Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sea’s Side of Positano

Our little boat chugged along the lake-like sea hugging the rugged coastline between Positano and Praiano on the Amalfi Coast. It was the first days of September and the climate was ostentatiously spoiling us with a soft gentle sunshine and deep crisp colours. I could well imagine this lazy rocking in the sea being called the Dolce Vita now that the noise and traffic from the motor boats and ferries had diminished, a legacy of the paradise that Positano once was.

Letting  my hands languish through the silky water, we passed inlet after inlet of tiny pebbled beaches leaving behind cliffs tinted in varying shades of blue on the horizon. We’d left home early with the intention of taking one last boat ride before putting the little boat away for the winter and hopefully using up the last of the petrol in the egg beater sized motor, when we thought we might drop by for coffee at Laurito beach before heading back to Fornillo.

My husband accosted the wooden pier and let us out before dropping anchor offshore and diving into the sea to reach the beach in a few strokes.
The restaurant Da Adolfo, little more than a stone wall filled with pebbles on which rustic wooden tables were set  under a canopied roof, was much closer to the sea than I remembered it, the tides haven eaten away most of the beach over the years. A couple of rows of deck chairs were set out for the clients arriving on the official boat but so far I could only see locals around, some of whom had reached the beach from the stairs.

A clinking sound caught my attention.
A local owner of another restaurant at Positano was tapping sharply on the rock in the water while holding a sloshing plastic zip locked bag in her other hand.
She was obviously gathering what are known in Naples as ‘patelle’  from along the cliff faces with which to make a pasta sauce.
In fact a common summer pastime in these parts, though you’d be hard put to find it on a menu in the area, is foraging along rock pools and cliff faces for limpets. You’ll see many a local diver with a sharp knife or armed with an appropriately shaped rock in do-it-yourself style, returning with small rattling bags of  mollusks.
When foraging for patelle, the smaller the shell is, the better the taste will be as the  shellfish inside is more tender. I have been told (as I’ve never tried them) that the taste is something between the delicate clam and a heartier mussel.
Our friend had whipped up a sauce in five minutes using patelle, a few small crabs found in rock pools and a handful of cherry tomatoes in between preparing other things for her restaurant and had sent this plate of much appreciated spaghetti with a boy to her husband, who runs a seafood restaurant a few doors down from hers. She was intending to do the same that night.

In real Italian style, our late morning coffee transformed itself into a leisurely lunch as we were unable to resist the lure of the enchanting view right down to Capri nor the choice from the  blackboard menu which heavily featured local fish dishes. By midday, the restaurant was bustling as the boat unloaded tourists from Positano.
Dripping sea water from our swim  and chatting at our ‘Positanesi’  table, we enjoyed mozzarella grilled on lemon leaves - a Da Adolfo original dish, grilled shrimps and  Carpaccio di tonno (fresh tuna finely sliced) for our antipasto, then ‘mpepata di cozze (mussels sprinkled in black pepper), spaghetti with zucca e vongole (clam and pumpkin sauce) and tonno fresco con paccheri  (fresh tuna sauce with pasta).
We made our way back to town in our little boat slowly, ever so slowly, drawing out the best September had on offer.
Da Adolfo Laurito Beach, Positano.

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Anonymous said...

You should get paid for this outstanding publicity!

LindyLouMac said...

Come back soon those lazy hazy days of summer.

Leanne was in Italy now in Australia said...

Mmmmm pumpkin and clams - I have never had that before, but seeing that I love both then I might just have to try it one day!

Lisa at Wanderlust Women said...

I always love your reviews of the treasures of Positano........and now Praiano.

Tuula said...

Lovely post, felt like I was right there with you...and I would really love a plate of spaghetti with zucca e vongole, sounds divine!

The Food Hunter said...

Great post. I miss Positano and the surrounding area.

Anonymous said...

Nice story about living the local life in your lovely area. We have a part-time resident here in Santa Dominica Talao who was born here and now is a successful businessman in Luxembourg!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

What a fabulous time you had!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Scintilla .... A FABULOUS outing ♥ One day I will be there, I hope.:-)

annette at Italian Indulgence said...

I love this place, but you didn't mention the desserts - they are home-made and delicious!

Shellbelle said...

Now you've gone and made me hungry and given me a deep desire to visit your coast. Thanks for joining Maya's Coastal Party and sharing this wonderful post!

Happy Beachy 2011!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

How beautiful! It's my dream to visit that part of the world! Happy holidays! ♥

Mary Ann Pickett said...

Beautiful...I have been to Positano but not from the sea. You have made me hungry!
Mary Ann

Arabella said...

Was blog hopping this morning and happened upon your marvelous blog. I love, love, love these photos.

Have a beachy day & hope to see you at:

Anonymous said...

Positano looks stunning! I really enjoy following your blog...22 days and counting till I will be in Positano and experiencing the Amalfi Coast. Thank you for all the information and travel tips. Regards,
CYM - Michele