Idyllic Eats in Italy

The clocks have gone back an hour and the temperatures are rapidly descending, and while I’m more than ready to welcome all things cozy in the form of sweaters, soups, and holidays, I still find myself reminiscing about our honeymoon this past June. Our time on the Amalfi Coast was utterly perfect and full of adventure, relaxation, romance, decadence, and plenty of fun.

Amalfi Coat Pride and Polka Dots

Pride and Polka Dots Italy Pride and Polka Dots Positano Pride and Polka Dots Positano City Pride and Polka Dots Capri CoastFortunately, there’s one souvenir  (besides paintings and photographs) from our fun that I can make a fairly regular part of our daily lives, even in the cold. We were lucky enough to have a private cooking class with the incredibly talented women behind Donna Rosa. It was a morning and afternoon packed with food, drinks, giggles and fun. Our new friends are exactly what you would expect of famed Italian hospitality.

When we arrived at their bastion of fine Italian cooking, tucked along Montepertuso, Erika, Rosida and Mama greeted us warmly and led us through their cozy, yet elegant, restaurant. The restaurant is a local (and global) favorite for inventive fine Italian dining, with fans throughout Italy and beyond, like Jaimie Oliver and Ina Garten. Before Jordan and I knew it, we were well equipped with aprons, coffee, and fresh homemade cornetto–the Italian answer to croissants. We learned a ton of fabulous recipes and techniques thanks to Erika’s mastery and Rosida’s rapt but humorous attention. In an attempt to relive just a taste of our fun, I decided to share one of their recipes! Below is a tutorial for a simple dish that could accompany a large dinner or, in my opinion, make a perfectly acceptable main dish for a cozy but easy meal!Pride and Polka Dots Donna Rosa

Involtini Di Melanzane from Donna Rosa

You’ll need:

  • Several long and thin eggplants, tops and outer skin removed
  • Salt
  • Peanut oil
  • Mozzarella, cut into small rectangles and refrigerated to dry a bit ahead of time
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • All purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes, pureed in a food processor


To make the Involtini:

  1. Thinly slice the peeled eggplants using a mandolin slicer. Layer them in a colander and lightly sprinkle salt on each layer to help reduce the water content of each slice. Let the eggplant drain in the sink for about 30 minutes, until the eggplant slices are “limp”. This is an old school trick to keep the eggplant from having a “bitter” taste.
  2. While you wait for the eggplant prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, add the extra virgin olive oil and briefly sauté the sliced/chopped garlic. When lightly golden, add pureed San Marzano plum tomatoes. Cook at low heat for 15 minutes and set aside.IMG_4101 IMG_4083
  3. Remove the excess water and salt from the eggplant slices by gently squeezing each slice between two fingers like a squeegee. Dry the slices on paper towels. In a bowl, pour the flour and allow the slices of eggplant to have flour on both sides, removing the excess by moving it with two fingers
  4. In a large saucepan, pour about 1″ peanut oil and heat until it’s very “hot”. Gently drop the slices of floured eggplant in the hot oil, gradually, without crowding the pan and remove the slices when lightly browned, but still pliable. The goal isn’t to make them crispy. Place them on paper towels to drain.
  5. Lay slices of fried eggplant on a working surface. Sprinkle fresh grated parmesan cheese on all pieces. Place a piece of the dried mozzarella and a small piece of basil at one end of each eggplant slice and roll toward the opposite end. Repeat until done, placing the rolls in the baking pan.

    The best husband, ever.

    The best husband, ever.

  6. Heat the oven to 350° F
  7. Spoon tomato sauce over each roll and bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil on top of each roll. Serve immediately.

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Ta-da!

It’s really an exceedingly simple dish, but satisfying enough to make a meal! It’s truly rare that a chef shares their best family recipes, so I hope you enjoy this treat as much as we (and all the fans of Donna Rosa) do! If you ever have the opportunity to dine at Donna Rosa, it is undoubtedly worth the time, money and effort!

Also, suggestion: spend the rest of your evening on the balcony with wine….sending helpful snapchats while a little buzzed and full of food!IMG_4039

Honeymooning in an Italian Paradise, Part 1

People wax poetic about things being “worth the wait” which can get old fast. However, I feel confident assuring everyone that our honeymoon (and this post) fit that description. Our wedding was our happiest day and I cannot wait to share some of it with you soon, but I think starting in Italy is a perfectly acceptable way to begin a comeback…and a marriage! Pride & Polka Dots View We wanted to jet off to somewhere stunning, with water but also culture and history and well, food. When our travel guru at Jetsetter whittled the choices down to Greece or Italy, we decided our relationship with pizza was stronger than that with feta, and happily started making arrangements for a week in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Pride & Polka Dots Boat Life What. A. Week. Pride and Polka Dots Positano View This was the view we enjoyed every morning over breakfast… It was a perfect week together. We had private tours of Pompeii and Naples (thanks Alessandro!) beautiful gourmet dining on our small hotel’s luxe terrace overlooking the coast, a private cooking class with some of the best chefs in town, and jaunts off to Capri on a boat to take in the sun, surf, and scenery. It was perfect and picturesque…which means I don’t need to ramble on much to share our fun. Pride and Polka Dots Positano Honeymoon The prettiest coast Pride & Polka Dots  Li Galli The island of Li Galli Pride & Polka Dots Capri 1 Best form of transportation Pride and Polka Dots Positano Fruit We consistently had the most delicious produce everywhere we went…any place that grows lemons is good with me. Pride and Polka Dots Honeymoon Snaps A place so delicious it made even the Londoner jealous

