|Chef Emmanuel Di Liddo|
What can be more relaxing than a day at one of Ischia’s most popular thermal spas Negombo. I mean after a morning of thermal pool hopping (post soon). After a morning of laying out in the sun embracing a book of sodoku puzzles. After a morning of strolling through the gardens and people watching, I decided to have lunch at Al Fuga’. located right on the beach and headed by Executive Chef Emmanuel Di Liddo. It was about 2:30 p.m. and was led to my table overlooking the beach. The maitre arrived with a bottle of sparkling water and a bottle of Falanghina 2017 by Casa D’Ambra, one the islands leading wineries. A sip or two, then my journey began.
The first dish affectionately called il benvenuto/the welcome was a savory baba’ with two types of San Marzano tomatoes..
These tomatoes are grown in the thermal parks huge garden, a garden where the chef gets many of the vegetables herbs and spices he needs for his recipes. Alongside that fiordilatte from the Sorrento Peninsula.
Next I was treated to the first of my appetizers. Four specialties on stones from Maronti Beach located about 30 minutes away on the other side of the island.
Let's take a closer look -shrimp marinated in citrus flavors,
sea bass in tempura,
then a mini sandwich on a homemade bun filled with mazzancolle shrimp ceviche style,
then seared amberjack with lemon oil.
Then an amberjack spriral which is basically an amberjack tartare seasoned with salt, pepper, oil infused with lemon leaves and zest.
Di Liddo garnished the dish with edible flowers and other herbs that grow on Negombo's grounds as well as crunchy parmigiano, tomato confit, and a lemon sauce.
Next, Di Liddo -Fritta fra terra e mare with mozzarella in carozza with anchovy cream....
and mazzancolle shrimp with a panko breadcrumb tempura batter and a creamy Philadelphia cream cheese froth.
Now it was time for the first courses - the fantastic firsts...
First up, a risotto with a smooth shellfish cream, buratta cheese and eggplant. On top, the chef placed raw shrimp.
Followed by a super spaghetti with grilled mussels, mint sauce, provola cream, and herbs from the vegetable garden.
Then a dish that the chef calls an Ischian Sunday - fresh homemade tortello pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese and eggplant. Rabbit slow cooked in herbs, spices, and a flavorful hunter's sauce completed the dish.
Did I have room for one more pasta dish? Sure. Di Liddo's version of the classic pasta al genovese. Candele pasta with butter, garlic and thyme, filled with parmigiano reggiano cream, and Tropea onions (cooked in stabilized water).
Time for some more seafood - this time as a main course. Double cooked turbot fish seasoned with burnt butter, beef sauce, and potato chips.
A break before dessert - a brief break.
Then the chef served up his fruit and surroundings featuring
- ricotta cheese and pear
- coffee bean tiramisu
- delizia di limone lemon cake
- eggplant and chocolate parmigiana
- tennis ball which is a chocolate mousse with carmelized peaches
- dark chocolate mousse with raspberry
- apricot - revisitation of the sacher cake
Al Fuga' is located right on the beach and is one of Negombo's many offerings hungry diners. The difference is that instead of a quick sandwich, salad or bruschettone, guests at Al Fuga' this year have a choice of a more refined gourmet menu with plans to open up in the evening as well. I look forward to checking it out!