Food of the Magic Kingdom (Amalfi Coast)

Ravello at Villa Cimbrone

Ravello at Villa Cimbrone

One of the ladies that came on the trip to Italy – Bonnie — said she felt like she had visited a magic kingdom. I’d been to the area lots of times but it is ALWAYS a surprise to the eyes. Wherever you turn you are stunned with beauty. It is indeed MAGICAL.

entering Capri by boat

entering Capri by boat

And then there’s the food. The sparkling sustenance you devour while your head reels with splendor. No wonder tourists descend. Everyone wants a piece of it. I try to soak up many eyefuls, palate delights, secrets and memories as possible. Then when I get home I use it as soul fuel for at least 6 months (until it runs out).

Here are some of the stand-out dishes from this trip. Starting with my all time fav and the first thing I ordered:

spaghetti vongole- my FAV

spaghetti alle vongole- my FAV

 

And this tastes even BETTER than it looks…

Risotto pesce

Risotto pesce

 

…just KNOCKOUT…!

Fried calamari & shrimp

Fried calamari & shrimp

 

We cooked this in our Ravello cooking class at Villa Maria…

sea bream in acqua pazza

sea bream in acqua pazza

 

An appetizer elevated to the gorgeous-ness of the local ingredients…

prosciutto and melon

prosciutto and melon

 

Here are 2 desserts particularly Napolitani!

pastaciotto

pastaciotto

Sfogliatelle

Sfogliatelle

 

Every morning you must have….

un cafe and un cornetto

un cappuccino and un cornetto

A Quick Recipe for Fresh Figs (They’re in season!)

Ripening fig in the backyard

Ripening fig in the backyard

I LOVE fresh figs. Night and day between fresh figs and dried figs. Different animals entirely. (Different taste, too.) Dried figs are tough, leathery, brown. Fresh figs, are soft, pink, luscious, Quite sensual, actually. We’ve got a fig tree in our backyard–not huge–but this is the first year more than three figs have ripened. I’m getting 5-6 spectacular figs a week.

But I remember a giant fig tree in Italy. As large as a 2-story building. It grew in the tiniest of hilltowns in Emilia Romagna. I was visiting a friend of the family, Marco, who lived in one room on the second floor of a small stone building. A single bed, nightstand, a few shelves of books, a hot plate with an espresso pot, and a heavy wooden dining table in the middle of the room were all the furniture and amenities he had. Downstairs in an adjacent building was a bathroom he shared with his parents who lived in the building across the way.

Dinner was brought up the steps on platters by his mother (remind me to tell you the mammoni story one day: about middle-aged Italian men who still live with their parents!). She brought a pile of locally made pasta in a deep delicious tomato sauce. And for dessert: a 5-inch high cake of fresh ricotta with local honey. And, of course, crusty bread.

As we sat at the table for a few hours, eating, drinking, and espresso then brewing, I was entranced by the open window. It framed the tall, full, laden-with-fruit fig tree. Next to it a bright street lamp lit the tree attracting moths. Bats zigzagged through the light, catching moths, while the fig tree stood witness to the splendid night (as did I).

Fresh Fig Recipe 1-2-3

5-6 fresh figs, cut in half or quarters if very large

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup minced mint

1/4 cup honey

1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto

salt to taste

Smear a little mascarpone on top of each cut fig piece. Sprinkle with a little salt. Sprinkle with some minced mint. Add a small dollop of honey. Wrap fig in a piece of prosciutto cut to fit the size of the fig piece. Serve.

Fig Tree

Fig Tree