Best BBQ Tips for Christmas

8 Barbecue Tips For Easy Christmas Cooking

You can cook your roast in a hooded BBQ, no need to make the kitchen any hotter at Christmas.
Using the BBQ is also another option if you are running out of room in the oven if you are cooking for the masses

Santa Maria Aeolian Islands

The Aeolian Islands, Top Travel Tips

There is so much to do and see when you travel to Sicily, and one of the most breathtaking places to visit in this area, is the Aeolian Islands.
From the beautiful north Sicilian town of Milazzo, take the ferry to the stunning Aeolian Island of Salina.

A Collection of Recipes For Summer Flavours

Recipes for summer flavours

                                             Recipes for Summer Flavours

Click here for your Free EBOOK – “It’s All About The Flavour”   a “Thank You” for Subscribing to Chef Dominique Rizzo.

” Its All About The Flavour”   a collection of delicious recipes. Above all, recipes for easy summer cooking and fresh new flavours.

Simple recipes and ideas.  Firstly to help you in the kitchen, secondly to give you more time to enjoy your time with family and friends.

 

 

Everything You Wanted to Know About Meal Planning

Society as a whole and the internet, in particular, seem to have finally gotten to an evolutionary point where we genuinely value eating healthy above, well, not eating healthy.

 

And meal planning is one of the staples of this healthy and wholesome lifestyle we seem to be embracing, or at least trying to embrace.

If you’re new to the sport, and you find it sounds like a time-saving and health-boosting practice but you’re unsure where to start, take a look at our guide on meal planning:
Why should I embrace meal planning?
There are several benefits to planning your meals, not limited to:

● You can save money, as you won’t be spending on ingredients that end up untouched.
● At the same time, you’ll be cutting down the amount of food you waste.
● You can choose to eat healthier this way.
● You can save yourself some valuable time and reduce your cooking-related stress levels.
● It’s easier to try out new recipes and foods.
Where do I start?
There are three steps to meal planning you need to add to your weekly schedule:

Meal Planning

Image by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

1. Choose your recipes

The first thing you need to do is actually plan out what you want to eat next week. Take into account your actual schedule: how many nights a week are you out, do you already have lunch plans on certain days, etc. When choosing recipes, try to choose things you know and love, and add in one new dish every week. You can base a variety of dishes around similar ingredients, so you minimize the risk of waste.

2. Go grocery shopping

Meal Planning

Image by Scott Warman on Unsplash

Before you head out to the shops, compile a list of ingredients. Start with the base ingredients (the major things each dish needs, like pasta, meat, rice, etc.) and go down to the smallest condiments and spices. Once you know what you actually need, check what you already have and can use. Finally, head down to the shop and get what you need.

Another good idea is to work with seasonal ingredients and plan your meals accordingly. Also, don’t forget that some ingredients can’t be kept in the fridge for an entire week, so you may need to make more than one trip to the shops. In that case, add this second (or third) grocery run to your to-do list, and attach the grocery list too.

Meal Planning

3. Cook

There are different ways you can go about meal prep at this point. You can prep as many of the dishes ahead (for example over the weekend) and freeze them or keep them in the fridge, then just heat them up any day of the week. Or you can prep partly (chop up your veggies, measure out ingredients, mix sauces, etc.) and cook each meal on the day, or the day before. The decision will mostly come down to your own schedule and routine – you don’t have to do the same thing each week.
What do I eat?
The beauty of meal planning is that you get to try all sorts of different dishes, and fall in love with new favorites. The internet offers such a huge range of recipe ideas that you will simply be spoiled for choice.

Meal Planning

Here are a few suggestions:

● You can develop an AIP meal plan if you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease or digestive problems.
● You can try to add more fish to your diet by focusing on certain types of meals three times a day.
● You can contribute to the environment by eating more sustainable meals on several nights a week.
● You can lose weight by cutting down on your calorie intake through meal planning.
● You can boost your workout routine  with a complementary meal plan.

The choices really are endless; all you have to do is spend some time researching meals.
Tips on staying organized:

● Store all your recipes either in the same online space or in a recipe book you can reach for at any time.
● Buy a meal planning calendar you can keep on the fridge, so you never forget what’s on the menu.
● Schedule yourself reminders to look for new recipes.
● Cut down on prep time by cooking more than one dish at a time, especially if they call for some of the same ingredients.

