Its scooter day but let me start at the beginning. Last year we had a car. We paid 18 euros a day to park it and never used it while here—you can’t park anywhere and it was clear scooters were a quicker mode of transportation. I spent some time this spring looking into the various scooter rental options and found New Conca Service to be the lowest price (and they had a pretty good website too) so I emailed, and we booked. Two months later their website is gone. So I start poking around and find their logo now on a site called Amalfi Rent A Scooter, same prices, but new emails and web address. So I book again. They agree to drop the bike off to us at our bed and breakfast in Atrani. When we arrived I figured we could call them and be more precise on delivery. I asked Frances to give us a hand and when she called the number I had originally didn’t work. The second number was busy. We decided that we would just head over to Amalfi and rent one from a company there directly. As we were finishing our discussion they called Frances, and said they would be here in 30 minutes! The moral of the story is that things in Italy are sometimes a bit more relaxed; what ever you planned will happen, maybe just not in the speedy nature we demand in the US. We know this, I just forget sometimes.
So we get the scooter and head out for the day. Plans today include: remembering to take pictures of food we eat (I give us a B) and swim at beaches we find.
First, the food:
Lunch was at Il Pino in Praiano. They do not normally serve lunch, but as it was First Communion Sunday, they were hosting a large family and allowed the public to attend as well. This restaurant always get mentioned and highly rated on chowhound and tripadvisor and its well deserving. In fact, we are planning to go back for dinner. We had two courses, my favorite came first: Stuffed and Fried Zucchini Flowers with Fried Zucchini. We really have nothing like it at home, the breading is the ’00’ flour I mentioned yesterday and almost comes out a very light tempura, thinner and lighter, but similar texture. The flowers are filled with ricotta and the zucchini is very thin and fried quickly. One of the other things we learned last year is that the secret to all this frying is peanut oil. And its done in a deep pan, not a fryer.
For entrees I had another appetizer, Mozzarella and Heirloom Tomato with a Parmesan Cracker. It was good, but no better than all the moz I’ve had in the last week. It as Jake’s dish that I want to go back for; Lemon Fusilli with Cuttle Fish and Arugula. I’d had a lemon pasta earlier this week and it was good, but it was clear that Il Pino does it as intended. I can only assume something creamy was involved too, butter probably, but the lemon flavor was perfect with the arugula and fish.
Our bill was 52 Euro, including three beers, a glass of wine, food, and an a homemade strawberry ice cream. I didn’t even include the ice cream, it was the only let down of the meal and really, who orders ice cream in Italy? Gelato is the way to go!
For dinner we walked to Da Gemma in Amalfi. This is another restaurant that gets rave reviews for its food and service, and we, again, were not disappointed. The service here was what we are used to in terms of 5 star: attentive, new flatware for each course, constant pouring of wine, white table clothes, you know, not Applebees. It also typically requires a reservation, although we were able to get a table, we were not able to sit on the patio.
The meal began with an amuse bouche of veal and ricotta meatball that I ate half of before I took a picture. I get excited about the food!
We shared another smoked mozzarella and prosciutto plate that also included ricotta and a small pizza (for lack of a better term). Of course, you can see my empty plate, because I got excited again and forgot to take a picture. Just imagine the heaps of sliced prosciutto. I swear I’ll get this right.
We also shared a pasta; homemade linguine with clams. It’s not my normal dish, but Jake orders mussels and pasta the world over and claimed this to be one of the best he’s had. And I got a picture! One thing I love about restaurants in Italy is that when you order ‘une per due’ the kitchen splits the plate for you, rather than serving one of you an empty plate. This is true regardless of price or quality.
For the final course I had Blue Fin Tuna with pumpkin and tomato cous cous. The tuna was excellent, with an unexpected sprinkle of mint that I wouldn’t have appreciated in theory, but was outstanding in practice. The cut was also different from the cut we get in the US; it was thick like a filet mignon, not thin and flat like tuna steaks often are. I’m a sucker for pumpkin, so of course the cous cous was a hit. If I wasn’t in a fancy pants restaurant I would have licked my plate. As it was, I swirled the last bit of bread through it all.
Jake order slow cooked Cod with Spinach and Tomatoes. To quote him, “the spinach was slow cooked too, and tender, and the tomatoes were super super fresh, the cod was good, but I’ve never had great cod, so good cod saying something.”
Beside mozzarella, winding roads, and cliffs, the Amalfi Coast is also known for its lemons. Almost all meals end with lemoncello and the lemons you see hanging from the trees are gigantic. When we left dinner at Da Gemma we walked by a market with some of these giant lemons:
As for the second goal, of scootering to beaches, we did that well too. Praiano was a town we planned to stay in last year and changed plans based on some road closures, so we really wanted to see what the beach was like. Great beach, incredibly far down the cliff. Like so far that if you forgot something in your room you would rather buy it or go with out than walk back up. It’s basically two small platform areas at the bottom of a cliff face. While nice to look at, it made me realize how much I like Atrani. We stopped at Furore Beach as well, a narrow stone beach in between two cliff faces. It’s like a fjord. You park your scooter on the road, hope you don’t get killed walking over the bridge, and hike down steps that hug the cliff face. After that beach we decided the opposite of beaches was in order and headed to Perogola, high above Amalfi, on the top of the seaside cliffs. Two things: it was hot on the point at Perogola and the trees have gotten so big you can’t actually see the view. So we went to Gerry’s Pub (I’m not kidding, Gerry’s Pub, at the top of a cliff in Campania) for a beer.
My battery is dying…you’ll see these tomorrow…