My new favorite beach…

“This is my second favorite beach in the world,” proclaimed my friend Suzanne with a contented sigh. I didn’t ask her what her most favorite was. Mainly because I’d already decided that Spiaggia di Laurito was at the top of my list.

We found ourselves at this little paradise after a friend and Positano local asked me about our beach plans. When I said we planned to Fornillo, Positano’s small beach and my preferred spot, she scoffed. “No. You have to try Laurito.” Suzanne and I looked at each other, shrugged and agreed, why not? After convincing the shuttle boat to take us a half hour earlier than the next scheduled voyage, we were on our way for the 15 minute scenic trip to Laurito and Da Adolfo, the most favored beach side restaurant. We were greeted immediately from stepping off the boat and settled into sun lounges. (A happy fact: The daily rental for sun lounges is cheaper at Da Adolfo than Spiaggia Grande or Fornillo!)

Da Adolfo looks like a jammy little beach hut but in fact serves some of the best food in the area. Locals know that if they spend a day off at Da Adolfo they are in for a three-hour lunch extravagana. In addition to the obvious grilled whole fish, Salvatore serves up chef specials daily like eggplant parmigiana. Not what you would expect for a hot day in the sun, but surprisingly rich and satisfying.

On my second visit to Da Adolfo with my friend Antonio, I let him take the lead (as any wise woman would do) in ordering.  The result? Mozzarella on grilled lemon leaves, seafood salad, carpaccio, grilled whole fish – “The cheek is the tastiest part” – and white wine with sliced peaches. You can usually tell if I’ve had a particularly spectacular meal when there are nearly no photos to show for it – I was too busy wallowing in foodie bliss with morsels in each hand to be bothered taking pictures that would surely not do it justice.

With Laurito and Da Adolfo, you must have time for an all-day leisurely affair. The boats leave every half hour or so from Positano’s marina and there’s a hiatus between about 1 and 4pm for lunch. (Not a bad life for the boat skippers, I must say.) As the sun begins to disappear in this little cove, the last boats return to Positano around 6pm.

There is another restaurant/hotel on Laurito but no one seems to trouble themselves there – Da Adolfo steals the show. And rightly so.

Da Adolfo
Via Laurito, 40
Positano, Italy 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2014.

Advertisements

Seattle Favorites: Old and New

I landed in Seattle from London and felt a strange, immediate sense of homesickness. While I grew up about a four-hour drive south of Seattle, I always feel quite comfortable in this part of the state, most likely because of the food and music scenes.  Seattle takes seafood seriously, which is one of the things I love best about visiting this unique city.

One of my standard stops is Matt’s in the Market on corner of First & Pike, the dining room view punctuated by the iconic Market sign. This is not a cheap table, mind you, but the focus on local, sustainable ingredients and the subtlety of the flavor combinations brings me gladly back each time. I started with an arugula salad with fresh Dungeness crab and a citrus vinaigrette – clean and simple. For the main course, I chose my favorite seared scallops. And for dessert, the salted caramel pot de crème with mini donuts. The starter and main were exceptional as always, but the dessert was a bit overpowering in sweetness, a bit uncharacteristic of Matt’s usual fare.

Later in the week, I visited Matt’s sister bar, Radiator Whiskey. You’ll know it by the raucous noise coming out of the space just a few steps from Matt’s door. Opened in 2013, Radiator takes pride in its whiskey and bourbon choices and cocktails. I started with a “Showgirl:” bourbon base with amaro and rhubarb bitters served in a Gatsby-style cocktail glass. This concoction would definitely appeal to an Old Fashioned lover with a unique, modern twist. Another standout was a special bourbon cocktail that day served with a sherbet-rimmed glass.

My Scottish friend back in London had one thing to say after her first visit to Radiator: Tots!  These are not the tater tots you remember from school lunch. Radiator elevates the standard fried potato bundles of goodness by serving them in a large cast iron pan covered in gravy and topped with a fried egg. It’s a great combination of comfort foods and absolutely delicious. Rounds of drinks? More like keep the tots coming. For a main course, we tried the pork shank which is so generous it could easily feed two to three people.  Needless to say, after a few rounds at Radiator we were feeling festive. Naturally this meant we turned the place into a bit of an impromptu karaoke bar, singing along with the 90s classics played over the speakers in the bar. (Yeah, sorry about that, guys! 🙂 )

For breakfast and lunch, I discovered newbie deli Homegrown. Touting itself as a sustainable sandwich shop, I was impressed with the variety of local, organic choices. For breakfast, I had their egg and avocado substituted as a salad instead of a sandwich, accompanied by a cappuccino made with almond milk. A perfect healthy start to the day and no guilt for this Paleo princess!