Once you get into meal planning, you’ll wonder how you’ve ever managed to feed yourself before. Remember that this shouldn’t be another boring chore – it’s actually a great way to have fun and eat well at the same time!

Different Things You Can Do With Colombian Coffee Beans - Dominique Rizzo

Different Things You Can Do With Colombian Coffee Beans

Colombia produces 810,000 metric tons or 1,785,744,000 pounds of coffee beans every year. That’s why Colombia is a major player and ranks third in the top ten countries when it comes to coffee production.

 

Colombian coffee beans are famous around the world, serving the best-tasting coffee every time.

You can make different types of coffee using one coffee bean, like the Columbian medium-roast arabica beans.

In this post, you’ll learn the different things you can do with Colombian coffee beans so you can enjoy Colombian coffee in various ways.

Make a Colombian Coffee: The Chemex

It uses a medium-coarse grind, and it’s considered the grandfather of pour-over coffee makers. The signature bitter taste of this coffee is due to the use of a paper filter which removes a lot of oil from the South American coffee beans.

Now, you won’t need to add sugar because Chemex has a sweet caramel-like flavor. You probably need a little cream. Among the different types of coffee-making, Chemex uses the thickest paper filters, so the sweetest notes shine. While you can always brew fine-ground coffee beans for a less sugary flavor, it takes a longer time to brew.

Make a Colombian Coffee: The Siphon

The Siphon is also referred to as a vac pot. When making this coffee it uses a siphon that’s made from cloth, pressure, and heat to infuse water with Colombian coffee beans. The grind is finer than drop and coarser than espresso. If you like to enjoy a full-bodied taste in a moderate amount, Siphon is the right one for you. The coffee beans become a little less sweet and more fruity in a light roast.

Make a Colombian Coffee: The French Press

The French Press makes another plunger in your house. This type of coffee uses coarse ground Colombian coffee beans. The coffee beans are plunged for about three to five minutes. You’ll come up with a thick, bittersweet honeyed coffee cup that almost appeals like a French roast. Get close to the pure taste of the coffee beans, but still get a lighter and sweeter cup by brewing it for less time.

Make a Colombian Coffee: The Stovetop Espresso

The Stovetop Espresso has been one of the most favorite types of coffee using a stovetop steamer in Colombia in the 1900s. Since the 1930s, the stovetop steamer has been the preferred household coffee-maker in South America and Europe. The grind is slightly coarser than the true coffee espresso.

The pressurized water intersperses with the fine-ground Colombian coffee whenever heat is added. It produces a lower pressure as compared to standard espresso. The resulting taste isn’t quite as bitter. This coffee-making method showcases the most bitter notes of Colombian coffee beans that came off slightly metallic and toasted malt.

Colombian Coffee Beans: Blend It With Guatemalan and Brazilian Coffee Beans

In the coffee world, blending is usually regarded as a “dark art.” Blending is a simple concept which involves combining coffee beans that come from two or more origins or different roast levels. It produces something different or a unique-taste from each type of coffee bean used.

This idea isn’t new because blending has been used when coffee was commercially produced. Now, consumers aren’t limited to one coffee type alone because blending coffee has more to offer, to suit everyone’s taste.

Here are some of the reasons why different coffee beans are blended:

● Blended coffee tends to be more satisfying as compared to those made from either one of these types of coffee beans alone.

● Large-scale roasters blend coffee and aim to produce a more consistent flavor.

● Consistently offers a coffee displaying similar flavor profiles every year.

● Come up with a decent-tasting coffee using less expensive coffee beans for volume and combined with more expensive coffee beans to improve the coffee’s overall flavor.

● Smaller-scale roasters try to improve a single-origin coffee bean combining it with another type of coffee bean. It aims to come up with a coffee blend that’s better than the sum of its parts. Blended coffee beans help people create a new and unique coffee, such as a cup of coffee with notes of chocolate or strawberry.

Different Things You Can Do With Colombian Coffee Beans - Dominique Rizzo

Conclusion

You can do many different things with Colombian coffee beans. There’s always something for everyone to enjoy, from the Chemex, Siphon, the French Press, and the Stovetop Espresso. These methods are well-known to Colombian coffee farmers themselves, with years of experience producing coffee beans and making their coffee recipes at home.

Things to Do in the Basque Country

Things to Do in the Basque Country

The Basque Country is a region in Spain known for its sprawling valleys and rugged mountains. The region attracts millions of tourists every year, as Argia reports that 4.5 million tourists visited in 2015 — a number that is likely to have only grown since then. If you’re planning a trip of your own to this beautiful region, read on for a list of things to add to your itinerary.

