As the bus rounded the next bend the view out to sea was surreal with beams of light streaming down from the storm clouds lighting up the ocean. The Amalfi coast is stunning whatever the weather or the time of year. But it wasn’t just the scenery that blew me away, the food did too, most notably the Amalfi lemons! From perfect summer pasta dishes to the delicious digestive drink limoncello, the citizens of Amalfi know just what to do when God hands them lemons, as I found out on an Amafli coast holiday many years ago.
BBC Good Food Show
What brought these memories flooding back? Fast forward to today, I recently visited the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC in Birmingham. As I entered, an overwhelming amount of tempting food and drink stalls greeted me and I was soon tasting one delectable craft gin after another, artisan cheeses and the best sausage rolls I’ve ever had.
The highlight of the show, however, was meeting celebrity chef and TV presenter Lotte Duncan and learning about her fabulous food-filled adventures on an Amalfi coast holiday of her own with Travelsphere. She shared plenty of wonderful tips, recipes and experiences that brought alive the sights, aromas and tastes of the region. Picture balmy evenings dining alfresco by the sea, eating fresh fish and pasta and at the end of each meal, sipping limoncello, the local digestive – Amalfi lemons are reputedly the best in the world, sweet and juicy with an exquisite aroma.
Lotte Duncan’s Amalfi Coast holiday
While I had certainly had a wonderful time when I visited the area, hearing about Lotte’s experience of an escorted tour in Amalfi with Travelsphere, did get me thinking that travelling independently isn’t always the best way.
“Having never been on escorted tour I really didn’t know what to expect,” Lotte explains. “But from the moment we landed in Naples and met our tour manager, I knew it wasn’t going to be a regimental, time managed tour – it would be very relaxing.
Our hotel was in Minori, a town full of local life. Slightly off the tourist track, it does have plenty of restaurants and the odd ceramic shop, but the main joy about the town is its local population who go about their daily lives amongst the visitors. That made it extra special for us.”
Not only, did they visit the popular sites such as Capri and Pompeii, but they went to lesser known but non the less fascinating places, including a limoncello producer and a winery as well as off the beaten path restaurants – the kind that are popular with locals but only visited by a few tourists in the know. “This is one of the great benefits of an escorted tour,” Lotte said, “you see and visit things that might ordinarily pass you by.” Culinary highlights included grilled smoked mozzarella in lemon leaves, lemon pizza, lemon sorbet as well as lemon gelato!
“What a week. We saw so much. Met some very lovely people on our tour and learnt all about the Amalfi coast.” Lotte enthused. “And we ate so well. I came back with so many ideas. I spoke with the shop keepers, restauranteurs and people of Minori and came back with ideas aplenty.”
You can read more about Lotte’s Amalfi coast holiday on her blog, Lotte Duncan.
Amalfi lemons spaghetti recipe
Back at the Good Food Show in Birmingham, I thoroughly enjoyed Lotte’s humorous appearance in the ‘The Big Kitchen’ where she shared three recipes inspired from her trip to Amalfi.
above: Myself with Lotte and Heather from Heather on her travels
The very next day I tried out this simple pasta dish with just four ingredients, pasta, lemons, olive oil and basil, based on Lotte’s recipe from the show. When I tried it out again, using a little less lemon juice than I originally had, my husband declared “It’s perfect! Lovely and light. The perfect summer pasta.” And trust me he’d have told me if he thought otherwise – nicely of course!
- 70 g dried ribbon pasta (such as spaghetti or linguine)
- ¼ lemon (Amalfi lemons if available)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 25 g Parmesan cheese
- handful basil leaves
- salt and black pepper
- Put a large pan of heavily salted water on to boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
- Squeeze the juice from the lemons.
- Drizzle in the olive oil.
- Finely grate the cheese and add it to the lemon juice and oil.
- Beat the sauce together until its creamy.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Tear up the basil leaves.
- Drain the pasta and stir in the sauce.
- Stir in the basil leaves and serve.
Tips on cooking pasta
- Don’t add oil to the water
Generally, you should not add oil to the water when cooking pasta, as some people recommend. It’s supposed to stop the pasta from sticking together and to stop the pot from boiling over but, the oil coats the pasta which will stop the sauce sticking to it which is the last thing you want. Instead, rely on stirring the pasta, especially within the first minute after it goes into the water. However, since we are using olive oil to coat the pasta anyway, this recipe is an exception to this golden rule.
- Plenty of salt should be added to the water before it reaches the boil as this enhances the flavour of the pasta.
- The water should be vigorously boiling before you add the pasta, helping you time the cooking of the pasta correctly.
- And a bonus tip from Lotte, add a wedge of lemon to the water while cooking pasta to enhance the flavour of a fish sauce.
The benefits of travelling with Travelsphere on an escorted tour
With over 50 years’ experience in providing escorted tours, Travelsphere love sharing their passion with like-minded people. And with over 60 destinations across Europe and beyond, you are bound to find one that’s the perfect fit for you.
- Travelsphere holidays are packed full of genuine, authentic experiences immersing you in the local culture.
- Travelsphere’s local guides give you unique insights into each destination from the best traditional restaurants to local customs and traditions.
- If travelling solo, you’ll be able to hook up with like-minded travellers.
- If travelling with a group, you can each make your own booking for the same tour and dates. This means no one person is responsible for collecting other people’s money and making the travel arrangements. So much simpler!
- Travelsphere offer the flexibility to book your flights separately, so it’s easy to add on a stay either at the beginning or end of your escorted tour.
- Travelsphere pride themselves in giving you a holiday you’ll never forget whether you’re on safari in Africa or on a laidback river cruise in the Dordogne.
- Travelsphere offer a guaranteed price match. To quote their website “Our tours give you fantastic value for money, so we’re confident you won’t find a better price… but if you do, we’ll match it.”
Find out more about Travelsphere escorted tours.
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