Mixed Plate: A meal on the Med

Mixed Plate

This sea has kept us spellbound with the secrets of ancient lands. 

Bordered by Europe to the north, Africa to the south, the lands of the Levant to the east, it separates, yet consolidates the cultures and cuisines of each shore it touches.

The Mediterranean is not just a sea, but a way of life.

“When you drive along the coast between sea and sky, the view is amazing. We have to say thanks to God for the amazing beauty for this part of Italy,” said resident Giuseppe Astarita.

Along the 43-mile stretch of narrow road are dozens of hillside hamlets, each one charming in its own way. 

“Ravello, top of hill famous for gardens, beauty of gardens  and the view. Positano built into cliff, old town, mix of view, lifestyle, narrow street that made Positano so unique,” said Astarita.

And everywhere is the scent of fresh lemons. Amalfians put them in candles, on cushions, on their walls, off their bumpers and, of course, in their favorite aperitif.

“When we make the production of limoncello, we take organic lemon,” said distiller Mario Anastasio. “We take away just the skin peel. This peel we put these boxes and put pure alcohol, 96 percent.”

Okay. How do you say yikes in Italian? 

Limoncello is the prelude to chef Fiorenzo Oliveto’s lemony luncheon. 

“We have lemons almost all year. The best time is now,” he said. “The flavor is intense. If you would go into my lemon garden, you would go crazy.  There is a lot you can do with sea bream. We serve open to put potatoes in. I like to eat, maybe you cannot tell from my body, but I like to eat a lot.”

I share the sentiment.

So when life gives Amalfians lemons, they make lemon potatoes in lemon-leaf bream, lemon rosemary ricotta ravioli, and lemon gelato in a lemon rind bucket, all served with the stunning view of Conca dei Marini.

There is a saying here, Formaggio chiude lo stomaco, and therefore should be offered at the end of the meal. We know just where to go: Sorrento.

“Close to 120 years our family has been making cheese,” said cheesemaker Vittorio Maresca.”  We make all kinds, but our specialty is mozzarella, made from buffalo milk, the richest source of bovine cream.”

The curds are drained, strained and formed into balls and buns. Unlike other cheeses, mozzarella isn’t aged.  

But if you feel a meal’s not complete without a sweet, we’re just in time.

Trust the Italians to take simple cream and sugar and create the delight known as gelato. They experimented with fruits and nuts, blending the flavors in a creamy, dense batter, chilled over alpine ice. 

We have seen her moods, her colors, partaken of her bounty.

Mediterranean means in the middle of land. This sea has seen the rise and fall of the greatest civilizations in the northern hemisphere. The names and borders may have changed over the time, but she remains the same.

The Mediterranean is a lifestyle, an attitude, and for Mixed Plate, a beautiful memory.

Explore its sights, sounds, tastes, and history in Mixed Plate Mediterranean, this Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 9:30 p.m. on KHON2.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.