I’m no Slim Aarons but it’s easy to be inspired.
Glorious Amalfi is alive and well after months of closures and uncertainty. This glistening jewel is awake and treating her visitors with love and lavished attention. The narrow roads snaking around the hillsides are quieter and the cobalt seas free from lingering cruise ships. Visitors are in the majority Italian with an occasional smattering of French or German to be heard. We are so fortunate in Europe to be able to travel to various countries relatively easily and safely. We took advantage and spent a few precious days in Amalfi last week.
They have become treasured.
Those languid lazy days of sunshine and relaxation we once took so for granted; I did. Living with Europe on the doorstep made me like that – I can’t deny – travelling was easy and accessible. A long weekend or a mini-break here and there was the norm. Now, all that feels very different and I have never before appreciated a break in the same way.
There is something about Italy and the Italians that nurtures and welcomes like no other country. It can be shambolic and especially if we compare it to the formality and structure of France but that is really the charm. It’s different.
And isn’t that the beauty? And who needs to choose? There is certainly enough fabulousness to go around.
Let’s talk about the food?
I didn’t refrain and yet the freshness and simplicity of the summer cuisine didn’t feel heavy or over calorific. Juicy fat figs from the garden, the sweetest sun-ripened tomatoes, mozzarellas and fat-leaved arugula were in abundance. Not to mention the sweetness of the lemons. There is nothing quite like an Italian lemon granita. Yes, there were pastries – Sfogliatelle – being my absolute favourites and a symbol of the city of Naples. Note the plurals; I never stopped at one.
Since the lockdown earlier this year I have been cooking mainly Italian inspired cuisine. I find it the easiest and on a regular basis what we enjoy the most. Skye McAlpine’s, A Table In Venice has been one of my reference books since it was first published. Now she has a divine new offering, A Table For Friends, which is my brand new go-to. Her recipes are delicious and most importantly for me, I can follow them. The books are a gorgeous read and quite transporting so even if cooking is not your idea of a fun pastime, the escape through the pages is. I read yesterday (I can’t remember where) how cookbooks should be read like novels. Skye’s certainly could be.
The break, even a few days was so luxurious.
Not in the way we normally think of luxury but in simple ways. Swimming in the sea, laying in the sun and turning the pages of a best seller. The last few months have been so tough on all of us, some physically and all emotionally. Nobody can be exempt from the changing world events and having the privilege of taking a moment “out” – away from reality and my overactive mind – was truly heaven.
An escape can’t last forever but we can at the very least feast the imagination with armchair travel, a good cookbook, a beautiful table and a scrumptious meal. xv
Dress The Part
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