Wednesday 21 February 2007
It appears that the fire was finally extinguished at around four o'clock in the morning, leaving almost half the building as a smoking and waterlogged ruin. Since we suspected that everybody was supposed to have left - but nobody had actually said as much to us, and we were leaving for Italy the next day in any event, and trying to find a hotel in London that would take two Welsh Springers for the night would be fairly impossible - we decided to keep our heads down, and lie doggo indoors for the duration. The fact that the gas was turned off halfway through the evening made dinner even more challenging than otherwise, but necessity was the mother of invention, and I discovered a way of making a tarragon-flavoured risotto in the oven, which went rather well with the last of the Duck Confit, and followed eggs baked with cream and Serrano ham, and preceded a sorbet which turned out to be Pear rather than Apple, but was no less good for being unexpected (one day I might start to label things that go into the freezer, and progress beyond every trip into its bowels being a voyage of discovery!).
When I emerged into the central hallway at about 7.30, a.m. with two enthusiastic dogs on leads en-route to their kennels in the country, I discovered a crowd of about thirty fire and police officers milling around, who looked more than a little startled as I walked through. Rather than give anybody the opportunity to be difficult, I said a very general 'Good Morning', and beat it, before anybody had a chance to say anything.
Many hours later, and at the end of the day, it felt rather surreal to be sitting at home in Italy, sharing a bottle of Prosecco with Louisa, our right-on socially responsible obstetrician neighbour, who was ranting about capitalist exploitation in the area of milk production for infants, and then presented us with about a bushel of bietole that she'd had from a friend in the garfagnana.!
Black Ravioli with Sea Bass stuffing (Yes! The Pasta shop in Vettovaglie is open again......of which more later)
Bistecchie di Maiale, with (you guessed it) bietole in a lemon-bechamel sauce.
Pear and Chocolate Tart.