Travelling along the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento on a beautiful, sunny day in May, my husband Steve and I came across a jewel of a place. A little cove, hidden from the road in the Village of Praiano.
We found Praiano quite by chance whilst touring the coast on a four day Italian break. We were delighted to find this beautiful place and our lovely Hotel Alfonso Al Mare, on the beach overlooking the picturesque beach of La Praia. We arrived around midday and strolled a few yards across to eat at Bar Mare Petit Restaurant, an ancient building, built in to the cliffs.
Salvatore, the son of the elderly owners, gave us a warm welcome and fetched us wine and freshly picked olives and told us all about the history of this lovely place and how this restaurant had been in the family for over a hundred years. He showed us a photo of the original building which is tucked in the far left hand corner of the cliff.
His ‘Mama’ he told us, still does the majority of the cooking in the restaurant using the vegetables grown in their allotment, a little way up the cliff above the restaurant. We were amazed to learn that his elderly father walked up many steep steps to the allotment every morning to pick the produce that Mama was going to cook that day. No wonder it tasted so fresh and wonderful.
Salvatore and me holding up the photo of the original restaurant at Bar Mare Petit Restaurant – Praiano, Amalfi Coast, Italy
As we sat and watched the world go by soaking up the sun and atmosphere, more wonderful food came from the kitchen. Once Salvatore had learned of my passion for good food, he was eager to impress with Mama’s home made culinary delights. The most amazing, salty Focaccia with fresh rosemary, crusty Ciabatta served with delicious, fruity olive oil, roasted peppers and artichokes.
As the complements rolled, the food kept on coming. Next up was the nicest thing I have ever tasted in my life…….. Mama’s Melanzana alla Parmigiana.
She later came out of the kitchen to meet us. You could see the joy she felt from pleasing you with her beautiful food, cooked with love and care.
I have tried many recipes to try and match the one we had on that day and I have adapted one that I think comes pretty close. Just need to transport myself back to that little bit of heaven to enjoy it at it’s best!