In November I arranged to have no cooking lessons but it has still been a rather busy time. The month started off with very low temperatures but then it warmed up and we have had a series of crisp, sunny days. The trees still have beautiful golden leaves and it is hard to believe Christmas is fast approaching. In Ferentino people dress for the calendar date rather than outside temperature and as I visit the local shops wearing only a thick knitted jacket I pass mummy-like figures wrapped in layers of scarves, hats and gloves. I know I am considered the mad ‘Signora Inglese’ and they urge me to wrap up more warmly. In contrast to this at home they are frugal with heating and find my home uncomfortably warm.
I traveled to London for ten days to visit friends and celebrate my sister’s birthday. The birthday lunch near Kew Gardens was a relaxed affair with all the immediate family, including the children. It was a unique experience for me because I sat back, let the young people keep my glass topped up and had no responsibility for the food which was delicious. This is the way to go.
Before the birthday I stayed with Michael and Lawrence in their Victorian house looking out on Peckham Rye. We always enjoy cooking together for a Saturday night dinner party and this time Michael had chosen Indian. Mark volunteered a mango dessert and we decided on an interesting menu with Parsee fish parcels for the central dish. Lawrence had managed to find all the ingredients I can’t find in Italy so I was thrilled with the fresh banana leaves for the parcels. At some point in the day’s preparation he casually mentioned that two of the guests were Parsees. I was stricken with feelings of inadequacies. It seemed like an English host serving me pasta with Bolognese sauce. Some of my pleasure in the banana leaves trickled away but it was too late to change the menu. In fact the guests were very gracious and the rest of us relaxed and enjoyed the meal.
While I was in the area I visited RoullierWhite to do some Christmas shopping. The Sunday Times calls it ‘one of the best life style boutiques’ and the shop is a beautiful Aladdin’s cave with one of the most comprehensive selection of perfumes I have ever seen or smelled. They are beautifully arranged and the staff takes great pleasure in helping you sample and choose. On specified dates they will pay postal charges and guarantee delivery date so I am continuing to order presents for England on line from Italy.
While I was in Lordship Lane I arranged to do a series of Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar tastings in the spring. It will be fun to explore the good local food shops.
Time passes and next year I am going to start cutting down on the cooking courses I run in Rome. I will still do special events for pre-formed groups but I will only do individual classes for a set week in February, April, May, July and October.
In June (1-7)I am planning a group to Sicily, starting in Siracusa and spending time in the Unesco World Heritage sites of Ragusa, Modica and Noto. We will be based in Scicli and inspired by Montalbano we will be visiting the beautiful coastline south of Ragusa. There will be three hands-on cooking lessons and we will explore the local food, wine cheese, chocolate and dolci, including gelati. There are still 5 places left so visit my web pages.
The summer would not be complete without a visit to Greece so I am returning to the beautiful Symi in September (1-7). This is already quite full so please let me know soon. This is a lazy ‘adventure’ with the emphasis on sea, sun, food and wine but we will cook a couple of meals together.
I had thought to re-introduce Sifnos during the school holidays for family escapes but I have not had much feedback. Let me know if you think this is interesting.
In October, probably 4-11, we will visit Budapest. This will be a gourmet adventure with the emphasis on food, wine and exploring local specialities but we will have one or 2 cooking lessons. I plan a traditional dinner in the house of a cultured Jewish family and a gypsy meal with music with a Rom family. I am flying in to Vienna for a couple of days to arrive in Budapest by private bus, visiting a couple of castles on the way. I am going in March to finalise the programme and arrange pricing. At this stage it would be helpful to know if you are seriously interested and if the dates suit you.
This year I decided to visit India without a group so this February will be complete relaxation. However for my last Indian Gourmet Adventure I am planning the trip I have promised for years, Delhi and Rajasthan. This will complete the experience for all the people who have visited the south with me and will be a one-off event during the 2014/2015 winter.
Diane Seed’s Favourite Seafood
I hope some of you will read and review on Amazon my first self-published 26 recipe fish cook book. It is also available as an eBook, both from Amazon and other book shops.I am working on the second cook book – favourite vegetable dishes – it will be ready at the beginning of February. Please let me have your suggestion for others in the series. So far I have been asked for chicken, soups, starters, nibbles and winter dinner parties.