Explore the cathedrals

By Dflandre – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16413873

One of the best ways to appreciate the Basque’s unique landscape and architecture is to explore its two most famous cathedrals, the similarly named Saint Mary’s Cathedral and Sainte-Marie Cathédrale. The former, also called the Cathedral of Santa María, is located in Vittoria-Gastéiz, the peaceful capital of the region. The intricate details of the gothic cathedral were chiselled during its construction in the 13th and 14th century. Not too far in Bayonne, Sainte-Marie Cathédrale’s unique infrastructure makes it a popular site to visit, too. The building is made entirely out of locally sourced red and white stones and overlooks two local rivers. Both landmarks have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites and host regular tours for their visitors.

Go on a food crawl

The Spanish people have a rich food culture and history — a fact to take advantage of on your trip. An obvious place to start is with staples like paella, ham, and tapas. We’ve personally confirmed that Spain is home to the most mouth-watering tapas, and these are definitely something you shouldn’t miss out on during your visit.

In the Basque Country specifically, the place to look for is La Bretxa in San Sebastian-Donostia, a market known for its fresh and high-quality seafood. The variety of things at the market are from nearby ports, straight from the fishermen.

Visit a gaming centre

Espaldazo [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

For the complete European experience, you can head over to either of the two available land-based casinos in Bilbao or San Sebastian. Gran Casino Bilbao is an excellent choice if you enjoy classic table games like Blackjack and Roulette. Poker tables for games like Texas Hold ’em are also available in the facility.

Of course, the rise of online gaming portals has been both a boon and bane for land-based casinos like Gran Casino Bilbao. Although foot traffic and revenues have undoubtedly taken a hit because of the emergence of online gaming opportunities, these have also made experiences in gaming centres all the more unique, and introduced more people into the excitement of different casino activities. With this in mind, online gaming and casino magazine Expat Bets continues to provide comprehensive casino guides for expats and travellers from around the world on top of giving them a taste of popular games like Big Bad Wolf and Dragon Dance. That’s because there is much more to enjoy on both sides of the spectrum, which sites like this and Gran Casino Bilbao stand as a testament to. If you plan on dropping by the casino at Bilbao, keep in mind that you can play the slot machines from 10 am until 5 am the next day, while table games run from 5 pm until 5 am.

Learn from the museums

Bilbao is also the home of one of the world’s best museums — The Guggenheim Museum. Filled with contemporary and modern art, this attraction is a must-visit for the artsy tourist. The unique curves and appearance of the building itself is considered a masterpiece designed by architect Frank Gehry, who is known for his unconventional style.

A quainter option is found in Bayonne, in the Musée Basque. It houses over 2,000 artefacts that tell the story of Bayonne and the Basque Country, and is the largest ethnographic museum in the region.

All in all, there are hundreds of things to do for travellers who find themselves in the Basque Country, where enriching one of a kind experiences await at every corner. We love talking about Spain and other famous food destinations here on Dominique Rizzo, because like this breath-taking Spanish region, there is a myriad of places around the world to learn about and explore, sights to see, and food to taste — all just waiting for you to get there.

My Day on the Isle of Capri

When I was a mere 5 years of age was the last time I visited Capri, so really I am visiting for the first time and in all honesty, after my day on Isle of Capri, I could live here forever.

Getting to Capri is very easy.

Accessed only by boat, there are a number of companies and ports in Salerno, Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi from which it will only take you 30 minutes to an hour depending on where you are coming from and which boat you choose.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours

All boats arrive in the main port Marina Grande which spills into an array of tourist shops, bars, restaurants and ticket booths offering extra boat rides around the island, tours to the famous Blu Grotto, and for the local buses.  There are also private taxi companies who will encourage you to jump into their sexy little convertible cars, great for groups but I chose to take the bus, 7 euro for an all-day 24 hour ticket, valid for all of the busses, most of which will take you to all of the main towns you will want to visit such as Capri, Anacapri and Marina Piccola; a great way to get around the island.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - Dominique on bus

Capri is close to Marina Grande and the main piazzette where most people will hang around and wait for their departures from the island.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - Capri piazza

To best describe what to see on the island, it is easier to divide the island into its two main towns Capri and high above it Anacapri.  Both of which have their own mayors, rules and regulations.

