Minori & The Amalfi Coast
After 2 weeks on the stunning Amalfi
Coast I have to come home to a
hopefully sunny Leeds!
There cannot be many truly breathtaking vistas on this
planet as emotionally charged as the ones from the gardens of Villa Rufolo in
Ravello or the sweeping mountain framed Bay of Salerno
seen from the tortuous winding road hugging the mountainside from the local
Sita bus. My heart dances a tarantella every time the driver sounds his funky
horn and hits the noisy air brakes but I don't think many buses go crashing
down into a watery grave at all, apparently.
Besides eating like a porcellino in the eateries and baking
like a pie on the beach I hooked up with my friend Gerardo who owns a fine
restaurant specialising in the local Cilento cuisine. He is also a pioneer of
the burgeoning artisan beer scene over there with over 400 independent brewers
producing unpasteurised, unfiltered brews with the same passion as winemakers.
All bottles seem to be large and served, shared, in proper beer goblets. We
shall be introducing some to the Restaurant and Salumeria with an Italian beer
week in Autumn. I predict a massive surge in popularity in these drinks as more
and more people are starting to be as discerning with their drinks as they are
with their food. Is it just me who hates the thought that all the popular
International brands are 'brewed under licence in the UK' by the same
few factories. And while we're purported to be a nation of beer drinkers they
are taking (and selling) the p*ss, Dear me!
We spent a delightful evening in the Osteria Canali,
Gerardo's place by the Duomo, in the historic quarter of Salerno,
his food is 'rigorously Cilentano' the area in Campania
south of Salerno.
Nuttin' fancy but products sourced and cooked with a fanatical eye to correct
local tradition and the seasons. We ate, amongst other things, warm salad of
fresh organic white beans with wild chicory, cavatelli with courgette flowers,
stuffed bitter escarole with capers and olives and some serious aubergines. I
don't recall eating any meat or fish but we said no more after the pasta dish
so maybe it was next!
Talking of meat, I got to eat something I hadn't tasted
since the 70's - spleen stuffed with parsley, garlic and chilli and braised in
vinegar. I was telling the local butcher how mam used to send me to the Harry
Bottomley's butchers in Stanningley for some 'melts' as it was known, Harry
thought it was for the cat and we got it free. I was ashamed to tell him my mam
cooked it for us! The butcher laughed and said his mum had made some that very
morning because it was a feast day so he gave me half; that day I served it to
the family (sliced thin and served at room temperature) and can you believe not
one of them wanted to try it! It has a strange texture but was delicious and
brought back some strong memories. I continued going back in time the following
night at the feast of San Trofimena, the Patron Saint of Minori when I enjoyed
boiled calves head and pigs foot with salt and lemon from the back of a van -