week arrival is ideal and we will get you into Positano and your lovely four star accommodation by Saturday when we start our fun and food. We will farewell each other and our tweaked appetites the following Saturday. Click on the Gourmet Safari link below to take you to our brochure with all the details and contact me on amanda@my-amalfi-coast.com if you have any questions.

Amalfi_Coast_Gourmet_Safari_1

Click on the following link GOURMET SAFARI to give you an idea of where this magnificent week of fun and food on the Amalfi Coast will take you. Only 8 of us will go at one time so book now for your  Gourmet Safari!

 

Our second Amalfi Coast dinner at Bei Amici in Darling Pt Sydney on April 14 is now a full house… again! But please contact Bei Amici if you’d like to book in for a future Amalfi Coast dinner, OR you never know, we have an excellent ‘ wait list’ for this one. The more requests, the more chances of  getting Felix our talented chef to whip up plenty of my delicious dishes from  Amalfi Coast Recipes, which he does so brilliantly!

Bei Amici Restaurant Sydney

Bei Amici Restaurant Sydney

In the meantime, here is one of my favourite Amalfi Coast dishes! …and as easy as falling off a fish!

Pesce sotto il sale  x 6 pers Secondo 

Infallible Baked Fish under Salt!

Pasquale Marino Praiano

Pasquale taught me to cook this dish years ago and I have never tried better anywhere else in the world, whether at a friendly fisherman’s dinner party or a 5 star restaurant.”Your fish MUST be screaming fresh” says Pasquale, “ and only have it gutted…….you NEED the scales to protect the fish  from taking in salt, to trap the flavour  and for easy skinning once cooked”. The other trick is in the stiffened egg whites you will need to bind your two different salts together ( fine and rock); you don’t need too much, and always use wet hands while preparing your salt shell!

Pasquale has it down to an art; once the fish is cooked  he gently chisels around the base of the  shell and simply lifts off the top in one piece like the lid of a sarcophagus exposing the treasure within!

Ingredienti:

Two x 1 k snapper fish (any good white fish will do but snapper is best) gutted but NOT scaled

2.5 kilos of salt (mixed half rock & half fine)

2 egg whites stiffened

For every kilo of fish I use just over a kilo of mixed salts.

 

Dressing:

EVO 300 ml

Mint ripped into pieces (a lot)

Vinegar – white or a drop of aged balsamic

Mixed well together until you get the right balance by tasting. Everyone’s palate is slightly different according to acidity.

Method:

Mix your two salts together and fold in the stiffed egg whites.

Spread a fine layer of salt mix onto a large baking tray then lay your two fish on top –   head to tail to head. Pour all remaining salt over the top and with wet hands start to pack the salt onto the fish being careful to seal every holes, you don’t want to see one scale poking through!. The fishes should be well sealed (except perhaps the tail which can poke out – but not the head!) and they should resemble a white snowman sculpture when finished and very well sealed.

Bake in a mod oven ( 180) for apx30 – 40 mins . Apx ½ hr per kilo. It is better to do two x 1 k fish than one 2 k fish………tastier and easier cooking time. I never do this recipe with fish bigger than 1,5 k.

You will see the salt crust is golden when ready.

Crack crust near the base of the  fish shoulder ( somewhere you don’t mind a little mess as the crust will be very hard!) with a kitchen hammer and knife. It should come away in one piece, but don’t despair if it doesn’t. Check the fish flesh is done then proceed to crack the rest open o pop the salt lit back on and  into the oven if not yet ready. Then  chisel away removing all the salt and gently peel off the scaled skin, this should come away easily. Plate up swiftly so the fish doesn’t get too cold, avoiding those bones. Drizzle each portion with the mint dressing. IF you have a terrific aged balsamic, you will need just a few drops on each portion of fish and a mint leaf or two with nothing else! Buon appetito!

Day 4 Anna-123

Have your hammer at the ready to crack open your mouth watering surprise!
BUON APPETITO!

 

Are you looking for a ‘hot’ spot to stay in Positano?

I’m sure any one of these delightful locals below would love to have you stay with him and his family but they are most likely flat out getting your own apt or villa ready for your holiday!

