The Amalfi Coast is known for it’s old world beauty and elegance. High cliffs plunge dangerously into the sea while quaint towns rest on the terraced hills. In every possible square of terraced land, you will find an ‘orto’, a vegetable garden full of tender lettuces, cherry tomatoes and herbs. Further up the hill you will find row after row of lemon trees. Their are at least 6 or 7 varieties. The most famous is the somewhat long ‘sfusato amalfitano’. This is the most potent for making limoncello, the slightly sweet lemon liqour that’s been the digestivo of choice in this town for ages.
Lemoncello was one of those drinks you drank ‘when in Amalfi’, as this was where you would find an authentic recipe. But now it has become popular and imposters are showing up in droves. Like anything good, the lemons are grown and cared for and made by someone who knows with the actual peel of the lemon and not from powder as some you find.
My old friend, Giocondo Cavelieri, whom I have always called the ‘jovial gentleman’ as that is his name, took me up to see an extraordinary lemon garden today at the end of the only road that goes through Amalfi. We walked and walked, then climbed and climbed tiny little stone steps (full of nettles sprouting from the cracks) until we reached a terrace to sit down. The entire valley was full of lemons, covered with nets. In this particular micro-climate, lemons grow all year round. They were perfect specimens drooping like jewels from the trees. True lemon yellow in sunlight is mezmerizing contrasted with the fresh and shiny green leaves that can also be used in cooking. The favorite dish here in Amalfi is to melt Scamorza cheese between two leaves on the grill. One could make an entire meal with lemons..lemon risotto, tagliatelle al limone, grilled fish with lemon and fresh herbs, salad with thinly sliced lemon inside, lemon sorbet, etc. which is just what I plan to do
when some friends of mine come here in June on a sailing trip.

When I come to Amalfi, I feast on spaghetti alle vongole and lemons, lemons, lemons. Just the smell of them can almost send me over the edge. And that’s dangerous around here.
If I fall into the sea, let me come up for air and fresh anchovies, fried and salted (with
a squeeze of limone, per favore), that I can eat like the flesh off with my teeth like a
typewriter and throw the tiny bones to the cats.

Stay tuned. Someone I know will be shaking up a little culture and cuisine overlooking the neverending sea. Martini with a twist anyone?

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