There is no spot in the world with such delightful possibilities of repose as this little isle…”Charles Dickens once wrote about Capri. Its magic and mystic continues to cast a spell on everyone who visits.
Cuddled between the Bay of Naples and the Tyrrhenian Sea, the island spans four square miles and reaches 1,932 feet at its highest point in Anacapri. Historians say it was once attached to the Sorrentine Peninsula, but disconnected during the Phlegrean volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Due to its strategic point in the Tyrrhenian, Capri was considered a desirable location to rule from. First there were the Greeks who built La Scala Fenicia (the famous stairway with 1,017 stairs up from Capri to Anacapri), then the Pheonicians, Turkish Ottoman Admiral Khair-ad-din, who was known as Barbarossa (red bearded one”) invaded and violently sacked the island around 1500, and the French and British also came and went. There was also Roman Emperor Augusto who traded the nearby island of Ischia for Capri in 2.9 AD, followed by Tiberio who continued to rule from Capri at Villa Jovis, JupiterVilla.
Through the many cultures and people who have visited, Capri has evolved into an international playground attracting travelers, movie stars, and a globe trotting jet-set, from Jackie Kennedy Onassis to Queen Victoria, great writers such as Graham Greene and Axel Munthe to Leonardo DiCaprio. And with the crowds that come and go, lavish garden parties, formal dinners and sagras (seasonal outdoor food festivals) celebrate every kind of local food from pizza fritta to Torta Caprese, Capri cake.
Capricuisine is simple starting with the Caprese, a simple mozzarella and tomato salad garnished with basil and extra virgin olive oil. Ravioli Capresi, the pasta of choice by the locals, small ravioli stuffed with ricotta and marjoram follow. A classic secondo, Acqua Pazza, made with local white fish, Pezzogna, is sauteed with a handful of cherry tomato, garlic, parsley and white wine; and the famous Torta Caprese, an almond-flour chocolate cake.
Although tradition and simplicity are what you find throughout the cuisine in Campania, if you want to experience Michelin star magic, hop into one of the convertible cabs that summit their way up to Anacapri. The ride takes just about ten minutes wrapping a narrow road that curls along a vertical cliff.
Youarrive at the Piazza Victoria, and hidden behind palm trees and lush exotic flowers is Capri Palace. The majestic palazzo is decked with white arches, courtyards and gardens that date back to 1700, and in the kitchen is a rising star chef who is cooking up international attention.
learned from my nonna,”says executive chef Andrea Migliaccio. A native of Ischia, with a world of experience under his belt including engagements in Rome, Tuscany, Cortina, France and Spain, he is almost shy with his words. After gaining experience, including sharing the kitchen with executive chef Franck Cerutti at il Pelicano, Chef Migliaccio returned home to Ischia.
I had the exceptional experience to spend the day in Chef Miglicaccokitchen at the Capri Palace watching him take simple fresh food and turning them into artistic creations that were almost too beautiful to eat. He began with a farfalla pasta set on a bed of coconut cream that was adorned with tiny pieces of fresh shrimp, tuna, cuttlefish and rose petals. He transformed simple rice into an emerald green risotto. There was pan-seared sea bass accompanied with summer white peaches. Baby braised lamb complimented by a petite portion of caramelized onion. Desserts included wild summer fruits, white peaches, watermelon and cantaloupe, cut, peeled and piled high. And lastly, a torroncino, also called semifreddo, garnished with a ribbon of candied lemon zest.
being away from my home, I decided to return to my land along with its local flavors and products. I wanted simple Italian cooking with big flavors. I wanted to taste big red tomatoes from the hills of Vesuvio and our extra-virgin, first cold-pressed olive oil,”Chef Migliaccio explains.
passion for cooking started when I was a little boy. My mamma always worked a lot, and so I grew up with my nonna, Spana Constantino, in the kitchen. She was a Sarde. At school as a young boy I was a little capriccio, mischievous, so my nonna would take me in the kitchen and keep me busy. I learned to cook by her side. We would make lots offish, coniglio Ischitana, the famous Ischia rabbit, and simple fresh pastas. She raised me. From her I learned the most important thing was to cook well, simple and keep the tradition,”he says.
At just 31 years old. Chef Migliaccio is at the helm of Capri Palace Hotel & SpalRistorante. The restaurant boasts two Michelin stars. Supervising a team of 25 chefs in the kitchen and working from a shopping list of quality exotic and organic produce, he is well known in the food world.
started here with executive chef Oliver Glowig, and worked by his side for four years. When he left, I was moved into his position. After gaining extensive experience in a variety of kitchens around the world, I wanted to return to the foods that are near to me, the foods that I love. There is a harmony to cooking with simple products, like quality local tomatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, and alici from Cetara. I wanted to return to Ischia, develop my career and use the great products that nature blessed our region with. I love to work with these local products, like eggplants grown in volcanic soil, grass fed baby lamb, wild Ischian rabbit, and of course, fresh Mediterranean fish,”he says.
He goes on to say, mio lavoro e un bel lavoro.”Or, work is a beautiful work,”literally translated. a work that has to be done with passion, a lot of passion. I donlook at the clock when I am in the kitchen. We have a team of about 35 chefs in total between llivio and il Riceio, its sister beach club restaurant just by the Blue Grotto. Capri Palace gives us a great opportunity to work as a team and create superlative cuisine for our guests. I love my work,”he adds.
When asked what his favorite dish is, he replied, love simplicity and quality. Dolce e salato, morbido e croccante,”—sweet, salty, soft and crispy. I eat something, I need to taste the flavor of each ingredient. I use minimal ingredients, usually no more than three or four. I cook with ingredients that go together and yet contrast, while never putting too many flavors in the same dish. My favorite is pesce crudo, raw fish. I am privileged to live on an island like Capri, because each day the local fisherman brings his daily catch to me. It goes from the sea to the kitchen.”
Campania, we also have the good fortune to have excellent grains that make our great Gragnano pasta. We have the best extra-virgin olive oil along with fresh fish, meat and vegetables. The rich volcanic soil grows things with a different taste and a big flavor. We are also fortunate to have hard working food artisans who continue to improve their products all the time. For example, each year our extra virgin olive oil gets better. This is a unique passion here in Italy,”he says.
When I ask Chef Migliaccio about the famous people he has cooked for, he quickly replies, have had the opportunity to cook for many interesting celebrities, actors, soccer players and generals. I once cooked for Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, who heads Fiat. It is beautiful to cook for famous people, however I cook the same for everyone and do not differentiate whether one is famous or not! Everyone is equal and every plate that comes out of the kitchen must be the same, from antipasto, to pasta, secondo to dessert,”he says.
Even sweet ending has a dessert. Chef Migliaccios take on the famous Torta Caprese, a cake to be precise. I do not know when it was created, but it is delicious, foil of chocolate, almond, butter, sugar, cocoa and calories, and loved by everyone. My favorite dessert is tiramisu with cafe.”
A Note On Capri Palace
Capri Palace has 78 rooms and 11 suites, some with private pools and gardens that are decorated in Mediterranean style. In addition to l, there are Bistrot Ragu, Bar degli Artisti, Dolce Vita wine cellar (with more than 1000 labels) and II Riccio, beach club and restaurant.
Capri Beauty Farm is also on the property and offers beauty and medical services including its famous Leg School therapy. It is led by Professor Francesco Canonaco, who boasts a recipe of success for total physical well-being, blending the Mediterranean diet and application of hot and cold water with mineral mud. The five-star deluxe dream property has a one-of-a-kind swimming pool that was painted by Andy Warhol. Cook At Capri Palace with Cooking Vacations www.Cooking-Vacations.com
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