The summer season is almost upon Italy. The Amalfi Coast is already buzzing with boat boys, fishermen and white wash painters starting to give the entire coastline a face lift for the coming summer months, as they do every year.

However living by the sea has a small disadvantage. Salt air destroys a lot during the winter months when there are plenty of strong winds and rough seas pounding the coast and all it’s occupants! The locals are certainly used to it, but it does take it’s toll on the small towns that dot the seashores and if the properties are un-inhabited they will be begging for some serious TLC (tender loving care) by the time summer rolls around.

Luckily the residents are ready in plenty of time and you will see the entire area crawling with men and women in work gear and head scarves! They are  not only working on your villa, but all the hotels, pensioni, apartments plus their OWN properties need attention. Work is abundant in Spring so we get to enjoy their delicious summer months. With over 70 hotels and B & Bs plus over 65 apts and villas for rent in just this one small town  – Positano has plenty to choose from.  There are over 4000 residents today in Positano and this may easily swell to over 10,000 people during the busy summer period. As this is one of the most sort after  holiday destinations in the world, you have to get in early to book and hold the best property! Naturally within your budget… no matter what your budget might be!

These terrific hard workers above put these breath taking properties below into top condition for your arrival!60

 

The wonderful pool of Villa Dicondra which is still available all of APRIL – from the 11th of July till 1st August and all of SEPTEMBER! see this link for more info and pics! http://www.my-amalfi-coast.com/villa-dicondra

Or the wonderful Villa LIGHEA below, one of the busiest villas in town. But still available all of APRIL and the first week of MAY – and the delightful time of year, the first 12 days of SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER!! see more on this link: http://www.my-amalfi-coast.com/villa-lighea

Villa Bianca (109)

 

 

Or if you are seeking an outstanding apt overlooking the entire town of Positano and the Mediterranean Sea during the bustling month of August when there is more action and fun in this town than any other village OR month!… then you cant go past these precious and romantic apts at Palazzo Margherita.

Situated just above the bustle and hub of the village, these apts will offer you sensational views, peace and quiet from the excitement of the crowds in town and perfect access via road or bus to get you to all the shops and restaurants…..or a quick 5 mins stroll.

Galli apt is still available the first week of JUNE and most of AUGUST! go to the following link for full details and more pics. http://www.my-amalfi-coast.com/palazzo-margherita-galli

Palazzo apt above is also still available at the beginning of JUNE and all of AUGUST! Go to this website link for more info and pics. http://www.my-amalfi-coast.com/palazzo-margherita-palazzo
And one of my favourite and cutest small apts. Here below is San Seb. sleeps 3… but best for just the two of you!http://www.my-amalfi-coast.com/palazzo-margherita-san-sebastiano

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San Seb magnificent view from the cute and romantic terrace.

So whether you are planning a trip this year or next year, to get the best property at the best price (most properties will offer you this year’s prices for next year’s bookings!) drop me an email now!

And please remember if you are planning to visit the Amalfi Coast during the high summer months ( June – end Sept) most properties have a compulsory minimum of one week from Sat to Sat booking plan, there are however a few who do not follow this general rule.

Happy planning! http://www.my-amalfi-coast.com/contact

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Amalfi Coast dinner at Bei Amici Restaurant Sydney!

 

It truly was an evening of Bei Amici, in English –  Good Friends! When the owners of this small but very popular eatery approached  me a short time ago to host an Amalfi Coast dinner 5 mins drive from my home in Sydney, I couldn’t resist!  I had eaten here a few times in the past as a best mate lives right next door & I remember the food was delicious. So I met up with the couple who own this lovely little restaurant, Leigh who runs the floor and her charming Swiss husband Felix who mans the pots and pans cooking up a storm every night. And what a sensational dinner he prepared for us! As I said on the night to our guests, “ if you cant find a Neapolitan chef, get a Swiss one”! They are multi lingual, multi talented, open and neutral to all palates and always on time!”

 

14 April 2015 we will do it all again!!!  so book asap!

Bei Amici Restaurant Sydney

Bei Amici Restaurant Sydney

 

Felix cooked about 10 dishes from my book Amalfi Coast Recipes, one more delicious than the next. He selected a perfect balance of vegetables, seafoods and meats and topped it off with an exquisite & light Tiramisu con Futti di Bosco………Tiramisu with fresh wild berries.

