Italy’s southern treasure – the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast’s beauty stuns me into complete speechlessness.

There are so many little details in this region that add up to create a gorgeous sum of its parts; so many that to be able to merely put them into words – or to barely begin to describe the loveliness that is this place – requires recounting of every single detail.

View of Positano

I don’t even know where to start – so I’ll just tell you what I can remember of its immense beauty.

Maybe it’s the wind that strokes your face as you cruise in the car along the curvy, narrow coastal route, which has been voted one of the world’s best coastal drives.

Or maybe it’s the lemon trees along the roadside, their branches heavy with large yellow fruit swollen with ripeness. Perhaps it’s also the plants growing haphazardly by the side, flushed with flowers of every shape and color; evidence of summer.

Driving along the Amalfi Coast

But mostly I believe, it’s the fact that as you drive from town to town along the coast (from Sorrento to Positano to Amalfi and then uphill to Ravello), you have the vast blue waters on your right and tall towering cliffs on your left.

Amalfi Coast

Views like this required us to stop the car every so often to stop and stare, and then get a picture in between.

Amalfi Coast

I may sound like I’m waxing lyrical, but trust me – this is a beauty so magnificent it literally takes your breath and heart away.

(If I haven’t lost you yet, and you want to follow me on my adventure, read right on…)

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Grain-free Berry & Cream Tarts

Italy has been wonderfully good to us.

Let’s just agree, life doesn’t get much better than this.

Deliciously warm days with cool crisp nights; breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast and amazingly scrumptious food. It has been such a glorious time; and being able to momentarily escape the Argentine winter to bask in Italy’s toasty summer sun is a pleasure so great I want to jump up and do a crazy little dance. (I’ll share about our trip in another post very soon!)

Even though we’re now back in Argentina, Italy still feels as present as it has always been.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tarts

I have a dream of living in Italy one day, speaking Italian with the ferocity and velocity of a local, dining at off-the-beaten-track trattorias and ristorantes, and living just like an Italian.

I imagine myself at the farmers’ markets, greeting the farmers as though we were old-time friends, picking the plumpest summer peaches; choosing large swelling lemons; tasting freshly made buffalo mozarrella; and smelling the sensual aroma of herbs like rosemary and thyme.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

In this daydream, my arms will be laden with bags of ripe fruits of every kind, particularly berries.

There are bright red strawberries bursting with their juices as well as round little blueberries that are just the right amount of sweet. The bags are heavy but I don’t mind. I’m already thinking about devouring every single berry, that very same day.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

I imagine heading back to my small cottage somewhere in Tuscany, and in my little kitchen I begin to make little tarts.

I first begin with the crust, a combination of almond meal, powdered sugar, egg and coconut oil, all mixed together and then pressed down into greased tart molds.  I place the molds into the pre-heated oven, and let the crusts firm up, and a quarter of an hour later, take them out, and let them cool.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

While the crusts are cooling, I whip fresh milk cream with just a touch of sugar until stiff peaks form.

Once the whipped cream is ready, I place it straight into the fridge for chilling.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

Meanwhile, I wash the berries, popping a couple into my mouth every few minutes.

Forgive me, but they’re just too pretty to resist.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

When the crusts have cooled and the whipped cream is chilled, all that’s left to do is to assemble.

First I scoop a generous amont of whipped cream into each crust, then I top them with berries, and finally, I sift a bit of powdered sugar over.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

And so, just like that, we have grain-free berry and cream tarts.

As delightful and glorious as Italy.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

I promise I will return one day to Italy, for a much longer time…

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

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Rosemary Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)

Ciao amico! Can you guess where I’m writing to you from?

Let me give you a hint. I’m currently in my favorite country on earth – the boot-shaped country that has food so deeply embedded in its culture that you can’t visit it without talking, eating and tasting its delicacies.

Need more hints? How about this….Where did pizza and pasta originate?

Rosemary Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)

Yes! You got it! I’m writing to you from La Bella Italia, Italy, the land of my Tuscan dreams and food fantasies.

We’d flown into Rome early Saturday morning, got our passports stamped and checked in at our hotel. For the next few days, we did the typical tourist sightseeing (I’ll might tell you about that in another post) and we later drove down south to Naples and the Amalfi Coast (it is so incredibly beautiful – gorgeous sunny skies and turquoise waters among the backdrop of natural cliffs – also in another post). Italy is definitely blessed with plenty of beauty.

