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.

Top story featured on Tomorrow is Today in Italy, The Top-Bloggers-in-Italy Daily ,The Travel Blog Round Up and The Internet Villa Hols Daily

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pink Pink Pink Day today for Breast Cancer prevention! And a very special recipe…


A heavy family history of Breast Cancer in my home makes this a cause close to my heart.


October has seen the Pink Ribbon Campaign against Breast Cancer come into full swing remembering those who have died, those who are suffering but also the survivors of this insidious disease.


Prevention is perhaps too optimistic a word but there are healthy changes that you can make to make your body stronger to fight the disease should it rear its ugly head.

Eat food containing antioxidants, exercise


and of course get your breasts checked regularly at any age.

Sculpture by Juanita Aiello-Pansini

A full list of risk factors can be found on the Breast Cancer Campaign Organization site.
Please click here to fund free mammograms for underprivileged woman. It will cost you nothing but mean so much to another.

My mother, an exceptional cook, died of Breast Cancer just under two and a half years ago.
I would like to share her very special recipe for Brandied Lemon Ricotta Cheese cake with you in her honour.

Brandied Lemon Ricotta Cheese Cake:
Sponge layer or Savoiardi biscuits
500gms Ricotta cheese (a fresh Italian soft cheese similar in consistency to Cottage Cheese)
125gms of castor sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 teaspoons of grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons of gelatin
1/2 cup of water
1 1/4 cups of cream
2 tablespoons of brandy
Line a 23cm spring form pan with paper and cut sponge or biscuits to fit in single layer.
Beat eggs and sugar till thickened. In a separate bowl, beat ricotta cheese, lemon rind & juice, vanilla & brandy together. Dissolve gelatin in the 1/2 cup of water over a very gentle heat. Beat it into the ricotta mix a little at a time.
Whip cream until semi-whipped. Fold cream, egg mixture & ricotta mixture together. Mix well. Pour over the sponge/biscuit layer. Refrigerate several hours until set. Decorate with fruit of choice just before serving.

TORTA DI RICOTTA AL BRANDY E LIMONE (per le amiche Italiane)
Savoiardi oppure Pan di Spagna
500gm di Ricotta
125gm di zucchero semolato
2 uova
2 cucchiaini di vaniglia
2 cucchiaini di buccia di limone grattugiato
2 cucchiai di succo di limone
1 1/2 cucchai di gelatina
1/2 bicchere d’acqua
1 1/4 bicchiere di panna
2 cucchiai di Brandy
Ricoprite la base di una teglia per torte di 23cm (con il lato apribile) con i Savoiardi oppure con un sottile stratto di pan di Spagna
Montate le uova con lo zucchero. Sbattete insieme la ricotta, la scorza di limone, il succo, la vaniglia e il Brandy. Sciogliete la gelatina nell’acqua al fuoco basso e poi agguingetela un po` alla volta alla ricotta sbattendola bene.
Montate la panna finche` non si sia addensata a meta`.
Mescolate insieme alla ricotta, la panna e le uova in modo che ogni elemento si  amalgami perfettamente.
Versate il composto nella teglia e mettetela al frigo per un paio di ore.
Ricopritela con frutta al momento di servirla.

Today we have come together with other Italian bloggers in the Blogosphere to bring the Anti-Breast Cancer campaign our solidarity by painting the internet pink:
Linda - News From Italy
Anne - Anne from Oxfordshire
Laura - Ciao Amalfi
Cherrye - My Bella Vita
Lucy - On my way 2 work and Other Stuff
Donna - Maremma Guide
Lauren - Mamaquest
Veronika - Modenus Blog
Eleonora - Aglio Olio e Peperoncino
JoAnne - Frutto della Passione and contest!
Michelle-Bleeding Espresso
Pat - Sicily Scene
a full list of almost 300 participating bloggers can be found here at Mamma Felice.
Grazie! Do go visit the others!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Capricious Capri


Capri.  The most clicked on Island in Italy.

Websites abound with passionate descriptions of picturesque alleys and piazzettas, churches and azure waters don’t they?  So when you send two beautiful twenty year old Italian girls to Capri  for a day trip, and you advise them where to go and what to see, you don’t expect them to return to Positano with a list of what not to do:

What not to do in a trip to Capri:

Don’t go to the ferry kiosk in Positano and ask for the resident ferry ticket fee to Capri of 15 Euros. Unless you can prove it in writing, you’ll need to fork out 30 Euros for the trip. If you are a tourist, be  suitably outraged.



Don’t bring your beach gear and hope for a quick dip in the azure waters. Unless you go to the Marina Piccola on the other side of the island,  you’ll have no chance of getting across the sea of bodies to the water’s edge.


Don’t expect to see the famous Piazzetta (Umberto 1) in Capri in one visit in the months from April to November. Unless you are walking on stilts, you will have a good view of the upper floors above the mass of tourists, but that is all.


Beware of any restaurant that hocks for trade.

Behind all the rigorously non-Italian waiters in Capri, is an owner who incites the employees to lure tourist groups in by literally saying ‘Pigliali pigliali!’ (pronounced Pee-lya-lee) in Italian dialect as they approach. What does it mean? ‘Grab them!’   A real tourist trap!


Don’t get excited when you see an illegal drug offered in a praline. If you expected to get high on the Cannabis in the chocolate, you’ll be disappointed. The only thing you’ll  get a kick out of, is it’s  sugar content.


Don’t catch the chairlift up to the top of Capri and expect it to last more than a few minutes. In true Disneyland style, the queues are longer than the ride.


Don’t gesticulate Italian style ( wildly) while holding a 2 litre bottle of water and admiring the steep drop in this view. It will quickly become part of the scenery.


Do visit the Villa San Michele - Axel Munthe at Anacapri. But then, don’t expect to be alone here either.


And at the end of the day, when you are approaching your beloved Positano weary, disheveled, hot and dirty, don’t assume that you won’t bump into anyone you know, as everyone should have gone home by then.

Rather do take time to straighten your appearance because the odds are on it that the whole town will be down at the main dock on your arrival that day to celebrate yet another religious Festival!