I remember visiting my friend Emiko in Porto Ercole in 2015 when she was there for a six month period along Tuscany’s silver coastline. Beloved by those in the know, it is certainly not a place as famous as Liguria’s Cinque Terre or further down south, the popular Amalfi Coast. But that’s why I love it.
Here, the coastal towns of Porto Ercole, and Porto Santo Stefano in the promontory of Monte Argentario fill up with locals or visiting Italians in the summer looking to escape the city’s heat (seriously summer in Italy can be a little overrated). Otherwise it’s a place which exhibits a slow, but pleasant rhythm that only seaside life can exude when off season finally hits its shores. I was in love immediately, of course. The vibe, the less frenetic energy — the first shop Emiko took us to pick up salumi near the main square was filled with local deliciousness and of course, she already knew the owner by name. By sunset, we were sitting at the local no-nonsence bar, slowly sipping sprizes as a slow pink haze set over the harbor of Porto Ercole. That weekend we spent time both walking along the pretty ports, exploring a local farm, and took our car up to the top of Monte Argentario for a bit of mountain food and incredible views of the lagoon surrounding Orbetello. It was magical and I miss it.
When I first saw Emiko’s book, Acquacotta: Recipes and Stories from Tuscany’s Secret Silver Coast, I gasped. It was so beautiful. Her landscape photography accenting the blues and greens with boats bobbing in the harbor, the salmon-colored pages and hand-drawn illustrations. It is a work of love and appreciation for an area of Tuscany that perfectly blends sea and mountain life, an area not far from the border of Lazio and a hearty cuisine adapted to the hard-working fisherman, buttari (cowboys) and families that came with them. It’s a book of recipes, an education of local Tuscan ingredients and a collection of Emiko’s heartfelt stories. Sectioned into five different parts, expect to be dazzled by delicious recipes from the woods, sea and lagoon, vegetable patch, farmhouse and of course dolci (sweets). I got the chance to ask Emiko a few questions about the book and also share with you guys one of my personal favorite recipes.
I have to ask the classic question for those who have yet to read the book. What inspired you to write this considering now everyone knows this area of Tuscany?
I wanted to share the stories about this corner of Tuscany that I felt was really special and really unique. It’s a different Tuscany to the one people think they may know, so different that most Florentines wouldn’t know what buglione or caldaro is, or what corolli or sfratti are (the first two are stews, the second two are cookies). And yet they’re all from the same region. Like with my first book, Florentine, I wanted to show how Tuscan cuisine is not just regional, it changes from town to town and this beautiful corner of Maremma is particularly good at highlighting that, where you find a completely different menu and set of traditions from towns that are only a 10 minute drive away!
During your six months there, you certainly did a lot of research! How did you start the process of collecting all of the information needed to write this book?
It started with mentally taking notes – whenever we were out, maybe at the beach, or the market and noticing little things that stood out to me. I take a lot of notes on my phone as sometimes I don’t have a pen and paper with me. And then we might be out for lunch or dinner with friends – more mental note-taking then furious scribbling or typing when back home. Then I started trying to source cookbooks on the area, but this was pretty tricky. I have a bibliography in the back of the book of some of the really useful ones. Aldo Santini’s Cucina Maremmana was one of my favourites. Then it took visiting places, asking people for help or suggestions (Valentina from Villa Acquaviva even gave me an incredible lesson in making ciaffagnoni, the paper-thin crepes from the village of Manciano, for example), and lots of eating! And amongst all of it, lots of cooking and trying out recipes at home and trying them out on friends.
What are some of your favorite finds/recipes that readers can look forward to in the book?
For me, the wonderful thing about this area is finding dishes that you can’t usually find in cookbooks or even in restaurants. They’re the sort of thing people might cook at home, or maybe not even anymore – they can remember their grandmothers cooking these things. Recipes like the caldaro (a fish stew with a huge medley of different types of seafood, Argentario’s version of Cacciucco Livornese), pagnotella (a fig and chocolate “bread”, it’s a little like a mix between fruit cake and brownies), but also simple preparations like bread with wine and sugar or grilled bread rubbed with lemon, olive oil and salt. But then there are also classic Maremman dishes like wild boar stew, huge spinach and ricotta tortelli to be served with a really tasty Maremman ragu (it has sausages in it) and of course, acquacotta (three kinds actually). You can also find a lot of recipes that would appeal to those with dietary restricitions – plenty of vegan dishes (that pagnotella is one), gluten-free dishes (think polenta crostini or gnocchi made with chestnut flour) and egg-free pasta and cookies.
Can you expand on the title and (of course the famous dish) Acquacotta?
The title literally means “Cooked water” and is actually the name of a typical Maremman dish, a soup. It’s the kind of dish that changes it’s set of ingredients completely as you move from town to town in Maremma, but they have in common the fact that the ingredients (usually local greens, tomatoes, garlic, sometimes potatoes or mushrooms or seafood, are indeed cooked in water). The classic Acquacotta has an egg per person poached directly in the soup too, and it’s served over a slice of grilled bread. (There’s an excerpt from the book where I talk more about what Acquacotta is all about here on Food52)
I love that you also include roadside stands and stories of people you met, can you let us know what are some of the staples of cuisine in the Maremma area of Tuscany?
