Words by Germaine Stafford - Pictures by Alfredo Fabbricatore
Situated in a small piazza in Nocera Superiore a few steps from the Sanctuary of Materdomini, the restaurant Terra Santa, just like its illustrious neighbour, has in its own way become a haven to pilgrims. But pilgrims of a different ilk.
While it’s true that both establishments could be described as purveyors of sustainance, souls seeking nourishment at Terra Santa are more likely to get to wash their nourishment down with a good bottle of red!
Location apart, there are many good reasons to visit the restaurant: the warm welcome extended to guests by owners Alfredo Fabbricatore and Rosario Amabile; a judiciously composed menu (recited orally in an astonishing feat of memory); the attention given to quality local ingredients – everything from cured buffalo meat and artichokes from Starza to San Marzano tomatoes and an excellent series of local cheeses; and, not least, the presence of talented chef Giuseppe Ruotolo in the kitchen.
And where diners are encouraged to ask questions and participate in the event, the restaurant ceasing to be simply an eatery, but becominga meeting point for enthusiasts who wish to discuss and appreciate the local culinary scene under expert guidance.
Recipe: Ricotta foam
(serves four people)
200 g ricotta; 1 tomato;
1 aubergine; 50 g flour;
200 ml extra virgin olive oil, for frying
Few leaves fresh basil.
Beat ricotta in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper then sieve to remove lumps. In the restaurant kitchen the ricotta is then put into a siphon to create an extremely light foam, but we normal mortals have to beat it at high speed in a food processor or with a hand held mixer to incorporate as much
air as possible.
Place whipped ricotta in a piping bag and keep cool. Blanch tomato quickly in boiling water then remove and plunge into iced water. Remove skin and seeds and cut into four wedges.
Peel aubergine. Cut peel into julienne strips, coat in ﬂour and fry in hot olive oil. Drain on kitchen paper and reserve for garnish. Meanwhile, cut aubergine into one cm thick slices, crossways. Coat slices in ﬂour then in a little beaten egg and fry in hot olive oil. Drain, and keep warm.
To assemble dish: Place a wedge of tomato on each plate and pipe whipped ricotta on top. Place the slice of fried aubergine upright in the ricotta and garnish with the julienne of aubergine peel, a basil leaf, and, if you like, a little dried tomato skin.