This publish initially appeared within the February 18, 2023, version of Eater Journey, a biweekly dispatch from Eater’s employees about navigating locations the place meals is the principle attraction. Subscribe now.

Visiting a brand new place can get overwhelming rapidly. However I discovered a trick that I believe everybody ought to undertake: Earlier than setting out for the day in stated place, choose an “arbitrary silly aim.”

I discovered concerning the arbitrary silly aim (or ASG, as I’ll name it transferring ahead) in 2019 when the Eater Guide Membership (RIP, for now) learn Tamara Shopsin’s memoir Arbitrary Silly Aim. Tamara is the daughter of the late Kenny Shopsin, who helmed the legendary NYC grocery-turned-sandwich-counter Shopsin’s, “one of many quirkiest eating places within the metropolis” based on Eater NY critic Robert Sietsema. The ebook takes the reader by means of outlandish tales of the store and its regulars, and the writer’s expertise rising up within the bohemian Greenwich Village within the Seventies.

However the half that actually stayed with me was the ebook’s title. Kenny Shopsin taught his daughter concerning the ASG, or “a aim that isn’t too necessary, makes you reside within the second, and nonetheless provides you a driving pressure.” The ASG is “a decoy level that retains you bobbing alongside, permitting you to search out ecstasy within the small issues, the sudden, and the on a regular basis.” I actually latched onto this concept. I usually get overwhelmed by alternative once I journey, so having an ASG (often a food-based one) has helped me get out of my lodge room, my consolation zone, and again into an exploratory groove.

Final summer time my fiancé and I wished to journey to the Amalfi Coast, however had determination paralysis over which of the 13 cities alongside the mountainside we must always keep in. In our analysis we stumbled on Conca dei Marini, a tiny sliver of a city the place the sfogliatella pastry was invented by nuns within the 1600s on the Monastero Santa Rosa. That was sufficient for me to click on “ebook” on an Airbnb, and a brand new ASG was born. We’d journey to Conca dei Marini to strive the pastry (a favourite of my household’s rising up) within the city the place it was invented, and let all the things else alongside the best way shock and delight us.

Conca dei Marini gained our hearts over the opposite more-crowded areas alongside the coast, with its charming eating places (there have been solely two!), breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and Bar Santa Rosa, a restaurant that serves because the neighborhood’s espresso store, sandwich spot, gelato store, bar, and common hangout.

At Bar Santa Rosa, a stone’s throw from the beautiful Monastero Santa Rosa itself (of which the surface seems because it did within the 1600s, however the inside has been renovated right into a very fancy spa), I discovered that Raffaela, the baker/proprietor and chief Instagrammer, takes a lot pleasure in baking the pastry as near the unique recipe as attainable. The sfogliatella proved a worthy aim, with a candy ricotta-and-cream-filled middle, the crispiest dough I’ve ever bitten into, and topped with a wealthy marinated cherry or two.

We had one of many pastries every day of our keep. With out making them an ASG, we’d have missed the straightforward pleasure of flaking dough throughout ourselves whereas overlooking the quaint lemon timber, the steep mountainside, and the peaceable sea.