In the ancient town of Ravello, Italy I had one of the most mind-blowing carb-fests of my life. This culinary windfall happened at the Belvedere Restaurant at the Orient Express Hotel Caruso, and was served by their talented and friendly chef, Joe Pantalones (yes, Pantalones, as in Pants!).
The Caruso sits on the cliffs above the Amalfi Coast with sweeping views that are as one would expect: beautiful, restful and romantic. And the hotel itself is a former 11th century palace that is very, very italian, with beautiful, cozy and elegant rooms and suites that emulate it’s historic character.
After a tour the rooms and grounds that include their world famous infinity pool and Belvedere gardens it was time to eat!
Lunch began with a salad bar….actually, an antipasti bar! I’m not usually fond of salad bars but this one was special with (among other things) hand made buffalo mozzarella, seafood and octopus salads, artichoke salads, grilled zucchini with mint, arugula with a citrus vinaigrette, white bean salad and crispy pizza ‘bread’ baked in their outdoor pizza oven. It was a tad bit different from your basic Souplantation or Beefsteak Charlies (remember Beefsteak Charlies????). Everything looked so beautiful in the self-serve display that we filled our plates. The look of horror on our host’s face (the dapper GM of the hotel) was priceless when he reminded his American lunch guests that there was more food to come!
Now for the main event: the pasta! Not just one pasta course. TWO pasta courses and when Chef Pantalones came out to describe first, I have to admit that I was very skeptical. We were going to be served spaghetti with anchovy juice (called colutura), parsley, lemon rind, olive oil and hot chili flakes. Now is it me? Or does “anchovy juice” sound beyond unappealing? Well letmetellyou that at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this was one of the best dishes I had ever had. The spaghetti was perfectly al dente and the flavors were salty, but fresh and bright! The lemon and fruity olive oil along with the colutura were just beautiful and completely new to me. This plate of pasta is the perfect symbol for one of the reasons why I am so passionate about travel. You get to expand your life’s palette, and obviously not just with food.
Pasta #2 was calamarrata pasta (looks like calamari) with shrimp, porcini mushrooms, cherry tomato with chili oil and all I can say is ohmygod. It was spicy and earthy with such a fantastic texture! Simple and brilliant!
After cleaning both plates (what I like to call ‘happy plates’) and well on my way into a food coma, the meal was capped off with home-made pizza that was charred and crispy with olives, capers and oregano. Delicious!
I passed on desert, but accepted a glass of limoncello because I just can’t say no! Plus, it’s a digestif, so doesn’t that mean it will help me digest? I hope so.
Ravello is just a short 11 kilometers to Positano where we were staying for a couple of days, and the drive is largely up (or down) a steep and narrow road and along the famed Amalphi Coast Road. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t driving, because I was in need of a serious powernap to prepare for the dinner I was anticipating at the Hotel Il San Pietro di Positano.
I am tempted to keep writing and to take you to Positano now, but after re-living this memorable meal, I’m feeling a little bit the same way as I did that day – like taking a nap – so I’ll save it for next time…….
Ciao for now and Vacanze Felici! (Happy Holidays)!
If you’d like more information about the Hotel Caruso or about traveling throughout the Amalphi Coast (or anywhere else!!), let me know!
Your Journey By Beth