I was in the company of my amicone Giuseppe (aka Giu) Iacono who suggested we have our pre lunch aperitif at an interesting place- le fumarole. Le fumarole, hot springs, a small slice of Ischia where the sands are so hot that a portion is cordoned off! A sign signalling danger- the sands can reach up to 100 degrees Celsius/ 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Too hot to walk on, spread out a beach towel, catch some rays- the perfect spot to cook an entire meal - sotto la sabbia- underneath the sand.
Our appointment was 1200 pm ish with Fernanda Iacano of Hotel Ferdinando on the beach. Timing was the key- so Giu and I hopped on one of Sant Angelo electric taxis and headed for Maronti.
I could feel the temperature change in that short 5 minute ride. The cool sea breeze had disappeared. I'm sure that the temperature rose at least 5 degrees Celsius as we hooped off our ride and headed for the beach.
There I met Franco- who I soon learned - who was the first life guard in the area. Franco is the one who digs up the dishes that Fernanda Iacano has placed to cook for her chalet and her restaurant up the hill.
Timing is crucial, I mentioned earlier. Becaus, the entire menu is cooked under the sand. No peeking, lifting the lid, etc etc. Just years of experience allows Fernanda Iacano to understand if and when the dishes are ready.
And we arrived just in time...
Up the hill, other dishes took advantage of the hot thermal sands. The same heat that cleanses the pores of the spa guests also cooked to perfection the stuffed squid. It's too bad the aromas that escaped from the stainless steel dishes used to prepare each part of an amazing meal awaiting guests that afternoon.
Giu and I came for an amazing appetizer - Fernanda served up an octopus with potatoes and red peppercorns. One of the most tender offerings of a very difficult dish that I have ever tasted.
And as I sipped a bit of octopus broth, I made a promise to myself - to return and try the entire menu!!
Hot, hot, hot!!!!