For the love of a lemon. A Post(card) from Italy

Some spend their lives pining for chocolate and its dark and velvety texture, or its milk-laden sister, the ambrosia of many a childhood.

I, on the other hand, have always loved the tart, clean flavor of lemon.  It’s been what I’ve always craved above all else.  And now, in Amalfi, Italy, I am in paradise. What butter is to the French, what the peanut is to Thai cuisine, the lemon is to an Amalfi-style menu.

My friendly Wikipedia page explains:

“….the area is a known cultivator of lemons. The correct name is “sfusato amalfitano”, and they are typically long and at least double the size of other lemons, with a thick and wrinkled skin and a sweet and juicy flesh without many pips. It is common to see lemons growing in the terraced gardens along the entire Amalfi coast between February and October.

Our Executive Chef, Shawn Doolin, who traveled with us here, has been making the most of my love for lemons. The Amalfi Coast comes to our table each meal in the form of some variety of lemon. Breakfast begins with Amalfi-style French Toast — hold the syrup and ladle on Shawn’s handmade lemon curd. (Lemon curd is where egg yolks, sugar, lemon and butter find heaven together.)  A glorious compote of raspberries, strawberries and cantaloupe accompanies.

Scialiateielli al profumo di lemone, is a delicious soft egg pasta with lovely hints of lemon right in the pasta. To which Shawn added sun-dried tomatoes, olives and fresh parsley and this simple but extravagant dish became the centerpiece of one dinner.  Frutta di Mare Risotto with candied lemon, diced fresh tomatoes, freshly caught mussels and shrimp satisfied our seafood cravings. We’ve also been treated to a “surprise and delight” course of Ravioli di Limone con Salsa di Burra and Menthe a lovely handmade ravioli with lemon in the pasta and light cheese filling, garnished with basil.

Chef Shawn – market bound in Amalfi A “Cedra” Lemon

The zest is not to waste and Cedra, an over-sized looking lemon, as big as a huge grapefruit and characteristic of this coast, is perfect for providing us with a lot of zest. A Cedra we found at the market, becomes the perfect syrupy marmalade after we added simple syrup of sugar and water to the zest, and simmered for hours. We used the syrupy lemon loveliness to accompany  our traditional Torta di Limone which we bought at the beautiful Savoie Bakery right in town but am looking forward to creating this cake at Entertaining Company upon returning home.  The recipe that I have my eye on is Emanuele’s Kitchen Torta di Limone, from Mamma Agata’s Cookbook.

Limoncello, a traditional after-dinner drink here, finishes the evening off.  Served iced as we sit around the water, Amalfi-style.

The sweetness of life on the coast can often be found in that small yellow globe of deliciousness, the Amalfi lemon.