What to see in and from Capri

For people-watching, there is no better place than Piazza Umberto I, also better known as the “piazzetta” (little piazza), in Capri town. The heart of Capri’s social scene, this small yet charming square, lined with cafes and restaurants, bustles throughout the day turning into a more tranquil vibe in the evening as visiting tourists start to depart the island.

For centuries Capri has had a long history and a passionate love affair with artists, writers, aristocrats, actors and actresses and to this day it is renowned for being the place for the rich and famous to come to visit, relax and holiday;  from the likes of Rita Hayworth, Axel Munthe, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Gracie Fields, Ernest Hemingway, Sophia Loren, Mariah Carey and Giorgio Armani.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth

Few places in the world can boast such a high concentration of designer shops of some of the biggest brand names in the world as Capri, I was blown away with the collection of stores and I loved wandering along Via Camerelle, a definite must for any shopaholic or for that speciality piece.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - Via Camerelle

I also found a fabulous Vintage & Designer shop called WOND&RLAND which was almost like a fashion house museum, with unique clothing, bags and some great homewares, a must if even just to have a look.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - Vintage shop

If you’d rather buy something which has been made on the island and which you are unlikely to come across anywhere else, there are plenty of little artisan shops and showrooms in Capri where you’ll be able to find just what you’re looking for!

Capri town also boasts a stunning coastal walk, known as the Pizzolungo, that takes you to Punta Tragara, bringing you up close to the Faraglioni rocks. Though more challenging, another option is the steep uphill walk to Villa Jovis, which takes about 40 minutes from the piazzetta in Capri. Along the way, you will pass some beautifully-kept homes with gorgeous verdant gardens — and, of course, when you get to the top, the view is amazing!

When in Capri, you also can’t miss the famous Via Krupp, the zig-zag street that leads to Marina Piccola.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - waters of Isle of Capri

Marina Piccola is perfect for a quiet stop as there are quite a few restaurants and bars dotted along the beach front and also on the road near the bus stop. We stopped at La Piazzetta ristorante, a little expensive for what it was but the views of the water and beach front were beautiful and the food was delicious especially the spinach with butter and parmesan and the fried zucchini, a must to have squeezed with fresh lemon  from the local gardens; a real symbol of the island.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - Octopus by the sea

If you’re coming to the Capri for long stretches of sandy beach … prepare for disappointment! The beaches on the island are either pebbled, or solid rock, and you will soon see that locals and visitors alike, don’t mind relaxing on the hard rock areas that fall into the turquoise waters. In Capri town, you have some equally glamorous clubs, especially in Marina Piccola, which can be easily reached by walking down Via Krupp. Wander down the stairs just in front of the restaurant to reach the beach as it’s a perfect spot for some swimming or sunbaking on either side of the Siren’s Rock.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - Wisteria

The most famous, La Canzone del Mare, attracts many high-profile visitors; it also offers some luxurious suites.  While many of these private beach clubs come at a price, Capri town has some free beaches, too. One is in Marina Grande, close to where the ferries dock. The water is incredibly clear, but it can be extremely packed.

If wandering through ruins is your thing, then don’t miss Villa Jovis, in Capri town. The walk is a little challenging to get to and will take about 40 minutes from the piazzetta in Capri. Along the way, you will pass some beautifully-kept homes with gorgeous verdant gardens, so picturesque with the intoxicating aroma of the citrus and floral notes. The Villa Jovis is one of twelve villas built on the island by Emperor Tiberius in the 1st century AD. Spanning more than 7,000 square meters (2 acres) and built on several levels, it once housed thermal baths, servants’ accommodation and official function rooms.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - R. Buonocore

“R.Buonocore” Pasticceria/Gelateria

A must to visit in Capri is the “R.Buonocore” Pasticceria/Gelateria, perfect for a coffee and to try one of their pastries. The ladies all speak English and they also have a great selection of savoury items for lunch that you can enjoy there or take away. Vegetable frittatas, baked pasta, gnocchi, stuffed vegetables and a great selection of side vegetable dishes, perfect if you are wanting something light and to steer away from all of the pasta and pizza. A definite must to try is their “Coda Di Rospo” similar to the Neoplolitan sfogliatelle but filled with a zuppa inglese creama scented with lemon, so deliciously perfect with a good espresso.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - Melanzanna at R. Buonocore

Quiet streets of Anacapri

For a quiet and more laid back atmosphere, head to Anacapri and onto the lovely garden at Villa San Michele. Considered one of the finest gardens in Italy, it not only boasts stunning views, but a serene and well-kept garden overflowing with flowers. Built by Tiberius and lovingly preserved by Axel Munthe, the Swedish physician who fell in love with Capri in the 1880s, the villa today has a charmingly refined atmosphere, helped by its formidable position perched high on a limestone ledge.