Rosemary Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)

But you know what really hypes me up, apart from Italy’s natural beauty? I’m so taken away by the fact that in this incredible country, food has its own pedastal in Italian culture.

Juan and I have eaten so much, and will continue to eat our fill of Italian food during this trip.

And yes, while pizza and pasta are the international icons of Italian cuisine, there are plenty of other foods which are deeply rooted in the country’s culture – things that are less well-known amongst foreignors but no way less worthy.

Rosemary Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)

Today I’m bringing you a recipe for rosemary farinata, which is basically rosemary chickpea flatbread that has its humble beginnings in Genoa, but then later became a popular street food along the south Tuscan coast, particularly in Linguria.

If you find it familiar, it may be because you may have tried or heard of its cousins socca (originated in France) or faina (as they call it in Argentina).

Rosemary Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)

As with many foods, farinata, which is also known as “torta de ceci” or “cecina“, was first created as food for the poor.

As it is made with just chickepea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper, its affordable ingredients made it an extremely accessible snack for the lower social classes. This article gives an in-depth description of this gluten-free chickpea-based food that you might be interested in.

I found this recipe from Rachel’s blog, after going through her delicious archives while preparing for the trip to Italy, and made it just a week before flying to Rome.

Rosemary Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)

Farinata is very filling, and can be eaten both alone as an appetizer or as a full meal, accompanied with roasted veggies or other ingredients of your choice.

To be honest, I liked it more as an appetizer sprinkled with freshly ground blackpepper and an extra shake of salt, but am not sure if I could eat it as an entire meal.

Rosemary Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)

Because chickpea has a very distinct and particular smell and taste, it may affect how much you like farinata.

The taste may be a bit too strong for some palettes. But if you like hummus, which is made of pureed chickpeas, I’m betting you’ll also like farinata. (My verdict is this: while I liked the texture of the farinata, I’m not so sure I liked the taste of chickpeas enough to make it again.)

Rosemary Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)

Ok amico, I have to leave you now…the warm sea waters and Italy’s beautiful beaches are calling me.

Buen Apetito and Ciao for now!

Rosemary Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)

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Grain-free Blueberry Cashew Scones + A life well lived

Grain-free Blueberry Cashew Scones

If you'd watched the movie "The Fault in Our Stars", based on the novel by John Green, you would remember Augustus Waters, the one-legged hottie with an incredibly charming smile and eyes that made you melt. You would also remember how Augustus and Hazel Grace spent his last few months together, creating a reality that was theirs to remember, a "little infinity" that was undeniably larger than … Read more

Grain-free Yogurt Almond Pancakes

Grain-free Yogurt Almond Pancakes

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Baked Plantain Fries

Baked Plantain Fries

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Arroz con Leche (Milk Rice Pudding)

Arroz con Leche (Milk Rice Pudding)

There are two realities that I'm currently living right now. The first one, which I frankly prefer, is that of me traipsing the cobbled streets of Rome in the warm mid-summer sun; or suntanning on huge flat rocks along the Amalfi Coast, the salty sea air and light breeze tangling up my hair. The sun sets at half-past eight, and as it slowly disappears into the horizon, I breathe in deeply … Read more

Grain-free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Grain-free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm so excited my heart feels like it's jumping up and down in a thousand different places! Since we booked our return tickets to Rome on Monday, I haven't been able to stop thinking (and talking) about anything else. Because the trip was decided on so last minute (in less than three weeks' time we'll be in Italy!!), there's a ton of adrenaline coursing through my veins. I feel just … Read more

Walnut Pesto Zucchini Noodles

Walnut Pesto Zucchini Noodles

I didn't know that it was possible for my heart to sing with so much joy. After seven whole years, from that particular autumn in 2007, I'm finally heading back to the place which captured my heart and never let it go. This was a very on-the-spur-of-the-moment decision. While Juan and I have always fantasized about returning to Italy - land of my Tuscan dreams - I'd never expected … Read more

Grain-free Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Grain-free Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

There are pieces of my heart all over the world. In some countries, there are tiny pieces, and in others, large blocks of my heart, and while it means that home is never just in one location only, it also means that I feel a belonging to many distinct cities, sites and places, all at once. Because Singapore is where I spent my childhood, and because it is my birth country, where my dear … Read more