Mushrooms, definitely, especially wild ones like porcini or chanterelles. The forest is a great source of foraged (in other words, free) ingredients and since Maremma has so much of it, things like chestnuts, wild herbs, wild asparagus and game, especially wild boars, abound. Then of course there is the sea – the Maremman coast is dotted with fishing villages, so the sea and its access to the islands has always meant an important source of food. Some of the more unusual seafood that you only find here includes eels from the lagoon of Orbetello and bottarga (cured/salted mullet roe). You also have wonderful local olive oil and local wine varieties (which yes, also end up in the dishes, not just drank alongside them!).
For readers who might want visit some of the places that inspired recipes in the book, do you have a suggested itinerary they should follow?
For anyone who can get their hands on it, I wrote a food itinerary for Monte Argentario for the current issue of my favourite food and travel magazine, Gourmet Traveller, but I also have a Gastronomic Guide to Porto Ercole and surrounds for my blog, which I will keep updated!
What’s the first dish you order when you return to Porto Ercole? I think I know what your daughter’s would be
My daughter’s is most certainly strawberry gelato! Preferably at Gelateria Creole on the port in Porto Ercole. If it’s the right season then pasta with arselle, tiny, delicious wedge clams that are found locally along fine-sanded beaches is wonderful – even better than pasta con le vongole, if you can imagine that! Il Braccio on Porto Ercole’s Feniglia beach does a great one. Spring is the ideal time for it, before it gets too hot and the clams bury themselves far down in the sand to keep cool.
Thank you Emiko, for always delighting the senses and motivating people like myself to get back in the kitchen and not be scared to play with new ingredients we’re not normally comfortable with. In honor of this giveaway I asked Emiko to share one of my personal favorite recipes from the book. A simple, yet absolutely perfect dinner-on-the-go plate of tagliolini al limone. The first time I made this I always didn’t tell Nico it was done because I wanted to slurp up every greedy bite to myself.
Tagliolini al limone
Any pasta can work with this, I particularly like something long and flat, like linguine, bavette or tagliolini, with this silky, creamy, tangy sauce of lemon and its zest. A dash of cream binds everything together but Marco sometimes likes to put caprino, soft and tangy goat’s curd, instead. This can all be done in the time it takes the pasta to cook. If you’re in a real hurry to get food on the table, you can buy fresh pasta (as opposed to dried) and it only takes minutes to cook – and you’ll still be able to make the sauce in that time.
Note: Seek out organic lemons, as they haven’t been treated with pesticides or waxed, and since the flavour of this dish relies mostly on their zest, those kind of treatments are the last thing you want to taste. Do give them a good rinse under running water and pat dry before using, though.
2 large organic lemons
50 grams of butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
125 ml single cream
320 grams of tagliolini (or other long pasta)
50 grams (a handful) of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
Put a large pot of water on to boil the pasta. When boiling, add salt (1 teaspoon for every litre of water) and the pasta.
Finely grate the lemons with a microplane for their zest (careful not to use any of the white pith, it is unpleasantly bitter), then, cut them in half and squeeze all the juice from them. Set aside.
Place butter and olive oil in a skillet to melt over medium heat. Once melted, add the lemon zest and let infuse for about 1 minute, stirring. Do not let the lemon burn; add the lemon juice and let simmer 3 minutes. Add cream, about half the cheese and season with salt and pepper; cook a further 1-2 minutes or until thick. Remove from the heat.
Drain pasta when al dente (save about 125 ml of the pasta cooking water), and toss the tagliolini in the pan with the lemon sauce to coat. Add some extra pasta water if it is looking dry. Serve with the rest of the grated cheese.
ACQUACOTTA: Recipes from Tuscany’s Secret Silver Coast by Emiko Davies is published by Hardie Grant. Photography: Lauren Bamford.
In order to share the love, Emiko and I have teamed up for our second giveaway sending a lucky reader a new copy of Acquacotta. Last year’s was so successful that I was jumping to see what we could come up with this time. To win, all you have to do is comment on this post telling us what you love to eat when you are at the beach or the mountains. It could be a special recipe that you love, otherwise it could be a special place you return to every year — or an incredible one-off experience. Be creative, be open. The reason I blog is to learn more about you guys and with this giveaway, it’s also a chance to give back thanks to the generosity by both Emiko and Hardie Grant.
Emiko and I will personally choose the winner and send them a brand-spanking new copy of this awesome new book which I already adore.
We will announce the winner on my facebook page (and instagram), I’d rather do this sooner than later. So rule wise, the last comment will be accepted one week after the publication of this post.
Also give us a follow on instagram (my account and hers) to keep updated with what’s going on in our day to day lives, from Emiko’s adventures hosting events all over the world and my dalliances in Florence and around the world.
*Keep in mind that you can order the book already here.
For those who don’t know Emiko Davies, she is a food writer (with Australian and Japanese roots) based in Tuscany. She has a popular Italian food column on Food52 and trust me when I say you’ll find her blog just as awesome as I do, check it out! This is her second cookbook, you can discover more about her first one, The Florentine, here.
I had an incredible one-of experience at La Dragonara in Bacoli last month. Was visiting a friend in Napoli, weather was great and so we rode his bike to go get lunch. Considering that I live in a big city where there is no sun to be seen all winter, I am all about being in the sun near water. We walked into La Dragonara and the waitress sat us at the best table in the “house” right on the beach. We had a an appetizer of my favorite melon with prosciutto, an incredible seafood dish for lunch and of course a bottle of Falanghina.
