When holidays are over all that lingers are the memories and, for a short while, the sunburn. The memories are often food memories; that little place you found that had no sign and no sign of life, yet turned out one of the best lunches you’d ever eaten as well as one of the cheapest.
Italy’s Amalfi coast can seem stunningly expensive to eat out in, as well as stunningly scary to get around, if you’re the one that’s doing the driving, but the food is always something to write home about.
Nina Caplan has cooked in some of London’s top Italian restaurants, including L’Anima and Bocca di Lupo and her book Nina Capri is her follow up to Nina St Tropez and winds about as sinuously through the best of Southern Italian cooking as the roads there wind around the coast. Sunshine pours off the page from her bright writing, which doesn’t descend to the teeth-gritting perma smile that many writers adopt these days, but stays rooted in grown-up English.
There are over 100 recipes here, ranging from breakfast to lunch to drinks to aperitivo and antipasti, primi, secondi and of course some serious desserts.
Breakfast doesn’t detain her long and quite rightly; most of us are keen to get to lunch and get into spinach with garlic and chili served with garlic and lemon chicken or giant chickpeas served in a stew of clams. For me it would be the Green Lasagna made with just two sheets of lasagne and purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus and spinach, all made creamy and savoury with plenty of ricotta.
Not long until dinner but as the sun’s heat wanes a fraction then antipasti are on the menu. Bruschetta with marinated capers has a long list of ingredients but the extra caper mix will keep in a jar for whenever you need a fast fix. The Saffron Arancini also sound remarkably good, arancini are always so moreish. And it makes great use of time as the risotto base is best made the day before.
But we’re waiting for for the Primi and it’s a riot of pasta dishes, risotto and gnocchi. The linguine doused in anchovy oil, walnuts, cherry tomatoes and capers sounds superb as does celeriac gnocchi with sautÃƒÂ©ed cavolo nero and leeks.
And so to mains or Secondi, the bit I usually skip in Italian places if I’m honest. Well I probably wouldn’t skip these. Ultimate Naples ragu, which takes five hours at least to cook but features pork, beef and lamb. Under the Arches pig cheeks with greens makes good use of a more unusual cut and Donotella’s chicken cacciatore is a one pot wonder.
There is room for dessert, lemons of course feature strongly with a fine sounding Lemon Almond Cake and lots of chocolate dishes too.
With photos that make you long to be in that heavenly place of Amalfi, this book radiates Italian simplicity and style.