In June we had a very enjoyable gourmet adventure in Sicily. We started in Siracusa with our welcome aperitivo in Piazza Duomo in Ortigia, followed by a seafood dinner in the old town. The next morning we moved to Scicli where we established camp in the charming Hotel Novecento. One of our group had travelled with Vueling from Florence and the airline had left everyone’s luggage behind. The Italian festa delayed the return so she was forced to borrow odds and ends from the rest of the group until she was happily reunited with her own clothes. We cooked and ate, explored and ate, not to mention copious wine tasting. We drank to Indy’s clothes, drank to Montalbano and often drank to ourselves. We explored Noto and watched the Atzec-type chocolate being made in Modica. On another day we shopped for Sicilian delicacies in Marzamemi and had a great lunch at the Cortile Arabo where I fixed up to do a cooking class next year. This year we cooked in a rustic farmhouse and the enchanting Eremo in Ragusa Mare.
After Sicily I made a quick dash to the UK to meet up with my grandson, Alex, in Stratford upon Avon. We stayed for two nights to see ‘Henry lV Part 1’ followed by ‘Part II’ the second night. It was a very strange interpretation of Hotspur which distorted the first part Paul Taylor writing in The Independent said:
‘…it’s so over-the-top that I’m afraid I found Hotspur’s death – after the thrillingly tense climactic sword-fight – to be a relief rather than a wrench.
However I have never seen such a brilliant Falstaff, and the comic scenes which are often tedious were actually funny.
After all this travel it was a relief to come home to what I imagined would be peace and calm. However Italy had been suffering freak electrical storms and I arrived home to find no electricity, no phone and a burned-out modem. I later discovered the new Smart TV had succumbed and the Sky dish too. I now have wi fi and phone but no television so I am ignoring world news which is very soothing, and I am getting the house in order, sorting out boxes of junk that have been sitting around for ages.
June 19th was Corpus Domini and in Ferentino they celebrate with the Infiorata Everyone helps to decorate the narrow winding streets with flowers. This year’s torrential rain had made it more difficult than usual. These flowers lead down to my house on the right. Cars are not allowed and luckily Italy was not playing in the Mondiale, or World Cup.
The weather seems to have finally settled down and we are getting ready for a long, hot summer. I am spending a week in Tuscany with my daughter, Nicola, and grandson, Chris, and then my youngest daughter, Georgina, is arriving and we are taking my two small grand-daughters to Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi and Ischia in Campania.
I am giving preliminary details of next year’s gourmet adventures. I am gradually retiring from my Rome Kitchen but the dates for the rest of the year are on my web site, and special dates can some times be accommodated.Team Building and other corporate events can still be organized.
Marrakech in April after Easter, followed by Sevilleat the beginning of May. Both 5 day trips can be booked separately or together.
Sicily 30th April to May 6th. There will be an optional 3 days on the
Amalfi Coast from 27-29 May to cook and eat at the legendary Don Alfonso and visit Amalfi and Positano. This will need to be booked very early and I will have prices and details on my web pages by August 15th. If you are interested let me kinow as soon as possible.
Sifnos or Creteat the beginning of July
Budapest 6 – 9 October with a final optional 2 days in Vienna or Prague.
IstanbulThis yearI did not include Istanbul as most of my ‘regulars’ had already enjoyed the adventure. Let me know if any of you are interested because I would love to repeat one of my favourite ‘adventures’.
Recipes for this month
Biscotti di mandorle Almond biscuits
We learned to make these with Signora Nella in her cooking school near Scicli
in Sicily. She prefers to blanch her own almonds and grind them in the food processor but you can substitute commercial ground almonds.
300g ground almonds
200 g sugar
Zest of one large lemon (un-waxed)
A few blanched almonds for decoration
I use my food processor to make this very quickly.
Mix together the ground almonds, sugar, lemon zest and eggs
Line a baking tray with baking parchment and pipe out small balls of the mixture.
Make small balls by hand if you find it easier. Leave gaps between because they will expand during cooking.
Make an indentation on the top of each biscuit.and stick in an almond.
Bake in an 180 c. oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.
Pasta alla crudaiolo
A favourite pasta dish from the south for when it is really too hot to cook.
500 g pasta(preferebaly De Cecco or pasta fron Gragnano)
500 small ripe tomatoes chopped
6 large basil leaves, roughly torn
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and a little chilli oil or chilli
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Chop all the ingredients and leave in the fridge. A little diced mozzarella is sometimes added.
Cook the pasta al dente, drain and add the tomato mixture.
Serve at room temperature.