Sunday, 30 August 2015

Mammà, Capri

On our recent trip to Italy, as well as trying to find the ‘best pizza in Naples’ and eating in the local trattorie and alike, we ate at three 1 Michelin starred restaurants – Mammà (on the island of Capri), il Comandante (located in our hotel, Romeo) and SUD (in the nearby town of Quarto). We had also wanted to visit Palazzo Petrucci but it was closed for August.


The pick of the bunch for us was undoubtedly SUD but Mammà was also excellent – partly down to the food but largely thanks to the views and overall Capri experience.


Arriving on the island midmorning gave us enough time to enjoy a slice of traditional Torta caprese at the Piccolo Bar, the oldest of the four bars in piazza Umberto 1.


Mammà is located a short walk from the bustling “La Piazzetta” though a network of characterful medieval, vaulted paths – once inside, the view of the Marina Grande and the Gulf of Naples is breath taking – a delightful and memorable setting for lunch. 


We ate refined versions of local and regional favourites. The Parmigiana de melanzane was particularly good as was the Tagliatelle dish with its gossamer thin ribbons of freshly made pasta. Where better to enjoy a Caprese salad than in this setting on the island of Capri?


What Michelin say, ‘Just a stone's throw from the famous piazzetta, this charming restaurant decorated in Mediterranean colours bears the mark of Michelin-starred chef Gennaro Esposito. The focus is on the flavours of the Campania region while also paying tribute to traditional dishes from Capri.


Insalata Caprese
Caprese salad “Salad of Capri"


Parmigiana de melanzane
Augbergines parmigiana


Insalata de seppie finocchi e sedano bianco
Cuttlefish salad with fennel & white celery


Tagliatelle di pasta all’uovo con ragú bianco e peperoni gratinati
Tagliatelle with white ragú & gratinated sweet red peppers


Paccheri al ragú di polpo
Paccheri pasta with octopus ragú


Fritto misto con verdure di stagione
Mixed fried fish with seasonal vegetables


Zuppetta di melone cantalupo al basilica con sorbetto
Cantaloupe melon & basil soup served with sorbet



I recently discovered that Capri is twinned with Crosby in Merseyside, if you’re not planning a trip to Capri, why not check out Albina in Crosby.  




Saturday, 29 August 2015

48 hours in Naples

Having recently spent ten days in the “the city of sun”, you may have seen my ‘A guide to eating in Naples’ and ‘Ten of the best pizzas in Naples’ posts, but were left undecided about where to eat if in town for just a couple of days.


Some of the best pizzas in Naples are to be found a little way out of the main city centre – top places include La Notizia (Via Caravaggio, 94 or Via Caravaggio, 53), 50 Kalò (Piazza Sannazaro, 201B) and Starita (Via Materdei, 27)) – these may not be overly convenient, although they are “doable” in a short taxi ride.


“The done thing” is to have pizza at one (or all) of the much lauded yet touristy Da Michele (Via Sersale, 1/3), Sorbillo (Via Tribunali, 38) or Di Matteo (Via dei Tribunali, 94) – each of these are good and are certainly places to tick of a list”. Di Matteo also serve a good pizze fritte (fried pizza).


I find downside of the popular places is that you can expect to spend a good portion of your valuable time in the city queuing, when equally good pizzas (in my opinion) can be had at less touristy places such as, Trianon (Via Pietro Colletta, 44/46), La Figlia Del Presidente (Via Grande Archivio 23) and Al 22 (Via Pignasecca 22).


Pizzas aside, Trattoria la Campagnola (Via dei Tribunali, 47) is an popular place to find local cuisine but again queuing time should be taken into consideration – for me, the likes of Osteria da Tonino (Via S. Teresa a Chiaia, 47) and La Vecchia Cantina (Vico S. Nicola Alla Carità) offer a similar experience and quality of food without the touristy vibe and queues. L'Europeo Di Mattozzi is also worth a shout as they do decent pizzas alongside traditional dishes.


One more experience not to be missed is the local, shell shaped Sfogliatella or rum soaked Babà from Scaturchio (Piazza S. Domenico Maggiore, 19) – these can be bought to take away or enjoyed with a café in the piazza. La Sfogliatella Mary on the entrance to Galleria Umberto (‪Via Toledo 66) or Pintauro (Via Toledo, 275) are others options. The grand and historical Caffè Gambrinus (Via Chiaia, 1-2) is good, yet pricier alternative.


For breakfast, a late night snack or between meals, do stop by Friggitoria Fiorenzano alla Pignasecca for some fried tidbits – if you like “nose to tail eating”, a tray of tripey goodness costs about 2 at the Tripperia Fiorenzano (Via Pignasecca 48) next door.

Suggested Itinerary:

Day 1:

Breakfast: Scaturchio (if you have a sweet tooth) or Friggitoria Fiorenzano (if you prefer savoury) – both if you’re me.

Lunch: a posh one at the Michelin starred Palazzo Petrucci or a pizza from Al 22, Trianon or La Figlia Del Presidente – or give in to the lure of one of the touristy spots.

Dinner: join the locals at a traditional, homely place such as La Vecchia Cantina, La Chittara or La Taverna Del Buongustaio.

Day 2:

Breakfast: grab a pastry from La Sfogliatella Mary or Pintauro, or for something a bit more formal, head to Caffè Gambrinus.

Lunch: the charming Osteria da Tonino or another pizza at a place you didn’t get to on day one.


Dinner: the Michelin rated L'Europeo Di Mattozzi or the quirky La Cantinella, with its views of the Gulf of Naples and Vesuvius.


Hope this post helps.



Friday, 28 August 2015

The Dogs, Edinburgh

The recipient of a Michein Bib Gourmand, the red guide says of The Dogs: “Cosy, slightly bohemian-style eatery on the first floor of a classic Georgian mid-terrace, with two high-ceilinged, shabby chic dining rooms and an appealing bar. Robust, good value comfort food is crafted from local, seasonal produce; sharing dishes and Scottish staples such as Arbroath Smokies feature.

Of all the places we visited in Edinburgh, The Dogs is the one that, to a Sassenach like me, most fulfilled my expectations of what a true Scottish restaurant would be – rugged and hearty, with no bullshit.

We visited in July and the dishes, such as Devilled ox liver, Cullen skink and Black beer braised rabbit, still had a robustness to them that had me wanting to toss a caber - I wager the autumn and winter menus would have me painting my face blue and baring my arse.

In short, we loved The Dogs and would go back in a heartbeat. Here’s what we ate.


Devilled ox liver, onions, bacon, mushroom toast


Cullen skink
(traditional Scottish smoked haddock & potato soup)


Mussels, cider, bacon, cream


6oz flat iron steak, chips, beef tomato


Black beer braised rabbit, polenta, spiced carrots, roasted peanuts


White cabbage, garlic, chilli


Mixed salad


Honeycomb, brownie, marshmallow mess


Lemon posset, ginger, biscuit





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