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Campania to Margate

Our Bottega at The Crown

Our Bottega at The Crown

Mount Caruso, Foglianise

Mount Caruso, Foglianise

The bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius

The bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius

We have just moved into our new space in Margate's Old Town. All of our fresh ingredients are from local Kent farms and suppliers, and we import a range of Italian produce from Campania.

Simona is from Foglianise, a village an hour or so drive from Naples to the east, and Amalfi to the south. Her family have lived there for centuries and her mother's family name, the same as that of the mountain on which the village is built, is Caruso.

The region, Campania, derives its name from Roman settlers and was originally called Campania Felix meaning Happy Countryside. The region with its fertile volcanic soils and stunning coastlines produced a dazzling array of fish, meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables and wines to keep Rome, less than a couple of hundred miles away, supplied.

Spaghetti with our tomato sauce

Over the years, endless kings, dynasties, armies and pirates have invaded Campania and the South of Italy, some briefly, others for centuries. All have left a piece of their own family's culinary tradition: the Ancient Greeks brought grapes and symposias, the Spanish tomatoes and chocolate, North African and Arabic cultures infused spices and chilli. The Normans, the French, the Bourbons, the Piedmontese have all contributed to making Campania a region rich in culinary history.

The regions capital city is Naples. Somebody once quipped, "If Rome is Italy's heart, then Naples is its stomach." If you haven't been to Naples - go - really. It is a truly epic city that, as well as having some of the world's great churches, paintings and ancient myths, exists as it has done for centuries. There is a vibrancy and animation that's really quite unique. Pizza was born in Naples and is the best you'll ever taste - anywhere. But there is so much more.

Tomatoes in our garden

Tomatoes in our garden

Drive north east out of Naples through Caserta up in the mountains and you reach the town Benevento, once a major Roman settlement larger than Naples, today it is home to around 60,000 people. Surrounded by mountains and valleys, hundreds of villages, the area is an agricultural paradise known as Sannio. The earth is volcanic and rich. Long hot summers and cool nights make world class wines. There is an abundance of high quality olive oil, cheese, salumi, tomatoes and grain.

There are lots of recipes on Stories & Recipes from Foglianise and Simona's family, and also from other areas of Campania, from the coastal villages of Cilento, the mountainous towns of Avellino and from Naples.