A week in Miami

Makoto Restaurant Bal Harbour

Hello my lovely blogger friends, I have been away for a long long time!  I am so sorry, it has been crazy since I returned from South Africa, navigating a new city, getting engaged, planning an upcoming wedding and then visiting my mother for a week in Miami………it has been nuts!

But, I’m back at home and finally have some time to write and post!  I wanted to write about some new and notable places I went to in Miami.  It was such a whirlwind trip, that I never really ate at home.  Catching up with family and friends in little snippets of time, it’s always bitter sweet, loving my time with them but knowing it is only a few hours or so.

Anyhow, as I mentioned, I did do a lot of eating out.  And there are three places that I thought were worth mentioning if you are ever in Miami and want to try something off the beaten track.

One of the first ones was Makoto Restaurant in Bal Harbour Shops.  Makoto is the brainchild of Makoto Okuwa, who trained from the young age of 15 in Japan, and then set his sights westward.  In Washington D.C. he trained with Chef Morimoto of Iron Chef fame, and then later became the head chef of Morimoto New York. I had never heard of it, but joined my friend Michelle Bernstein, Miami Chef Extraordinaire of Michy’s , Crumb on Parchment; host of PBS’ Check Please! and of Top Chef fame (as a judge).  Located in Miami’s ritziest shopping center, Bal Harbour Shops, it is a small but beautifully appointed space.  Since it was my first time and she knows I love my food, she let me choose.  On first inspection the menu really surprised me, it was really long!  It was divided in super simple sections such as Cold, Hot, Salads, Rice + noodles, Robata, Fish + Meat, and obviously sushi.    I was super tempted by almost the whole thing, ranging from traditional sashimi to such unique dishes, it almost felt to me that it would be things that a love child between Nobu and Ferran Adria would come up with.

I ordered a few things, and there were some dishes that were brought  out from the kitchen courtesy of the chef, since of course I was eating with another acclaimed chef.  And to tell you the truth, those were my favorites.  The Watermelon Ceviche, with Tuna, Whitefish, octopus, Squid, Serrano and Lime Ice was genius!  It was so fresh, with a little bit of dried ice to creat this mad scientist/volcano feel.  The heat from the Serrano combined with the lemon ice was ingenious.  Everything on the plate was fantastic, and the quality of the seafood was superb.  I also enjoyed the Tuna Air Bread with Caesar Foam, Red Onion and Tomato.  This was a spin on one of Ferran Adria’s dishes called Air-Bag, which is a small baguette, that is hollow on the inside.  The tuna swapped well from the original dish’s jabugo ham, and the caesar foam in this one was delicious, giving it an almost tuna fish sandwich taste.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures, because we were gabbing like crazy the whole night!

Another place that is worth a mention is Oak Tavern,  which just recently opened up its doors in Miami’s über trendy Design District.  The decor is simple, rustic yet elegant.  It has a beautiful courtyard that you cross to get to the main restaurant.  The menu is very similar to Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, which is a couple of streets away from Oak Tavern.  It is composed of odd pairings of what I like to call “new american omnivore”.  Chock full of your trendy veggie staples such as beets and kale, some ’50’s throwbacks such as Deviled eggs, and foodie staples of pig galore (Bacon, Belly and Ears) this menu is the type of food I enjoy eating.  We ordered quite a few, since it seems like Spain’s tapas has reached western shores and conquered it.  There were some stellar options, and some not-so-stellar bombs.

My favorite had to be the Roast Bone Marrow with Oxtail Marmalade;

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I absolutely adore bone marrow, funny thing is the first time I tried it was at Michelle Bernstein’s Sra. Martinez restaurant, which unfortunately no longer exists.  I was totally taken aback at how amazing this oxtail marmalade was, succulent and sweet, yet savoury all at once.  The celery leaf, fennel and parsley side salad paired nicely with the richness of the dish, giving it a nice burst of acidity and crispness.

Another big surprise for me was Neiman Marcus’s Mariposa restaurant in The Village of Merrick Park.  My mother and I decided to eat there only because she was shopping around for a dress for my wedding.  I had never been there, and frankly, was not expecting much.  The first thing that really pleased me was their menu; clear, concise calorie counts on every dish, and lots of vegetarian, low calorie and organic options.  The feel of the place was obviously laid back elegance, with neutral tones throughout the dining room.  I decided on one of the low cal options, which was quickly made null and void by the giant popover that was placed in front of me!