Ironically I am heading to Naples tomorrow for a weekend in Capri, I’ll have to add this suggestion to my list. It sound like the perfect experience, you can’t go wrong with a nice place of prosciutto and melon when it gets too hot to think!
OH girl! I love Napoli. If you were going through downtown Napoli I have a suggestion for a fabulous super affordable family restaurant. I make sure to eat there each time I am in Napoli. It’s called Osteria Il Gobbetto.
Hey! I love eating fresh seafood at the beach, preferably shrimp. Also, if we happen to go to Carolina Beach (NC) then at least one trip to Britt’s Doughnuts on the boardwalk is a must. Not the typical seaside food, but melt in your mouth delicious.
I am dying to go to North Carolina and these memories sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing Katie! You’re bring back great memories from my years in Louisiana!
There is a restaurant at the beach not terribly far from us that served the best fish tacos ever. I do realize I haven’t even tried any other fish tacos than the ones I’m talking about BUT the waiter was so confident that they were the best that I’m claiming them the best. I asked him if they were good and he just looked at me. His pause and stare felt dramatic but then I realized that’s what I do to people when I’m about to claim my love for food or a particular dish. Because it’s that serious. He said he’s tried just about every fish taco out there and he knows these are the tastiest. So obviously, I ordered them. People generally sell me on food when they are excited about it. I ate them. I loved them. I didn’t know if I wanted to cry, do a slow clap leading into a roar or kiss the waiter for recommending them. Maybe all the above. But I’m pretty sure I just fist bumped my husband… So, if you are ever in little ol’ Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, go to the Pig n’ Fish and get the fish tacos. They are the best.
I eat any fresh seafood I can get my hands on at the beach.
I am a huge fan of anything fresh at the beach, but especially sweet fruit paired with salty bites! My mom is a Sardinian native, and when we hit the beaches in California while my dad was stationed there, she always packed a lot of fruit and always added some salty prosciutto or salame for a protein punch that kept well in the cooler! Those were my favorite summer days!
For me, living in Oregon means ditch days from work taking a day trip up to a quiet mountain lake such as Howard Prairie to watch bald eagles and osprey fish, deer wander by, and listen to the sound of the trees whishing in the breeze, with the occasional woodpecker tap-tap-tapping. It refreshes the mind and makes me smile.
After that mental recharge I can drive down the mountain to Ashland/Medford/Jacksonville and the Applegate Valley for locally sourced food at a wonderful restaurant such as Lark’s Kitchen, then go wine tasting at a gorgeous winery like Wooldridge (maybe splurge on a locally made charcuterie board), enjoy a chewy molasses cookie and some berries at the lovely roadside Pennington Farms and an artisan chocolate at Lillie Belle before bringing home some cheese from Rogue Creamery!
Now to wait for spring to envelop us and the sun to come out!
Mmmmmmm….I have had many fabulous meals throughout Italy but my best memories center around small bites, un assaggio here and there, with friends, locals, or friends-to-be. The aperol spritz in Montisi with a group of friends, who after a few weeks together working at their winery, were on their way to not being our friends … and the friendship was saved with aperitivi in a small Tuscan town. The first taste of bistecca fiorentina in a small, tucked-in-a-hidden-corner trattoria in Cortona. I don’t remember the food we ate at the ristorante in Città della Pieve but I will always remember the older woman with la bella figura who walked us all the way across town to make sure we got to the ristorante where we had reservations. Going to our favorite pizza place in Borgo Miriam and being seated with a very large group of school kids having a birthday party. The kids laughed at our poor Italian and we practiced English with them. And then there’s pizza at Sorbillo in Naples with our Napolitani friends ~ inhaling incredible pizza as well as the Napolitano dialect. The gelato in Rome after a long run along the Tiber. Walter, the owner, always gives me a free gelato when he knows it’s my last run before I head back to the US. Having drinks at a seaside bar in Capri and running into the paramedics who we encountered earlier in the day after we performed CPR on a lady up in the hills of Capri …. and learning that the woman made it to the hospital alive. (yes, true story ~ I’m a nurse, hubby is a police officer). Eating brioche siciliane with gelato for dinner in Noto after a crazy mixup with bus and train schedules. Sharing fruit and candy with an Italian family in a sleeping cabin on the train. When we arrived in Naples, the whole family (nonna included) and all of their luggage, walked us to our destination. Alfredo, at the take-away pizza place in Rome, who made chocolate pizza for my daughter on her first trip to Rome. Italy is in my heart for so many reasons. And above all, I know that I will always eat well in Italy but what I look forward to most are the experiences that come with the eating!
I love fresh, refreshing food when I am at the beach and in the mountains! My favorite is prosciutto and melone… and gelato!
When I am on the beach I love seafood and anything spicy usually because I am having a drink. When I am in the mountains, I love to eat hearty food that fills me up like pasta. I also love soups when in the mountains because I am always cold.
