Manda Travels: Positano


[view from our airbnb!]



Brett and I spent 5 days in Positano back in May and it was perfection. We stayed in a fantastic airbnb with a giant terrace and an outdoor shower that overlooked the sea. Per usual, we outlined our days around meals and explored or relaxed in between. The food was so, so, so good. We ate just about every type of seafood imaginable — mussels, clams, shrimp, octopus, squid and, of course, fish! We also ate our weight in fresh mozzarella, and had our fair share of prosciutto and melon. The region is known for lemons and we finished each meal with a (complimentary!) glass of limoncello — a custom I wouldn’t mind adopting back home. We took thousands of steps each day, so meal after meal of pasta felt well deserved. And to top it all off, the wine is almost cheaper than water! Some of our specific favorites below, plus photos that don’t even get close to doing any of it justice!


[the first of many, many limoncello cheers]

Our favorite restaurant was Da Adolfo – it’s only accessible by boat, and located on a small private beach. It was really the most special place. We had grilled mozzarella in lemon leaves (one of their signatures), prosciutto and melon, and a whole grilled orata fish (below!) After we ate, we relocated to the beach chairs with aperol spritzes.

Speaking of aperol spritzes… we became obsessed. We make them at home all the time now, but drinking them on our roof is not quite the same as having them on the beach in Italy (just a tad different).

The best pasta we had was the lemon pasta at Hotel Santa Caterina. Made our day trip to Amalfi 100% worth it (but aside from the pasta, we mostly just missed Positano because we became attached after just 24 hours). The hotel itself was beautiful — it is built straight down the cliff, has an incredible pool right on the ocean and its own lemon orchard. The pasta was the perfect balance of tart and creamy – I still dream about it. After lunch, we snuck into the hotel pool to digest, naturally.

Despite my best efforts to stay in bed and miss the ferry “by accident”, I’m so glad Brett forced us to take a day trip to Capri. I had some amazing sort of coffee milkshake (“cafe freddo”) at a cafe in the main square (“piazzeta”). We walked through the Augustus Gardens, where some of the best views of the island are. And we spent about two hours in the afternoon at Fontelina Beach Club – one of the highlights of the trip! Funny enough, the photographer Gray Malin posted a photo of the beach club on his instagram earlier that day and we somehow ended up there. You have to pay a fee just for chairs, which was annoying at first but worth it. We shared a bottle of prosecco for lunch (because, vacation.)

On our second to last day, we discovered Casa e Bottega and fell in love. It’s a cafe/juice bar/shop that really hit the spot after days of pizza and pasta. Don’t worry, I ordered cake for breakfast (picture below), but had one of their juices on the side. They sold the prettiest ceramics and pillows – we got a little ceramic fish as a souvenir!

Other bests (but really, you can’t go wrong):

Best meat: braised beef pasta at Da Vincenzo

Best mozzarella: from a tiny family-run cheese and wine shop, Latteria

Best mussels: Il Pirata in the neighboring town, Praiano (*we took the public bus there and ended up standing on the street for 90 minutes waiting for a bus back, only to later find out they had stopped running for the night… next time we’ll look at the schedule!)

Best view & best house wine: Lo Guarracino, which is located on the walkway between the two beaches in Positano.


[Capri’s Marina Grande]

FullSizeRender_2 (2)


 [Da Adolfo!]


[Leftovers from lunch]


[Lemon Pasta from Hotel Santa Caterina… don’t get me started on the dishware]

FullSizeRender (2)

FullSizeRender_1 (2)

[Lemon Ricotta cake for breakfast at Casa e Bottega]


[Fontelina Beach Club]






Manda Cooks: Summer CSA & Lettuce Overload


This is my and Brett’s third summer as members of a CSA. Every week we get a load of vegetables, and every other week we get a dozen eggs, a pound of ground beef and a block of cheddar. Our veggies have varied week by week, and I’ve learned a lot about the sub-seasons of summer — tomatoes and corn (the definition of summer produce in my mind) weren’t even part of our weekly delivery until two weeks ago! The tricky part about a CSA is that you don’t really know what to expect each week, but if you’re up to the challenge of figuring out a) what kholrabi is and b) how to eat it, it’s pretty fun. Toward the beginning of summer, the weekly challenge was finding ways to eat all of the lettuce. I’m talking like 4…5…6 heads of lettuce in a single week. In the first few weeks I would spend 30 minutes washing lettuce, and then I’d have to figure out how to use it all. Eventually salads for 6 meals straight gets boring, so we had to get creative…the obvious solution was to use lettuce as a vehicle for other food, specifically salty and spicy ground beef, cucumbers, carrots, peanuts and rice (because #carbs). The result, Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps, were so good we’ve made them three times this summer. (Secret tip: they go quite well with scallion pancakes too….)

FullSizeRender (10)

Manda Cooks: Brown Butter Bars


I have a weak spot for brown butter. Like a really, really weak spot. I saw these on Smitten Kitchen’s instagram a month ago and thought about them pretty much non-stop until I made them. I doubled the recipe because I just had a feeling it was the right move. And it was, because they were so good that I still can’t stop thinking about them. According to the Union Square Farmer’s Market, cherries are “done.” (okay, then) so I substituted blueberries and blackberries. No complaints there. So, if you have a (dozen) stick(s) of butter lying around, brown that sh*t and make these. You’re welcome.




Manda Travels: White Stone, Virginia


I spent last week in White Stone, Virginia with Brett, Dana, my mom and Barry. We played a lot of cards (Shanghai and Oh Hell), took Moose to the beach, went crabbing, visited two wineries and, of course, ate a lot of crabs and oysters. Everyone’s favorite part of the trip is below : )


Amanda: playing corn hole at Good Luck Cellars & cooking and eating crabs

Dana: crabbing & oysters and sunset at Merrior

Brett: playing cards & the melon margaritas we made

Mom: crabbing, playing cards & visiting Good Luck Cellars

Barry: playing cards, painting oysters at The Dog & Oyster, & watching an osprey chase mom while kayaking