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Placed beside it was a teeny little plate of strawberry compound butter and an espresso cup of consome,

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It was absolutely divine.  The consome was perfect, since it was quite chilly that day, (for Miami that is) and the strawberry butter and the popover….melt in your mouth goodness.

My main dish was the mahi mahi tacos with avocados and ancho chile dressing, loaded with a cabbage slaw and fresh cilantro.

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At 405 calories, this was pure ecstasy!  The fish was perfectly cooked, super flavorful.  The contrast of the creamy avocado and the crisp salad made this dish a perfectly satisfying lunch.  And, I skipped dinner that night too, it was really filling!

So, all in all, my trip to Miami was wonderful, spending time with the family and friends, discovering new and old places I had never been too.  Who says American’s don’t know how to eat well?

Not little old me, of course!

Bobotie Spiced Pork, Apple and Carrot Chutney with Turmeric Rice; A South African Inspired Dish- An Amazing Holiday

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I’m back!  Yes, it has been a long, long time.  Since I last wrote, I basically packed up my whole house in Barcelona, spent 12 marvelous days in Cape Town, South Africa and it’s surroundings, then flew back to Spain, but to my new city, Madrid, and set up house here.  It has been sad, exhilarating, and frustrating at its best and worst!

Since moving in to our new house, which is gorgeous, I haven’t been able to post because we had to wait for our internet to be set up.  But finally, they came yesterday and I am up to date with the world again!  Our new house is amazing, and my favorite part is obviously the kitchen.  We have a pantry……and a large double door fridge (which here in Spain they call a ‘American Fridge’), and we’re able to fit a table to seat six in the kitchen.  So excited to begin to create so many goodies in this amount of space.  This is true luxury for me!  The only catch is that the oven doesn’t work.  But they are coming to install a new one tomorrow!  Wooo hooo!  Gone are the days of over/under cooking from my previous and ancient oven!

Anyhow, our vacation to South Africa was amazing.  My best friend Miki is from South Africa, but her family is German/Japanese.  The reason of our visit was to attend her wedding.  And what a beautiful and fun wedding it was.  We reunited with old high school friends and new ones I have made along the way thanks to her.  Oh, and to totally make you even more jealous, her family owns vineyards in Stellenbosch.  Yes, we were more or less drunk everyday.

Stark-Code Vineyards, my friends' family farm where the wedding was held

Stark-Code Vineyards, my friends’ family farm where the wedding was held

Now, apart from the wedding, my family and I went on Safari, and also did a few tours in Cape Town.

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

 

3 year old White Rhino

3 year old White Rhino

 

A few of the Cheetas on the reserve

A few of the Cheetahs on the reserve

 

Mama Cape Buffalo checking us out

Mama Cape Buffalo checking us out

 

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One of two hippos on the reserve

One of two hippos on the reserve

 

I love Zebra Print!

I love Zebra Print!

 

Cape Barbary Lion

Cape Barbary Lion

 

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Sunset with the Cheetah's

Sunset with the Cheetah’s

We made it all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope, which was breathtaking, and also did a Township tour, which was heartbreaking.

View of Lion's Head from Table Mountain

View of Lion’s Head from Table Mountain

 

Food wise, South Africa is a very diverse country.  There are so many cultural influences, from Malaysian to Indian to German to Dutch….the list goes on.  Here are a few things I learned about eating in South Africa:

1.  They eat a lot of meat.  Beef, lamb, pork, Springbok, Ostrich, you name it.  It is on every menu.  My new favorite is Springbok, but I don’t think my butcher has any.

2.  They put bananas on pizzas.  Huh?

3.  They put butternut squash on EVERYTHING.  Each and every menu had something with butternut.  Salad, pizza, pasta, dessert.  You get the idea.

