Thursday 19 April 2007

The arrival of Summer.... announced by the appearance in the market of Melons and Wild Strawberries. No peaches yet that are sufficiently tender to be baked, stuffed with amaretti and chocolate, but it should only be a matter of weeks before we get there....

Buying Casarecci in Vettovaglie the other day (wonderful pasta crescents, stuffed with a mixture of ground pork and veal, along with parmesan and an unindentifiable spice that somehow gives the whole thing an age-old quality), I was persuaded by Claudia to sample her homemade Torta Pasqualina. Albeit a week late - but who's counting? Filled with Spinach and Ricotta, it reminded me of nothing so much as good old spanakopita, which has been hearty peasant fare in Greece since time immemorial, and a recognisable version of it can even be found in the pages of Apicius. On checking, it appears that Torta Pasqualina - of this kind, anyway - comes from Liguria, and is supposed to contain whole eggs cooked within the filling, and to be made with exactly 33 sheets of pastry (representing JC's age at Easter first time around). Lose points, Claudia! Although, in fairness, her version wasn't bad......

The other culinary highlight of the week was the first course at dinner in the Osteria dei Cavalieri, the night before last. Tagliolini with a sauce of rabbit and asparagus that was completely sensational! In combination with a bottle of Veneroso 2001, and preceding a wonderfully tender Ossobucco, and melt-in-the-mouth cannellini, what more could a person want?

And the other benefit of the arrival of summer? The Brazilians fly south....or north....or somewhere.......but the main thing is....they LEAVE! On the basis that noise and dust and builder-chaos - which is bad news at the best of times - becomes entirely intolerable during the summer months. So, they pack up, and leave us in peace at the end of the week. Work unfinished, of course, but the building site tidily mothballed until we decide we can bear to hear the sound of hammer blows once more......much, much later in the year.

Tonight's dinner:

Asparagus Ravioli.

Bistecchie of Cinta Senese, with a gratin of Celery and Parmesan.

Hazelnut Gelato, with Wild Strawberries.

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