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.

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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!

 

images

 

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!

 

 

 

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!

Atrani4842

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!

Window Positano 0634

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.

=

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