4.  They’re obsessed with avocados, or as they call them, avo.

5.  They make Buffalo mozzarella from Cape Buffalo.  Still damn good!

6.  They make kick ass wine.  (But I knew that already)

That said, one of my first meals in the house was a dish inspired from the flavors of South Africa, and Miki’s wedding menu.  I was so impressed with the different spices, their use of sweet and savoury, that I had to make something like this to alleviate my depression upon returning, and to try to eke out every last moment we had.  Served with a well chilled glass of Pepin Conde Sauvignon Blanc that we brought back, of course!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

For the pork-

4 slices of Pork Loin, 1 inch thick

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Salt, to taste

Olive oil for the pan

For the chutney-

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp chopped fresh ginger

1 tsp chili pepper

2 apples, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Juice of 1 Lemon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup unsulphered molasses

1 tsp salt, more or less

Water to cover the ingredients

For the rice-

1 cup long white rice

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

2 cups water

Fresh Spinach

In a small stock pot, add the olive oil and butter over medium low heat.  Add the onions, ginger, chili and sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until softened.  Add the rest of the ingredients, with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and let simmer for about an hour.  If it is getting too dry, add some more water.  Cook until it is thickened, keep warm.

In the mean time, make the rice.  Wash your rice, and in a bowl, mix the water with the turmeric and salt.  Place in a deep sided pan, add the rice, and bring to a boil, covered.  Let boil for 2 minutes, then lower the heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is evaporated.  Keep warm.

In another bowl, mix all the spices for the pork.  Coat the pork well on both sides with all your spices.  In a frying pan, heat up the olive oil over high heat.  Just before it starts to smoke, add the pork and cook, about 4 minutes on each side.

To plate, place a bit of the fresh spinach and top it with a pork slice.  Then add some chutney and rice.

Enjoy!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Seared Scallops with Cilantro Chutney

Scallops and Cilantro Chutney

The first weekend we were in Florida, we drove up to Sanibel Island to visit my aunt and uncle who live in Ft. Myers.  They have a wonderful friend who rented out her beautiful house to us for 4 incredible days.  It was absolute heaven.  Sanibel is a small island off the coast of Florida, and it’s main draws are shelling on its pristine beaches, biking, swimming……RELAXING.

Shelling beach, Sanibel Island

Check out the amount of shells!

It was wonderful.  We spent most of our days doing Dolce far Niente, which in Italian means the sweet art of doing nothing.  The house was perfect, 4 bedrooms, large living room, but the best part was the large screened in patio, where we ate ALL of our meals.  Everyday we came up with delicious food that we all enjoyed making together, family style.  It was pure heaven I assure you.

One of those days, my mother made a specific request that she wanted lobster tails.  But the ones that we were able to purchase were quite small, so we got the lobster, but I also decided on Scallops, which is something I hardly ever get to make in Spain.  And the best part was being able to prepare it with the wonderful ingredients that are native to South Florida, and some little cheats that my family had brought over, such as this amazing cilantro chutney.

This dish has an overall ease that is hard to beat.  Scallops cook quite quickly and are delicious on their own.  With the addition of the cilantro chutney, well it was just sublime!  I placed it over some julienned zucchini, just because we had that on hand, and over a bed of spinach, so we could get some heart healthy vitamins in!

Made in a flash, and eaten almost faster, it’s a dish you will love, I promise!

Seared Scallops with Cilantro Chutney

Serves 5

1 lb medium scallops

1 lime, juiced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp butter

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 small container of store-bought cilantro chutney

1 zucchini, julienned

1 garlic clove, minced

1 bunch of fresh spinach leaves, washed and stemmed

On a small plate, place the spinach leaves and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and decorate the plate with a few drops of the cilantro chutney if you want.  If you don’t, just plop it on top of the spinach and you’re good to go!

In a small frying pan, add a teeny drizzle of olive oil, and heat to high.  Add the julienned zucchini, garlic and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Keep warm.

In a large frying pan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and tsp of butter.  Heat on high until smoking.  When you make scallops, the pan has to be extremely hot, if not they won’t sear and they’ll let out this gummy liquid that isn’t pleasant.  When the pan is super hot, add your scallops, and sauté on one side for about 1 minute, then turn to sear on the other side, one more minute.  Add the lime juice, salt and pepper, and sauté another minute or so.

