Gino D'Acampo paints a beautiful picture of the lemon groves on the Amalfi Coast, where lemons are so sweet you can peel and eat them like oranges.
The Italian chef recently returned to his home country to carry out research for his new book, Gino's Italian Escape, and film the accompanying forthcoming TV series.
While there, he also cooked for his family, ate fresh lemon granita on the beach, and revisited a boyhood favourite - deep-fried pizza - in Naples.
It's a surprise he came back to Britain.
"Ah, but the food is so good over there you don't concentrate on anything else," he says. "If you do stop to think about other matters, you realise the banks don't work, the government's corrupt, the trains are always late. We might moan about these same things in Britain, but at least it's not bad."
He says he'd been asking ITV for the past 10 years to let him escape to his home country, and tell the story of its famous cuisine through Italian eyes, and eventually he got his wish.
"Peter Fincham, director of ITV, gave me two cameras and some time away and told me to do whatever I wanted," he explains. "I wanted to show Italy through my eyes, to show people my experience of the country, and to learn a few new things myself.
"When I was a boy I always had deep-fried pizza, and I was fascinated by it, but never knew how they did it," he adds. "So on the series, we go to the best place for it in Naples. I want to show everyone how it's done.
"You make your pizza, tomatoes, mozzarella and so on, then you put another base on top and seal it to make a disc. Then it goes in the deep fryer, and it goes like a huge poppadum, cooked in two minutes. Incredible."
He praises Italian produce. "You don't need to do anything to it. An Italian tomato needs slicing and a tiny bit of salt. Put that on bread and and there you have a beautiful meal.
"That's what I want to get across in the book, although I know we can't get those tomatoes in the UK, so it's about adaptation.
"My food is about taking four or five ingredients, like the Salmon Arabiatta in the book, and letting them do the talking."
D'Acampo was born in Naples in 1976. While his mum's an excellent home cook, his grandfather was a professional, and later passed on his love to his grandson.
By the age of 13, D'Acampo, bored of regular education, was enrolled at the Luigi de Medici Catering College where he says he received very traditional, but thorough, tuition.
Now 37, he moved to the UK at 19 and, despite a two-year stint in prison when he was 21 (he was a penniless waiter when he broke into the home of singer Paul Young and stole some guitars and prized discs), has cooked ever since, eventually at a top London restaurant, before setting up his own Italian produce distribution company.
From there, he moved into TV, hitting the big time in 2009 when he competed in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! There was controversy when he cooked some rats, leading to ITV being fined for animal cruelty, but D'Acampo won, and a slot as This Morning's chef-in-residence followed, and then more recently his own show, alongside Melanie Sykes, Let's Do Lunch With Gino & Mel.
Despite this, before making Italian Escape, he'd never cooked for his own family.
"My aunty, I was always told, was like the Delia Smith of Italian cooking, just brilliant in the kitchen, so of course I feared to cook for her," says the chef.
"I've cooked for everyone and never find it stressful, but I was stressed that day."
Thankfully, she loved the dishes her nephew rustled up for her, mainly the Cherry Tiramisu, but D'Acampo is yet to cook for his mum.
"She doesn't like me in the kitchen, she says I'm too messy. And she thinks she can do everything better than me. I say 'That's funny, because you don't have a cookery show on the television, and I do', but she gets very mad when I say that," he says. "I think I might get her on the chat show with Mel, although I know she would want to do a cook-off if that happened and I would be scared.
"If I lost I would never hear the end of it."
Bruschette Con Pesto Di Pomodori Secchi/Bruschette with sun-dried Tomato Pesto
1 ciabatta loaf, cut into slices 2cm thick
2tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
5-6 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
Fresh basil leaves
Parmesan to garnish
For the pesto:
150g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
Small bunch of fresh basil
2tbsp pine nuts
3tbsp olive oil
2tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste
First make the pesto. Place the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil and pine nuts in a small food processor and blitz until you have a rough paste. Add the olive oil and grated parmesan and blitz again until smooth. Season and set to one side.