 

We had a table from The Italian Chamber of Commerce, I think they may have been sent along to do a  ‘spell & pronunciation check’ on my little chat with everyone throughout the meal! We had a delightful table of 10 who turned out to be some fun clients I’d sent to Positano the previous season, I could finally put faces to the names!,  the importer, Heath Felton who’s  delicious wines we drank during our meal was also present along with plenty of familiar friends and family.

me and Marco my delicious Italian son!

me and Marco my delicious Italian son!

 

We started with delicious Croche’ di Patate – Potato Pillows and Polpette di Sardine – Sardine Balls.

We then moved onto a delicious antipasto of Carpaccio di Riccola– Kingfish Sashimi by Pasquale Marino. Here is his RECIPE –

Carpaccio di Riccola – 6 pers Antipasto

Raw King Fish Carpaccio

Pasquale Marino Praiano

I dont ever remember seeing fish Carpaccio  around much when I first arrived in this area 25 years ago> I see a lot of meat Carpaccio but it was mainly in  further north around Milan and Florence.  But today fish Carpaccio is as popular as a good bowl of seafood pasta on the Amalfi Coast! Some of the best tuna in the Mediterranean comes from this area down in the fishing village of Cetara, ( ironically the Japanese were always the best  buyers of Cetara tuna! And they are the Kings of Carpaccio!). In this area you will also find fantastic King fish, fresh squid and baby prawns – all delicious when prepared Carpaccio style. The seafood is always screaming fresh and during the summer months, this is the perfect dish.

Ingredienti:

400 gm of screaming fresh filleted king fish of apx 1 cm thick

Or a small sword fish as shown in Pasquale’s shots.

4 tblspns of EVO ( apx 120 ml)

4 lemons juiced

To achieve apx ½ : ½ proportion. But you can alter this according to taste.

Pepper

Salt

Rocket to decorate

Metodo:

Take cling plastic and place fish fillets between two sheets. You can do them one at a time or a couple at a time. With a kitchen hammer or temper (something with a flat  surface), gently beat the fillets moving the hammer in an outward motion. Do not make them too thin, apx 5  millimetres.

Spread them out on a large serving dish and dip into the lemon/oil base place on your serving dish. Then  drizzle some more dressing over the top.. This should be done just before serving, as they are not supposed to cook in the strong lemon juice/oil mix, it is not a marinade. This dish should be eaten as soon as it has been dressed.

This was served with Mario Rispoli’s wonderful Pepperoni con Caperi salad

Pepperoni con caperi – Bell epper and Caper salad and home baked Freselle – Rock bread

Here is my favourite salad RECIPE

Peperoni con Caperi e Olive – 6 pers – Contorno 

Bell Peppers with Capers and Olives

Mario Rispoli – Bar Bruno Positano

This wonderfully balanced Contorno ( side dish) is a classic in this region of Italy. The sweet bell peppers balance beautifully with the salty capers and olives. Certainly not one of the prettiest Contorni once you have added the bread crumbs to amalgamate everything, but this is a side dish fit for a King! A sensational accompaniment for any meat or fish course.

Ingredienti:

6 red bell peppers – cut into stripes

6 mixed olives cut into pieces – pips removed

4 teaspns of salted capers – soaked to de-salt

5 tablespns of bread crumbs

EVO – 6 tablespns

Pinch of dried chill

1 squashed garlic clove

Metodo:

Heat oil in a pan with chilli , squashed garlic, capers and olive on a med flame until garlic is golden. Remove the garlic then add red peppers and lower the flame adding a little water at a time every so often. Cook together until red peppers are tender; a good half hour. At the end fold in the grated bread crumbs and serve hot.

Me and the talent chef Felix from Bei Amici!

Me and the talent chef Felix from Bei Amici!

The following dish Felix prepared for us was  Zuppa di Pesce – Fish Soup. It was such a triumph that we begged Felix to put it permanently on the menu!

