Friday, October 31, 2008

Pasta sugo
The simplest of the Italian pasta dishes.

And some pics of the oldies hanging out after dinner in the town centre. Their wives are probably at home washing the dishes!



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nun-aphoneShe is making dinner reservations from the house of God.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nicest man in the market

He gave me that bunch of chilis and they flew with me home in my hand luggage. I put some in my Thanksgiving dinner the other night. Such a nice friendly Siciliano.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Mamma Amma hug and an apple juice
Got back late last night from Alexandra Palace (you get great views of London from there) where I got a hug from Mamma Amma - the famous Hindu leader, lover, saint, woman of India, celebrity and more... (not sure what her proper description really is? she is likened to the Dalai Lama too). It was a long wait with chanting, meditation, music and speeches before the ultimate hug session starts. She does hug you into her bosom like the picture above and she is heavily perfumed with Jasmine so when she hugs you and murmurs sweet nothings into your ear (she said to me, 'my darling, my darling, my darling') all you can do is scrunch your face into some spot in her breast and inhale the jasmine and try to find enlightenment / enjoy it as much as possible as it is over in a few seconds. After our hug, she gave me a rose petal and a candy and her people quickly ushered me off so the next few thousand people behind us in the queue could get a big, warm, jasmine-scented embrace too.

No photographs were allowed so I couldn't take a picture of the vegetarian Indian meal being served in the restaurant, nor could I take pics of the freshly pressed and frothy, green apple juice that Andrea bought us. The juice break killed a few minutes of the long wait and was tangy, sour and refreshing in a nice Yogic kinda way. There had to be food relevance to this posting, non?

Get onto her site Amma.org to hear about all her charitable projects around the world, her next hug dates, her ashrams in India (Andrea's brother peeled potatoes there a few times in the past few years) and look at or purchase one of her many books that she has written. She is a truly powerful woman who is spreading love around the world one hug at a time. She has been honoured by the Nobel society, the UN and more so it is all very warm and fuzzy seeing her cherub like face smiling at you.

Every time I have a freshly squeezed green apple juice I will remember my hug with Mamma Amma!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Alladale



Some pics from Alladale Lodge in Scotland where I ate some delicious venison and other fabulous gourmet meals made by the Australian chef. More info on the amazing wilderness reserve project and lodge to come. Below: Enjoy the video - the wild boar got a little 'excited' when they saw me taking some photos, most likely trying to show off his manhood.
video

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tomato pasteFresh tomato paste sold by the kilo at the Bellaro market in Palermo. All you need is a small amount of this, mixed with water to give you a flavour burst for any of your pasta dishes. It looked very impressive on display and I could even smell it when taking the photo.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Japanese in HattonTaking a break from Sicilian food today. Here are some pics of a lovely dinner I had with the Japanese expat at Tajima-Tei on Leather Lane, near Hatton Garden. I let the expert order the meal and he did a fantastic job. I was a little daunted by all the sashimi (and no rice) but I managed to survive and enjoy it all.
A delicious tofu dish The quality of the fish is amazing and the presentation and service is impeccable - excellent choice Mr. H (he kindly paid for dinner too - a big thank you/origato/mille grazie). I can't recall what we ordered but I know it was a sashimi mix of salmon, tuna, prawn and other quality fish, with a delicious tofu dish and miso soup as starters.

The restaurant is very traditional in style, downstairs they have private booths like they have in Japan and according to the expat it was very much like being in Japan, although he didn't speak to the servers in Japanese, next time. So if you are in the area of Hatton Garden, famous for all its jewelery shops walk a few streets over to Leather Lane, there is a bustling market there during the day and find this little gem.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Traditional Sicilian sardine dish - BeccaficoThese pictures will not do justice to how these little sardine parcels taste. They are a traditional Sicilian dish called Beccafico. The lovely Pina made them one night and they were absolutely amazing. The next day we went to a very charismatic bookseller on the street (he was an ex-professor) and he said I should buy this one cookbook in particular as it contained the best Sicilian recipe - Beccafico. It was a very strange moment as we had had that for dinner the night before!

