Ristorante Franchino, Praiano, Italy

As the year comes to a close and I search for some 2019 inspo to share with you all, I thought I would revisit one of the highlights of my past year. At the end of May, our amazing mother (#mommamoll) took us on a girls trip to Paris and Italy. It was a trip we’ll never forget, where we met the friendliest people, enjoyed delicious food, and took in breathtaking views. The very last night of our trip, we splurged and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Ristorante Franchino, where we took in the sunset and polished off 2? 3? bottles of local white wine, and where my little sister earned her alter-ego as “Masha.”

We flew into Paris because it was the most affordable flight, and only stayed for two days before hopping on our next flight to Naples, Italy.  From there, we traveled to our final destination, Praiano. A lot of people visit the Amalfi Coast, and stay there because it’s more well-known than surrounding areas. However, Praiano is just a 30 minute drive west of Amalfi, and I would argue just as beautiful, but much more relaxing. Praiano is home to numerous local artists, a “world famous” night club (sorry, another joke meant for my sisters), and amazing sunsets like the one below.

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The view from our Air Bnb patio on our first full day in Praiano

Looking back on our trip, I realize we spent 6 days basically taking pictures of every single thing we saw because no matter where you looked, it just got prettier and prettier. The beach was beautiful, but very rocky and full of sea glass. I spent a few afternoons hunched over collecting different glass and pottery pieces, effectively tanning only my upper back. We rented a small boat to take us out for a day, navigated by our friend Carmelo, and seeing the different coasts from the water was spectacular. This was arguably the best day of the trip.

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The view from our daily walk to the beach (photo cred: Masha)

Although we enjoyed many memorable meals in Paris and Italy, our dinner at Ristorante Franchino stands out for a few reasons- the views, the service, and the mouth-watering food. We ate at normal “American” dinner time most of the trip, so we were the first to be seated on the patio overlooking the water and coastline. We were brought little, soft pillows of dough that reminded me of focaccia bread, but sooo fresh and flavorful, along with complimentary Prosecco to start. We ordered a bottle of white wine from Ravello, and toasted to the last night of our trip.

I ordered calamari fritti, and was happily surprised that it was a mix of different fish because I learned to love sardines over the course of the trip. I learned that sardines come with most calamari dishes in Italy, and are something I would never order at home, but my God were they good. Then, I did the typical Annie move and instead of ordering my own entree, put my fork in everyone else’s meal so I had room for dessert.

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For dessert, we ordered hazelnut gelato covered in chocolate ganache, and I fought everyone’s spoons off because it was the most decadent dessert I’d ever had. It was simple, but so beautifully put together. This was definitely not dairy-free, so I enjoyed every second of it.

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This was definitely a trip we will never forget, and our last dinner spent at Ristorante Franchino was the perfect way to end it. If you are traveling to or near the Amalfi Coast, please don’t hesitate to reach out- I have so many recommendations!

I will be back in January with new focus and LOTS of new recipes to share with you. Happy New Year and thank you for all the support and feedback over the past few months. I wish you all health, peace, and happiness in the upcoming year!

XOXO, Annie

Tiny Kitchens Int’l Part II-Salmorejo

Today is the first day of FALL! I wait all year for this day; I am one of those people. But before I jump into several posts on the Fall recipes I wait all year to make, I am going to dedicate one post to Summer, because I guess it has its perks, too. Tomatoes.

Last Summer, my lifelong dream of cooking in Spain came true in a tiny kitchen in Seville. Accompanied by 22 of my new best friends (it’s a long story), I spent one morning wandering through an indoor market and sipping espressos out of tiny Styrofoam cups. Here, we attended a cooking class where we learned how to chop garlic in very confined spaces while drinking sangria. We cooked a number of traditional Spanish dishes that I am still working on recreating, but one that I’ve made time and time again is Salmorejo. This is a cold soup- and while I acknowledge that gazpacho-y things are not for everyone- this recipe is different. It is heartier than most cold soups, with its inclusion of bread and good quality *important* Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Every time I make this recipe, I’m taken back to sweating in this tiny kitchen with our new friends and laughing at our tour guide’s lack of organization, catching a morning buzz on homemade Sangria. Enjoy!

 

Salmorejo

Salmorejo (3-4 1 C servings)

8 medium-sized tomatoes

2 small cloves garlic

2-3 T salt (to taste)

Fresh ground pepper (to taste)

1/2 large baguette (the stale-r the better)

3/4 C good quality olive oil

1 T sherry vinegar

Method

Add tomatoes and fresh garlic to blender and puree for 30 seconds on high. Slowly add bread to tomatoes, letting it soak for a minute or so with each addition and puree until smooth. Once all bread is incorporated, turn blender on low speed and slowly add olive oil in top of bender- you’ll watch the color change to a creamy orange. Add sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper and give it a few final pulses.

Top with crispy Serrano ham or prosciutto and hard boiled eggs.

Tiny Kitchens

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I have a love of food that dates back to making Christmas shortbread with my mom and sisters in our tiny kitchen in the “house on Parkside.” It was a galley kitchen, where opening a cabinet and the fridge door at the same time was not an option. Mom would lift us onto the counter to drop cold tablespoons of butter into the Cuisinart, where we’d stay, watching the dough in the oven puff up and brown until the warm sweet smells of Christmas would float through the rest of the house. We’d take turns shaking powdered sugar onto the golden crust, never able to wait long enough for the shortbread to cool. Although the kitchen in the “house on Parkside” is no longer tiny, but I am happy to say I continue to share many amazing memories in it with the ones I love. So many of my fond memories and favorite recipes began in that tiny kitchen, and I love spending my free time recreating them in my own tiny kitchen today.