And we finished off with the famous Polpette alla Corradina – King Corradin Meatballs, famously names after the teenage Sicilian king who attempting to claim his rightful thrown was caught and beheaded by Charles the I in Naples in 1268. A gruesome story for a delicious dish! This was accompanied by Stufata di Scarola – Saute’s Endives and fresh Finocchio con le Arancie shaved Fennel Salad with Orange pieces.

The end of our meal was highlighted by Tiraminu con Futti di Bosco – Wild berry Tiramisu, created by my brother in law, Daniele Bella to give a fresh light flavour to this wonderful summer dish.

Daniele Bella preparing his famous Tiramisu con Frutti di Bosco - Wild Berry Tiramisu

Daniele Bella preparing his famous Tiramisu con Frutti di Bosco – Wild Berry Tiramisu

I chatted with our guests throughout the dinner about our mouth watering dishes, their origin, the chefs who so generously offered their long held secret recipes  and the exciting week long Gourmet Safari tours I will be offering at the end of September on the Amalfi Coast to a small group of 8  pers. We will be meeting many of my chefs from the Amalfi Coast Recipes book and savouring some of their extraordinary dishes!

book signing

It is no small wonder that three weeks before the  Bei Amici night we were sold out! Unfortunately Leigh had to turn away many disappointed guests, but we are coming back very soon so book quickly! On April 14 2015 we are thrilled to be doing it all over again!  The restaurant only hold apx 50 pers so dont wait too long!
We are yet to develop the coming menu for April 14 but its a promise….you WONT be disappointed!

Breath taking Positano!

Breath taking Positano!

Get ready for that amazing Amalfi Coast holiday!

This is the holiday of a lifetime that needs a bit of joyful prepping. Those energetic Amalfi Coast stairs may look scary but think of all that extra pasta and vino you can devour during your holiday?…and return home with no extra kilos! I LOVE those stairs. The coastal villages are all full of them and although they may look overwhelming, just watch the locals; ‘concia concia’ as they say ‘slowly slowly’. If you walk up and down these endless romantic staircases all day, you will definitely see the benefits of doing them slowly. The summer heat is another convincing point to slow you down on those stairs!

Getting ready:

Firstly pick a great mate who also likes to travel and is willing to help you prep….hopefully she/he will also be travelling! We are so lucky to have our summer in Australia just before the European one, it gives us that great opportunity to gently work our way into great condition for that winter holiday in the European summer.

Eating all those deliciously light hydrating foods like fresh tropical fruits is another bonus. Don’t forget our delicious local seafood which will also get your taste buds ready for the delicacies of Italy and its amazingly fresh and mouthwatering sea fruits.

Surround yourself with colour and brightness – this will keep you happy and looking forward to your future vacation and all the joy it will bring.

 

Dont worry about all the pasta and bread that will confront you on your Amalfi Coast arrival. The sheer geography of this coastline will keep you as fit and slim as a strand of spaghetti!

And don’t forget to get into those fabulous fruit and veggie smoothies and juices. They are a great prep for your Italian venture. Casa e Bottega in Positano and La Brezza down on the main beach both do fabulous fresh juices so you can keep the good stuff coming while you travel!

Home made Watermelon, Almond Milk and Green Smoothy.......yum! Stair food!

Home made Watermelon, Almond Milk and Green Smoothy…….yum! Stair food!

Loving my green smoothy breakfast at Casa e Bottega in Positano. The BEST breakfast you'll get in town........AND its ORGANIC!

Loving my green smoothy breakfast at Casa e Bottega in Positano. The BEST breakfast you’ll get in town……..AND its ORGANIC!

 

I am sure one of the reasons us Aussie are drawn to the Amalfi Coast is the COLOUR !

I am sure one of the reasons us Aussies are drawn to the Amalfi Coast is the COLOUR!

 

But do make sure you keep your Aussie summer body nice and supple with plenty of stretching and flexing. Those calf  and quad muscles will LOVE you when you hit those stairs if you are nicely toned.

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Terry works those gluts to give her a strong spin

Terry keeping her spin loose and ready for those stairs!

Terry keeping her spin loose and ready for those stairs!

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I love to flex my legs and keep them up!

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I look for a pool boarder to stretch that spin.Thank God so many Aussie beaches have one like this at Palm Beach!