I was born and raised in Toronto, but all of my extended family lives in Le Marche. I often visit in the summers, which of course includes beach days! Last year, my cousins and I woke up at the crack of dawn to drive down to Sirolo beach. Their mother had packed us lunches: simple mortadella and tuna sandwiches, fresh peaches and plums, and patatine for a treat! We arrived at the beach by 8am, and it was nearly deserted. We enjoyed the beach all to ourselves, enjoying swimming in the salty sea, laughing, napping, and suntanning. We unwrapped those carefully wrapped sandwiches, a little warm thanks to the sun, and crunched away with our patatine. We ate our fruit too, with the sweet juice dripping down our arms, which we just washed away in the sea. Fabulous day, but just really simple tasty beach food and great company.
I have spent most of my summers on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Summer is to me about fresh seafood, corn on the cob, ice cream and champagne.
Sitting on the beach at sunset with someone you love.
I have found it surprising and amazing that there is so much good food in small hill towns in Umbria … specifically Bevagna and Montefalco. They have managed to elevate the use of pork in so many dishes that I can’t resist !!
When my family spends time in the mountains skiing I make peposo served on top of polenta. In the summer we grill out a lot, grilling porterhouse steaks bistecca Fiorentina style, stuffed hamburgers, and huge shrimp boils.
My favorite beach food when home in New England is lobster roll or fresh steam clams. In Italy spaghetti al vongole. But my favorite pasta dish is the one Emiko has posted here a limone. Anything with lemon is the perfect combination with salty sea air. Emiko’s new book looks delightful and I have had the immense pleadure of tasting her and Marco’s fabulous cooking. Congratulations Emiko on another delightful book I hope to add to my collection.
And I am so happy to have discovered your blog Girl in Florence!
I love Ribollita – it is the perfect comfort food, especially on a rainy, cold day. The exact recipe always changes a little bit based on what is in the fridge and needs to be used, so sometimes there are is more kale or no celery etc. It sounds a little like acquacotta is pretty similar to Ribollita.
When I think of beaches in Italy, I think of aperitivi. Sitting under an coloured umbrella with an Aperole spritz and a platter of fresh regional goodness. There would have to be some seafood, perhaps asciugi (anchovies) on slices of crusty bread with butter, marinated anchovies, tomatoes, warm from the sun and pecorino, sharp and salty to balance the anchovies. In my mind this is the Ligurian coast, so there would have to be pesto on the plate since it originated in nearby Genoa. Simple, fresh ingredients, made to taste all the better by the smell of the sea.
If I was in the mountains I would seek hot dishes, something like peloso, rich and hearty, that had simmered all day, the wild boar succulent, tasty and so soft you can pull it apart with your fork. It would be served in a bed of creamy polenta and would be savoured with a glass of chianti.
Looks like a great cookbook! On Vancouver Island I love fresh oysters on the campfire. In the Maremema region I’m going to have to try the arselle this year.
I think my most memorable seaside dining experience was at Da Vittorio in Portopalo Sicily. I took a 1 week cooking & cultural class in March with Judy Witts Francini, aka Divina Cucina. At a gorgeoysgorgeous setting by the sea, on a sunny, sparkling day, I had the opportunity to try a variety of fish dishes that were totally new to me! It was an adventure in exploring and expanding both my cooking skills and broadening my palate!!
I think my most memorable seaside dining experience was at Da Vittorio in Portopalo Sicily. I took a 1 week cooking & cultural class in March with Judy Witts Francini, aka Divina Cucina. At a gorgeous setting by the sea, on a sunny, sparkling day, I had the opportunity to try a variety of fish dishes that were totally new to me! It was an adventure in exploring and expanding both my cooking skills and broadening my palate!!
I grew up inNew Jersey, and we spent our summers in Point Pleasant, on the boardwalk. My favorite thing was always hot Belgian waffles with fresh ice cream… Kohr’s custard, to be exact. Literally the thing I miss the most about NJ and going to the beach. In fact, I was thrilled the first time I was able to take my two little ones there and share/pass on that favorite tradition with them. I’m hoping to get them back there this summer to indulge!
My mother was from Firenze, and when I was 14 and my sister was 11, we lived with our nonna on Via Massacio. In August, as many Florentines do, we spent time at a small pensione outside Viareggio, enjoying the beach, my “new” cousins, and especially the man walking around selling boboloni. But what really made an impact was the dinner where the pensione served tiny little fish, breaded and fried, that everyone ate whole. Although I had grown up eating Italian food, this one meal has stuck with me all these years, and when I hear the word “ferragosto’ that’s what I think of.
Being from the South (Georgia), but now living in Florence, I still find summer to be defined by the peak of tomato season. Nothing beats fresh, juicy tomatoes sliced and sprinkled olive oil, salt and pepper atop a perfectly toasted piece of bread! This is idyllic summer perfection to me.
Whenever I return to Maine, where I grew up, for a visit, I long to go to this little seaside shack that serves the most delicious seafood pasta dishes. Its a no frills place… the daily menu is written on butchers paper and when they run out, they just cross it out. They also rip of a hunk of this delicious tomato bread and just drop it on your table. Salad is served family style and the dressing is a family recipe. I’ve had the scallops and the catch of the day. it’s always served atop a pile of pasta that is perfectly cooked and the meal feeds me for at least 2 additional times. it’s a real gem.
Oh Shannon that sounds so lovely! Nico and I often have conversations about Maine (not sure why, neither of us has been) and this exactly what I’ve imagined it to be like. Thank you for sharing this tasty memory.
