Dreaming of Summer On The Amalfi Coast!

It's been a beautiful summer in Italy this year with daily temperatures reaching into the mid 30's C, or 86°F and higher. On the Amalfi Coast, splendid sunrises wake the morning waters over the Tyrrhenian Sea while sunsets cast a burning orange hue fading over Capri .  Late summer nights are lit by citronella candles and fireflies, while every Italian drinks crisp white wine along the coast.

      Summer in Italy also is the season of fresh garden fruits, vegetables and fish. Fish are flash-fried, stuffed, grilled and served crudo , raw. On the menu: alici , small blue skin sardines, tuna, calamari, and salmon. Pasta is plentiful with such favorites as pasta e scorfano - pasta with scorpion fish, linguine e vongole , pasta and clams, and pasta, fiore di zucchini e provole , pasta with green squash and their flowers and provola cheese. Endless platters of succulent grilled Sicilian shrimp, pezzogna , red sea bream with hand torn mint, palamita, bonito roasted on an open fire and calamari e totani , grace tables from Ischia to Capri and every seaside cove in between.

     After a long lunch by the sea, remember to save room for
gelato , the creamy Italian ice cream, hand-made with seasonal fruits such as chocolate, caramelized nuts, lemon and ginger, mirtillo , small blueberry like fruit, apricot, caramel and salt, vanilla bean, and even jasmine. My favorite spot for artisan gelato : Gelateria Buonocore on Capri, La Zagara in Positano and Pasticceria Pansa in Amalfi.

     In addition to our Cooking Vacations classes and tours, we often have special requests. This month, we've planned a surprise wedding renewal vows for Mr. and Mrs. Lites in Montepulicano at the Villa O.  Mr. Lites did not miss a detail, from a romantic cooking class given by Chef Massimo ending with dinner that the couple prepared together; accompanied by a romantic violinist and a Tuscan cake prepared by our chef.  Serena our recited the couple's renewals vows. There were roses, a videographer and photographer too. It was a wonderful event, kept top secret, and ended with happy celebration for the couple who were celebrating their wedding anniversary.  Grazie mille to Chef Massimo in Montepulicano and Terenzio at Villa O and Serena!!! Many more years of healthy and happy marriage to the Lites.

Photo left to right:   Mr. and Mrs. Lites

Meanwhile in our kitchen we have welcomed guests from South Africa, China, the Philippines , Trinidad, the USA, France, Canada, Spain and many Italian Americans who come to discover their roots - new friends were made and old ones returned. We are also busy traveling Italy and cooking up new culinary tours in Tuscany, Rome, Alba and Calabria too.  Ciao ciao to all our new friends from around the world!

Happy cooking & safe summer travels -
  Table Talk
Italy is in high season during summer when tomatoes cluster on their vines, squash flowers bloom continuously, and the sea is replete with spigole, sea bass, vongole, clams and calamari, squid. From the hills of Tuscany to the vertical cliffs of the Amalfi Coast and to the isola of Sicily, each region has its own traditional cuisine.

Summer on the Amalfi coast means lemon trees, lush green gardens, and markets abundant with  
local produce, think fiori di zucca, stuffed squash flowers, polpettini di melanzane, bite-size fritters of eggplant or ravioli capresi, thin pockets of pasta stuffed with cheese. The sfusato, Amalfi Coast lemons of the season, bring all dining experiences to life, but desserts of babà soaked in limoncello and lemon gelato are everyone's favorites.

         Journey further inland for the lush green of Tuscany, named after the Etruscans, who first cultivated the land and established an impressive agricultural infrastructure in 7 B.C. Today we still have the native Chianina cow, the white giant raised locally and seen grazing along the hillsides. You'll also find Cinta Senese, the traditional Tuscan pig, as well as country farmhouses and green olive groves and honey bees that provide fresh olive oil and honey to pair with focaccia and sweet biscotti.

         Sicily, the largest of the Mediterranean Islands, is plentiful with fresh seafood and fruitful vineyards. It's a place where the summer climate never ends... Artisan olive oils, organic basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sweet almond extracts are produced in abundance here. What fun to cook during the summer months in Italy!

What's Cooking
Positano, Tuscany & Sicily!

Summer in Amalfi means abundant verdure, seaside views, and a truly magical 8-Day program in the Secret Garden of Positano. Over time, Positano has attracted writers, philosophers, artists and, of course, budding chefs. Spend a week with your hosts on the magical property where rich volcanic soil has grows eggplants, red cherry tomatoes, zucchini, oranges, and organic herbs. With your chefs, prepare arancini, crochette di patate, pasta such as stuffed ravioli or scialatelli, and a main course of spigola al limone made with lemons grown on the property, to name just a few.

