After being in bustling Rome and Naples, spending five nights in Sorrento was like a vacation within a vacation. Even with the day trips we were taking, the pace of life slowed down significantly, especially in the evenings once we returned back to Sorrento. And evenings in Sorrento meant dinner and wine in Sorrento. On a couple of those evenings, we decided on a picnic like meal in the inner courtyard garden of our apartment, just off Piazza Sant’Antonino. Not a bad place for a meal!
On Canadian Thanksgiving evening, we stopped by the grocery store and picked up a nice spread of smoked cheeses, some cured meats, gluten free cookies, bread (for me), paprika chips (a European tradition for us) and a bottle of prosecco. We’ve now had a few of these al fresco Thanksgiving dinners in Europe over the years. There’s something special about eating under the stars…
On the day we dedicated to exploring Sorrento, we stopped for lunch at the Foreigners’ Club. They have a number of gluten free selections on their menu, and also have a spectacular view out over the Gulf of Naples from their patio. My wife had an outstanding gluten-free gnocchi alla sorrentina which was almost as good as the gnocchi I had in Positano the day before (trust me, I sampled from her plate liberally over lunch). For dessert, she ordered the gluten free profiteroles. I’ve eaten some profiteroles in my day, and this dish was a pretty delicious version.
Later that same day, on our way out to dinner, we took a bottle of local red wine and a couple of plastic glasses to a bench in a park overlooking the water. As the sun set into the Gulf of Naples, we sat in each others’ arms, taking in the view. I had picked up this wine a few days earlier wanting to try a wine local to this area, and also intrigued that it had my Italian name on it. I recall the wine tasting like one of the best I ever had, but I’m pretty sure the location and company had something to do with that.
With the edges of both of our worlds nicely rounded from the wine, we strolled down the Cosro Italia to Ristorante La Fenice. We had chosen this restaurant because they are certified by the Associazione Italiana Celiachia (Italy’s Celiac Association) and a few helpful travel blogs recommended them for a great meal. We knew we were in for a treat when we looked around the restaurant and saw local families having dinner there. I think we were the only people speaking English in the place. After ordering and beginning to enjoy a bottle of the house red wine, we placed our orders. My wife ordered this seafood risotto that was outstanding. Outside of her gluten free pizza in Rome, it was her favourite dish of our trip.
I ordered the (non gluten free) spaghetti and clams. I was going to order the gluten free version so my wife could try it, but she insisted on me having “real” pasta. This dish was another reminder of what I loved about the food on this trip – it was simple, the clams were catch of the day fresh and the pasta was perfectly cooked. Nothing fancy, but wonderfully delicious!
The five days in Sorrento, and in fact, the entire two weeks in Italy, showed how easy it was to enjoy amazing gluten free food in a country that you might think would be difficult. Every restaurant we went to was more than happy to help my wife find a dish to her liking. It was a great lesson in the role food plays in bringing together family and friends in Italy. In Italian culture, everyone gets to enjoy and partake in the meal, and that’s something we both appreciated.