I live in Guernsey a tiny British island in the bay of St Malo (near Mont St Michael). We are surrounded by stunning beaches, so for me by idea beach picnic would be simple, a local brown – which we call a Chancer – to pick slowly, savouring the very sweet flesh, maybe with some home made mayonnaise and fresh bread. Really cant beat that in my eye! Og I would add one thing, my husband!
Decades ago, every summer our families ( DiRenna’s, Ianetti’s, & Georges’s ) would rent a large home at the New Jersey shore. We all enjoyed the beach, boardwalk, & fishing from Barnegat Bay. The most fun was catching crabs from a trap or by lowering a thin rope, with bait into the water. All ours moms would make spaghetti or linguine crab marinara sauce. Then we all sat for hours eating the delicious crabs infused with the sauce. Later the adults played cards, drinking home made red vino, and eating peaches soaked in the vino. As children we were allowed to sip some wine and eat the peaches. Always very fond memories.
I’m usually not impressed with most receipes or cook books on fb or instagram.
But…Acquacotta caught my eye.
Born and raised in Little Italy Baltimore I know Italian…Moved to Texas at 22.
Congrats to Emiko!!
It’s a beautiful book in more ways than one. Emiko really managed to capture the spirit of a region!
When I am at the beach, I definitely love seafood of any kind (though I love that when I am not at the beach). However, when we go to Rehoboth Beach, DE, I have to have some Thrasher’s Fries (no other vendor!) and a frozen custard from Dickey’s Custard.
I am from a country that has no sea, and every year we go to Italy to enjoy the beach life. I love to sit on the beach, drink local wine and eat seafood, especially mussels. Steamed mussels on its own, or mussels with tomato sauce, with pasta… Even my son, who does not eat mussels at home, on the beach he can eat the whole bowl of mussels and love it. 🙂
Soooo – beach, sun, happy people around, white wine, seafood and some bread = perfect combo for me.
for me nothing beats fresh grilled octopus with just some lime/salt/olive oil when u can still taste and smell the sea while devouring it..while in the mountains any game meat either grilled rare or a slow cooked ragu over fresh egg-pasta..the wild boar i had in radicondoli will be one of the most memorable meals of my life
I took my sister to her first sushi experience last week. It was a perfect night by the beach and our mom noticed (and complimented us) that we were the only two that were talking to each other instead of staring into our phones. We talked the entire diner about what we were eating. We love food, it’s something that connect us and it’s a part of us.
By the ocean, I prefer fat tomatoes with salt and olive oil. In the mountains, I am more creative. Perhaps, a grilled tomino. If it’s the Rocky Mountains, I need a chai latte and a buttery scone!
I love eating in the outdoors. In the forest, by the sea, it is always so relaxing and nourishing. I take every chance I can to pack a picnic.
I have two vivid, amazing memories to share. One a regular occurrence in a long ago time of my youth. The other a unique one off experience to be sure.
The first is simple and goes back to my junior year in college, when I studied painting in Paris. My friends and I would meet in the park, unfurl a blanket, set up our easels, and a picnic. Always a few fresh baguettes, some cheese, an avocado or tomatoes, some fruit and sometimes a bottle of wine. So simple and unforgettable. We would graze on our food and paint and chat under the trees. I recreate this picnic as often as I can, but the baguettes are never as good as they were in Paris, of course!
My second memory is in the deep woods of upstate New York. Several friends gather for a traditional Native American ceremony. A teepee. A blazing fire. Chanting, singing. We fasted 24 hours before. We sat in a circle in the teepee and had a water bringing ceremony to help heal ourselves and our planet. When that was complete we cooked fresh corn on the cob from the neighbors farm and wild venison hunted the morning before with foraged herbs over the fire and broke our fast. To say it was a magical experience is an understatement. When we finished our meal, the sky opened with a long and gentle rain, after 36 days without any at all. Unforgettable once in a lifetime experience.
I grew up by the ocean, and as a kid, we always ate fresh fruit on the beach after frolicking in the water. So whenever I pack a picnic for the beach, I always make a (slightly more sophisticated than when I was a kid) fruit salad. Recently, I discovered the magic of a frozen fruit salad. In particular one that features frozen mangoes and grapes, tossed in a tahini, lemon, honey and ginger dressing. I’ve been told it’s better than ice cream, but I’m not too sure about that one myself ? Oh, I’m also partial to a golden gaytime and hot chips, if we are talking the “unhealthy childhood memory” option too haha
When I go to the small village in the mountains where my grandfather was born, I always look for a local delicacy, cjarsons. It is a hidden gem, unknown to the rest of Italy (even in my region is not known everywhere), and consists basically in a dumpling filled with mashed potatoes, pancetta and herbs (mint). It is delicious and it can’t be found out of that small area in the Alps.
Thanks so much for sharing. As I sit here I am cooking Sufi from Emiko’s Florentine cookbook and my house smells amazing! In return I’d like to share my favourite little place – a small town called Blackwood, in central-west Victoria. It is an inconsequential place but a place that is completely tied up with my family and my childhood. I love fleeing the city and getting to the house, it will be freezing inside, lighting the fire and then getting ready for dinner. Some of my fav meals there are lunch on Good Friday – baked fish, squid, roasted potatoes (to appease my dad!) and a salad of fresh greens. Or, chilly Sunday afternoons with fresh scones, raspberry jam and double cream. It is making me smile just thinking about it all! Have a great night, K
That should be sugo, not Sufi! Haha! Auto correct fail!