On your plate, place a small bit of the warm zucchini, and top with 4 or 5 of the scallops.  Drizzle a little of the cilantro chutney.

Your taste buds will thank you!

From my (Sanibel) kitchen to yours,

Carla

Shorty’s Bbq…..a Miami legend

Shorty's BBQ

 

Ever since I can remember, when I lived here, my family would reunite with my aunt and uncle and we would go to Shorty’s for some ribs.  And honestly, nothing has really changed.  Every time I visit Miami, it is the one stop that we always, always go to.  Especially since my boyfriend Paolo has become such an assiduous fan!

Shorty’s has changed little since I was a kid.  I think the one thing that’s changed is that it is not constructed all out of wood since the fire in 1972 completely burned it down!

Shorty's bbq fire

One of the things that I love most, is that their menu is almost exactly the same as I remember it,  except for some new additions as of the last year.   It is refreshingly the same, picnic style seating, wood tables, and all sorts of Americana to be found along the walls and tables.

 

Shorty's BBQ

Shorty's BBQ

Shorty's BBQ

Obviously though, the star of the show are the ribs.  Oh man.  Fall off the bone, slow cooked baby back ribs.  And the corn on the cob.  I’m not sure which one I like better.  As I said, the menu hasn’t changed in years, but why mess with perfection?  There is Baby back pork ribs, Beef Spare ribs, Chicken, Pulled pork sandwiches, Brisket, and a few new additions that I hardly paid any attention to.  Their cole slaw is always delicious, chock full of celery salt, giving it a bite amidst the creaminess.  But the ribs and corn.  Oh oh oh.  The corn on the cob is always sweet, perfectly cooked.

Shorty's BBQI have professed my love for corn before.  So you can imagine how happy and excited I get to have this delicious cob, drenched with butter, all to myself.  I have to pace myself to eat it…..I mean, halfway through, I always think….should I order another one?  (Yes, that is my inner Miss Piggy talking.)  But then I think I need to save room for my ribs!

Shorty's BBQ

These ribs are perfection on a plate.  They are so flavorful, completely fall off the bone, and I drench them in Shorty’s home-made spicy barbecue sauce, which is less sweet, more tangy.  Delicious.  The fries are great, but I rather concentrate on that pork goodness.  It’s something that you really can’t get in Spain.  At least, not as amazing as this.  A couple of years ago, I heard that Shorty’s employees have to sign a confidentiality agreement on how the ribs and corn are cooked.  And if it is true, they are right to do so.  They are THAT GOOD.

I also get the bbq baked beans.  I love beans.  In all ways.  And these are a perfect accompaniment, along with the cole slaw I mentioned before!

So, if you live in Miami, or are here for a visit, you need to make your way to Shorty’s!  Open since 1951, I hope they never change!

Carla

http://www.shortys.com

Naples Pt. 3 – PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA…..AND MORE PIZZA!

Brandi Pizzeria Naples Italy

Mind you, that was NOT the pizza we ate.  I am sure that one was good too, though.

Our main quest in Napoli, was to eat pizza.  Yes, I know it’s a shallow quest, not like searching for the Holy Grail, but it was OUR Holy Grail!!!

Our first day we wanted to go to Gino Sorbillo, which had been recommended to us by the hotel.  After wandering aimlessly up and down the street (passing it a few times, mind you, and this was something of a recurrence on our trip) we finally found it, super excited because we had been told it was THE BEST pizza in Naples.  It was closed.  For two weeks.  Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!  No problem, there are about 75,000 pizza places in Napoli.

Our next stop, either Da Michele or Di Matteo.  We had read about both in the guide-book, but we chose Di Matteo because of proximity.  Honestly, we walked right past this place and had not the guy at the door showed us where to go in, we would have missed it.  A very small and unassuming place, no frills, no fuss.  Just paper napkins, plastic cups and a fork and knife.  I wanted to try the original, the Margherita, to have a base on what to make my further decisions on.  But, I couldn’t help ordering it with Bufala mozzarella.  Paolo chose to have the 4 Stagioni, with black olives, artichokes, ham and mushrooms.  Normal mozzarella too.