To make the bruschette, heat a griddle pan over a high heat. Brush the ciabatta slices with a little olive oil, then pop them on the griddle for one to two minutes until charred on both sides. Remove from the pan and rub one side of each slice with the cut side of the garlic.
Spread a little of the pesto on each bruschette, then scatter with a few of the diced tomatoes. Serve topped with a few basil leaves and parmesan shavings.
Cannelloni al Pesto Genovese/Rolled filled pasta with Pesto and Bechamel sauce
4tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 courgette, finely chopped
500g minced beef
½ glass of red wine
1tbsp tomato puree
5 fresh basil leaves
12 ready-made fresh pasta sheets
Salt and pepper to taste
For the pesto:
30g pine nuts
100g fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled
170ml extra virgin olive oil
30g freshly grated parmesan cheese
For the bechamel sauce:
50g plain flour
500ml semi-skimmed milk
50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
Place the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and gently fry the onion, carrot and courgette for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the minced beef and stir continuously for a further five minutes to allow the meat to cook evenly.
Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook gently for a couple of minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
Add the tomato puree, basil leaves and passata, stirring with a wooden spoon. Simmer on a low heat, with the lid half on, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, then leave to cool at room temperature.
To make the pesto, put the pine nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil and parmesan in a food processor or blender and blitz together. Set aside.
For the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour, whisking constantly, until you get a thick, creamy texture with a light brown colour. Pour in a third of the milk and continue whisking.
When the mixture starts to thicken, pour in another third of the milk and continue whisking. Once thickened again, pour in the rest of the milk and the parmesan. Whisk until the sauce has a custard-like consistency. Remove from the heat and mix in the prepared pesto.
Pour a third of the pesto bechamel into the bottom of a baking dish measuring about 30 x 20cm and 5cm deep.
Place a pasta sheet on a chopping board, with the longer side nearest you, and put a heaped tablespoon of the beef sauce along one edge.
Gently roll the pasta forward to create a filled cannelloni. Repeat until all the pasta sheets are filled.
Place the cannelloni, seam downwards, in the baking dish and pour the remaining pesto bechamel over them.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and crispy. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes before serving - this helps the cannelloni to hold together better.
If you're preparing the cannelloni the day before you plan to eat it, cover with cling film and refrigerate. Remove 20 minutes before cooking and bake in a preheated oven at 180C/gas mark 4 for 45 minutes.
Tiramisu Con Ciliege/Cherry Tiramisu
400g cherries, pitted and halved
50g caster sugar
4tbsp cherry or amaretto liqueur
8 small madeleine cakes or sponge finger biscuits
2tbsp chopped toasted nuts
For the mascarpone cream:
2 egg yolks
2tbsp caster sugar
250g mascarpone cheese
2tbsp cherry or amaretto liqueur
Heat the cherries, sugar and two tablespoons of the liqueur in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, the cherries are slightly softened and their skins start to burst. Set aside to cool.
For the mascarpone cream, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale. Beat in the mascarpone cheese and two tablespoons of the liqueur.
Place a layer of cake in the bottom of four individual glasses. Spoon over a little of the remaining liqueur, then add a layer of the cooked cherries and their juices. Top with a layer of the mascarpone cream. Repeat the layering until you are nearly at the top of the glass, finishing with the cream.
Sprinkle the top with chopped nuts and chill for two hours before serving.
Three of the best
Tinned chopped tomatoes
Cirio chopped tomatoes, £1.10 for 400g, Sainsbury's
Napolina chopped tomatoes, £1.00 for 400g, Asda
Heinz chopped tomatoes, £1.19 for 400g, Ocado.com
Gino's Italian Escape, by Gino D'Acampo, is published by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £20. Available September 14. A series of the same title begins on ITV on Friday, September 13