I grew up in Spain, in the northeastern coast, and what I mostly remember eating by the sea in the summer was those delicious sardine sandwiches (more sub style) my grandma used to prepare for the whole family (my dad, uncles, cousins and friends), to go angling at night near the harbour in a little fishing village called Cambrils. She removed the head, guts and spine of the sardines, opened them, then salted them and coated in egg then in breadcrumbs and fried them. Those sandwiches were so simple and yet sooooo tasty! Eating them at night, sitting or playing on the rocks with my cousins, with only our flaslights to see what we were doing, while the grown-ups waited for the tips of the rods to tremble and catch some fish… is a really dear memory to me. How I miss those sandwiches!! 🙂
I visit Italy once every few years as I have family in both Naples and Campobasso, Jelsi (a small town known for their feast of San’Anna called La Festa Del Grano which is definitely worth seeing once in your life! They make beautiful “carri” only using wheat and have a procession where every carro is more breathtaking than the other) Living in Montreal, Canada we have no beaches; thus, I make sure to soak up all the time I have in Italy at the beach, seeing family and friends and discovering new places (often places both Emiko as well as yourself write about!) One of my favourite beaches to go to with my cousins is one in Massa Lubrense where one of my cousin’s has a beach house.
We often stop by a sweet fruit vendor on our way to the beach and pick up fresh peaches, cherries, watermelon based on what he and his wife have that day. In addition, we bring the classic Frittata Di maccheroni if we have any leftover pasta from the night before or we often eat cold and fresh seafood salad, pizza di scarola, pizza salsiccia e friarielli and fresh mozzarella di bufala with a nice piece of bread and some fresh prosciutto! One thing I absolutely adore after a day at the beach is going to the fishmonger and buying clams or muscles and making a fried zucchini and muscle/clam pasta (similar to a recipe Emiko has posted of zucchini spaghetti) where we fry the zucchini, we mix them in with the drained pasta and a few fresh eggs making It ohh so creamy and top it off with some cooked clams in white wine it is making me salivate as I am writing this! Lastly, I wanted to thank you both for your wonderful blogs that brings me back to my Italian roots through your travel posts as well as through your beautiful recipes and thank you for this beautiful giveaway 🙂
I love the beach and I definitely love food. So the combination is really amazing anyway. One of my favourite combo is Focaccia di Recco in the simple version (with cheese inside) or in the enriched version with Pesto and stracchino cheese. Of course sitting on the beach in Levanto or walking in the streets of Monterosso (Cinque Terre).
My favorite “food” memory of the beach is mixing fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and Brie and letting it sit in the back of the car as we drive to the outer banks. Once we get there and unpack, boil some pasta and pour the mixture on top after you’ve drained it. After a long day of driving popping a glass of bubbly having dinner ready in 10 min is the perfect way to start off the vacation.
For my dad, growing up in Brooklyn with his siblings and recently migrated parents, trips to the beach were a rare occasion but a celebrated one. It was the opportunity to revel in Coney Island’s gritty glory: the creak of metal rides, the shrieks and laughter of tanned (and occasionally sunburned) beachgoers, running barefoot on the boardwalk while onlookers warned in all languages about the possibility of splinters, and maybe, just maybe, cotton candy. It also meant, however, for my wallet-strapped grandparents navigating a new world and operating on a single income, that meals were prepared at home and dutifully lugged – by subway and distributed among the children – to the beach. A large pot of arroz con gandules; a chicken pulled off the bone and pre-portioned for each reveler; a few sleeves of “dessert” (my grandmother’s definition of a cookie was a Ritz cracker); sandwiches wrapped with military precision to keep the sand out; and, the jackpot of goods, a single can of icy chilled Coca-Cola – one per person. Perhaps the production that went into preparing and transporting these wares (in both directions – remember the rice was carried in a pot), led my father to take a more austere approach on beach trips with my brother and myself. One towel. A bottle of water. Sandals. That’s it. Sunscreen was applied at home so as to avoid having to carry it along. I dreaded these beach trips. I was inexplicably and dramatically hungry the moment my feet touched the sand. As a result, my own undertakings for the beach with my beloved (to his carrying dismay) look a bit more like my grandmother’s: chilled bottles of water; fresh fruit – already sliced and portioned; a bean or tomato or corn or potato (made without mayo) salad portioned and served with shredded chicken; near-frozen beers (which, curiously, I don’t consume anywhere but the beach); money in a ziplock bag for Dairy Queen afterwards; and ALWAYS an extra bottle of sunscreen – left in the cooler so when applied it renders a bit of momentarily delightful reprieve. While a car makes our trips to the beach easier to navigate, whether we’re similarly undertaking a nostalgic trip to Coney Island or headed to the Long Island or New Jersey shores, I enjoy the preparation nearly as much as the ocean outing itself. I like to think that should I have children one day, they’ll create their own wonderful and quirky beach trip habits (perhaps the austerity will return!), but mostly, there is something deeply satisfying about taking the time to shop for, arrange, and prepare a meal that will be shared with and enjoyed by people you love. Often it is the food (the potatos that rolled away during an unexpected wind, the blueberry crumble that was portioned while still much too hot and melted the plastic covering it, the beer that exploded resulting in a faint pub smell on the towels for the rest of the day) that becomes the memory, rather than the other sights and sounds on the beach that day. And there’s something wildly magical about that.