If you’d rather shop for artisanal or local products, head to Viale Axel Munthe in Anacapri, where you’ll find shops with plenty of specialized clothing and crafts.

Continuing the garden theme, head to the Church of San Michele that boasts a spectacular 12th-century, hand-painted mosaic floor depicting the story of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Both towns boast gorgeous views, but the view from Anacapri’s Monte Solaro is especially breathtaking. Monte Solaro is the highest point on the island with a striking 360-degree view of the island. The summit can be reached either on foot or (for a fee) by taking the chairlift.

Another fantastic Anacapri walk is along Via del Migliara, a route that dates back to Roman times; today, it winds past vineyards and orchards. Only about a kilometre long, it’s a pleasant stroll where at the end of the route, you will be treated to a fantastic view overlooking the southern coastline. From there, you can even take the path to Torre del Guardia, an ancient watchtower. To truly get off the beaten path, the Sentiero dei Fortini (or “Trail of Forts”) in Anacapri runs along the western coastline, starting from the Blue Grotto and heading to the Punta Carena Lighthouse. It’s perfect for those who want to experience the “wilder” side of the island!

One of the most popular spots among locals is Lido di Faro, where you get the sun the entire day. This exclusive beach club even boasts a seawater swimming pool, plus is renowned for its acclaimed restaurant. If you really want to do it in style, on top of the hill is the Capri Palace Hotel. Privately owned with fabulous service and an outstanding two-Michelin-star restaurant (with a one-Michelin-star restaurant at its beach club), it looks towards the island of Ischia and beyond to Naples.

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours - Lido di Faro by johnhenderson.com

Dickens said: ‘There is no spot in the world with such delightful possibilities of repose as this little isle’.  I could have spent weeks here just exploring, so to Dickens I say, I will have to agree and I vow to return as soon as I can.

For those of you who are into hiking, lots of walking and step climbing here are your must visits:

Linking the port of Marina Grande with Anacapri and, for many centuries, the only way to reach the town built on the high slopes of Monte Solaro is the 921 Phoenician Steps. Chiselled out of the rock face by the ancient Greeks between the 6th and the 7th century, the steps were used by anyone who needed to transport goods from the Marina up to Anacapri. Much of the hard work was done by the women of the town who carried heavy vases, balancing them on their heads. In the late 18th century as international travellers started to visit the island, donkeys were used to carry their trunks up the stone stairs. I remember seeing the donkeys as a little girl, and people paying to ride up the steep stairs.

My day on the Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours

Deciding where to base yourself is crucial. Capri, where the main drag is Bond Street al mare, is heaving with day trippers, but by 7 pm they’re all gone and the town settles into a different rhythm.

That said, Capri town does have some stunning views, too. From the Gardens of Augustus, you also have a fabulous view of the iconic Faraglioni rocks. And from Villa Jovis, a Roman villa perched above the town, you can take in the spectacular view of the entire Bay of Naples, as well as Ischia and Procida!

 My day on Isle of Capri - Dominique Rizzo food wine tours

Don’t miss our post on 5 of the most beautiful islands in Italy! and more on my food and wine tours.

For the love of Sophia Loren

 

 

My love of classic black and white movies started when I was a little girl and I remember watching the afternoon movie matinee with my dad. The likes of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, the Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello, Marilyn Munroe, Doris Day, Tony Curtis to name just a few were some of my favourites. These movies, along with my blue hardcover Film Star Album and a red cover Film Show Annual that were handed down to me from my mother were my most favourite of books to flick through. There was a technicolour style showcasing the famous actors and actresses from the 50s and 60s and they were some of my prized possessions. I recall flicking through and seeing a picture of Sophia Loren and thinking how beautiful and exotic she was in comparison to the other actresses in the books. My father being of Italian heritage would often get very excited when an Italian film or a film starring Italian actors or actresses came on and any film starring Sofia Loren, I found myself mesmerised.

For the love of Sophia Loren - Dominique Rizzo food tours

Skip through 40 years and adoration and love for Sofia Loren is still part of my life. I have a signed photo of her hanging in my bathroom; a couple of her cookbooks that I found in a second-hand shop grace my collection, and her memoir “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”: My Life, was given to me just recently for my birthday, so yes you could say I am a bit of a fan.

