It is still winter in Melbourne however the days are starting to be a bit sunnier, warmer and it feels like spring is in the air. I start thinking about summer, travelling, the beach and eating seafood. One of the best places to eat seafood and enjoy the sun is the Cinque Terre (the five lands/villages) on the Mediterranean Sea in Liguria.
I have been to the Cinque Terre several times, always staying in the largest town, Monterosso, and using it as a starting point for the coastal walk that takes you to all five villages. What wonderful memories I have of it! One of the best parts of the walk, apart from the breath-taking views, is after an hour or so into the walk from Monterosso, when you first spot the most picturesque of the villages, Vernazza.
There were terrible floods in the Cinque Terre last year, that resulted in the path as well as parts of the villages being destroyed. A few websites are dedicated to saving/rebuilding these precious villages and the countryside around them – Save Vernazza and Rebuild Monterosso. Lucky for us there are incredible people such as these contributing to the preservation of these wonders. The villages and paths are open to the public once again – fish are being caught and the wonderful restaurants and cafes are back in business!
I distinctly remember eating delicious scallops once in Monterosso – I always order them if I see them in a restaurant if they are on the menu. And if I see them fresh at the local fish market, I always buy them – they make the quickest and tastiest of meals at home.They take no more than 10 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook. These tender garlicky morsels are delicious served with crusty bread to mop up the sauce that is caught by the beautiful fan-shaped shell. They remind me of being in Italy, in the sun, looking out at the sea. Ahh la Bella Italia – I will see you in September!
Capesante al forno (oven-baked scallops)
12 scallops on the shell
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
handful parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
zest of one lemon
sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 240 degrees (alternatively place under a medium hot grill). Wash the scallops and shells and pat dry. In a bowl, mix the garlic, parsley, melted butter and breadcrumbs. Distribute mixture evenly on the scallops. Place them on an oven tray, making sure the shells are stable. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes (grilling might take a bit less) until just firm and the tops look golden. Scatter on some sea salt and the lemon zest just before serving.