The best preparation you can do for your Summer European vacation on the Amalfi Coast, is enjoy the Aussie summer by staying in shape and know that you are blessed to  revel in these two magnificent countries which are so different but both bring so many joyful moments!

BUON VIAGGIO E BUON SALUTE! and don’t forget…CONTACT me to help with your accommodation and plenty of great tips on what to enjoy while there!

Hearty dishes in 35 degree searing heat… Only on the Amalfi Coast!

One of the many crazy things that struck me when I first moved to the Amalfi Coast was all the wintery food that was served up to  half naked, sweaty, bronzed Italians right on the beach in the middle of a heat wave!!!

The main beach in Positano getting ready for LUNCH! ...and plenty of food.

The main beach in Positano getting ready for LUNCH! …and plenty of food.

 

My God, they devoured that Zuppa di Spolicchini – hot bean soup, (hot in temperature AND chilli!)  Gateau di Patate – baked potato mash, Parmigiana di Melanzane – fried and baked eggplant with mozzarella or Totani Imbottiti – stuffed squid in rich tomato sauce!…………the list goes on. I can barely get down a  green salad when itrs this hot and the local and visiting Italians are eating all this heavy cooked food for hours, then sleeping on their sun beds for the same amount of time….AND ITS 35 DEGREES! HOW do they do it? Obviously their digestive tract is different to mine, like the Incas in South America or the fishermen in the  Bay of Tokyo, who can both digest unthinkable foods in bizarre siuations.

Other oddities are; that gluten free foods are more readily available at the town chemist rather than  the local deli, the corner Tabaccheria (Tabacco shop) not only sells ciggies, but also tampons, biros, reading glasses, cheap make up, snorkels and goggles,  and all those expensive administration stamps you need to do ANYTHING at the local municipal council! Excellent wines are often sold in the local coffee shop –  again the list goes on. You can amuse yourself for DAYS wondering around town and discovering all the places you can purchase unexpected items. For example my local computer and phone shop sells fridges and washing machines! …..not that I will ever need these items while visiting the Amalfi Coast!

But back to our tummies…Let’s look at a few more fabulous recipes we can enjoy in the middle of summer, that my precious ‘foody’ expert friends insist are totally digestible while hanging around the foreshores of the Mediterranean Sea in the sweltering heat…..so long as you are not going anywhere in a hurry…

Apparently the trick is to eat slowly, on a good empty stomach (this is most likely why Italy supplies probably the most uninteresting and unhealthy breakfasts on the planet! milky coffees with sugary pastries. Yikes!) & don’t forget plenty of relaxing conversation and sips of chilled wine in between.

Chilling by the sea with some  wonderful hefty meals!

Chilling by the sea with some wonderful hefty meals!

Here below is one of my favourite dishes and I could probably eat this  on my way to the moon in a hot & scary space shuttle!

 

Totano Imbottito x 6 pers Secondo – Stuffed Squid 

 by Pasquale Marino.

Pasquale is a dear friend from the neighbouring town of Praiano but always spent a lot of time in Positano. His stuffed squid are out of this world and a specialty in the town of Praiano. Adolfo would cook this dish at Da Adolfo restaurant when the temperature was searing  over 30 degrees and this was always the first dish to disappear off the menu. Each time this left me flabbergasted !

Pasquale makes some finishing touches to his Totani Imbottiti - Stuffed Squid!

Pasquale makes some finishing touches to his mouth watering Totani Imbottiti – Stuffed Squid!

 

Squid is one of the great sea treasures of the Amalfi Coast and are presented in a variety of dishes. This is a delicious rich dish which I loved most of all during winter when I had a woodchopper’s appetite.  I would be drawn to the kitchen like a magnet on Sunday by its wonder odour when Adolfo had the inclination to cook this mouth watering meal. It was also one of his favourite dishes, so it was a regular visitor at our table.

