My food importer pal Rolando had organized an entire anchovy themed weekend in Salerno and Cetara. I love anchovies. I love Cetara. How could I say no? On a very hot morning I left my family on Capri while I hopped on a ferry to be whisked away to the fishiest weekend ever.
Our first stop was to the IASA factory just outside of Salerno. 50 women work preparing and packing anchovies into tiny jars. The entire process from when the fresh fish are delivered off the boats from Cetara, to placing the anchovies to dry on pressed white linen napkins to the lightening fast putting jar part is done by hand. Go watch Elizabeth's video to see the speed and care that is taken. I'll wait.
For lunch we took a short drive to a strip mall. When I lived In Southern Africa many of the very best restaurants were in shopping malls. I was happy to discover the same to be true in southern Italy. Pensando a Te belies it's location and is super chic inside. We were soon sipping a crisp cold white and starting lunch one of my favorite things, bread with sweet butter and of course Lucia's anchovies on top. We ate lightly fried zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and anchovies and pasta with a sauce of emulsified colatura (an amazing ingredient that you need to start using right now for a secret umami boost to all kinds of dishes)
For dinner we wound up the steep hills above Vietri to the hamlet of Raito to the vineyard Le Vigne di Riato.
We made a quick stop at the ceramic studio of Lucio Liguori and enjoyed the last of the days light among the vines.
On Patrizia's candlelit terrace we sampled her summery rose and white. Dinner was light, including a salad with scomboro, brands and sweet tropea onion, and rabbit with red peppers and plump green olives all perfect for a hot summer night that was only just beginning to cool. The homemade delize di limone was a sweet end to a full day.
The next day was the big event, the Notte delle Lampara. But that didn't start until dusk so we spent the day in the nearby Cilento coast at the beach and with a stop to the famous Tenuta Vannulo buffalo farm for some gelato. Back in Salerno we boarded a large boat and sped towards Cetata in time for a glass of prosecco and the sunset. Once it was dark the bright light and anchovy boat appeared and all the boats and large ferries in the bay gathered around to watch. The light attracts the anchovies who are then caught in a large net and pulled on board. To a loud chorus of boat horns and clapping we docked and dove into the towns festival which was in full swing. We found a spot at one of the long tables set up on the beach and feasted on fried anchovies and cold beer. Our night ended with a warm Sfogliatella, Neapolitan folk songs and a post midnight swim in the sea.
Do you think you don't like anchovies? Spend a weekend in Cetara and get back to me. I will wager you will change your mind.
I was the guest of Manicaretti Italian Food Importers, and IASA.