A morning with a chef

The train that took me from the city of light to the city of utter delight was perfectly on time, well of course, just like the inhabitants of my final destination: forward thinkers, dream-makers, fast consumers, but with a discerning approach. Every time I set foot to London my head starts spinning around with the infinite stimulations arising from such a diverse community which makes the heart of this town beating at an incredible fast rate, and everything, suddenly, seems to be possible. The astonished eyes of that little girl from the south of Italy here get food for thought, in the literal sense.

In the middle of a restaurant room that would otherwise be considered as formal, there's a bar. The entire staff is very gracious and caring but none of them wears a tie. I feel like I can be myself, relax and mischievously look at the other customers (following the same pattern, I always look inside home windows when erring on the streets, exceptionally fascinated by the lives of others) while I wait for my + 1. Addicted to the dreamy horizon of being a chasseur de vue.

Hameed Farook guides the magic at 1901 restaurant and wine bar. The space is reminiscent of the Great Eastern, the former hotel institution that was in place before Andaz took over in 2006, with stucco and stone ground floor and dressings in a mildly classical style.

Beyond service, there's a more human element at stake, it's called care. For Farook, a restaurant  is all about breaking bareers: with its food, with its clientele, with appearences. His idea of giving the best in his work is fuelled by the wish that those who enjoy his dishes are going to be at their best, too. Positive thinking additions? I remarkably love.

london1Things are heating up as our pan roasted scallops from Cornwall get in the scene. They are flavoured with smoked haddock, shrimp tortellini and a mild bisque (shellfish based) emulsion. The duck terrine was truffle aromatized, with the accompaniment of pickled vegetables, a crunchy brioche and port wine jelly.

Food that heals. Yes, for this Indian born chef a good meal is a combination of chemistry and seasonal products. Farook's mother used to have a pot of 12 spices, the secret solution - she called it - that would cure any pathology: cinnamon and tea tree are antiseptic, while ginger is a natural energy elevator. No wonder why I can climb to the clouds after lunch.

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With love at first sight,


At home in the Amalfi Coast - part 3

And then you want to enjoy the view, or at least one of the best perspectives, since it’s all about breathtaking sights around here, in the Amalfi Coast. bruno1

The cosiest yet stunning foodie spot to do so, along with some good old fashioned people watching, is Bar Bruno. “It’s not a bar, it’s a restaurant” – insists Ornella, the owner, who runs this place, open 18 hours a day, along with her husband and her children, three handsome guys in their twenties who crack up jokes with the young ladies and are the epitome of the Neapolitan chap.


Haut couture designer Giambattista Valli comes every day during the month of August, and when he’s not around, his friends are: Lee Radzivill (sister of Jacqueline Kennedy) as well as Hollywood stars of the likes of Meryl Streep are all returning customers. The peculiarity about this small place located on the public road is that it’s not only about Amalfi Coast dishes.


Some people may fall for them, but others, who are seaching for fuss-free gastronomic purity, would like to enjoy some simple Italian standards, and that’s where they’d come, certain to be in for a treat.


When I've been served marinated fillet of fish with oranges, vegetables, Parmesan cheese and rocket I couldn't believe my senses as I tasted the latter one. The rocket here grows as an erba spontanea (spontaneous herb), and is particularly bitter, almost peppery. Excellent on its own, it was a sublime indulgence in front of the wild horizon.


And then there's Lemon. Definitely the king around here, you find it on top of your drink, inside out any kind of food, on granita (lemon slush), it’s transformed in candles, home & personal scents. I wouldn’t’ be surprised if people would even pray in front of it. Honestly, one never gets enough of it.


Fillet of fish of the day & seafood au gratin on a bed of lemon leaves is one of the most audacious and well achieved food ideas I've seen around here these last days.bruno10

A gentle breeze welcomed the evening in, and the clouds layered with the sky. The Sfoglia alle Fragola, the signature dish of Bruno, is fragile and filled with antioxidants. Every meal seems effortless and successful. Maybe because of this lack of stress, that put me in a delightful state of #foodhappiness.