 

A steaming bowl of hot pasta as a base for these delicious discs of stuffed squid drenched in rich Neapolitan tomato sauce made wood chopping look easy. And in summer you only have to drag yourself back to the sun bed under the umbrella for a 3 hour nap………possibly via a dunk in the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Ingredienti:

800gm cleaned fresh squid (tentacles removed to cook separately)

100gm bread crumbs (old ciabatta bread is better than the fine commercial ones)

100gm fresh provola cheese chopped into small cubes

60 ml EVO

120 ml EVO

50gm grated parmesan cheese

1 100 gm onion finely chopped

Parsley

1 pinch of oregano

50gm sale

4 eggs

Toothpicks

150 ml white wine

750 gm tomatoes

 

Metodo:

Clean your squid inside and out, cutting away the tentacles to be diced and used in the stuffing.

Pour 60 gm of olio in a heavy base pan and chop the squid tentacles into 1cm pieces. Saute’ them on a med flame for apx 10 mins until they change colour.

Prepare the stuffing by amalgamating the tentacle pieces, diced provola cheese,  grated parmesan , parsley, oregano, salt, eggs &  bread crumbs mixing well with your fingers to achieve a sticky paste. Stuff each squid body and close with a toothpick or two being careful to not fill them to the max, as they swell during cooking.

In 120 gm of EVO cook finely chopped onions till golden on a med flame then add the stuffed squid and cook uncovered for apx 10 mins turning them frequently to brown all sides. Add one glass of wine (150 ml)  and continue to cook covered  on a low flame for apx 15 mins turning occasionally. If using tomatoes they should be added together with the wine, covered  & cooked  for another  apx 20 mins. When squid are ready ( a fork should easily pierce the flesh) if   there remains too much sauce, turn up the flame to reduce, but remember you need quite a bit of sauce to dress your pasta.

Turn off the flame and bring 3 lits of water to the boil with 30 – 50 gm rock salt and cook pasta till al dente. Drain conserving 1 cup of pasta water. Remove squid from sauce and put on a chopping board. Toss pasta in with tomato sauce and plate up. Slice squid into generous thick discs and top each pasta  plate with squid discs. Parsley is the perfect garnish for this dish.

Pasquale's Totani Imbottiti - Stuffed Squid!  ...on Pasta is optional.

Pasquale’s Totani Imbottiti – Stuffed Squid! …a bed of Pasta under the squid is optional but make sure you prepare plenty of sauce.

Places I’ve eaten this dish on the Amalfi Coast.  I would call ahead to check it will be on the menu the day you are planning a visit.

Da Adolfo – Laurito Positano

Buca di Bacco  – Positano

La Brace – Praiano

Bar Mare –  Praiano

Although this below dish is ideal during the cooler months, I could never quite grasp how quickly it would finish when we served at the restaurant ‘Da Adolfo’ during the hot summer months. And it was just a starter! My God those Italians love their food! Here is Anna Tiziani’s recipe for Zuppa di Fagioli also known on the Amalfi Coast as Zuppa di Spolicchini – Bean Soup

 

 Zuppa di Fagioli or Spolichini   4 pers – Bean Soup 

by Anna Tizani – Nerano

Open wide to get as many beans in your mouth as possible! no matter how hot it is!

Open wide to get as many beans in your mouth as possible! no matter how hot it is!

This is a classic Italian recipe and most regions boast their own version. I have prepared Adolfo’s simple hearty version for decades with enormous success and was fascinated to discover Anna’s slightly more complicated recipe just as delicious but perhaps more interesting in texture with her original touch of sliver beat and endive. The tiny fiddly bits of this recipe are well worth it!

Ingredienti:

250gm cannellini beans

2sm white onion – chopped

3 whole good quality canned tomatoes chopped

2 sm carrots chopped into chunks

3 stick celery chopped into chunks

400 gr silver beat well washed and chopped into pieces

400gr scarola or green endive well washed and chopped into pieces

2 sm potatoes peeled washed and chopped into small pieces

2 tblspns EVO

 

Metodo:

Soak beans in warm water the night before (not too hot). The next day put the beans in a  heavy based casserole dish just covered with warm water and cook covered  for apx 2 hr on a low flame, add hot water if necessary.

Remove beans from water and blend ¾ in a blender. Replace blended beans in the cooking water putting the remaining whole beans aside.