Pizzeria Di Matteo

Bufala mozzarella Margherita

 

Pizzeria Di Matteo

4 Stagioni Pizza

 

Oh, my, God.  What a pizza!  This is not your crispy- crust- like- the- rest- of- Italy- Pizza.  This is the original, soft, chewy dough, fluffier crust.  You can like it better or not, but either way, this is the real deal.  The tomato sauce was to die for, and needless to say, my Bufala mozzarella was just sublime.  And at 4 euros……I think that is a steal!   This was definitely a contender, a pizza to mark all other pizza’s we had by.  My score: 9 out of 10

The next pizza, was only had by Paolo.  That was my, I’m going to be good day.  (Mind you it only lasted a day.)  We went close to our hotel, to a place called O’Munaciello.  There, Paolo decided he wanted to have the Alla Diavola, which had a spicy pepperoni on it.

 

Ristorante O'Munaciello

Diavola Pizza

 

This was good, but by no means the best.  The crust was slightly thicker and puffier.  It really reminded me of American pizza’s, in that sense.  It was good, but as you can see, the cheese was kind of plopped in the middle, and the pepperoni was a bit dry after being in the oven.  I would give it a 6 out of 10.

Our next pizza venture was at a place called Matozzi.   Not to be confused with Matozzi Ristorante Europa, which apparently is very expensive, this was on a small square on Via Toledo.  We sat outside, and ordered our pizza’s, Paolo choosing now the Bufala mozzarella with cherry tomatoes, and I chose the 4 Stagioni.  Ok, so the problems started really early in this place.  Paolo received his pizza and beer in like 5 minutes, and I was still waiting for my water.  We asked the waiter several times, but he kept on blaming the pizzaiolo, which also turned out to be the owner of the restaurant.  So, they finally brought my water out five minutes later, but they had forgotten to make my pizza.  You know those cartoons when steam is coming out of someone’s ears?  Well, that is me when I am hungry.  And I was VERY hungry.  But I played it cool.   So I finally got my pizza, but Paolo was done with his.  So much for eating together.

Ristorante Pizzeria Matozzi Via Toledo

Bufala and Cherry Tomato Pizza

 

Ristorante Pizzeria Matozzi Via Toledo

4 Stagioni

 

The pizza was good.  But not my favorite, by far.  The ham was great, it had a wonderful smoky flavor, but there wasn’t enough cheese, and too much crust.  And since I think they forgot about it in the oven again, it was a bit burnt.  So, for that, 5 out of 10.

Our last night there, a taxi driver asked us if we had eaten pizza, and we started to list off all the places where we had been.  He said to us, that we couldn’t leave without trying Pizzeria Brandi, which is the birthplace of the Pizza Margherita, 150 years ago.  Well….obviously we didn’t want to miss that!

The next day, off we went, not really expecting too much.  I mean, a pizza is a pizza is a pizza.  Whoa Nelly.  We were so wrong.  Ok, the place already was great.  Real tablecloths.  AIR CONDITIONING.  Oh, yeah, a singer too.  The pizza’s were slightly more expensive, the basic ones starting out at 7 euros, but that is still darn cheap in my book.  So Paolo and I ordered a variation on one of our favorite Pizza’s, that is the Rucola and Prosciutto.  The difference was, his had cherry tomatoes, mine had bufala mozzarella.  So, we get our pizza’s, take the first bite………….

Pizzeria Brandi Naples Italy

 

Pizzeria Brandi Naples Italy

 

We both looked up at each other and made all sorts of silly faces, those that you do when your mouth is full and you know you are tasting the most amazing thing.  HOLY. COW.  THIS IS PIZZA.  THIS IS PIZZA HEAVEN.  PIZZA PERFECTION.  PIZZA….ok, ok, you get the point.  10 out of 10.  (just had to add that in)

You ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE TO GOTTA BETTER get yourself to Pizzeria Brandi on Via Chiaia in Naples.  If you don’t, your trip will be wasted.  Ok, maybe you aren’t a pizza nut like us and you came here for the art.  But, if you remotely like pizza…..YOU MUST COME HERE!!!!!  I wish I could teletransport myself there now.  The first picture is the both of us congratulating the Pizzaiolo.  They were so pleased that some waiters and staff got into the picture too.

So, that is our quest for pizza.  And we found it.  THE HOLY GRAIL OF PIZZAS.

