Our Italian Adventure.

I thought I’d pop on and share some stories of some of the amazing food and drinks we had on our honeymoon!

As most of you will already know, myself and Ryan, owner and chef of Rudd Events, got married in January.

A few years ago we got engaged in Sorrento on the Amalfi coast of Italy. We fell in love with it. The food, the culture, the friendliness. So we decided we would revisit for our honeymoon. But with a twist. Obviously we wanted to make things extra special and so, after a looooot of evenings online, Ryan came up with the perfect plan. 15 nights. 5 nights on the beautiful island of Ischia. 5 nights on the equally stunning but very different island of Procida and finishing off with 5 nights right in the centre of everything in the place we will always cherish, Sorrento.

Our first stop, Ischia was wonderful. Ryan checked us into the most amazing hotel, where upon arrival in our room we found Champagne and a gift of amazing jars of jams made by the chefs at the hotel which we bought home.

Ischia is not particularly touristy and in the five nights we stayed there we didn’t hear a single English accent. We learned that it’s where a lot of Italians go for their holidays and we did bump in to a few Americans. This was a fantastic experience as so many places we go to these days are really just a home from home but with added sunshine! So going out in the evenings to restaurants, at times proved a little more difficult than usual but good old Google helped us through! Menus didn’t have English versions and most waiting staff didn’t speak English. Obviously, being the typical Brits we are, we certainly didn’t speak Italian! So out came Google on more than one occasion and people were always happy to communicate through that with us.

Anyway, food. Being a small island, Ischia was very seafood orientated. Ryan loves his seafood and had many a seafood linguine on the island, some of which we had no idea what some of the components were! One evening he ordered an octopus bruschetta and it arrived as a whole purple octopus, head attached just staring straight back at him. This is something Ryan can cope fine with, I on the other hand, ate my starter without looking across the table!

Obviously we had a few pizzas, and to be expected, they were amazing. But for me it’s all about Bruschetta’s (without the octopus!) and Caprese salads when I go to Italy. They are just my favourite! Buffalo mozzarella and huge deep red tomatoes do it for me. Call me boring but I love it!

I also found a new dish I LOVE! Spaghetti a la Nerano. Invented in a village called Nerano on the Sorrento peninsular. Its core ingredients are fried courgettes (or zucchini to the Italians), spaghetti (obviously!), butter, olive oil, pecorino cheese, garlic and basil leaves. I had this several times across all three places we stayed. So simple but sooo tasty!

Breakfast at our hotel here was gorgeous. A typical European feast of pastries, cheeses, cold meats and fruits amongst other things. I think Indy ate her weight in amazing fresh fruit and yoghurt every morning! There was even a chocolate fountain with all kinds of goodies for dipping!

We moved on to Procida where, again, the island was very seafood inspired with boats coming in with their fresh fish all day every day. Procida is a very tiny island and even less commercialised than Ischia. Here we stayed on a working farm with a restaurant. As much of their food and drink ingredients as possible come straight from the farm and my word, their food was to die for.

Procida, like many places around the bay of Naples and the Amalfi coast, is full of lemon trees. Lemons everywhere. Lemons literally as big as your head! And one dish they still make at the restaurant is a traditional lemon salad. Apparently they are one of only two places on the island that still serve it in the exact traditional way. Because the particular type of lemons there are so huge they have very thick piths. Almost meaty. They scoop the lemon out of the skin, including this very thick pith and, using a huge mortar to serve, they mix the lemon with olive oil, fresh mint, chilli and garlic. This is served with bread. If I’m honest, we gave it a go as we love to try traditional local cuisine when we go away, but we didn’t finish it. The initial taste is lovely and fresh, but that pith, as you would expect, is very bitter and becomes a bit hard on the taste buds!

We had some beautiful Ravioli and Risotto here too. A stand out meal here for Ryan was pork belly with a tuna sauce. Sounds odd but it worked incredibly well! I also had a pizza down in the town that had a yellow tomato sauce rather than the traditional red and the difference was incredible! It was so tasty!

One day we went to have a look around the farm with farmer Eduardo. Without a common language between us he took us round showing us all the things he grows, different stages of growing, drying. He showed Indy his rabbits, (bred for the islands famous rabbit stew, which I’ll add, we didn’t try!) and Indy was able to pick her own strawberries to eat! It was lovely to be on the balcony and see him at work each day, knowing that his hard work would end up on our plate later on or the next day. The restaurants menu changed frequently with what was ready each day and some of the jams and fruits we were given for breakfast each morning were amazing!

We made it to Sorrento for the last leg of the trip. Sorrento is heaving with tourists and full of restaurant after restaurant. It’s narrow streets are bustling with people from all over the world. Being a tourist hot spot does mean that the food here is much more geared up to what people expect Italian food to be. Pizzas on every corner. Spaghetti Bolognese and Carbonara on every menu. But actually we were ready for it! My first meal in Sorrento was a huge bowl of creamy rich Carbonara!

Mainly here, I’m going to talk about one particular shop. A shop that we found on our first trip to Sorrento and made a bee line straight to when we got there again. It’s called Nino and friends, there’s a few of them dotted around Italy.  This shop is like no shop I’ve ever been in before. It mainly sells chocolates, limoncello, and all things Pistachio or truffle related. Every day you go in (sometimes more than once!) and they completely spoil you with tasters. Caramel chocolates, lemon cookies, Limoncello, Meloncello, truffle salt, pistachio paste. They’re so keen for you to try that some days you end up leaving a little tipsy! I’m drooling just talking about it. We could have easily bought one of everything in the shop but with a tight baggage allowance had to settle on just a few. these included chocolates, Limoncello, truffle pesto and truffle and pistachio powder, which I have to say is the most incredible taste to ever pass my lips! The tiniest sprinkle on a bowl of chips or on top of a pasta and it completely transforms the taste.

I could go on for days but I think it’s time to stop. With 15 days worth of pasta, pizza, beautiful Italian wine, beer and enough Limoncello to sell out a factory we finished our time in Italy with a cheeky McDonalds at the airport. It was actually quite a nice change to have a burger!

We had the most amazing trip, sampling some of the best food Italy has to offer and now, suffice to say, we are on a major diet!

until next time Italy…

Soph x