We visited the Maremma a couple of years ago and had a lovely stay in Manciano. It felt like really being in Italy but minus the usual crowds and slipping into what is must feel like to actually live there. Of course we made a trip to the seaside and loved that part of the Tuscan coast.
Speaking of beaches I’d have to say my most memorable beach feast was in Riomaggiore where we bought little paper cones full of fried anchovies and other seafood and took them to the rocky beach down from the hustle and bustle of the little town to enjoy while watching the sparkling Ligurian sea and the tiny bathing suits that distinguish Italians from the likes of me. ?
We have friends who live in Naples, and we went to Ischia for a day a few years ago. We rented a boat, and spent the whole day on the water, docking in a tiny town to get lunch. Frutta del mare will always have a place in my heart. Pasta, spicy tomato sauce, and some wonderful clams and mussels. All that with a nice crisp white, like Vermentino or something. Bliss. My birthday is the 25th of May, and I have been dropping subtle hints that Florentine and Aquacotta are on my list. Congratulations Emiko, looks like another lovely book.
I love seafood and pasta! 🙂
Hi, I have been eyeing Emiko’s book for a short while, hoping for the dollar gods to align, still waiting………………I have traveled through Tuscany back in 2007, on our way to San Gigminano we stopped at a tiny, family cheese place and bought some soft mozza and few turns later found another small place selling prosciutto………….and few days later somewhere between Sienna & Pienza saw a beautiful house with lemon trees, we bought some of there olive oil and there sat an old man in the front yard and he saw me admiring the lemons (silly tourist taking photos of lemons and smelling them), he came over and pointed for me to take a lemon…………..I know this is not a beach/forest story, but to me it is………………..specially the love and pride of all the people living in that region……………..want to go back and visit so bad……………..thank you, S
My father is from Naples and every summer when I was young, we used to go the beaches on the amalfi coast. I remember having frisella that we would soak a few seconds under water and toped with chopped tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala. I also remember my parents and my father’s cousins would cut up fresh peaches and mix it with the homemade wine my father’s uncle would always bring. We also use to eat fresh seafood salad and frittata di maccheroni with a variety of homemade cheeses and affettati! For dessert we would always stop for a gelato or a fresh granita on our way home. These moments at the beach are some of the memories I cherish the most during my childhood and when I went to Italy with my family a few years ago I couldn’t wait to go buy fresh produce at the little food vendor near the apartment we rented and prepare a picnic for my family to bring to the beach. I had made a frittata using the fresh eggs and zucchini I had purchased and also enjoyed fresh mozzarella di bufala with homemade bread and fresh juicy tomatoes. Til this days my husband cannot stop talking about the mozzarella di bufala we had in Italy! Congrats Emiko!
For me the best combination is quiet beach of Bonassola and focaccia . Because it’s so Ligurian 🙂
I was just in Bonassola, how funny and yes the focaccia is so utterly delicious isn’t it?
La Baracchina, Don’t look on the map before you go, the location will totally misguide you. Think of Populonia, Baratti, rather than Piombino or Follonica!
I love this place, I really feel like I’m on vacation, even when I’ve just slipped away in the late afternoon, the pale blue & white decor, the fantastic location right on the edge of the beach, the sun setting over the mediterranean, but aways from the crowds in the Sterpaia national Park. We normally go for supper.
Everything there is good & fresh, you never know what you will find as the menu varies depending on what they find at the market. The tempura pastella for the white bait is so light, little pasta sacs of mixed fish, the sepia linguine … I could name almost ever dish I’ve eaten there. Oh yes, and the local wines from the Val di Cornia, which are seriously underated!
Its not super interesting but my go-to and favorite beach lunch on the Tuscan coast is a slice of pizza with tomato sauce the forno, or a piece of ciaccino or schiacciata or foccaccia (however you want to call it).It’s salty… for some reason that extra salt just is so yummy at the beach. It can get a little hot and no worries. You don’t need a fork, just a few napkins. I usually follow that with some fruit, like cherries, or apricots or whatever else looks good and wash it down with some chinotto or a cold beer….
If I am in Sicily, I love buying an arancino (fried rice ball) instead of the pizza… and go to diving for some sea urchins and eating them raw as the sun goes down…
VOGLIO ESTATE now.
The Adriatic! When I was a child every summer my family would pack and spend few weeks on Adriatic cost. Most of the time it would be Igrane, little village on the Makarska Riviera (Croatia) and Bečići, a town within Budva Municipality (Montenegro). I have so vivid memory of women selling doughnuts at the beach, their white shirts and a sound of pebbles under their tired feet. We had a ‘rule’, skipping lunch and spending all day at the beach eating doughnuts instead. Only coated with sugar were and are the best if you ask me. It etched in my memory, salty mouth and fingers, holding and eating sugar coated, the most fresh spongy, soft sweet dough. It was our everyday ‘happy hour’.