Tomorrow my friends, I am hopping on a plane, destination…..Miami, my birthplace!  So, I will be posting some local delicacies from there!

See you on the other side of the Atlantic!

Carla

 

 

Naples and The Amalfi Coast Pt. 2

Neapolitan Food

Eating in Italy is a religious experience.  Eating in Campania, well…..let’s just say it is one of a kind.  What is great about the food in Naples and it’s surroundings you say?  Wellllllll…….Let’s start off with the basics.  Tomatoes.  The best tomatoes in the world come from this area.  Namingly, the “Pommodori di San Marzano”

Tomatoes, Italy, Campania, San Marzano

This is the queen bee of sauce tomatoes.  Much like the roma, or plum, it is slightly longer and thinner, and juicy so perfect for that “Marinara” sauce on your pizza, or pasta.

Then there’s “Mozzarella di Bufala”.  This also hails from this region.  Delicious, sometimes tangy taste of pure Buffalo milk.

Mozzarella Cheese, Bufala, Italy, Campania

And then of course there’s “Pasta di Grangnano  trafilata al Bronzo”…..which is basically, excuse my home region of Emilia-Romagna, the best dry pasta, or Pasta Asciutta, your money can buy.

Faella, Pasta, Grangnano, Italy, Campania

And of course, I cannot forget all the seafood.  From squid, mussels, clams, octopus, and the queen of the sea, Ricciola, or Greater Amber Jack as we would call it.

But there is also the lemons….to make Limoncello, Granita, Salads, Lemonade……it is really a rich and diverse food basket that serves all of Italy, and the world.

Well, you know that one of the main reasons I went there was to eat.  So eat we did.  Here is the best of the best that we found in Napoli and around!

Our first night we were basically directed by a young lad to try “Oste Pazzo” restaurant, near the Lungomare and right below the “Castell dell’ Ovo”.

The waiters basically harassed (well, not too much, I mean, in terms of food you really don’t have to push me too far) to try the “Antipasto Tipico Napoletano”  This was basically comprised of a few octopus and squid salads with the typical “Fritti misti di pesce”.  That is mixed fried seafood.  I love me some fried food.  And it was awesome.

Fried Mixed Seafood, Italy, Naples

On the left is fried baby squid, quite like what we get here in Spain, but they were absolutely tiny and tender, and the batter was crazy good, crunchy, just a tad spicy, perfect.  In the middle we had two fritters with “neonati”, basically little fish in a delicious parsley spiked batter.  And on the right, fried white anchovies.  Paolo, my sweetie, wasn’t a big fan of these, he thought it was too fishy.  I however, loved it.  Something about munching on these, or any anchovy, is truly delicious.

Next up on the friend band wagon, is the Arancini.  I love arancini, and have featured them before on my blog.  But I have always eaten the Sicilian variety.  Never had I tried the Neapolitan ones.

Arancini, Fried Rice Balls, Italy, NapoliOn the left is the anemic looking “Arancino Bianco”, or white arancino, and on the right is the, you guessed it, “Arancino Rosso”, red arancino.  I was in for a huge surprise.  What looked like the bland, plain white arancino, turned out to be the tastiest one!  The white one stuffed with a pork sausage type of filling, and the rice was chock full of pepper and cheese.  It was absolutely amazing.  The red one, on the other hand, was more balanced, but also, less flavourful.  It is red because they cooked the rice with tomato sauce, and then it stuffed with a tomato meat sauce.  Both were delicious, but the white one won!

Neapolitans love their fried food.  Nary a street corner or restaurant menu that wasn’t filled with these guilty pleasures! Even for breakfast.  Upon arriving to the hotel we were instructed to go to a café called “Scaturchio”, a hundred year old café that has some pretty amazing pastries, and Napoli’s most famous, the Sfogliata.  Sfogliata is a filo-type pastry filled with sweet ricotta and candied fruits.  And one of the bonuses, is it’s served warm!

Scaturchio, Pastries, Naples, Italy

The pastry selection at Scaturchio

Sfogliata Pastry

Sfogliata Pastry from Scaturchio

It was delicious!  Crispy and buttery on the outside, warm, dense and moist on the inside.  Perfectly warm, so all you had to do was enjoy it without letting a drop of the ricotta fall!