On my recent trip to the Amalfi coast, I was in a slight craze when I found there was a wonderful restaurant called “ Donna Sofia” in Sorrento that was recommended with rave reviews and dedicated to the Italian beauty herself. As soon as I saw the review, I had it in my mind that I desperately wanted to go.

As we chatted with our driver on a transfer from Naples to Sorrento, he casually asked if we had plans for lunch, and I said no that I had a few restaurants that I was interested in checking out but had not moved any further on the research or booking. The very next thing he said was either synchronicity, laws of attraction, good karma or just as my mother says “ how it’s meant to be”, so my friend… he begins to say, has a restaurant here in Sorrento called “Donna Sofia”… Oh my god! was my reaction and the next minute we had a booking for two, we were getting picked up from the hotel by one of the staff and taken to the restaurant for lunch. I raced through check-in ran upstairs and tried to fix my hairdo…we had been rained on, no makeup and slightly wet hair…it was cold and windy and I felt like I was actually going to meet her.

 

For the love of Sophia Loren - Dominique Rizzo food tour

 

Upon arrival we were met with such a warm welcome from Mario the owner, his English is very good as he had worked as a maitre d’hotel on a couple of cruise liners in Australia. I explained I was a chef and how enamoured I was with Sofia Loren and of course Italian food. Mario, his wife Lina, who was the chef and our waiter Francesco, could not have been more hospitable as I then began to change seats and tables to obtain the best advantage point for being able to see the most pictures of Sofia as I sat there eating. I immediately started taking photos like some crazed fan and had to have a little talk to myself to just be calm and sit down.

For the love of Sophia Loren - Dominique Rizzo food tour

We were handed a menu and as I was so excited not only to be in the restaurant, but the thought occurred to me, I was in Sorrento. I had never been here before and an hour ago I was in Naples, where I hadn’t been since I was a little girl. I was in excitement overload. I couldn’t decide on what I wanted to eat it was all too much so I asked Francesco to see if the chef could just do us a selection of antipasti.

Sitting on our table were a couple of delicious little canapes of finely diced red ripe tomatoes, garlic and olive oil tossed together and set upon little toasted pieces of bread as our bruschetta taster. They were delicious. While waiting for our antipasti, I wandered around the restaurant adoring the hundreds of pictures of Sofia spanning her entire career. Smiling at the images as I scanned each one I remembered the movie “Scandal in Sorrento” where Sofia plays a fish vendor and gets involved with a retired marshal played by the famous actor and director Vittorio De Sica, and who also played along with Sofia in Pane, Amore e Fantasia…making famous the great singalong “Mambo Italiano”.

For the love of Sophia Loren - Dominique Rizzo food tour

Our antipasti arrived and to my delight, it was a fantastic fantastia of flavours with 5 little plates bursting with the flavours of Sorrento. Buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and thinly sliced white onion, the most delicious melanzana parmigiana I have ever tasted, a cold salad of thin strips of cooked calamari with raw marinated artichokes, delicately fried calamaretti – tiny whole calamari which just melted in your mouth and a pumpkin budino, a delicate baked pumpkin savoury pudding. With Italian music playing in the background, Italian flavours exploding in my mouth, and a glass of prosecco to carry the song …I was in heaven.

For the love of Sophia Loren - Dominique Rizzo food tour

 

Our second course was a recommendation of Lina, who hand makes all the pasta herself. She had kindly shared the portion between two plates and I was delighted to taste, aldente little full pillows of truffled mushroom, with a plate-licking sauce of butter and porcini mushrooms and a kiss of roasted capsicum puree on the side.

For the love of Sophia Loren - Dominique Rizzo food tour

I had also heard about her famous white chocolate oozing pudding scented with orange and lemon. This did not disappoint. Lemons, oranges and mandarins are in full season along the Amalfi coast and line the streets like baubles on Christmas trees, much to my delight as it always makes me feel like summer seeing the Italian citrus in full fruit. Obviously, people have enough at home as no one seems to pick the ones out in public.

