Updates from the Amalfi Coast: A Gourmet’s Guide to Southern Italy

I’m on a quest to try every lemon dish I find while I’m here. Lemons are everywhere here and I’m always interested to see what lemons can be paired with in dishes. For example, I never thought of doing ravioli with lemon. It turns out it is incredible. Of course, you cannot leave the Costiera without trying limoncello. Delicious! I found out today that the quality of limoncello can vary dramatically. What you see in the stores is not the best and normally contains a lot of water. To try the best stuff order it at a good restaurant, or convince them to sell you a bottle. If you haven’t tried it before it is a lemon liquor, simply made from lemon peel, sugar and alcohol. It’s used here as an after dinner drink, otherwise known as a digestif.
Other lemon things I have tried are capellini with gamberi (shrimp), a special lemon cream cake and lemon granitas. Seafood and fish is the best here and often prepared with lemon. Ask your waiter for his recommendation – they will always recommend the freshest fish. Yesterday I had the most delicious red snapper – incredible. It doesn’t even compare to fish in the US.

Fresh red snapper in lemon from Le Tre Sorelle, an excellent restaurant on the beachfront in Positano

Another thing you’ll will want to try is the buffalo mozzarella, and pizza (make sure you order a margherita! This should have buffalo mozzarella, san marzano tomatoes and basil. Molto bene!

Christian takes us out for the best pizza

So if you’re wondering why food in La Costiera, or Italy in general there are a few reasons. Unlike other parts of the work, in Italy people only cook and eat what is in season. Why does this make a difference? Well, if it’s not in season in your part of the world it has probably been picked too early and been transported. Food never tastes as good as when it is locally grown. Soil is another very important factor. The soil here is of course volcanic from when Mt Vesuvius erupted and the entire area was covered in volcanic ash. Mineral rich soil like this is perfect to bring out the flavors in food. The other thing that affects this is the climate. It is very mild here in Southern Italy and they get a lot of sun. All foodies know about San Marzano tomatoes, of course from this area. I wouldn’t use anything else for a tomato dish! Other local foods you should try are hazelnuts, artichokes, olives, apples and figs.

Fruit stand in Sorrento

 

Oranges in Pompei

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