18 February 2018

Italy 2016, Day 7.5 - Lemon Delights

We arrived back to port about 18:30. Colorful houses and businesses were lined up along the waterfront.
One of those businesses was Cassano 1875. Their leading product is limoncello liquor. They also produce artisanal jams and sweets. We were welcomed into the store and factory by our host Maurizio Ercolano and his wife. 

The oval variety lemons are grown locally on the Sorrento Peninsula and play a starring role here. Chef John gets a whiff of the wonderful sweet aroma of a fresh picked lemon. We all got a chance at that as well. Heavenly!
This business was established in 1998, but uses techniques from southwest Italy dating back to the 19th century. The process of making this liquor includes hand-picking and hand-peeling lemons and macerating the peels into alcohol. That and time produces the famous limoncello of this region.

We weren't allowed in for sanitary reasons, but the small production room was pointed out to us.

The finished product.
Here are the guys enjoying a sample sip. Ummm, not good, but great! Limoncello has long been a favorite of ours. We usually keep a bottle in the freezer for when we need a pick-me-up. It definitely tasted better on the spot rather than months later at home.

We also had a cooking demo, making one of their dessert favorites. First the spongy pastries were soaked in a hot limoncello syrup on the stove. Maybe 10 seconds each. Then the cakes were filled with rich custard and topped with a cherry.

The finished product. They were so good I almost swooned. And so rich I could hardly finish. I think I gave Mike the last few bites as he has the sweet tooth in the family.

They also make many other sweet desserts.

The coup de grĂ¢ce was that they also make a version of the lemon candies we had just bought on the Isle. It turns out the flavor is the same for all, but colors are different for different occasions like birthday or wedding, etc.

We bought a dozen packages in yellow to take home as gifties. Every single person that got them, loved the candies. They were all eaten in a flash. Later we ordered some online from Amazon (not this company though), but the didn't taste anywhere near as delicious. Guess we'll have to go back to Sorrento to pick up some more.

By the time the tour and demo were completed, it was dark. We were ready to go back to the hotel for a casual dinner and relaxation.

For our evening meal we had scheduled a potluck or dinner on our own. Instead Chef John proposed we order pizza and wine and have a pizza party on the patio of Villa Ketty. An excellent idea for these travel weary folks. We ordered four combos from the place we ate the night before, Pizza a Metro da Giglio. Mike and I munched on the Margarita, our fave.

This is the patio where we ate, but a daytime pix. It was really pretty at night lit up by the adobe ceramic lights.

Italy 2016, Day 7.4 - Shop for Lemon Drops

Next stop was the smaller town of Anacapri (means above Capri). It is little more than half way up the side of Monte Solaro, which is 1932 feet (586 meters) at its peak.

An easy way to get to the tip-top of the mountain from Anacapri is to take the chair lift. It was 11 euros round trip and took 13 minutes each way. As we only had 45 minutes to wander and each chairlift seated only one person, we decided to look around at the scenery and shops.

Our guide pointed out photos of famous folks that had lived or visited or shopped here.

Shops were filled with high end clothing, Italian design furniture, glassware, and "lemonware."

There were many lemony related food products for sale. Limoncello liquor, jams, candies, etc. We bought some candies that were a cross between an M&M and a fat Jordan almond. Inside was filled with yummy chocolate. The hard outside shell was a bright lemon yellow color. It is difficult to describe the flavor though, as it had a lemon essence, but not strong. It tasted more like the aroma of a newly cut lemon, if you can imagine that. The contents of the little bag disappeared lickety-split.
After the main shopping area, we came across this sign. It offered a choice of visiting the historic Villa San Michele (built in 1186 by Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe) or walking along the surrounding pathway. We chose the scenic route to enjoy the views of the island and the sea below.

The walk was lovely. Nicely planted with a variety of flora. We saw this olive tree, maybe 1.5 feet in diameter. We wondered just how old this ancient could be still living in its minimum size wooden planter.
There were places to stop and enjoy the views.
More motor boats and sail boats.

Mike was a bit thirsty, so we stopped at a little juice stand. He ordered an orange juice. The vendor squeezed it right before our eyes.
So sweet and tasty. I had a few sips and it hit the spot.
After about 45 minutes we gathered, zoomed down the mountain to the port, hopped on the boat, and headed for home. As we motored back, the sun was setting behind us.
Golden abodes, rested on the cliff tops.

Mount Vesuvius and Naples lie ahead amidst the clouds, although we would not travel that far today. Back to Sorrento harbor.

En route Luciano offer a prosecco (Italian champagne) and melon treat. A fine palete refresher.

As we swung into the harbor, we were sorry to say good-bye to Capri, but happy to get our land legs back.

15 February 2018

Italy 2016, Day 7.3 - Food for the Gods

At 13:30, we arrived at our lunch destination, Ristorante Da Tonino. We were thirsty and hungry after our uphill trek to this slightly secluded location. Chef Salvatore Aprea more than satisfied our needs.

There were matching window boxes on each side of the entrance. One held bottles of available wine options. The other held a shrine dedicated to the Madonna.

There were indoor tables and additional seating outside on the covered veranda.
Orange and other citrus trees grew on the lush grounds. Their wonderful aromas wafted around us.
We gathered around a long table as food emerged from the open kitchen...one small plate after another. And, of course, we had fabulous wine pairings with each arriving event.

We started with a lobster ceviche, marinated raw fish. Presentation was casual, sometimes using short glasses or jelly jar style containers, but the blends and tastes would satisfy even royalty.

Deep fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese for the veg-heads.
We would never tire of Caprese (of Capri!) salad--fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomato, olive oil, and sweet basil.
Tender chunks of flawlessly cooked amber jack fish with sauce and pistachios. Lots of fish and seafood on this isle surrounded by the sea.
Tuna cooked to perfection.
Looks like cous-cous in a bath of "green" (can't remember which green) puree.
Sauteed greens, eggplant, roasted hazelnuts in a fabulous cheese sauce.
Tortellini with fresh marinara. Simple, but succulant.

Fettuccine and shrimp with a white cheese "froth" and basil sauce.
Canning jar with a layered veggie and cheese souffle.

An oh-so tasty cappuccino flan with chocolate sprinkles for dessert.

After a leisure and lip-smacking meal, we wobbled out the door. On the way, we took a quick side trip to the wine cellar. Here are just a few of the 20,000 bottles of wine and 300 bottles of grappa stored here.

All in all the hike up the hill was way worth it. We were not as high as the heavens, but we definitely had eaten like the gods.