For the love of Sophia Loren - Dominique Rizzo food tour

We left Donna Sofia with full bellies and a memory that will last forever, thanks to unforgettable warm Italian hospitality and the beautiful Sofia Loren. Day two of our Sorrento visit, we passed by the Chiostro di San Francesco only to see that the acclaimed Italian photographer Raffaele Celentano was having an exhibition called ‘ The Italians” showcasing 150 works taken all over Italy in the past quarter of a century, also in his collection were a series of Sofia Loren photos. Of course, I just had to visit … was it an omen that twice I was blessed to be able to enjoy this classic beauty in all her glory.

 

For the love of Sophia Loren - Dominique Rizzo food tour

 

After almost a lifetime of watching her movies, having her grace my bathroom wall, reading her memoirs, flicking through her recipes and wonderful 1970 images, I have now completed the trifecta and eaten in a restaurant dedicated to her talent and beauty and seen lost photos of her in her acting glory. Hand on my heart, I can now say I have visited the town where she is blessed as an honorary citizen…my Sofia Loren dream is now complete.

For the love of Sophia Loren - Dominique Rizzo food tour

 

Top 5 things to do in Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi that aren’t tourist attractions

When designing my food and wine tours, I like to experience the cities and towns for myself and that is how I discovered the Top 5 things to do in Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi that aren’t tourist attractions.

Sorrento

1. Take a lift ride down through the cliffs to the Marina Piccola for a boat trip to Capri or along the coast admiring the awe-inspiring cliffs and the magnificent villas that cling to them.

Wander around the tiny streets checking out the local shops and enjoy a passeggiata along Corso Italia stopping in at the Piazza Tassa to enjoy an apertivio while watching the passing crowds

Enjoy a delicious coffee, herbal tea, glass of wine or cocktail at D’Anton Design Bistro/Bar, in Piazza San Antonia. D’Anton is a beautiful homeware and decorating bespoke store that will make you want to buy a villa just to decorate it.

Top 5 things to do in Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi - Dominique Rizzo Food Tour

2. Wander into the Bellevue Syrene, 5 star Relais Hotel, resting on the cliff’s edge in Piazza della Vittoria.

Built in 1820, the hotel’s grounds, garden and interior to the villa are a must, enjoy lunch or drinks on their terrace under the beautiful cascading wisteria and overlooking the stunning views of the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii.

Top 5 things to do in Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi - Dominique Rizzo Food Tour

Take a sneak peek into some of the open doors that you often see wandering through little towns. You just may stumble across some of the most beautiful interiors of villas often from the 15th and 16th centuries. Most of the private gardens in Sorrento are beautiful, filled with citrus trees, flowers huge ceramic pots, and tiled in hand-painted Italian tiles.

Watch Dominique on location in Sorrento on her YouTube channel: https://studio.youtube.com/video/uiFMzsu3JuI/edit

Amalfi

3. Pick up some new colourful ceramic plates, either for your table or the wall – they make beautiful wall hangings as well as decorative table wear.

Top 5 things to do in Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi - Dominique Rizzo Food Tour

Enjoy an espresso and pastry overlooking the grand 9th Century Duomo di Saint Andrea in the Piazza del Duomo, it’s a perfect place to take in that Italian sun, that Italian atmosphere while thinking about your next move.

Wander down the main street, past all of the tourist shops and restaurants and head to  The Paper Museum – Museo della Carta, Amalfi is known for its paper-making tradition. This is a perfect place to stock up on your unique paper for that special letter or as a gift instead of the old tea towel or postcard.

Head to the “Gran Caffe” on the Corso delle Repubbliche Marinare to relax in the afternoon at their lovely clothed tables right near the water. After all of your sightseeing, shopping, eating and while waiting to board your boat, this old cafe will make you feel as if you are back in the 1950s.  Although not winning medals for its food, it is the perfect setting surrounded by lush geraniums in which to enjoy a coffee, or afternoon granita and to just take in that “Amalfi” feeling.

4. Steer clear of the tourist traps for food and head further afield to Trattoria Dei Cartari in Piazza della Spirito Santo.

This is a simple trattoria with surprisingly delicious food.  We ordered the smoked provolone baked in lemon leaf, the baked eggplant topped with olives, capers, fresh cherry tomatoes and anchovies and the pesce aqua pazza, which was amazingly delicious and fragrant with mint in a tasty fish broth and those melt in your mouth potatoes that the Italians seem to know how to do so well. To finish we were tempted by the chef’s special recipe for a pinenut, almond and jam tart unique to this trattoria as it is his nonna’s special recipe.

Top 5 things to do in Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi - Dominique Rizzo Food Tour

Positano

5. Wander through the winding streets and up and down the many stone stairs and allow yourself to get lost in this labyrinth of a town.

