The Guardian’s temptation for tasty travel…
The Guardian’s temptation for tasty travel…
A quick tour of temptations…
Arguably there are many wonderful taste sensations and temptations to be found and enjoyed all over Italy. But if you only had time to experience one in each city…
Cacio e Pepe in Rome While there are many famous dishes such as Saltimbocca alla Romana that are synonymous with Rome, the sublime and understated meal to indulge in is a plate of Cacio e Pepe. Very simple yet very difficult to find outside of Italy, the blending of grated cheese, with a bit of pepper and some good spaghetti will be one of your fondest food memories that will keep calling you back to Rome.
Eat Pizza in Napoli Yes good pizza can be found all over Italy. But for great pizza foodies must make the trek to the holy grail of pizza towns, Naples. Pizza was first made in Naples and there is even a special certification required to show the pizzerias are making and serving authentic Neapolitan pizzas. That includes making it a specified size and thickness, and even specific guidelines that require the mozzarella come from their home region of Campania. A true Neapolitan will have the classic Margherita, simple perfection in red, white, and green.
Pizza at Di Matteo
Drinking hot chocolate at Caffe Florian in Venice The original Grand Cafe of Europe, Florian is more of an elegant drawing room. While anytime is a good time to go to Florian, winter time and a cup of their thick hot chocolate is an indulgent treat.
Ossobucco in Milano There can be no other choice that the hearty northern Italian meal of veal shank with a side of risotto all Milanese. While the rest of Italy thrives on pasta Milan is all about the risotto and that paired with a falling off the bone meat is the perfect accompaniment.
Have a Negroni in Florence The Negroni was invented in Florence at the now closed Caffe Casoni. That torch of the ‘originale’ is now being carried by the iconic Caffe Rivoire on the Piazza della Signoria. What could be better that sitting on the beautiful historic piazza and sipping a Negroni for aperitivo. Cin cin!
Tagliatelle al Limone in Amalfi The light sunny lemons of the Amalfi Coast can be seen everywhere. They are huge, much bigger than regular lemons and they are also very unique in the sense they are milder, with less acidity and with a very perfumed skin. This means that here and only here can you get the heavenly pasta dish with a creamy lemon sauce which is not heavy, not at all sour and just a perfect blend of all the ingredients. Because of the uniqueness of the lemons this dish can only properly and authentically be made here.
Granita in Taormina Yes you can find a good granita in many parts of Italy but in Sicily, specifically Taormina where they claim the ice is from the snow a top the volcano Etna, they have made it an art form. So far beyond the expected flavours of lemon and coffee, in Sicily you can find almond, chocolate, orange and strawberry just to name a few. Enjoyed at breakfast with a brioche it is refreshing sweetness to start the day.
Granita at Bam Bar
I loved my trip to Puglia and look forward to going back. It really ticks all the boxes with lots to see and beautiful landscape. But it is also a foodie’s paradise with lush local produce, tasty dishes and lots and lots of wine! Here is a great article from the Telegraph highlighting a Gourmet Trip to Puglia.
Foodies rejoice! The Amalfi Coast is packed with some outstanding restaurants and some of the most delicious meals can be had in this glorious, sunny coast of Southern Italy. Whether is is casual dining or elegant Michelin starred restaurants the food of the Campania region of Italy is on par with the sophistication of Italy’s North and Central regions which for years have dominated and overshadowed the rustic cuisine of the South. No longer. The food and wine of the Amalfi Coast is simply sensational. Here is just a taste of a selected few to look for…
Il Pirata (Praiano) In a small fishing village not far up the coast from Positano lies this laid back breezy restaurant. Tables are as close as they can get to being on the water, on the edge where rock meets the sea. And some of the best simple seafood dishes can be had. Local fish dishes are exceptional like the fried anchovies that are so light and crispy. That, a little squeeze of lemon and a crisp glass of wine while the waves lap below is the perfect Amalfi Coast moment. Everything was absolutely delicious, such as the native specialty dish of pasta with octopus in a thick tomato sauce to the fresh desserts like the light and fluffy Delizia di Limone. Such outstanding food and at reasonable prices make this little place a big winner!
