Peperoncino Festival 2004 in Calabria (Italy), Part 3 of 3

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Story and Photos by Harald Zoschke

Our ultimate Hotel Recommendation for Diamante

This year we stayed at the Ferretti Hotel. It is the third hotel we got to know in Diamante, and as far as we can tell, it is  absolutely the best in town.

Ferretti  Hotel

The Ferretti is located rather quietly a little south of oldtown Diamante, and less than 10 minutes walking takes you to the center of the village. It is hard to believe that the Mediterranian coast still has spots where hotels don’t line up wall to wall. The house has a private beach. Rocks in the water, but ideal for sunbathing (we found umbrellas and lounge chairs free of charge – rather rare in Italy!), for swimming (half a mile off the beach, you can still see the ground in the crystal-clear water) and for snorkeling.

All rooms at the Ferretti are positioned to give full sea view. They’re furnished neatly, and most of them have terrace access or a private balcony. On a  lower level terrace, breakfast was served while we were already enjoying a beautiful seaview.

As appropriate for a four-star house, the hotel is elegant. But service is not snobby at all, and very helpful, competent and friendly. Since my wife Renate and I just started learning Italian, we appreciated the fact that the owners, concierge and some other staff members spoke English – you don’t find that often down here in the south.

Ferretti  Hotel

Beautiful Sunset, as seen from our Room at the Ferretti

From our room it was hard to resist taking pictures of every night’s sunset.

If this little description of the Ferretti almost sounds like a hotel brochure, the reason is simple — we fell in love with this place and we’ll stay here again on our next trip to Diamante.


Ferretti  Hotel  Via Poseidone 171, 87023 Diamante(CS) 
Web (also English and German) : 

Restaurant Recommendation for Spicy Food Lovers

Also, we got to know a great Restaurant we’d like to share with you.

Just a little further south than the Ferretti Hotel, the next village is Belvedere Marittimo. Bordering between the two, you’ll find 
Sabbia d’ Oro (“Golden Sand”), just like the beautiful beach there by the same name.

Sabbia d' Oro Beach

Sabbia d' Oro Beach Patio

From the Restaurant’ s beach patio, you can enjoy a great view of the sea and of Diamante. To the right, that’s our

Massimo with devilish Habanero Salsa

peperoncino pal Massimo. We met for lunch with Massimo and his wife, Enzo and his wife, as well as our friend Nunzia. Massimo brought homegrown red Habaneros – in the kitchen, the potent pods quickly converted into a simple but fiery-hot and flavorful salsa, chopped finely and mixed just with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Note Massimo’s devilish smile…

Inside the restaurant, murales  (wall paintings) by famous local cartoonist “Passpartout” are hinting at a good sense of humor, and also at attitude. Like the picture to the right,  which shows how guests are pampered by the staff, and the artist is not exaggerating (they don’t have gnomes, though).

Service is attentive and friendly, and  chileheads can feel particularly welcome in this place that loves to cook hot and spicy. Now for the food.

Massimo Mural

Presenting Gnocchetti Sabbia d'Oro

Peppered presentation: Check out the chile star decoration on this beautiful plate of  Gnocchetti Sabbia d’Oro.

Gnocchetti Sabbia d'Oro

The plate that Sabbia’s owner Palmino Raffo (left) is showing off with Enzo giving a hand is the restaurant’s signature dish. Back in 1997, it was a winner at La riviera nel piatto (“the coast on a plate”), a  Calabrian food contest organized by the Accademia Italiana del Peperoncino.  Hungry? See recipe below, or come to Ristorante Sabbia d’ Oro!

Chile-crusted Spada (swordfish)

As our second course, we enjoyed chile-crusted Pesce Spada (swordfish) – the fish nice and juicy, the crust crunchy and spicy as a nice contrast. One mural documents how extremely fresh the restaurant’s fish comes to the table…

Another Sabbia d' Oro Mural

Nido di Mare  - Grouper with crispy Potatos

Another great treat was Nido di Mare (“sea’s nest”) — grouper covered with crispy “potato spaghetti”, drizzled with hot chiles.

The dessert was another house specialty: Crostata del Diavolo. “Devil’s Tart” is a kind of fruit tart, a crispy  shortcrust pastry, filled with a mix of peperoncino jam and orange marmalade. For our photo, Massimo decorated the tasty tart with some tropical red habaneros. Recipe, anyone? Check here!

Accompanied by a good cup of espresso, this tart is the perfect finish for a great meal. We’ll be baaack…

A Chile Pepper Calendar as a Farewell Gift to the Host

Fortunately, I had a copy of my German
2005 Chili Pepper Calendar in the car to
show my appreciation to our host, Palmino Raffo.

Crostata del Diavolo

If you are traveling Calabria, don’t miss this
friendly and fiery restaurant!

Sabbia d’ Oro, on the beach right between Diamante and Belvedere Marittimo, Tel. (0039) 0985 88 456
If you come by car: Take SS18, exit south of Diamante


Gnocchetti Sabbia d’Oro

As pictured above, this is the signature dish of Ristorante Sabbia d’Oro, the deluxe version of the one the restaurant served at the Peperoncino Festival. Gnocchetti are simply small Gnocchi, i. e. little flour-potato dumplings that are cooked and used like any other pasta.

  • 700 g (24 oz.) gnocchetti, homemade from about 4 parts cooked potatoes,
    1 part flour and some water, boiled in water for about 3 minutes *

  • 300 g (10 oz.) pomodorini ( small or cherry tomatoes), chopped coarsely

  • 200 g (7 oz.) shrimps, shelled

  • 30 g (1 oz.) rucola (= arugula), chopped coarsely

  • 30 g (1 oz.) radicchio, chopped coarsely

  • 2-3 fresh hot chiles, chopped coarsely

  • 5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

  • salt

* If in a hurry, you may find fresh gnocchetti on the refrigeration shelves of Italian food stores or upscale supermarkets.

In a frying pan, heat olive oil and  sauté the garlic. Add the shrimps, arugula, radicchio, chili, tomatoes and salt. Cook the gnocchetti separately in boiling water for about 3 minutes (or according to instructions in case of storebought gnocchetti), drain and toss in the frying pan with the sauce. Serve hot. Enjoy!


Now that’s all, folks! See you at the next Peperoncino Festival!



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