In a heavy based casserole dish heat oil and brown the onions adding two tomatoes, with no seeds and chopped then finely chopped carrots and celery. Add the chopped silver beat and endive salad plus potatoes pieces and sauté for apx 15 mins mixing well as they cook on a med flame.

Add the pureed beans and enough water to cover everything, add salt pepper and chilli if desired and cook covered for apx 1 hr.

Stir in the whole beans you have put aside. Pour all into a well heated soup terrine and add 3 tblspns of EVO.  If you like serve with toasted croutons of stale ciabatta bread.

Best eaten the following day but also delicious immediately.

Places I’ve eaten this dish on the Amalfi Coast.  I would call ahead to check it will be on the menu the day you are planning a visit.

Taverna del Leone – Laurito Positano

Da Adolfo – Laurito Positano

Conca del Sogno – Recommone

Buca di Bacco – Positano

 

Don’t let the heartiness of these dishes put you off, in summer just do as the Italians do and DIG IN! …..and don’t forget those numerous sips of chilled wine to wash it all down. If on the other hand you would like to start practicing these dishes during the cooler months, rest assured that they are mouth watering all year round.

Agatina's amazing fried Zeppole - Donuts!  Recipe on page 213 of Amalfi Coast Recipes.

Agatina’s amazing fried Zeppole – Donuts! Recipe on page 213 of Amalfi Coast Recipes.

 

Buona appetito!

For more recipes go to Amalfi Coast Recipes.

Part 2! Off the beaten track eateries on the Amalfi Coast!

Happy 2015! and I’m sorry I couldn’t get this Part 2 Blog off to you before Xmas. I had the usual Xmas Website meltdown! Here you go… start making your plans now for a trip to the Amalfi Coast this winter. I highly recommend May or October…to enjoy that Chestnut Festival in the mountains!

Not all the best eateries/restaurants are always in the most obviously spots when it comes to spectacular venues like the Amalfi Coast. My last blog talked about two sensational spots in delightful tiny villages on the coastline. A’Paranza Ristorante in the fairy light village of Atrani and Acqua Pazza Ristorante in the quaint fishing village of Cetara.

 

The imaculate white washed stairs of ARANI

The imaculate white washed stairs of ARANI

 

A precious courtyard in the tiny fishing village of CETARA.

A precious courtyard in the tiny fishing village of CETARA.

 

I have learnt over the years that when it comes to ‘great eats’ , you should not always judge a book by its cover! I tend to steer well away from large, impersonal looking venues that often cater to large unfriendly events but even very beautiful ancient venues can often be cold and barren once you are inside…and do you sometimes ask yourself “where is everyone?” ! This could be an indication of disaster… but not always! So beware.

 

Satin table clothes and fake flowers can sometimes be another sign that things may not be what you are expecting in the culinary department. But wait a second!
Decor does not always indicate prowess in the galley.

 

I remember years ago when I was researching my first book My Amalfi Coast on a late May afternoon I was starving but the summer season had not yet quite started and it was close to 4pm. I wandered into the hilltop town of Conca dei Marini and spotted what looked like a Bar connected to a sporting institute.  In fact it was called  Bar Polisportiva. I saw on entering that they were also a restaurant so begged for anything from the kitchen they may be left over. They said all they could do was a Flying Squid pasta and a glass of local red. I died and went to heaven amongst the local cheeky kids playing soccer on a flipper board & had one of the best pasta dishes of my life. This was NOT an elegant spot! On top of this, I later discovered that the owner known as “Il Capo” (The Boss) was an amazing gelato maker and I finished this scrumptious pasta meal with a home made coned gelato and dedicated an entire page of My Amalfi Coast to him and his delicious  eatery!  see page 122. This is not an unusual occurrence on the Amalfi Coast.

Il Capo as I found him.......scooping his famous 'gelato' onto a cone!

Il Capo as I found him…….scooping his famous ‘gelato’ onto a cone!

Here are two more of my favourite hidden eateries on the coast.

