Well, there are a lot of mists in Ferentino at the moment but we have had a splendid October and November. The summer was quite unpredictable this year but the bei ottobrini Romani have extended well into November, and many trees still have all their leaves. The Rome market stalls are irresistible as the exuberant produce of two seasons distract the eye from the myriad shades of green leafy vegetables. Small green zucchini with their golden crowns stand next to spiky mauve artichokes and glistening piles of pale puntarelle are flanked by purple melanzane and flame-coloured Cinderella pumpkins. I get so excited I buy far too much, which is fine if I have a class but a little daunting when I am just shopping for myself.
I have had a good October, enjoying my time in Rome with no international travel, but at the beginning of October I returned to Budapest for more dental treatment and more explorations. My grand-son Max came with me and we had a very good time planning my Adventure for next October. Food is social history so we want to include all the ethnic threads that make up Budapest. The city also has a fascinating history from the Hapsburg dynasty, the Ottoman Empire, the Communist regime and the 1956 Uprising. We will make history come alive with talks and discussions with local experts over good food and wine. We fixed up wine tastings, cooking lessons, visits to the beautiful Szechenyi Spa with its thermal pools and trips to Hapsburg palaces and castles.
My favourite restaurant is Le Bouchon I enjoyed a sumptuous dinner and returned for my final lunch before heading for the airport. Max and I agreed this is a great way to make us look forward to our next dental visit. The dates and preliminary information are on my website and I will be sending out booking forms when I have the prices worked out.
At the end of next week I am flying to London to visit family and friends and to start buying some Christmas goodies. This year Caroline and the boys are coming to me for Christmas and I should already have made the Christmas puddings and mincemeat. I will come home laden with packets of suet and dried fruit and start cooking !
There are still a few places left for Sicily and the Amalfi Coast – details are on my website. Greece in September and Budapest in October will be available on my website in early December
This month’s recipes – Useful for festive feasts Quince Paste Red cabbage
Quince paste (Dulce de Membrillo)
This Spanish recipe is found also in Puglia and Sicily, thanks to the decades under Spanish domination. It is usually made in lamb-shaped moulds at Easter, and stars at Christmas. It is delicious served with cheese too.
1.5 k quinces
450 g sugar
250 ml water
Clean the quinces and cook in a pan of cold water until the skins are ready to burst, Remove with a slotted spoon, peel and discard skin, pips and membranes. Measure the water and add more if needed to make 250 ml. Dissolve the sugar and heat gently to make a syrup. Mash the fruit, add to the syrup. Allow to cool in moulds or jars.
In Budapest I went to a farm to see the mangalica pigs. These are a natural treasure that have been rescued from near extinction. They look like sheep or dogs with their thick, curly coats. The breed is now exported and bred in the US and many European countries. They have a high fat content and a great flavour.
They are used to make cured hams and salami and I ate roasted pork loin served with red cabbage.
1 red cabbage, cleaned and shredded in food processor
1 large onion, finely sliced,
1 large cooking apple, sliced
2 T EV olive oil
Heat the oil and add the cabbage, onion and apples. Cover and stew slowly until soft, adding the spices, salt and a little water from time to time. After about 20 minutes stir in the sugar and vinegar and adjust seasoning. Leave overnight so that all the flavours combine.