With love and the sea in front of my eyes,


At home in the Amalfi Coast - part 2

Suddenly yesterday it started raining. I'm talking pouring down like nothing else. Raining cats and dogs. Since I'm always at the right place at the wrong moment, just about ten minutes earlier I decided to take a walk, unaware of the possible meteorological shift. I obviously found myself in the middle of it all without the occasional umbrella, so I started to dance with it. I opened up my arms and drank the tears of water. I couldn't quite believe it but they tasted something like limoncello (the typical lemon liqueur produced in this area), probably because they went through the terraced lemon groves before touching the ground. The smell of citrus fruits literally filled the air. That’s when I started to be hungry. arienzo3

A few minutes later, I found a clearing along the coast, with a pretty little beach in the middle. An indication on the road pointed towards “Bagni d’Arienzo”, but didn’t precise exactly how long or what would it get to finally arrive there: 243 steps later, I had my feet on warm sand (it was sunny again), and I met Amalia. arienzo2

This young, extremely kind woman (who is obviously already married and has her husband working with her in the premises) is the daughter of Ada, the cook and behind the scenes queen of this family run snack bar turned restaurant on the way between Positano and Praiano. This immaculate beach is nestled under the splendid former Zaffirelli’s holiday villa now turned 5 star resort Treville. arienzo4

You can either access the Bagni  by foot or, more simply, there’s a free boat shuttle service departing from the pier of Positano every half hour.

foto-224There’s only a few umbrella on the beach, sorted out by Peppe, Ada’s husband, who is also the one who makes sure all the guests get on and off the boat safe and sound when they reach this paradisiacal destination for a scrumptious meal.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

These tentalising little anchovies were served to me on a bed of fresh lettuce and wild rocket salad, the very bitter and crunchy kind, to be found only when organic cultivation applies. While Ada is busy producing hundreds of ravioli (a Neapolitan fresh pasta typically filled with cheese) every morning for the hungry customers, Peppe goes to their 16 hectares plot of land, located just on top of the bay, to pick up the daily vegetables. A perfect family team, which I’m  starting to understand, seems to be the winning rule around this area.foto-225

People from all over the world greatly appreciate this kind of informal, warm hospitality, so much so that they come every year for more. Peppe gracefully showed me a stone sculpture representing their whole family, a creation offered to them by a Russian kid who spent a couple of weeks here last year. Upon his return a few days ago, this young boy couldn’t believe his eyes as he found out that Peppe had kept his gift with such care – “We remember people, and they remember us”. This sentence alone tells a lot about the incredible humanity that one breathes around here.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

As I breathed out, here came the desserts (two for me, oh yeah!): a delicious pastiera napoletana (a typical festivities cake – but then again here is always a celebration!) and freschezza amalfitana - Amalfi style freshness, a trumphal chocolate sponge cake topped with almonds mousse. An unmissable spot near the path of the gods. Wanna find out more about my Amalfi Coast project run in collaboration with Pasta Rummo? Click here to enjoy the first episode.

With love and a hint of lemon zest,


Ecstatic Tuscan Food Revelations

A memorable food experience will fill you with pure joy and #foodhappiness whenever your mind casually crosses that smell again. IMG_3876

When I was a child, I used to spend many Easter holidays in the Tuscan countryside with my family. The latest international allure that this region has taken over the last decade recently left my real Italianness rather disappointed with the quality of the dishes.


I felt that the usual care and that handmade "je ne sais quoi" were gone. For good. Until I entered Gli Attortellati, a family run farm and restaurant located just minutes from Grosseto.


Literally, the term "attortellati" refers to those fellows who like to sit, eat, play and talk altogether... for hours. It certainly wasn't difficult for my friends and I to get completely overwhelmed by the atmosphere and the savoury dishes. About 12 of them, yep you hear me well, in authentic vintage Italian food tradition.


All dishes were carefully crafted in front of our eyes. Lasagne, chestnut gnocchi and the queen of them all: tortelli. Filled with chard, fresh ricotta and nutmeg, these little pieces of heaven were served with an exceptional ragù sauce.


It's great to know that these guys, having many hectares' worth of space, have opted for the plantation of the so-called lost fruits, that is those fruits which are in danger and are in need to be recuperated. Amongst those, the Scosciamonache (litterally, unveiling nuns), the most delicious quality of plum you could ever dare to dream of.


Each year, at the end of the summertime, they make fruit preserves, which is exactly what I do too. I normally give them out as presents to my Cooking Workshops subscribers throughout the year.


They make terrific wintery pies. But that's another story, and another blogpost. Talk to you soon,