Tony Per­cuoco, chef, Tartufo, Bris­bane

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Ground Rules -

I’m from Napoli in Cam­pa­nia. When­ever I go back I al­ways stay on the sea­side and around Lun­go­mare di Napoli, either at Eurostars Ho­tel Ex­cel­sior or at the Grand Ho­tel Ve­su­vio. Both are great bases for wak­ing up to Ve­su­vius. That view still takes my breath away.

Every­thing seems to be within 50 kilo­me­tres of my town. The two main things I eat when I’m in Cam­pa­nia are moz­zarella with tomato and basil and the fa­mous spaghetti alle von­gole, a dish that is a true re­flec­tion of how the re­gion works. The spaghetti is from Grag­nano, sur­rounded by hills on the Amalfi Coast. The air comes from the sea and dries the pasta to per­fec­tion.

The toma­toes, grown on the foothills of Ve­su­vius, are ripened by dry sun and vol­canic soil; the von­gole are from Sor­rento. The big­gest dif­fer­ence from Aus­tralian von­gole is that the von­gole from Sor­rento have a much thin­ner shell. Italy’s buf­falo moz­zarella, meanwhile, doesn’t ever see the in­side of a fridge and is never more than three days old. You can eat these dishes any­where in Napoli.

I’ve not had a bad one.

Along with the food, what I miss most about home is be­ing able to walk down the street at 11 o’clock at night and find a restau­rant open that isn’t fast food. You could sit down to a three-course meal if you wanted to.

Don’t be scared by the amount of peo­ple on the road or the fact that their hands seem per­ma­nently glued to the horn. Wel­come to Italy.

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