By Murray Schulman
Sitting in La Tagliata, a cozy restaurant that seems carved into the mountainside, we are invited to become joined to the land and we feel the presence of the family bringing these dishes to us from the products that they raise with calloused hands, strong backs and a unique relationship and understanding of their land. Dish after dish of these delights were served at random accompanied by delicious crusty bread with house made olive oil and balsamic. The wine was the house-made wine.
The staff moved as a well – orchestrated opera with no wasted steps and passionate efficiency. They all seemed genuinely happy that we were there. Frankly, no one was happier than I was. Suddenly, the six or seven small plate offerings stopped and were cleared. As I sipped my spectacular local wine, one of the family staff delivered pasta on an ornate, hand painted ceramic. Not one particular type of pasta. No, there was all freshly made Pumpkin Ravioli with pumpkin puree, tagliatelli with pork ragout, cannellini stuffed with cheese and spinach served with freshly tomato sauce and rigatoni with meat sauce. This was all topped with shaved local parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. Every bite brought moans of pleasure to our lips very much to the pleasure of the restaurant family. Finally, this course was completed and cleared. Like magic, another spectacular ceramic platter of grilled meats arrived at our table preceded by an aroma caused us to salivate once again even after the previous seven courses. There was pork, lamb, duck, chicken, beef and sausage. All were simply marinated with herbs, seasoning and lemon (marinade recipe to follow) and frilled over a wood fire. Each piece was more delicious than the last. These were succulent, tender cuts, bursting with the flavors of wood and the farm. We ate until not a morsel remained. We sat back, sipped more wine and rested thinking that we could not possibly consume anymore. Then, another family member appeared as if blown in on the late night breeze. From her hands to our table came another of the signature hand painted ceramic platters filled with sweets. She described each. One was “grand mama’s favorite cream cake, another was papa’s lemon cake, yet another was custard pastry, our staff member’s personal favorite and of course, the mandatory lemon tart, “everyone’s favorite. This was a presentation of family pride mixed with passion and love. We did not have to make a choice. The platter of desserts was ours to enjoy. We did enjoy these desserts to the fullest accompanied by the best espresso imaginable. Finally, we were fully sated to the point of being unable to move. The entire staff family came to serve the house-made Limoncello. This was Limoncello like I had never before tasted. We paid the check and thanked the members of the staff. I asked to go into the kitchen to thank the culinary team. This request was happily granted. I entered the small efficient kitchen where I met Papa, Mamma, Nona and Grand Papa. Handshakes and hugs ensued as if we were visiting family. We were accompanied back up to the road to our waiting car. As we drove away, our escort waved farewell. We were sad to be leaving what is one of the most unique and memorable experiences of the Positano region of Italy. This is “The Chef’s Perspective”.
Marinade for Grilled Meats
- ½ teaspoon of course salt (kosher salt or sea salt)
- ¼ teaspoon or 4 to 5 turns of the cracked black pepper mill
- 2 cloves of garlic (not chopped or sliced)
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- Juice of ½ fresh lemon
- Zest of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
1. Mix the herbs and seasonings together.
2. Add the lemon juice. Whisk to combine.
3. Gradually whisk in the olive oil while you whisk to blend well.
4. Add the lemon zest. Fold to incorporate.
Use to marinate any meat for grilling or broiling. Marinate meats for a minimum of one hour up to 24 hours prior to grilling.