Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mozzarella, Vino and the best view in the world!

Like a previous trip I have been extremely remiss in not staying current on these posts.  However I did use that wonder App called Track My Tour (please tell Chris that I sent you if you check it out) which did a much better job.  Here is the link to this part of the trip -- Click here.


One great thing about Daniele is his enthusiasm for life.  Everything is in absolutes.  The best mozzarella, the best wine in the region and the best view in the world.  All today!  Who couldn't be excited by all this?

Meet Daniele! On the left.
First stop along the coast road was half way up between Positano and Ravello on one of the many hairpin turns.  Of course being Italy there were cars everywhere, even here, but I suppose it was still just about walking distance from the jammed streets and lanes of Positano.  Easier to walk in and out than struggle with the traffic.

Not a bad view!
The scenic overlook was spectacular though.

Ravello as far as I can make out is the 3rd biggest attraction in this region after Positano and the coast road itself.  It is a very pretty little village but it is not at the top of the hills here like all the other high villages which were created as refuges from marauding pirates.  It is sort of about half way up and on either side of a ravine through which a river passes.  Swanky hotels are here a-plenty.  This is definitely the place where the rich and famous come.

The other side of the ravine with Ravello in the centre
Our purpose here though was rather more prosaic -- we'd asked for a day of local gastronomy and of course the local vino and this was it.

First stop was a childhood friend of Daniele who just happened to be the local cheesemaker but not just any cheese but the local mozzarella -- not buffalo milk, just cow this time.  His name is Biagio and he owns the local cheese factory... which just happened to be next to a bar owned by Eugenio, an Anglo-Italian who sounds more English than I do but whose family comes from Ravello.  And if there's one thing the Italians do well (other than pasta, cheese, wine...) is family.  The call home even if he'd never lived there was too strong.  Factor in a young lady also from Ravello and really there's not much chance Croydon has it over this little jewel of the Amalfi Coast.

Together they thought of starting up a hands on thing for tourists on a lovely shady spot opposite their respective business fronts also overlooking the spectacular ravine.

Viv and I were experts on Mozzarella now but have never actually handled the stuff which is what Biagio made us do.  The cutting, kneading and stretching are all pretty simple.  The stumbling block comes with tearing the perfect little balls you've made off the larger chunk of the stuff.  Mozzarella when stretched and kneaded has the consistency of rubber so to rip off the lovingly moulded little ball without mangling it beyond recognition did not come as second nature to us.  Biagio of course soothed our grumblings and said they were really very good, symmetrical and perfect to serve in any 5 star restaurant.

Biagio at work. Nest step is to tear the little ball off the dangly bits without making it look odd
Just to prove a point he went away leaving us to sip wine with Daniele and eat some little deep fried appetizers from Eugenio's bar, returning with a huge tray of artistically arranged mozzarella based treats.

He served our creations alongside his and looking at them arranged on a tray it did make us think how much they looked like a sperm.  Or rather the pictures of them you see in a biology book from school. Sort of like an early stage tadpole but that white colour.  I think I better stop here before this segment becomes too mixed up with the wrong kind of thing.  Really it was all about the mozzarella, not the... OK, you see what I mean.  Move on.

See what I mean?

The final word on the mozzarella interlude will come from Monty Python. Good luck Biagio and Eugenio.

The trouble with sipping a little wine with deep fried yummies and some odd shaped mozzarella meant that our immediate next stop at Tramonte in the mountains at yet another friend of Daniele's vineyard for lunch promised to be an all out assault on our stomachs and our very ability to keep going.  As it turned out we gritted our teeth and managed a good showing courtesy of a reasonable delay while they got things ready after we arrived.

The vineyard
This part of the region is actually over the hills and on the other side so has no sea view at all.  Just more pretty hills and valleys.  The region has been farmed since the pre-Roman era and is very fertile.

Our favourite was the rose
Daniele filled the gap by manfully uncorking wines seemingly by the gallon.  They were very good indeed particularly the rose which was a simply lovely colour, the same as the local roses as Viv pointed out.

Daniele is really something.  His background like so many Italians seemingly is the hospitality industry.  He has worked in hotels and restaurants and has a background as sommelier meaning he could talk with enthusiam and knowledge about the wines we were drinking.  The local varietals of course include some of the common grapes but many date back to Roman times which are very unusual.

Lunch was home made pasta with fava beans and veal with local broccoli and just the 4 wines: 1 white, 1 rose and 2 reds.  We of course agreed to buy a mixed case of wines to be shipped home which will probably make them the single most expensive wines ever once landed.  Ah well.  It was a great lunch and terrific time.  We just hoped the next segment would not include food or drink.

We made it to Ravello around 5 pm which was when things were gradually winding down and Daniele dropped us off in the central piazza which like many things here is on the side of a ravine and which is home to a whole bunch of tourist shoppes (of course), bars and restaurants and just down a little, actually not so little, lane to the Villa Cremoni which these days is a very swanky hotel.  However they do allow people to stroll around the gardens and take in the view which just may be the best view on the Amalfi Coast.

Ravello from the central piazza. Ravines everywhere!
That bit is right at the very end of the gardens on a long terrace with Romanesque busts of probably emperors or gods at every turn.

As for the best view in the whole world.  You decide.

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