My fork slid slowly across the plate…
fresh buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala campana) baring a pearl white centre oozed in creamy texture…
it’s nakedness dressed with a lush, deep green extra virgin olive oil, potently rich in flavour…
cherry tomatoes (pomodori datterini) from Sicily ripened by the eyes of Helios, Titan God of the Sun
burst with a grape like sweetness…so seductive that if you close your eyes…
you can imagine… Prego!
I was about to give birth at any moment. I looked down at my at my naked full term pregnant belly… the people that were with me earlier were now gone and I was in this moment alone… … “Where did everyone go?
It was just around 5:00 a.m. and I woke up completely startled! What on EARTH was that dream all about! The feeling that has been with me since my arrival in London came back to me: displacement. It was too early to dawn my armour for the day … so I let myself go back to sleep.
The image of the full term pregnant belly had been in the back of my mind all day. Is this symbolic? Birth of an idea… creative idea… rebirth? It couldn’t possibly mean that I will be giving birth because I turn 50 this Saturday!
I spent yesterday morning updating my profile on LinkedIn. Everyday I seem to be getting little glimpses of that “ah ha” moment. I have been questioning everything. I miss my apartment in Venice. I miss the plans that I had for it, I miss hearing the boats drive by on the canal, hearing people call out “Ciao…. Ciao… “ The sounds of the restaurant below… and the mid morning cooking smells that inspire me to cook. I could go on but I will stop myself. On a daily basis, I waiver between throwing in the towel and pushing forward. Yesterday I was ready to call it quits and throw in the Venice towel… Today, something is pushing me to keep on. I try to pull myself up and look past this moment to the long term goal… I keep telling myself that once I am set up, I can get back to my costume designing. I won’t tell you… oh yes I will… the thought of fleeing back to Venice had actually entered my mind on the weekend. I have enough British Airways points to do it too! lol!
When my head comes up for air, I do catch a bit of BBC News… The night before last, Justin Bieber pissed off his fans because he was 2 hours late for his own concert. It was ALL over BBC news.
It was warm and sunny out yesterday. Walk and fresh air were definitely in order, so I grabbed my camera and off I went for 1 hour. I found myself at the entrance to a church graveyard… it peaked my curiosity… no I did not actually go wandering through the graveyard itself. I stayed on the public footpath… tilted crosses and tombstones from another time filled my camera screen.
My walk took me to Tesco’s. Tesco’s has online banking but you have to be a UK resident to have an account. Why did I think that because I am commonwealth that these sorts of things would be so easy? I had fun perusing the store. It has the biggest selection of chapatti flour I have ever seen in a grocery store…and the largest package of tea bags 1.5 KG with a slogan that read, “let’s have a proper brew”. They have everything! I saw people buying food and wine for their dinner party…then there was my little basket with instant noodles in a cup.
I have re-activated my account with Trusted House Sitters. As it turned out, I was never needed for the housesitting job in Liverpool. That was the one with a lot of back and forth emails. But I had already sensed that the sitting position would not go through. I will keep my eye on the site because who knows how things will turn out here. Trying to keep all options open!
A bit of a tease as I debut the feature ingredient for my upcoming “Recipes with Cheek” blog post! No pun intended but for those that don’t know, this is pig’s cheek or pig’s jowl known in Italy as Guanciale. It is the heart and soul flavour ingredient for Amatriciana and Carbonara. This piece is from the Tuscan region … could I get any more authentic than that! I purchased it from my supplier in Campo San Polo… who has definately confirmed with me that his origins are from Montepulciano. His photo made an appearance twice in my pre-Christmas blog posts when I purchased the Wild Boar et al.
What pairs nicely with a glass of Prosecco? Some women might answer, “An Italian man of course!”… No that answer is wrong… although depending on the circumstances, it could be right. In this case, the correct answer is … Parmesan Chips. I posted my step by step recipe a couple of years ago when I was in Vancouver, going through the “pre-cursor” stage of life changing Italy move. But, the very first time I made Parmesan Chips was approximately 11-12 years ago when I was following a low carb-eating plan. There is a bit of a trick to them and I believe it’s in the cooking temperature and the cooling.
Welcome to a new Category in my Blog called “Recipes With Cheek”. It is the influence of Italy in all aspects. Now before I start, an accessory you might require yourself to wear is an apron, I can make some recommendations if you like. The following choices Nos. 1-3 can be found in ample supply in Rome or Florence. But don’t think too long and hard about it. Just remember it’s all about making cooking fun. Right?
I know… what on earth! Apologies, I scaled this photo down but it still seems to be quite large.
If you are in Venice you of course would find the more Gondolier influenced aprons such as:
Andiamo!! Let’s Go!
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
First, pour yourself a glass of Prosecco. If you do not have Prosecco, white wine will suffice but remember you deserve the best!
Using a medium heat put a thin layer of the shredded Parmesan Cheese in the pan. Do not use oil as the cheese has its own oils that are released when heated.
Note: Do not use the fine Parmesan because it does not gel together and it will turn into a bunch of brown crumbles. (I tried it!) Also, slightly layer the shreds of cheese just enough so that when it melts it joins together. It does not have to be a thick layer.