Join property owner, Terenzio, and Chefs Maria and Ili for a fun-filled week of hands-on cooking classes pairing food with excellent wines. You'll explore the cuisine of Tuscany in this VIP Premium program, a food and wine lovers' dream vacation. Nicola, a member of the ONAV (National Organization of Wine Tasters), of the IAS (Italian Association of Sommelier) and of the Society of Wine Educators, will escort you through a culinary tour of guided tastings. Together you will explore the secrets of Tuscany and its food and wine



Discover the secrets of Southern Sicily's remarkable cuisine with Chef Silvio. Lose yourself among soul-stirring cooking classes, piazzas, palaces and churches in the UNESCO site of Val de Noto. You'll simply fall in love with Sicily after experiencing the unforgettable tastes and sights of Modica, Ragusa, Sicily and the surrounding area.


Recipes From Our Kitchen

Fiori Di Zucchine Ripieni
~ Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Courtesy of Chef Raffaele, Positano

Get the Recipe 
Fettuccine Di Basilico    
~ Pasta With Basil Pesto
Courtesy of Chef Terenzio and Chef Mara

Prepared in our
Villa O™ Cooking Tour

Granita di Fragole Siciliano
~ Strawberry Sicilian Granita  
Courtesy of Chef Davide

Prepared in our

Click here for full recipes...

Sip & Swirl 

Chef Raffaele's Fiori Di Zucchine
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Paired with:
A summer Fiorduva, with a smooth density and the aromatic persistence of dried apricots, sultanas and candied fruit. Scents of apricots, broom flowers and a hint of tropical fruit pairs well with the light taste of summer zucchini flowers.

Chef Terenzio's Fettucine Di Basilico
Pasta with Basil Pesto
An elegant white, characteristically dry with crisp acidity and a bitter finish that pairs nicely with the sweet and salty taste of the fresh basil. This wine is aged in oak barrels in San Gimignano, one of Tuscany's most beautiful hillside towns, and best compliments the heartiness of the pasta without overpowering the dish.

Chef Davide's Granita Di Fragole Siciliano 
Strawberry Sicilian Granita
Spiked with:  Limoncello or meloncello
For a fun kick, add limoncello to this frozen dessert, the pungent sweetness of limoncello, or the more subtle meloncello -- with bright yellow and orange hues -- are best.

With Love From Italy

  Millefiori Honey from Tuscany 
Produced on a small organic bee farm, this delicate and aromatic honey is a great addition to biscotti, tea, or your morning breakfast.  
Visit them at:  www.terradiseta.it

Ambra Nera Eau De Perfume       
 This rich and warm perfume brings the scents of Sicily to your wardrobe. It's made with notes of oak, spice wood, musk and galbanum, natural essences of Sicily.
Visit them at: www.ortigiasicilia.com

Il Gusto della Costa Amalfi Coast        
Keep cool with the Amalfi Coast's freshest authentic liqueurs and jams. From limoncello, jams and citrus infused chocolate, Mario and Valentino's products make great use of their organic lemons which are grown following the biological world, and all their products are natural!
Indulge at: www.ilgustodellacosta.it 

Italy On A Plate

Flavors Of The Season
By Germaine Stafford

Germaine continues her roundup of what's happening in the culinary world in Italy and gives you her chef of the month, book recommendation, and a list of seasonal foods for early summer.
What's in Season?  
Sea Bream, John Dory, Halibut, Clams, Gooseberries, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Peppers, Eggplant, Sweetcorn, Wild fennel, Watermelon, Peaches, Figs, Cherries, Melons, Raspberries, Red currants, Black currants

Dining In Taormina, Sicily
Ristorante La Capinera    
La Capinera is Michelin starred and features the flavors, scents and colors of the Mediterranean Sea. Chef Pietro D'Agostino uses Slow Food cooking for one of the best interpretations of Sicilian tradition in all of Italy. The interior is elegant and refined, features terrace views in the summer, and is located away from the hubbub of tourists in the city center. Choose an antipasto, primo piatto, secondo piatto di pesce o carne, and enjoy some local formaggi for dessert. Or you can sample from the Chef's tasting menu of marinated local fish, pumpkin soup, prawns, clams, black tagliolini pasta and a surprise grand finale.
Risorante La Capinera
Via Nazionale, 177
98039 Taormina-mare Ioc. Spisone
Tel. +39 0942 626247
Cel. +39 338 1588013

Book Corner 
Cucina Siciliana: Authentic Recipes and Culinary Secrets
from Italy

By Clarissa Hyman  
160 pages of recipes and colorful photographs take readers into the heart of authentic Sicilian cooking. Fabulous flavors define the Mediterranean, joining eastern and western cultures in a culinary melting pot of tender lamb, cheeses, handmade pasta, aromatic herbs and fruits and vegetables of the season. Food and travel writer Clarissa Hyman produces a collection of 75 authentic Sicilian recipes, perfect for a weekend dinner party or a hearty lunch at home.     
Check it out at:  Amazon.com
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 T: 617.247.4112 | 1.800.916.1152
Italy: +39.339.604.29.33
Lauren is always cooking & writing from her home in Positano, Italy,
while welcoming cooking guests from around the world.

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