In Capri, I mentioned we had a lunch with a view.  But obviously one of the things I wanted to eat in Capri was the Caprese Salad…..I mean, that is its birthplace!  So simple, but let me tell you, it was the best Caprese I have ever had.

Caprese SaladGorgeous, juicy, vine ripe “Cuore di Bue” tomatoes, with perfect spheres of “Mozzarella di Bufala”, accompanied only by a bit of rucola, extra virgin olive oil, and some salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Perfection on a plate!

We also enjoyed the “Insalata di Polipo con Agrumi”.  Octopus salad with citrus fruits.  This dish was made for summer in Naples.  Meaty, tender octopus bathed in lemon juice.  So refreshing for the unbearable heat!

Octopus salad with lemon dressingPaolo decided to go for the pasta, which was equally delicious, but I was trying to be “good” that day.  He had a very typical pasta that I have only tasted on this trip, called Sciallatielle.  This is a thick, flat, medium long noodle.  This pasta had been made fresh that day, and topped with Shrimp and cherry tomato sauce.

Sciallatielle Pasta with ShrimpThe shrimp in Naples are less briny than our mediterranean counterparts, equally delicious, but sweeter, and it complements the absolute star of this dish, the tomatoes.  Bursting with flavor!

Now the dessert here at Punta Tragara deserves special mention.  I was not very impressed by the title, Almond Crumble with Limoncello pastry cream.  But Holy Moses!!!!!  What an incredible dessert it is!  It is part lemon meringue, part lemon curd, part cheesecake crust!  All topped with the most beautiful and colorful summer berries.

Almond crumble with Limoncello Pastry Cream

In Positano, we went to a restaurant called “Le Tre Sorelle” that a friend of mine recommended.  It was a perfect beach-side lunch.  Although, Paolo chose the better (in terms of beachy-ness) option, but I just couldn’t be that close to Sorrento and not have “Gnocchi alla Sorrentina” which has to be one of my favorite dishes in the world.

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is gnocchi with a tomato and mozzarella sauce.  But this was definitely the best I have tasted.  Again, it comes down to the tomatoes my friends……I am having withdrawal symptoms already.

Paolo ordered the fish, with an “Aqua Pazza” Sauce.  The fish was perfectly cooked, fork tender and juicy.  Again….with amazing tomatoes and this time, potatoes!

Fish with Aqua PazzaThe presentation is gorgeous too, I have to say.

 

Oh my goodness….I can’t believe I forgot our starter at Tre Sorelle…..Zucchini Flowers stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto.  Just sublime.  I mean, it doesn’t get any better than this lunch.  Until the next one I guess.  Ok, I am a sucker, they are all really good.

Zucchini blossoms stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto

 

And on our last night, we went uphill in one of Naples’ ritzier and more residential areas to a restaurant called “La Sacrestia”.  The menu looked amazing, the views were breathtaking, of the bay and Vesuvius.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of the view, because the sun had already set….but here’s one so you can imagine!

Bay of Naples Also unfortunately, the restaurant was due to close the next day for holidays, so they didn’t have many of the dishes on the menu.  One of the dishes I wanted to eat was the Ricciola, the fish I had spoken about before.  But instead, they brought out a little tasting dish of pasta that really amazed me!  And I ended up recreating it at home.  I was really, really surprised because when they described it, it just sounded, well, blah.  It was Pasta with Mussels, Cherry tomatoes, Pepperoncino and Pecorino.

I loved it.  Obviously, the ingredients are the best of the best, so why bother adding more things that are unnecessary?  Gorgeous.

Well kids, I hope you enjoyed my culinary extravaganza of a trip through Campania.  Tomorrow…….PIZZA!

Carla

 

 

Naples and The Amalfi Coast Pt. 1

Napoli, Historic City Center, Campania, Italy, Streets

La Bella Napoli

Napoli.  What can I say?  A city full of contradictions.  A true diamond in the rough.  Behind every scruffy door, lies a sparkling interior.  A city with hundreds of years of history, all layered on top of each other, like a rickety tower of Jenga.  It is a mystery, and we barely scratched the surface.