Last few years I keep coming back to town and island of Korčula, grilled sardines and dreamfish, nona Nadja and hers contagiously dangerous candied almonds, and carob and basil cake from a near by restaurant.
Thank you girls for the opportunity to win a great cookbook and share a memory!
Your post brought back memories of one of the best experiences I’ve had by the beach. I’m from Singapore (a sunny island state below the tip of Peninsula Malaysia), and I remember eating chili crabs by the sea. The details are fuzzy but I do remember it was dark, the sun has set and the beach was lit by yellow lamps. My family & I, seated on wooden stools, were eating chili crabs – mud crabs wok fried with a tomato-chili eggy sauce. I remember the sweet, savoury and tangy taste of the thick sauce, combined with the sweetness (another kind of sweetness!) of the crabs… The air was balmy, and I could feel the sand under my feet. Once in a while, to take a break from the heat of the sauce, I would get off the stool and walk around lagoon. With the taste of the crabs lingering in my mouth, I looked at the dimly lit sea, it was simply magical. Sadly, none of these seafood shacks survived as our city state got increasingly urbanized and I’m thankful posts like yours, reminds me of that memory that still exists in my heart.
Picture this: a wide expanse of breaking waves drawing in and out against golden sands on an Australian beach on the east coast north of Sydney. Four families, not related by blood but family nonetheless, whose children have grown up spending the week after Christmas together cramped like sardines into one beachside home dappled by olive coloured gum trees. Two of the mothers are Italian and the other two insist they were in another life. Food is of paramount importance to us all, the now adult children helping to plan the menu and roaring complaints as we try to simplify the meals due to ever-increasing numbers. “What night is pork pasta? I’m not leaving till we’ve had the stand-up BBQ snapper! Zia, is it salmon scrambled eggs today?”!! It is all music to us parents as we cram around the table, wine flowing as they’ve all developed our love of matching good food with good wines and the laughter, teasing and banter makes everything all right with the world.
we had an old family chalet in the Alps when I was young: four walls a meter thick in places, a falling tiled roof that through lack of finance my father replaced by corrugated sheets. It had three rooms only with one that took up 3/4 of the chalet and used to be stables. Of the remaining two we had a kitchen with sink and fireplace and a bedroom for the seven of us with bed frames so high I had to climb on them and mattresses that we would roll and hang on the ceiling after vacation so rats would not settle nest in them! In the evening, we would all lie in our beds and listen to my father reading stories. I was five. I don’t remember the stories but I know they all had a meaning on what is right and what is wrong as we always discuss them after Dad’s reading. I remember the feeling of comfort, safety and happiness listening to my parents, sleepy from a day’s playing in fields and a belly full. My mother would have cooked my favorite: polenta with frontina cheese and sausages that she would have purchased in the hamlet next to our chalet. we have cooked the exact same dish with the same fresh ingredients at home rather than at our chalet but it never tasted the same, was never as warming nor comforting as it was whilst eaten in front of the fire in our chalet. this is my dish. and now living in England, i cook my polenta and cheese and love that my son likes it too.
This book makes my heart sing! We are coming to the area in January for about a month. I will have to put this on our list of things to check out if there is a semi warmish day!
Growing up in New England without question beach meals (if it’s a true treat) are fresh fried whole belly clams, steamers or a lobstah (lobster) roll! So so so good!
I enjoy having seafood when I am by the sea. The meal should be light, but in the mountains I often eat heavier meals with meats. Good company is most important and second is balanced but flavorful food.
I’m from Singapore, where all the cultures meet and co-exist together. Some of us are probably more wordly than locally. At the beach or the mountain, I would love to have a bowl of pappa al pomodoro, a glass of wine and some yakisoba? A slice of black forest cake or some tiramisu to round up the meal.
For me, going to the beach means not eating on the beach, but little seaside restaurants. The ones in Brittany, France have granite facades and blue shades on the outside. My favorite dish to eat there is mussels and fries – and I always take the ones that are cooked in white wine and cream, to be soaked up with delicious bread. Thank you for the givaway!
I only make it to the beach about once a year. I’m an archaeologist and work in southern Italy in the summers. There’s nothing like a beach day after the physical and mental toil of an excavation season! One of our favorite beaches to visit is at Meta di Sorrento. I always grab a salad with marinated artichokes, tomatoes, and fresh (!!!) mozzarella, a container of melon, and a strong, cold beer or two. The backdrop is stunning, the water is perfect, and it is so relaxing I never want to leave. Although I think I miss the mozzarella more than anything when I’m not in the Bay of Naples — you just can’t get it anywhere else.
I made Emiko’s lemon tagliolini this week (twice!) and it was amazing! Thank you for sharing the recipe and giving us a taste of what looks like a marvelous new book. I’m looking forward to reading it, and being inspired to head farther north soon!
We love making fresh calm chower, New England style, when we camp at the beach. Nothing better than spending the day digging calms, then coming back to camp to make chower over the camp fire!
Eating fresh fish and chips on the beach near where I live in Australia. To sit and listen to breaking of the waves. Or when on the family beach holiday when you have a rainy evening to sit down with a big bowl of mussels in white wine and fresh tomatoes whilst dunking fresh, crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
When I’m at the beach in my state of South Carolina I always want fresh fruits and vegetables to eat.