Positano is the perfect place to be spontaneous and don’t worry about where you are going or where you have been. I guarantee you won’t cover the same street twice and there is always a surprise just around the corner.

Have your camera handy and be ready to capture every moment. Positano is a photographers dream. With every corner comes an opportunity to photograph, a beautiful doorway, a fragrant lemon tree or winding branches over archways creating artworks in themselves, or a staircase tiled with stunning hand painted Italian art. These are what postcards are made of so don’t buy your friend memories of your journey, take pictures and create your own.

Enjoy an Aperol spritz by the sea. Wander down to the water’s edge amongst all the little shops and enjoy a refreshing Aperol Spritz, the perfect Italian summer beverage to sip on while you take in the sea air and all of the action of the beach front. There are quite a few cafes and restaurants that line the sand and I spent hours sitting just taking it all in and enjoying a moment of just being Italian.

Catch up with more of Dominique on her You Tube channel at https://studio.youtube.com/video/hfjy5Z9UgPM/edit

Pick yourself up some hand made leather sandals. There are wonderful artisan leather shops dotted all along the streets of Positano and a perfect place to have your own pair of handcrafted leather shoes made. Tailor-made shoes are no comparison to the ones you just buy in the shops, do yourself a favour and grab a pair.  It’s not summer unless you have those gorgeous strappy sandals or a pair of leather loafers to wander around in and take home with you.

There are many great restaurants in Positano and one kept coming up as highly recommended and that is La Tagliata (located up in the mountains). Renowned for its zero miles, amazing value and wonderful menu it is a must to try, catch a local taxi or rent a scooter to make the trip it’s definitely worth it. Chez Black and L’Incanto are also great options for lunch and are a little closer to the centre of town and accessible by foot.

Dominique Rizzo - Italy tour

Why I personally would choose an escorted organised tour

 

As a businesswoman who wants to travel, have time to relax and be part of unique food wine and cultural experiences this is why I personally would choose an escorted organised tour.

 

Why I personally would choose an escorted organised tour - by Tom Barrett Unsplash

Image by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

I recently organised my own research trip flying into Rome, then onto Naples, the Amalfi coast, Puglia and Malta.

why I would personally choose an escorted organised tour. - Map of Puglia Dominique Rizzo Tour

I am then heading to Sicily, meeting two tour groups to host a couple of my Sicilian Food Tours.

As a businesswoman, running my restaurant/cooking school, co-owner of a Wine Bar and organising my own Food Tour Business, I found the whole process of also having to organise this tour for myself exhausting and extremely time-consuming.

Why I personally would choose an escorted organised tour -. by Matthew Henry on UnsplashImage by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

As I am not 100% confident with driving around Europe nor did I really want to, trying to coordinate all of the times for trains, buses, boats and planes to arrive, depart and transfer me around, plus the extra expense and tedious task of organising the transfers and taxis to get myself and my luggage to the trains, buses, boats and planes on time took much more planning and a chunk out of my budget than I had anticipated.

The domino effect of my precision planning for my travel itinerary relied heavily upon the timing and therefore I felt anxious that one missed train, delayed flight or cancelled boat and the whole trip would collapse. This was all before I had even started to look at hotels.

Next was researching the best areas to stay in each city, to then work out a ground itinerary to visit all of the main sights, attractions and places of interest. Firstly, I had to book the hotels, confirm, pay the deposits and ensure that these had all gone through successfully, calling or emailing each hotel individually to again confirm that the booking was there.

 why I would personally choose an escorted organised tour. image by Fancycrave on Unsplash

What next? Of course, I could buy a travel book and follow their written lead….who wants to walk around by themselves with their head in a book…not me…   I would miss everything. I also had the added thought, how am I going to know what to see, where to go and the best of the best of each place I am visiting? Another couple of weeks of organising and costly bookings for day tours, private guides and ticket prices passed.

After my months of planning I had become quite stressed and anxious about it all and I had not even started to organise most importantly where I was going to eat, what activities or speciality unique experiences I wanted to see and be part of or how was I going to get to see behind the touristy side of each of these locations and get into the real culture.

Why I personally would choose an escorted organised tour - Simson Petrol on UnsplashImage by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

After I had accumulated a kilo of paperwork for confirmed hotel bookings, tickets, vouchers and transfer details, I then thought…this is precisely why I would choose to do an escorted tour.