ANTICHI SAPORI – Tramonti  + 39 089 876491

This is the biggest ‘surprise’ restaurant on the coast. This small formal looking dining room is far removed from the amazing local and delicious food that Giuseppe Francese will prepare for you – owner/chef Giuseppe and his wife Donatella will treat you to some extraordinary local dishes on this breath taking mountaintop. Surrounded by Tramonti greenery, this is a great spot for lunch. I can organise a car from Positano or Praiano (or wherever you are staying on the coast) to take you up the mountain OR  if you are not planning on too many drinks at lunch, I can book you a wonderful little electric car which for under 80 euros a day is a great way to see the entire coastline and treat yourself to a special meal.

 

Me and Massimo catch a quick caffe at the street stall opposite his restaurant in the hills of Tramonti.

Me and Massimo catch a quick caffe at the street stall opposite his restaurant in the hills of Tramonti.

You have to try Giuseppe’s amazing Chestnut gnocchi – Gnocchi Castagna ( PG 92 Amalfi Coast Recipes)  I am not sure how Giuseppe preserves his Chestnuts for summer to serve us all these wonderful desserts and pasta sauces with a chestnut base, but the  speckled and wooded hills surrounding his delightful restaurant in Tramonti & the nearby tiny town of Scala (the first town on the Amalfi Coast and settled by the Romans) are covered with thick plump chestnuts for the entire month of October each year. They  also have plenty of Chestnut Food Festivals at this time of year where you can savour the local talent at work with one of it’s most delicious natural products. Chestnut puree’, Chestnut ice cream, Chestnut pasta sauce with anchovies (this dates back hundreds of years!), Chestnut breads, cookies and cakes are also in abundance. There appears to be very little this magical little nut cannot be translated into!

 

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Giuseppe will also delight you with his local Basil Gelato (pg 232 Amalfi Coast Recipes) and Chocolate Eggplant – Melanzane al ciocolato (pag 219 Amalfi Coast Recipes) which has to be the most famous recipe to come out of Tramonti……………or Maiori, depending who’s giving you the recipe!  this is a delighful dish and well worth a try. Creamy chocolate drenched slices of rich eggplant stacked as high…as these mountains….mmm delicious!

 

Again

Tramonti is apx 45 mins drive from Positano can be reached with a local driver and taxi or I can organise a small electronic rental car for apx 80 euro for the day.

 

TORRE NORMANNA – Maiori + 39 089 877100

 

This magnificent 12th Century tower will certainly catch your eye, just on the outskirts of Maiori, the only modernised village on the coast due to heavy floods in the 1950’s and an urgent Mayor at the time and his need to revamp this town immediately. The Torre  Normanna (Tower Normanna)  could be anything from an art gallery to a hotel or reception hall, but only a few years ago it was taken over by the wonderfully creative Proto brothers from just down the road in the town of Minori. These brothers were the previous owners of L’Arsenale Ristorante on the port of Minori. pg 198 My Amalfi Coast, a delightful and casual eatery.

 

Their take over of the Torre Normanna a few years ago gave them enormous space and terraces surrounded by Mediterranean sea to develop their incredible kitchen skills. With Gigi and Massimo in the kitchen and Daniele and Ivan on the Floor they have created the perfect ambiance for big events, weddings or quiet seaside lunches for just two. These old towers favour plenty of nooks and crannies….which we LOVE, they are our hideaways! . This is a great find ………and the food is delicious!

Don’t miss Massimo’s wonderful ancient dumplings with anchovy and chestnut sauce! N’Dunderi Tradizionali ( pg 120 Amalfi Coast Recipes) Yes Maiori being just down the road from Tramonti shares in that Chestnut Festival in Oct and has for centuries! This is a simple, mouth watering and very old recipe. Some say it was the first pasta ever produced in this area of the coast. Massimo will also treat you to an incredibly simple and humble dish Spaghetti with garlic and oil –  Spaghetti Aglio/Olio (pg 75 Amalfi Coast Recipes). This seemingly easy dish has just a few key ingredients but is not so easy……….the pasta is the key ingredient here. This dish is often served  a few hours after a large and hearty multi course meal – I think to remind the stomach how good everything was or possibly to help soak up all of God’s nectar that has been consumed during the feast!

Gigi, Massimo's big brother, mentor and great maestro in the kitchen..

Gigi, Massimo’s big brother, mentor and great maestro in the kitchen..

 

Buon Appetito. contact me for bookings! 

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!