Lunch at Amalfi’s Bar Gran Caffè

Lunch at Gran Caffe Amalfi

After a long winter on the Amalfi Coast, it’s hard to stay inside when the warm weather finally arrives in the spring. This is the time of year when it’s warmer outside most days than inside the old stone houses on the coast. When the sun shines in Amalfi, it’s an easy choice to stay out and enjoy it instead of going back home! Twice in the last couple of weeks we’ve decided to enjoy a leisurely and simple lunch outdoors at the Bar Gran Caffè in Amalfi. Tucking our shopping bags under the table to stay cool, we enjoyed the warm sun and beautiful view overlooking the Marina Grande beach. There were a few people out sunbathing and even some brave souls swimming. Gran Caffè is hands down my favorite outdoor spot in Amalfi – fabulous views, great sunny location and a menu of simple and fresh salads, bruschette and panini perfect for a light lunch.

Bruschetta Gran Caffe

Oh, did I mention that the prices are great? There’s a large selection of bruschette for around €3-4 per plate, sandwiches running from €3-6 and wonderful salads from €6-7. They also serve pizza and other options, but I haven’t tried those yet. I’m always too tempted by the salads and bruschette! Last time we tried these tasty bruschette topped with salami, alici and capers, which was an interesting and good combination.

Amalfi Bruschetta at Gran Caffe

The salads are very fresh and refreshingly different from the usual salads you’ll find on the Amalfi Coast. This one had artichokes, parmigiano cheese and was topped by two slices of prosciutto. Very good!

Gran Caffe Salad

The Bar Gran Caffè is where you’ll often find me on summer evenings, enjoying my favorite aperitivo—a glass of prosecco—while watching the ferries come in and out of port and the sunset light fade across the beach in Amalfi. This summer I know I’ll be enjoying many delicious lunches at the Gran Caffè, too!

Photo Friday: Berries!

Not on the Amalfi Coast berries

I’m not a fan of American food. I’ve never liked fast food, creamy sauces, being hurried through meals or the ungodly amount of ice served in drinks. Heck, I don’t even like ketchup. But there is something I miss very much in my daily life on the Amalfi Coast.

Berries.

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries – any and all kinds of berries! I am very much for shopping in season, and I love when the sweet and tiny wild strawberries show up in the fruit and vegetable shops in the summer. I even have a little plant on my terrace that produces the tiniest berries that have the tartest and sweetest flavor of strawberries I’ve ever tasted. When they’re ripe I pick them off one by one and wash them in the cold water from the garden hose before savoring their little bursts of intense flavor.

But I need more than a few berries to keep me going. When I’m back in America I eat as many berries as I can. I don’t care the season or the time of year. All I know is that it’s time to eat berries! This is a photo I took last week of my ideal breakfast. (I swear there’s actually some cereal under there!) I’m enjoying every bite while I can.

Not long ago Anne from Anne in Oxfordshire introduced me to olive oil + raspberries, a wonderful website and blog by Kate Middleton. Talk about a kindred spirit when it comes to berries! Kate is starting an organic raspberry farm this year in Tuscany. Chatting with Kate recently, she offered to help me track down some raspberry bushes to plant in our garden this spring. I’m thrilled!

It’s so simple and so complicated at the same time, but sometimes finding a solution like this is the sweetest part of expat life in Italy!

Know your pasta!

What kind of pasta is on my plate?
What kind of pasta is on your plate? by Charming Italy

Earlier this week, CharmingItaly.com shared a fun infographic chart to help you learn about the 100s of different types of pasta shapes in Italy. It’s really charming, and made me laugh quite a few times as I worked my way through it! This is just what you’ll need for the next time you’re left stumped about what kind of pasta is on your plate. (Click on the image to view the full size.) Have a fun and pasta-filled weekend!

Where Woman Cook: Mamma Agata New York City Event!

I have great news to share with those of you reading from the New York City area! My dear friend Chiara Lima from the Mamma Agata Cooking School on the Amalfi Coast in Ravello will be returning to your area on December 10th for an exciting event at Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Avenue, between 15th & 16th) in New York City for the launch of a fabulous new foodie magazine called Where Women Cook. Chiara will be there along with Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman) and many other famous cooks! Here’s a peek inside the first issue with a feature on the Mamma Agata Cooking School and Chiara’s lovely Simple and Genuine cookbook:

Mamma Agata Amalfi Coast Cooking School

If you missed Chiara on her book tour last month, this is the perfect chance to meet her and pick up a signed copy of the first issue of Where Women Cook and Chiara’s beautiful Simple and Genuine cookbook. (A great holiday gift idea!!) Here are the details:

Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue, between 15th & 16th, New York City, December 10th, 2-5 PM

For a little sneak peek of what you’ll find inside Chiara’s Simple and Genuine cookbook, check out this wonderful guest appearance Chiara and her husband Gennaro did on ABC 7 News in Chicago where they prepare their Spaghetti del Contadino (Farmer’s Spaghetti). After watching the video yesterday morning I just had to make this quick, easy and delicious pasta dish for lunch. Enjoy!

Cookbook Review: My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino

It is my pleasure this week to welcome fellow southern Italy expat blogger Cherrye Moore to share about a new cookbook. Cherrye writes often at her blog My Bella Vita about the beautiful region of Calabria where she lives, and this week she is here to tell us about a new cookbook called My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South. I’ve heard so much about the wonderful cooking of Calabria, and I know this is one cookbook that will soon be in my library!

Welcome, Cherrye!

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One of the most rewarding things about being an expat blogger in Italy is getting the chance to virtually meet other Italophiles around the world. Whether, like Laura, they are a fellow expat in southern Italy or whether they are an Italian American/ Canadian/ Australian / fill-in-the-blank-based abroad, it is a surprisingly small community and we have our own six-degree thing going on that would surely make Mr. Bacon a proud man.

In a far-flung region like Calabria, my adopted home for the past 4+ years, this community is even smaller and not only have I gotten to meet other Calabriaphiles like myself, but I get to share in their excitement when they’ve reached our collective goal in positively promoting Calabria.

Next week-November 8, 2010, to be exact, Rosetta Costantino, a Calabria-born chef living in California will release her first cookbook, My Calabria. I was sent a review copy of the cookbook and Mamma Mia … che bello!

Image courtesy www.cookingwithrosetta.com

In addition to the vibrant photos and mouthwatering recipes, there is a good deal of history, facts and FYI on the region. One thing I’ve noticed about myself over the last few years is that I’m not particularly interested in reading books about living in Italy-or visiting Calabria-you know, since it’s not much of an “escape” to read about your own backyard, but I was enthralled with this book. In fact, I spent more time on the introductions and background information than I did with the recipes and I found myself grinning when Rosetta referred to her mamma and her down-home cooking.

It was fun to compare Rosetta’s recipes, which hail mostly from the province of Cosenza, to those we make here in Catanzaro and my husband even found a few of his mom’s old favorites sprinkled throughout the book.

If you are in the market for a new Italian cookbook and want to try something new and authentic, then pick up a copy of My Calabria. But I must warn you … don’t read it on an empty stomach. You might not make it through the first 20 pages if you do.

Norton Publishing is offering three My Bella Vita readers a chance to win My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South before they can buy it! Head over to My Bella Vita for all the details before November 5th!

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Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and Calabria tour consultant living in southern Italy. She writes about travel for MNUI Travel Insurance and about traveling in Calabria on her sites, My Bella Vita, and Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast, the website for her B&B in Catanzaro.