Beccafico are sardines filled with a crumb mixture which includes: egg, Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. This mix is then stuffed into the fillets of sardines and then baked in the oven with olive oil drizzled on top and underneath. It doesn't take long at all, I think cleaning the sardines may be the most difficult but at the markets you can buy them ready for baking. Will have to check at our local fishmonger if they sell these.

And this dish doesn't taste like the horrible salty sardine you find hidden behind a pizza topping, it was a lovely taste, almost like a little hors d'oeuvre that you can pop in your mouth.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Testa di mialeHow do you cook a half a pig's head? And why would you buy this?? Another find from the markets in Sicily.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cuore e cervelloHeart of veal
& brain of veal.

Just two of the delicacies you can get at the food markets in Palermo.

Maybe I will serve that at my dinner party next week? Not sure what kind of recipe is needed for the brain though? Perhaps will stick to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner meal (yes it is a belated one, as was in Sicily for the official Canadian one). This week am on a mission to find a big turkey!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pizza TadescoGiusy ordered this pizza called Pizza Tadesco - (German pizza). It is a basic cheese and tomato pizza with french fries on top! Now I guess the grass is always greener and when you grow up with such healthy food, a pizza like this must be a treat for you.

Instead for us, where we are bombarded with fast food - this is considered, in my opinion, grotesque. Although it probably tastes delicious it actually ruins what pizza is all about.

A lot of Sicilians emigrated in the 1970s to Germany for work and there are a lot of German influences evident all around, our last dinner was at a German styled restaurant owned by a Sicilian who had lived there for the last 20 years -the food was amazing and the beer German. Not sure if this is really a German pizza, will have to ask Jappy?

p.s. at this restaurant in Camastra our bill for 10 people came to 98 Euros?! We had pizzas, wine, desert and antipasti of fish...how cheap was that? Each pizza was around €4.50.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This is why I am 5 pounds fatter
This post is for Jono and Rexi - famous quote:
'I can taste the limone.'


I had gelato as much as possible last week in Sicily as I knew there wouldn't be any when I got back to the big, grey city. So now I am busting out of my trousers! I went for a run today and may have burned off at least one of my ice cream indulgences.

Bacio tastes just like Baci chocolates. Not sure if the pic above the bacio is caffe (coffee) and the one below is dolce latte. There were so many at this gelateria by the beach it was overwhelming. In the last pic you will see a flavour called Puffo - like the Smurfs, not sure what that one would taste like?!

I always choose the same few flavours though - limone (lemon, which is made without milk), caffe (made with espresso), nocciola (hazelnut - tastes like Nutella), banana & cioccolato (chocolate). TheI sometimes venture out a little bit more but usually stick to the devil I know.

The flavour below is cannoli - so there is ricotta in the ice cream and also some original Sicilian cannoli sticking out of the ice cream too....yum!



My tour guides, the Puzzo brothers enjoying their gelato.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Arancini di Sicilia - rice goodnessArancini con carne -a specialty of Sicily (rice balls)

What you need:
  • 800g rice
  • 600g tomato sauce
  • 120g green peas
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • 100g mozzarella cut into cubes
  • 500g ground beef
  • 3 eggs
  • salt
Cook the rice until well done and let it cool. Mix the rice with 2 beaten eggs to make the rice easier to manage and mould into balls. Work the rice into several balls (cricket sized or baseball sized) poking a deep dimple inside it which you then fill with little bits of cheese, the cooked ground meat and the peas (you can mix these all together in a bowl first). Cover it with another bit of rice and make it into a ball as best as you can.

Roll the rice balls in the remaining beaten egg and then roll in the bread crumbs. Deep fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Drain them on paper towels and then pop them in the oven for 10 minutes to cook them a little more on the inside. Serve hot or cold.

Delicious!