Da Gemma (Amalfi) Not far from the church in Amalfi town is a bit of a surprise. Overlooking the main road with all the touristy type places to eat and pizzerias is a choice restaurant serving a bit more of an innovative menu. Based on regional specialties and produce, Da Gemma keeps the food homey while giving it a bit of a twist to make it just slightly more modern. A nice change from the usual while still keeping to that comfort food feel. Starting with the delightful bread basket with a selection made in house, to the squid with truffles everything was exciting and extremely satisfying. Plus with views just above the main street you get an entertaining view of life in the town.
La Sponda (Positano) Serene Le Sirenuse hotel is the epitome of loveliness so it is no surprise that their restaurant is a sumptuous experience. Vines covering the walls and ceilings with hundreds of tea candles giving the restaurant fairy sparkle, La Sponda feels magical. Of course the food is exquisite, Neapolitan influenced cuisine but plated up in refined fashion and served by a polished waitstaff. It could almost feel courtly, but the happy atmosphere and service by some of the friendliest people around make you forget that this place is quite upscale. And to round off the evening, regional musicians play favourite Italian songs as you sip wine and tuck into the divine Lemon Souffle. You leave feeling satisfied and very special.
Cumpa Cosimo (Ravello) Probably one of the most well known and beloved people in Ravello is Neta, the owner and cook of this family run restaurant. Hair pulled back in a bow, wearing an apron, she jovially walks around the cozy restaurant greeting and taking orders as if you were a guest in her home. And in a sense you are in her house and she is a wonderful hostess. Wooden tables and chairs, wine served in jugs and the best homemade food served by an Italian mother eager to spoil you. Hearty pasta dishes are hard to beat, and the Veal with Lemon is scrumptious. This restaurant is everyone’s favourite.
Il Ritrovo (Montepertuso) This small, well respected restaurant has just undergone a bit of a makeover. It is still serving the same traditional menu of beloved dishes, but the decor has been freshened up and given a more artful feel to the establishment. The tone thankfully still remains very homey. The location, high above Positano in the town of Montepertuso is a bit of a hike, but thankfully Il Ritrovo offers complimentary shuttle service from the town of Positano to the restaurant. The Aubergine Parmigiana is some of the best around, while the pasta in walnut sauce, is made from local walnuts and is luscious and lightly creamy. All served in a very laid back and comfortable setting.
Ristorante at the San Pietro (Positano) Fashionable and artful dinning make for an exciting menu at the restaurant in the stylish Hotel San Pietro. Start your meal with a drink, perhaps a fresh Bellini, on the garden terrace while taking in one of the most breathtaking views of Positano. Then move to the dinning room with views high above the sea and enjoy a most agreeable meal. A cultured and imaginative menu with cultivated service make for an exceptional dining experience. First Class all the way.
Da Mare (Amalfi) Located in the gorgeous Santa Caterina hotel in Amalfi, their restaurant by the sea presents some of the best food around. And that is saying something as there is lots of good food to be found on the Amalfi Coast. But for a perfect meal with amiable and friendly service, outstanding location by the sea with gentle breezes, and heavenly food… this is the place to go. If you are lucky you will hit one of the themed nights they host every couple of weeks, such as the Neapolitan night complete with singers and showcasing the best in local specialties. For the best Lemon Pasta in the world, nothing beats the one here. Bar none, absolutely amazing! And the Lemon Profiteroles with a limoncello to round off the meal is total perfection. Sigh…
For those lucky enough to stay on the Blue Isle beyond the crush of the day trip swarm, Capri becomes its best by evening. Free of the tourist groups the island can finally be enjoyed for it’s sophistication and fashionable self. The islanders come out at night to take their walks and catch up. Drinks at the piazzetta, and out for a bit of cultured gathering then on to dinner. Here are some tasty choices:
La Campannina has been around for ages and its frequented by locals and visitors alike. A polished neighbourhood trattoria, serving traditional Italian fare in a light and comfortable decor. Delicious pasta and local seafood, alongside friendly amenable service make it perfect for any situation whether dinning on one’s own or with family. Their home cooked pasta with mushrooms is excellent, and the fact that locals frequent the establishment makes it a sure bet. (Via Listrieri, 32 – 80073 Capri (NA) ITALY)