Naples, Italy, Historic City Center

Flanked by the bounty of the Gulf, and the destructiveness of Vesuvius, it is a city that has a weathered, hardened appearance, that is visible on the locals faces.  Fiercely proud of their heritage, Neapolitans welcome you but they also take advantage of you.  I guess it is just second nature, being that it has been settled, conquered, pillaged, brought down yet somehow, it still manages to survive.  To stay strong.  And to stay true to their nature, whatever it may be.

Naples, Campania, Italy, Vesuvius, Lungomare

Lungomare with Vesuvius in the background

Napoli is a city that begs you to discover it.  We, obviously tried, but it will take many, many trips to truly get down to its true heart and soul.  After having said that, I think we did a pretty good job of traipsing around as much as we could with our limited time.  In 5 full days, we ate our way through Campania, ferried to Capri, miraculously survived driving out of the city and the “Blue Ribbon Drive” to Positano, and transported ourselves 1,933 years to witness the tragic glory of Pompeii.  Not bad for a 5 day sojourn, huh?

Our first day was dedicated to seeing the sights in the city, since our flight landed at 7:30 am, and we arrived at the hotel an hour later, and our room would not be ready until 12.  Tired and bleary eyed, we did our best to walk the streets and take in all the sights.  It was shocking, at best, and sometimes downright nerve-racking.  A total chaos of vendors, scooters packed with people whizzing in between us, tourists, kids playing ball, it was all too much to take in that early morning!  But throughout our trip we became experts at crossing roads, managing the chaos of the streets, and even driving.

Naples, Napoli, Campania, Italy, City CenterOn our second day, we escaped the heat of the city and took a ferry to Capri.  Oh wow.  I have no words for how beautiful this little island is.  It is a rocky, flower filled, spectacular little outpost in the Gulf of Naples.  Meandering through the tiny streets of Capri Town, I felt immediately overwhelmed by its natural beauty.  Impossible cliffs rising out of the azure waters, houses perched on teeny ledges, and flowers flowers flowers everywhere!  We wanted to see the Faraglioni, and ended up having lunch at a hotel, and then sneaking into their pool!

Capri, Italy

Capri, Shopping, Italy

Crowded streets in Capri Town

 

Capri, Italy, Faraglioni

Capri, Italy, Hotels

Capri, Italy, Flowers

Capri, Italy, Hotel Punta Tragara

Hotel Punta Tragara Swimming Pool

 

Capri, Italy

The third day, we needed to escape from the heat, again.  When I said Pamplona was hot, I didn’t know what hot really was.  This was 2 steps closer to hell!  I have never sweat so much in my entire life, and we needlessly parked way up in Positano, and had to take about a million stairs to get down to the beach.  I wasn’t happy until we were in the water, where we languidly dreamed of a swim up bar in the middle of the ocean.  The jet set on their yachts sure know what they are doing, let me tell you.  But we had a wonderful day nonetheless!

Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Sorrento, Amalfi Coast

Lemons, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Now THAT is a lemon!

 

Vendor, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Granita and Chilli Pepper Vendor on the street

 

Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Positano

Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Positano, Beach, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Beach time in Positano

Our second to last day, we decided to go to Pompeii.  How amazing.  How vast.  How HOT.  Again.  But it was just so amazing being able to walk these streets that have remained intact for almost 2000 years.  If you can get to Naples, you must visit Pompeii.

Pompeii, Campania, Italy, Vesuvius

Pompeii, Medusa, Frescoes, Italy, Campania

A fresco of Medusa in the House Of Meneandro

Pompeii, Italy, Campania

The inner garden of the House of Meneandro

Pompeii, Campania, Italy

Villa of Mysteries, Villa dei Misteri, Affreschi, Frescoes, Pompeii, Italy, Campania

One of the well-preserved frescoes in the Villa of Mysteries

Vesuviues, Pompeii, Campania, Italy

Vesuvius

Tomorrow, I will post about our top food moments……and I have decided to dedicate a complete post to our quest for the perfect Pizza….we had a REALLY good time doing that!

I hope that my pictures can transmit to you the wonder that is Napoli and the Amalfi Coast.  Amazing 5 days!

Carla