Da Adolfo eats

Da Adolfo eats

Pride & Polka Dots  6 The view from atop Monte Solaro in old town CapriPride & Polka Dots Monte Solaro Pride & Polka Dots 2 Pride & Polka Dots  Vesuvius Pride & Polka Dots  Granita Granita became a pretty standard part of our day… Pride & Polka Dots  Capri 6 Pride & Polka Dots Capri Gardens Pride & Polka Dots Capri 4 Playing in Pompeii…. Pride and Polka Dots Pompeii 3 Pride and Polka Dots Pompeii Pride and Polka Dots Pompeii Tour Apollo’s Temple… Pride and Polka Dots Pizza in Naples And of course, a pizza tasting in Naples. Pride & Polka Dots Amalfi Coast There’s plenty more to share…but one post can only handle so much excitement. Check back later for our cooking class, more vacation pictures and of course, wedding photos!

Barcelona Dreaming

The calendar tells me it is springtime, but the weather clearly didn’t get the memo. To cope with the lack of spring fever and the threat of snow and cold temps, I can’t help but reminisce about our trip to Barcelona and think warm thoughts. Easily one of the most beautiful cities we’ve visited, I hope it helps you think of warm days ahead too!

 

We rented a flat via airbnb, and after an easy cab ride from the airport, we settled in before exploring. Right next door was a gorgeous farmers market with beautiful flowers, and lots of food. IMG_0947 IMG_1006

Shortly thereafter, we went exploring.


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Barcelona is simply beautiful–all the historical significance of cities like Paris, with a laid back and tropical feel that make it an ideal vacation spot.

During our stay, we joined a bike tour for a city-wide adventure…

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We saw the Palau de la Música Catalana, which was designed by Lluís Domènechi i Montaner. A noteworthy building because it’s quintessential Catalan modernist style makes for a colorful and beautiful display. While most everyone who visits Barcelona associates this with Gaudi, it was refreshing and eye-opening to see how this particular architectural style is not limited to Gaudi creations, but instead exists as a unique feature of gorgeous Catalonian buildings throughout the city.

 

Having said that though, no trip to Barcelona could be complete without at least a little Gaudi, and in particular, La Sagrada Familia

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An unfinished masterpiece, the church is projected for a 2026 completion date, after beginning construction in 1882. Antoni Gaudi, fresh out of school, managed to win the job from the Barcelona council with his innovative design sketches. There were numerous  set-backs in terms of financing and construction, but Gaudi became so popular that he was able to finance the project from his own pocket by building homes for the wealthy all over the city. However, Gaudi faced a major setback when he died in 1926, and work on the project was halted. Thankfully it resumed once again and continues today. It’s a marvelous story when told in better detail and well worth a visit.

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In our ride through the Barri Gotic, we got to see the castle (what’s left of it) where Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain sent Christopher Columbus on his travels. These were the steps where they stood, upon hearing about land overseas.

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Wandering the Gothic Quarter was wonderful, and full of awesome buildings, winding streets, fun shops, and lots of food. I can’t recommend exploring it enough.

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We also visited Barcelona’s Arco del Triunfo, which cuts an impressive figure

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As well as the Parc de la Ciutadella, which is a gorgeous city park.

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Not to mention a visit to Barcelona Cathedral, which is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, a martyr from Roman times.

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We also saw the former Bull-Fighting arena, which is now used for concerts or sports because Bull-Fighting is thankfully outlawed in Barcelona.

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We ended our tour with some more time on Barceloneta beach, soaking up the gorgeous imported sand (long-story) and the sunny rays.

There’s a lot to love about Barcelona, and while its history is a fascinating one, and its architecture is beautiful, no post would be complete without at least a tiny taste of the food that makes up a huge portion of the culture.

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Pitchers of cava sangria became a daily routine during our visit. It was easily the most delicious and refreshing cocktail I’ve ever enjoyed, to date.

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Platefuls of tapas….

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Having fun at a Basque bar, where you get a plate with your drink and fill it up with small bites from a bar. You pay by the toothpick so you can try a lot of delicious bites!

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Of course, paella.

I feel a little sunnier just reminiscing about Barcelona, and I hope mother nature gets with the program soon so I can enjoy the weather here instead of yearning for warmer temps abroad. In the meantime, keep warm and carry on! There may be a post in the near future on cava sangria, which will at least make us all numb to the cold and bubbly!