Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All in the Best Possible Taste; ROGER CROW Sets Sail on an Italy Cruise and Finds out How Food Can Provide an Insight into Local Ports of Call

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All in the Best Possible Taste; ROGER CROW Sets Sail on an Italy Cruise and Finds out How Food Can Provide an Insight into Local Ports of Call

Article excerpt

Byline: ROGER CROW

T'S a sun-kissed morning in Italy as our vehicle navigates a series of photogenic bends.

'On days like these...' - the opening theme tune to The Italian Job is playing on my mental jukebox as I soak up the experience.

Our mission is not to abscond with gold bullion like MichaelCaine's anti-hero, but retrieve a few edible treasures from Sorrento's markets.

My accomplices are Chef, a Spanish native who has come prepared with a cool bag; our witty guide; my wife, and a coach-load of fellow tourists. None seem too worried as we skirt close to the edge of the cliff side.

During a previous day at sea, sailing from Chania, Crete, to Sorrento, we experienced some of the best dining cruise ship Celebrity Reflection had to offer.

It's easy to treat most luxury ships as floating buffets, especially when there's such a variety available at most hours of the day or night.

Aside from the buffet, we also enjoyed dinner at one of the main 'everyday' restaurants in the allinclusive deal. It was so good, we felt we'd wandered into a high-end eaterie by mistake - but our foodie adventure was just beginning.

Sorrento Gastronomy Discovery is a new excursion offered by Celebrity cruises (for an extra PS258 per person). Whether you can give Blumenthal or Ramsay a run for their money in the kitchen, or are just passionate about good food, the experience of sourcing ingredients in Sorrento is a delicious diversion.

Stopping at a fruit and veg stall, Chef squeezes giant lemons, and smells them like a forensic investigator. In Spain, he told us he'd eat them with salt, but here he is searching for something to add a zing to our meal and reflect the flavour of Sorrento.

While he goes off to collect the rest of his ingredients before returning to the ship to prepare dinner, Team Crow and our fellow tourists take a short trip into the hills where we fall in love with a rustic olive farm.

Our guide, Gina Buglione, greets us with a warm smile. I expect her to launch into a rich Italian-English patter, but instead she responds with dulcet Derby tones.

Gina relocated to Italy in 1991 and raised a family. It's not hard to see why she stayed. A picture postcard olive farm with trees of up to 500 years old; plump lemons hanging off branches, and a dazzling view overlooking the Amalfi coast. The place is bursting with vitality.

After a quick demonstration of ricotta and mozzarella making, a lunch featuring all three, and lemon cake so light it could have been injected with helium, we sample different varieties of limoncello. Chocolate and melon are instant favourites, though you can't beat the zesty original.

Next, we're Positano-bound, driving up a snaking road with more twists than a bowl of tagliatelle. The views are glorious: houses, hotels and shops layered on top of each other like an enormous 100-tier wedding cake descending down to the Amalfi coast. …

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