Finally, after researching restaurants to partake in with a foodie friend of mine, I made a reservation for dinner at RockCreek Seafood & Spirits in Fremont. Another restaurant making seafood the star, the standouts were the Hawaiian Tombo tuna crudo and Dungeness crab chile relleno to start and black cod for a main. The menu changes daily based on the fresh, seasonal ingredients. Unfortunately I was gabbing too much to take photos so you’ll just have to take my word on it!

Matt's in the Market
94 Pike Street, Suite 32 (First & Pike) 
Seattle, WA 98101 
+1 (206) 467-7909

Homegrown South Lake Union
208 Westlake Ave N 
Seattle, WA 98109
+1 (206) 467-5391

Radiator Whiskey (First & Pike)
94 Pike Street, Suite 30
Seattle, WA 98101
+1 (206) 467-4268

RockCreek Seafood & Spirits
4300 Fremont Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98103
+1 (206) 557-5732

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2014.

Pesto and Seafood (but maybe not together)…

I was in T.K. Maxx last weekend, buying home goods for my new flat, and I felt compelled to buy a mortar and pestle.  Not that I’ll be making my own pesto from scratch in it rather than say, in a food processor, but I like to know that I could.

Pesto is one of the great triumphs of Liguria and we ate it in abundance while in Cinque Terre.  Another regional specialty is “trofie” a short pasta twisted in a spiral so the pesto will cling to it.  The best trofie di pesto I had was in Manarola, followed by a Nutella tiramisu (yes, you read that right).  The pesto was delicious, the tiramisu probably better looking than it tasted but that’s why there’s the old standby of gelato if your restaurant dessert goes wrong…

The seafood in this region is also special and we had a feast on our last night, dining in Monterosso at Via Venti.  We had a delicious meal including sardines and crab gnocchi along with some beautiful wine.  After dinner, we had a glass of wine at a chilled out bar in the center, then found the much more happening bar on the main drag that just reopened a week before our arrival following the October 2011 flood.

We stayed at the bar a bit too long, making new friends, and just missed our train – literally, we ran to the platform and could only touch it as it pulled away.  Since it was the last train back to Riomaggiore and we had no where else to go, we walked back to the bar in the rain and drowned our sorrows in White Russians.  Still, hard to get into too much trouble in a town with a population of only about 2,000.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2012.

Merci, Le Bernadin

“If you want to do this again before you leave, I could definitely do that.”  That was the comment from my dining companion Mark at the end of our meal at Le Bernadin on Monday, May 16, 2011.  Mark discouraged me from taking pictures of every course or acting like an ass to meet Eric Ripert, so I have a limited slide show below.  My pictures wouldn’t do it justice anyway.

While I didn’t meet Eric Ripert (he’s one sexy man, is he not?), my experience at Le Bernadin was unparalleled.   It’s clearly a Michelin 3-star rated establishment and very elegant inside, yet our waiter was charming and funny and put us at ease cracking jokes at my expense. 

We started with a small oyster as an amuse bouche.  Now, I’m not an oyster fan, but whatever they did to it was amazing.  It was soft, not chewy and doused in a light sauce with herbs.  If anything can convert me to like oysters, it was that one.

The four course prix fixe was a great introduction to Ripert’s cuisine.  I started with my first appetizer with impossibly thin tuna tartare over an equally thin slice of foie gras and a tiny crisp bread, dressed with cirtusey olive oil and chives.  Melt in your mouth and incredibly light. 

Next was the barely touched “crab cake”.  Warm dressed crab and a little corn with slivers of mango as garnish. 

For a main course I had the crispy black bass with hoisin jus and mini pork buns.  I would have never picked that out as a main as the asian flavor palate isn’t my first choice, but it came highly recommended by the waiter and was absolutely delicious.

For dessert, I went with the hazelnut selections, my favorite.  It was a lovely chocolate hazelnut mousse, a tiny melon ball sized taste of gelato, and bruleed bananas, garnished with chocolate hazelnut sauce and toasted hazelnuts.

Every course was perfectly portioned, light and left me feeling satisfied, not overly full.  You can tell how much effort and care goes into each course.  The prix fixe was a great price considering amount of food, the quality and the restaurant’s reputation and fame.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  Le Bernadin was one of the best meals of my life.  And if Mark, or anyone, wants to go back before I leave for London, just let me know. 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.