Da Paolino Where else but in Capri can you have a restaurant in a lemon grove! This excellent restaurant is magical with tables under lemon trees and soft candles so that you feel transported to some secret garden. The food is absolutely delicious, serving many local favourites such as pasta in a creamy lemon sauce, and fried zucchini blossoms. Leave room for their dessert buffet! (Via Palazzo a Mare, 11 80073 Capri (Napoli) ITALY)
I Faraglioni Perfectly located along the main pedestrian shopping street the Via Camerelle, this inviting restaurant makes a great option day or night. The place is divided in two: Cozy covered outdoor tables al fresco with views over the water, or a seashore themed inside. Both serve up great food and a light atmosphere. Menu is reliably classic local dishes and great seafood, with their marinated anchovies and Ravioli Caprese being especially good. Don’t forget the glass of limoncello. (Via Camerelle, 75 80073 Capri (Napoli) ITALY)
Aurora For those who find island dinning predictable, this one is for you. Stylish, a bit trendy, but not off puttingly so, with an outstanding wine list and an exciting menu. Hearty pasta dishes and innovative seafood add a twist to traditional Italian favourites that is a welcome break from the usual menus found around the centre of town. A great place for wine enthusiasts with probably one of the best wine selections on the island. (Via Fuorlovado, 18-22, 80073 Capri Napoli, Italy)
Il Riccio is truly magnificent. A beach restaurant near the Blue Grotto is relaxed and laid back with blue wooden chairs and sea breeze ocean view yet serving exciting food you would expect from the fanciest of restaurants. It is so good it has a Michelin star yet there is nothing pretentious in this welcoming restaurant, expect pleasant service and outstanding food. Everything from start to finish was perfection, beginning with their Capri blue ‘Riccio Spritz’ aperitivo cocktail to the excellent and innovative menu. Three-fish tuna tartare selection was a sensual delight, from the visual presentation to every last mouthful. And if there wasn’t enough to tempt you, absolutely leave stomach space for the ‘room of dessert!’ An elegant buffet selection offering among many temptations the booziest Rhum Baba. An absolutely outstanding dinning experience, complete with glowing sunset! (by the Blue Grotto, Anacapri).
One of these days when I rent that flat in Saint Germain I will look forward to filling my tiny fridge with delights from the epicurean delights of the food shops around Paris. From the glorious presentation of food in windows to the packaging they send your treasures home in, it reflects not only appreciation but joy in the art of gourmet. With so many to choose from I give you my 4 favourites of the moment…
Le Grand Epicerie de Paris: (38 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris) In the heart of the Left Bank, across from Le Bon Marche, is a sort of couture of Supermarkets that stocks all the foodie’s delights as if they were Chanel handbags. There is even a Foie Gras aisle! From exotic fruit to choice meats, and a complete pastry section, this is paradise for all things delicious. Christmastime is an overwhelming feast for the senses.
Selections from Le Grand Epicerie
Fouquet: (22 Rue François 1er Paris) Just off the fashionable Avenue Montaigne sits unassumingly a very traditional French chocolate shop. It almost challenges the thin, figure conscious madames to forget about going into Dior! Very traditional and not at all flashy, this boutique lets the chocolate do all the talking. In this instance, the velvety chocolate sings. If you are having trouble choosing, let me steer you towards the chocolate covered dried fruits or the chocolate covered cherries, I have yet to find better anywhere. There are also other traditional sweets such as fruit flavoured jellies and the almond favourite calissons. Everything is wonderful, and great for gift giving, that is if you don’t eat them first!
Carton: (6 Rue de Buci, Paris, France) This small unassuming bakery on a little street near Boulevard Saint Germain has probably the best croissants in the world. The lightest, fluffiest, butteriest bit of heaven you will ever taste that I dare you to eat just one. And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, their counter filled with the prettiest pastries will entice you even more. My personal favourite is the almond meringues.
Pastries and Meringues at Carton
Gerard Mulot: (76 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris) There are a four of these small food shops around Paris, I like the neighbourhood feel of the one in Saint Germain best. Mainly a pastry shop with luscious patisseries, it also has a bakery counter, a prepared food counter, and a chocolate counter. Everything one might need to through together a quick little party together with flare and panache. Don’t forget to pick up a selection of their jeweled coloured macarons!