Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sorrento is for...Lemons

Marina Grande in Sorrento
After nearly a month in America, I'm back in Italia! It's been a busy few weeks since being back, as I have taken on some volunteer responsibilities on base with a women's ministry group (ok- I've taken on a lot!). As a result, our meal creativity at home has suffered a little bit due to less available brain cells for meal planning. I broke down and bought my first frozen meal since we've been married. We almost made it a whole year without one. Of course, I saw this as a complete failure, while my husband saw it as complete success. He's so supportive! (I think he just secretly really liked it and is hoping they will come around more often...)

But the good news is, there's always the simplicity of an Italian meal. Although my own kitchen isn't seeing much magic these days- there's no shortage at the many trattorias and pizzerias. And now that spring has sprung, maybe I'll be re-inspired by the abundance of zucchini, tomatoes and garlic. This weekend, Chris and I headed down the coast to Sorrento. It was such an easy drive, we couldn't believe we've waited a whole year to go. But it was a beautiful day and we were glad to experience it on such day. We like to find places off the beaten path, and usually this happens either by accident or word of mouth. For this one, we have Rick Steves to thank. Trattoria di Emilia was  tucked in a quiet little nook on the shore of Marina Grande in Sorrento. This is a ways from the bustling tourist streets, away from the main port, and was right on the water. We couldn't have asked for a better view- or meal!

 We both opted for meatless meals, and of course, a local wine. I had Gnocchi alla Sorrentina and Chris had Ravioli alla Sorrentina (we still aren't sold on the seafood around here, which I'm pretty sure is mind boggling to the Italians). Sorrentina Sauce is pretty much just a tomato sauce with red pepper, basil, and buffalo mozzarella cheese, from what I've gathered. One could probably duplicate this at home- except your tomatoes aren't grown in the soil of Mt. Vesuvius, and your buffalo mozzarella isn't the same-sorry! (Do I sound like a snob yet?) But I'm sure it would still be pretty good. I did find a recipe on Food Network that looks very similar to what I had- except I would buy the fresh already-made gnocchi.

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Ravioli alla Sorrentina

And you can't have a trip to Sorrento without trying something lemon-flavored. We both sampled some limoncello. And then I had some citrus gelato called "the scent of Sorrento" in  English. It had candied orange and lemon peel in eat. Very refreshing. Everywhere we turned we saw lemons the size of footballs- how we left without buying any is a mystery. 
Chris demonstrating a "medium-sized" lemon