Sunday 4 February 2007
When we lived in the Cyclades, I remember there was invariably a period of glorious calm at the start of February, when there was a respite for a few days from winter storms, with the sun shining, the sky penetratingly clear, and it was suddenly and upliftingly summer in the middle of winter gloom. The locals used to refer to this brief period as the 'kingfisher days', or alkionides meres in Greek - which is where we get the English phrase 'Halcyon Days' from. A small taste of crystal-clear perfection.....
Anyway, that's what we appear to be having at the moment - our own Italian version of Kingfisher Days. The sun is shining gloriously, and it was warm enough this morning to bask in shirtsleeves on the terrace, enjoying my first coffee of the day. The garden has been fooled into thinking spring has arrived, and not only are the lemon trees heavy with fruit, but the narcissus are breaking into flower, to join the pure white blossoms of the Camellia Japonica, and the thick tresses of Urophylla blossoms, which festoon the trellis at the end of the Lily Pond.
In fact, it's been so mild all the way through this winter - so far - that the water hawthorn in the pond have not only clung on throughout, but are even flowering boldly now, at the start of February. Last year, I remember, the temperature was about ten degrees colder, and at this time the water hawthorn were resolutely in hibernation beneath the surface of the pond.
Having said all of which, and in keeping with the floral theme, I'm afraid it's a question of 'Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May.....', since I note from Tempo Italia that the temperature is due to plummet on Tuesday, with a return to dark and thunderous rainclouds for the remainder of the week.
Oh, well. There's always comfort eating, I guess!
Ravioli, stuffed with Prawns and Zuccini.
Shoulder of Lamb, butterflied, then marinated in Cumin and Paprika, before being flash fried and finished in the oven.
Chocolate and Hazelnut Mousse, flavoured with Pistachio Paste and Rum. The basic recipe came from Carrier, I think, but the addition of toasted, chopped hazelnuts is pure Pomiane...another whole dimension in flavour and texture.