Let the cheese melt in the pan and bubble until it is slightly light to a bit golden. The thing is, if you make it too golden then it will flake apart into bits when trying to lift it out of the pan.
Sip of Prosecco (you have been working hard and need to balance work with pleasure)
When the bubbling cheese looks like it is the right colour, remove the pan from the heat and let sit for a couple of minutes with the cheese still in the pan. I find this works best because you need to let the cheese harden a bit. If you try to take it out of the pan right away, it will be too soft, stick to your spatula and turn into a big glob.
You have “2″ options at this point:
You could have another small pan ready to go while the other is cooling and you can start the procedure from the beginning making the next chip;
Relax! Have a sip of Prosecco while the cheese is cooling in the pan. After all, what is the hurry, it‘s only a couple of minutes.
After letting the cheese harden for a couple of minutes in the pan, slide the spatula under the cheese and it should lift out easily. Put it on a plate so that it can harden a bit more.
Repeat the procedure for the next chip by starting at “Step 2”, although some might want to start over completely with Step 1.
Take all of the chips that you have made and break them into bite-sized pieces. Put them in a small decorative bowl. I put mine in a decorative martini glass!
Sip Prosecco with Parmesan chips! Enjoy!
Here‘s to a job well done!!! Cin Cin!!
This is so goooood, somebody please take it away from me!
Last Saturday I found myself over by the skating rink in Campo San Polo… again! I went back to the little kiosk to try the special boiled meat called “bollito”. I had visited this food kiosk a few days earlier when the Kiosk chef enticed me with his charm and said, “Would you like to try something really good?”… Before I knew it the sample was in my hand. I was baited and hooked by this delicious piece of meat and it was all I could think about!
So there I was back and ordering the bollito. I watched as the dish was prepared. In the center of the wood serving board a base was built using the long thin strips of radicchio tardivo. The boiled meat was placed on top. He explained that he was putting a wine reduction on one side of the board and a mustard reduction on the other side. The meat was topped with a lovely green sauce, which seemed a bit different than the one I had on the sample. This one was more like a pesto flavour. Basil leaves topped the bollito off and voila it was presented to me. My beverage: Montepulciano wine was a must as far as I was concerned. The meat was so tender as I pulled it apart and the green sauce on top was a perfect coupling… a marriage of flavours if you will. “Would you like to try a deep fried mozza ball??”, he asked. Of course I said yes…the mozza ball was placed before me… made with fresh mozzarella! I would say this was in deed Comfort and Joy…
With dining experience over, I sipped my wine and started taking photos of the skaters on the ice rink. Then the man in the kiosk on the other side of where I was standing said, “The ice rink is cold, why don’t you take a picture of me?” I turned to look at this handsome man who was wearing a big smile on his face and a bib that read, “I Love”. And in keeping with the Christmas spirit “Love” is one of the magic words. Plus he made me laugh so lets add another magical word “Joy” which gave me “Comfort”.
I wandered by another kiosk that was laden with white cheeses, and pork meat… I tried a slice of filet di cinghiale (wild boar) that was offered to me. This was my first time to ever eat wild boar. I really liked it. Then, I sampled wild boar jerky, followed by wild boar sausage, fresh pecorino and pesto! Needless to say, I walked away with a bag of goodies. I bought the filet di cinghiale, pecorino cheese, cinghiale jerky (which was laced with peperoncino), fresh pesto and was given Cinghiale sausage as a present… to round it all off, a bottle of Montepulciano was added to the bag. I just needed a baguette and I would have a seriously good aperitivo! The pecorino cheese has to be the best I have ever tasted and there was slight moment of panic when I wondered if I would be able to find this amazing cheese again. Bottle of wine and pesto are still waiting to be popped… don’t worry that will be happening very soon!
Later that evening, I woke to my phone beeping… it was alerting me to a comment posted on my Facebook page at 1:30 a.m. (forgot to turn phone on silent)… it was with respect to a photo of the food I had purchased. “Ha, Ha poor food for a poor girl” is what it read. Then it came back to me…the memory of the one and only dinner date where this person (high on vodka martinis and wine) sat loudly slagging off the couple next to us (over and over) for drinking a particular wine … not to mention the insults that I received which prompted me to walk out on dinner. So here was the Grinch trying to steal Christmas and I wasn’t going to have it. This person from Florence who claimed to be a better singer than Andrea Bocelli had just publicly insulted the Italian makers of pesto, pecorino, cinghiale and Montepulciano wines… However, in keeping with Christmas spirit, I did not wish upon him “chasing by pack of wild boars”. I took the high road and hit the “Delete” button!
More Christmas posts to come!
Kamut Fettuccine with Walnuts, Leek and Mixed Mushrooms
2 nests of Sgambaro Kamut Fettucine
4 walnut halves chopped
1 leek chopped
1 180g/212 ml can of Misto Funghi
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt & pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
This is a recipe I made up as I went along. I sautéed the walnuts and leek in the extra-virgin olive oil , then added the misto funghi, salt and pepper. I added a bit of the pasta water to the sauce and then added the pasta to the pan, tossing until it was coated with all of the flavours meshing together. I drizzled a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over the pasta and added freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. This is a really inexpensive and easy side dish to make and it’s packed with a lot of flavour.
Tagliatelle con Pesto di Rucola e Gamberi hand made by Cinzia