The Limoncello is Ready!

Amalfi Coast Limoncello

The limoncello and mandarinello are ready! We picked mandarins and lemons in Amalfi last month, and the rinds have been infusing in pure alcohol since then. It’s longer than usual for the recipe from the Mamma Agata Cookbook that I use, but I simply kept forgetting to finish them off! The final result was tasty either way, but we still have to do the taste test comparison to last year’s batch. We picked lemons that were just turning yellow and were still a bit green, and the color of the limoncello (on the left) is ever so slightly green. The rinds of the lemons are at their most aromatic when they are still just a bit green. We picked the mandarins later this year than usual, so the color of the mandarinello doesn’t seem quite as intense as last year. But the flavor is still divine!

Do you make limoncello or other liqueurs at home? Limoncello is super simple, and only takes about a week to make. Although some recipes call for infusing the rinds for much longer, even up to 40 days as Cherrye from My Bella Vita has found out in Calabria! If you make limoncello at home, how long do you let the rinds infuse? Would love to hear!

The New Year

Amalfi Harbor New Year's Day 2013

The harbor of Amalfi on New Year's Day 2013

The beginning of a new year is always a special time – for reflection, for a pause in the hubbub of daily life and for hope for the year ahead. Even though it’s just one of the many days each year, it still feels something like a blank canvas or that crisp, empty page of a new notebook. Boy there’s nothing I love more than the possibilities of a new notebook. While any old notebook will do if the main purpose is simply filling the pages, there’s something extra special about a beautiful notebook. Just like there’s something extra special in the air when the new year starts with a clear blue sky. A moment to be treasured.

Amalfi Marina Grande Beach January 2013

At the beach in Amalfi on New Year's Day!

This year New Year’s Day arrived with a brilliant blue sky and warmer than average temperatures on the Amalfi Coast. Before joining family for the traditional New Year’s Day lunch, we enjoyed the sunshine and the start of the new year in Amalfi. There were people already soaking up the sun on the beach and even a few brave swimmers testing the water. And with the exquisite colors of the sea in the winter you can hardly blame them. It is oh so tempting!

Amalfi Turquoise Sea New Year's Day 2013

The clear, turquoise winter sea in Amalfi on New Year's Day

After a late night watching the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks in Amalfi, a walk on such a beautiful day was the perfect way to start the new day and the new year. Following the road from Amalfi we headed toward the neighboring village of Atrani. Along the way is the medieval watchtower that is now a part of the Hotel Luna.

Amalfi Hotel Luna Watchtower January 2013

The Hotel Luna watchtower in Amalfi

Atrani was looking sleepy and very lovely on New Year’s Day. There was an air of quiet everywhere as the villages awoke to a glorious start to the new year.

Atrani January 2013

Atrani on New Year's Day 2013

Around the corner past Atrani lies the beach of Castiglione down a winding staircase of a couple hundred steps. It’s a very popular beach in the summer, and even a few people were enjoying the sunshine on New Year’s Day this year.

Ravello Castiglione Beach January 2013

A secluded winter beach on the Amalfi Coast

If you’re used to cold water temperatures you can still enjoy a swim in the sea during the winter months on the Amalfi Coast. While there are some locals that swim nearly every day and tourists that brave the cold, it’s not my cup of tea. I’m an admirer of the sea from afar in the winter, which is when I think the colors are the most beautiful. This vivid turquoise is just incredible!

Swimming on the Amalfi Coast January 2013

Anyone for a swim?

I hope your new year is off to a brilliant and happy start! Wishing you a peaceful year ahead filled with many tales to recount in your blank notebook.

Autumn Colors on the Amalfi Coast

Autumn colors on the Amalfi Coast

Much of the beautiful autumn colors that I look forward to each year on the Amalfi Coast have been blown away by a few big rain and wind storms. However, on the drive to the airport in Naples last week, I was happy to see some beautiful colors still lingering up in the mountains above Tramonti. I love the show nature puts on in autumn with all the bright colors!

Autumn Drive to Tramonti on the Amalfi Coast

I took a few shots when I could as the car zipped in and out of the curves. It’s hard to get a decent shot, but I hope these capture at least a little of the beautiful scenery.

Fall Leaves on the Amalfi Coast

Autumn is always such a fleeting moment, but this year it seemed more difficult that usual to hold on to before it blew away. Happy to share the little bit I caught on the Amalfi Coast this year!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Amalfi Coast!

Thanksgiving on the Amalfi Coast

Happy Thanksgiving wishes!

On this Thanksgiving Day we woke up to find a beautiful sunny morning after nearly a week of overcast, windy and rainy weather. What a way to start the day, with a lovely reminder of how much there is to be grateful for each and every morning! For all of my family and friends celebrating in America and around the world, may this be a beautiful, peaceful and very happy Thanksgiving!

xoxo

Laura

Pomegranate Seeds & Memories

Autumn Flavors on the Amalfi Coast

Brilliant red pomegranate seeds

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” – Henry David Thoreau

As I broke open the pomegranate and brilliant red seeds tumbled into the waiting bowl, I glanced up at that quotation by Thoreau tacked on the cupboard in the kitchen. I smiled because I had to think this is exactly what Thoreau had in mind. With red stained fingertips I picked the seeds gently out of the pomegranate pieces, every so often stealing a few to savor the sweetness while I worked. I look forward to pomegranate season all year long. When it finally arrives in the autumn, I just can’t wait to break open the first one.

My first memory of eating a pomegranate was in elementary school sitting out on the dining terrace in the hot Florida sun. There was a sweet girl in the class one year behind me who dreamed of one day becoming a doctor, a heart surgeon to be precise. I remember admiring her drive and passion way back then, and I’ve never doubted that she achieved her goals. We weren’t in the same class and only rarely met, but I liked watching her pour over encyclopedias in the library and knew we had a lot in common. She had long straight black hair, a shy smile and brought the most intriguing things in her lunch sack. That’s where, one day, she pulled out a pomegranate. It was the first time I had ever seen one, and I was so grateful she let me try some. In retrospect, I imagine she was grateful to have found a kid who didn’t make fun of her for having a pomegranate instead of peanut butter crackers or a fruit roll-up!

That was the first time I ate a pomegranate, and I often think back to when I was a kid as I work the seeds out of pomegranates now. I suppose that’s because I never ate them again until moving to Italy. One early autumn day on the bus from Amalfi to Sorrento I swore I saw a pomegranate on a tree as the bus whirled around a corner near Positano. I came home and looked up the word immediately in the Italian dictionary. Melograno is the Italian word for the tree and melagrana is the word for the fruit. I kept my eyes out for them when I visited the fruit shop, and soon enough I spotted piles of pomegranates arriving for the autumn. Now they’re one of the fruits I look forward to each year with the arrival of autumn on the Amalfi Coast.

Whatever influences pomegranates may have on me, I’m happy to resign myself to them.