Another exclusive food blog with Hospitality Business: Follow Lesley Christensen-Yule on her travels through Europe and America. A celebrated food writer (The New Zealand Chef and The NZ Cook’s Bible), share Lesley’s amazing food experiences and insights here.
Snapshot Europe: Sorrento
Due to a landslip that had taken out part of our track, we got lost walking from Marina del Cantone to Sorrento. The downside of this that we took a lot longer getting to our destination but the upside was walking through narrow and twisty lanes that took us past villagers working in their gardens, drying chillies, tending vegetable plots, picking lemons and holding their dogs at bay so we could pass by. One family even invited us in for coffee.
A few days in Sorrento allowed us time to sample local hotel and restaurant fare with offers of limoncello tastings at every turn. Menus from one establishment to the next tended to feature classic Italian items including the ubiquitous cheesecake for dessert; not a problem for Phil who is a major cheesecake fan. Two places stood out as memorable. The Inn Bufalito had a contemporary feel and beautifully presented food including lush black squid ink pasta with lobster. One taverna known for its musical entertainment was memorable too but for unexpected reasons. The musicians and singers would be booted off X-factor at the first round while Gordon Ramsay would, I think, be throwing out the menu and abusing the chef. Despite this, we loved dining at Taverna Allegra. Something about their hospitality and enthusiasm results in a wonderful family-like ambiance where everyone is smiling and cheering and wanting their meal to last all night long. Sometimes it isn’t all about the food.
One thing we noticed too is the high number of wait-staff in hotels and restaurants and a predominance of career-waiters not found in New Zealand. The veteran, mostly male waiting staff ruled a very definite hierarchy of those who have chosen this career path. Usually decked out in formal attire, they each have their role to play. And the service was spectacular. Those I spoke with worked long hours, six days a week with split shifts starting early at breakfast and then finishing around midnight after dinner. When I remarked on the long work day, one waiter simply shrugged saying, “It’s the job”.
The New Zealand Chef
The NZ Cook’s Bible