Making these arancini, is apparently a skill that takes quite a while to acquire, so if yours do not come out in perfect spherical shapes don't worry, just keep trying. We always bought ours in Sicily as my aunties said that the bakeries made them better than they would.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bread deliveryIn Sicily, you get fresh bread delivered to your doorstep. You don't even have to leave your flat, you can have him drop it into these lovely little baskets and then pull it up to your awaiting family. Why don't they have this service in London?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

La Bella SiciliaThis is their autumn, it is 27degrees (chilly for them) and this lovely beach cove is only 15min away from our family friends' home. There has been lots of eating and lots of baking! Made these last night with Pina which are mainly ground almonds & sugar, they are called Biscotti Ricci.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sicily's supermarkets
Found on street corners everywhere, this is where you get your fresh fruit and vegetable daily direct from 'campagna' - the farm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sunny Sicily
Am in sunny Sicily doing some more cookbook photos and research, of course this involves lots of eating which is tough but someone has to do it.

Will post pics and stories of my food adventures when I return. Am enjoying the sunshine and 27degree weather (which they consider cold!?) and the vast quantities of food my family is feeding me.

This is Mario Puzzo's 21st bday cake, not The Godfather author, my cousin!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Peckish PenguinsCute pics from the London Zoo last week. I wondered what they fed the penguins as we got to the viewing event a bit late and missed the actual feeding. So I found the answer via the wonderful tool that is Google. Answer: 'Penguins eat fish, squid and rock crabs.'Other interesting factoids are - Penguins do have knees and they can bite. If you want more info visit our penguin friends in NZ at: www.penguin.net.nz

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The V
We were settling into a nice lunch at The V, as the locals call it, (the Volunteer for tourists and non-regulars) located on Baker Street the other afternoon when I was suddenly hit by the lurgy, as Jess calls it, so had to leave half my lunch behind. The first half of my spinach veggie burger tasted good, but had only a half sip of my Magners cider and had to leave the rest behind. If Clara was there I could hear her say - it is 'just wrong' to leave a beer unfinished and down it herself (well that was in her younger days). Have been there several times before with the Bunny rabbit but only for drinks and banter. Next time will have to go and eat my whole meal and play some of their board games. At least the Squirrel enjoyed his big burger lunch and Leffe.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The 'Close' pizza night
Long Pizzametro (means pizza by the metre- originated in Napoli) served at Made in Italy on the King's Road for the Close's bday. His girlfriend specially brought a cake for him, but they served it to him while she was in the toilets! So all she has of him blowing out his candles, on his errrm...21st birthday, is this pic.

Run by Italians, Made in Italy was great, although we were sitting on the 2nd floor and the wood burning pizza ovens are on the level below, so it was quite warmish to say the least. It was a great night with lots of interesting conversation. Especially the lengthy discussions with the New Yorkers on multi-dating (interesting insight into the NYC dating scene, v. good for a dating blog, not this one unfortunately!)

The owners opened up this restaurant in '96 and since have opened several more with different names in Notting Hill, Fulham and Islington - it has a great atmosphere and real Italian food so you should definitely check one of their restaurants out, see their website here.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

We luv LoLaI got a lovely gift of cupcakes from Lola's Kitchen in Primrose Hill. I must say this is a wonderful gift to give and receive as it is great to get such yummy food in such a delightful package. It is also better when you can share something so wonderfully delicious.

Freshly baked each day these cupcakes not only looked perfect, they tasted divine and with so many different flavours in the box I had cupcakes for afternoon snack and dinner (and that is after sharing it with the team!) I think I even had a cupcake for breakfast the next day. Yes, the autumnal fat collecting on the body, which can be hidden with big sweaters, can commence!

What a lovely gift! I am now going to have to go into Lola's to have a look at and smell of the shop. Nothing better than the smell of fresh cupcakes!
Flavours are not your average chocolate and vanilla - they come in peanut butter, banana, mocha, caramel, pistacchio, strawberry, rocky road and more....yum!The always handsome BJT below showing off the cupcake package.

And this last pic of BJT is not food related but really liked it! I especially like the tag on the captain's hat. Always something interesting going on with the leg shaker!