Federica Andrisani, chef and co-owner, Fico, Hobart
The last time I was in Napoli, my hometown, was two years
ago. Campania is a region with a rich cultural fabric of Spanish, French, Turkish and Italian inf luences. And it’s the home of mozzarella di bufala.
When you drive from the north of Italy and cross over the border into the region, the first thing you notice is the caseificio: the roadside shops that make and sell fresh mozzarella and scamorza affumicata every morning. You must stop and buy the still-warm fresh mozzarella and eat it by the roadside with all the milk running down your cheeks.
Napoli is also famous for the morning ritual of eating baba and sfogliatella. The best I’ve found are at Scognamiglio or Mary in the Galleria Umberto shopping centre.
Napoli is chaotic and full of energy. The first place I go is a little restaurant called Il Grottino in Pomigliano d’Arco. Nino, the chef and owner, is a long-time family friend famous for cooking the best fish over open charcoal. He’s almost 70 now, but still mans the stoves, and every day he drives two hours to Formia to get fish. A couple of his specialties are raw tartufi di mare, large clams, and gamberi rossi alla griglia, grilled red prawns. His risotto with squid ink, al nero di seppia, and salad of baby fish are also phenomenal, and his wife, Rosaria, makes the best pizza chiena in Napoli.
Two of the most important things in Neapolitan culture are food and family. The people in Naples don’t need an excuse to celebrate – every day is Christmas or Easter; every day is a good day to stay together, with family or friends, and to eat good food and drink good wine.