Saturday 24 January 2009
..for watching the rain monotonously soak the garden, dripping from the few leaves that still cling to the pergola, and from the skeletal branches of the Cacci tree. In the distance, the rain is dimly audible beating incessantly on the lanterna over the central staircase, and from the front of the house the sound is of overflowing gutters and of downpipes splashing noisily into the street.
Definitely it's a day for staying indoors as much as possible, and my exchange this morning with the damp flower-seller in Borgo Stretto was limited to a hurried agreement that yes, the weather was awful, although not as cold today as yesterday - except it was pretty nippy first thing this morning, come to think of it - and that'll be quattordici euro, grazie! And then back home, pdq, to warmth and reviving coffee.
A day for browsing the latest additions to the kitchen library: Pino Luongo's 'Tuscan in the Kitchen', and the last in the red-gingham collection of recipe books (which are a bit questionable, frankly, but turn up the occasional gem - this particular one, of recipes from Switzerland, has a recipe for apples baked with cream and brown sugar which is simplicity itself, yet deliciously indulgent). The Tuscan book looks good - although I imagine its eccentric decision not to specify quantities for ingredients must have most readers confused if not actually irritated. It's the sort of detail you don't notice when skim-reading in the bookshop, and only find out once you've got it home. I christened it last night with a papardelle sauce made from garlic, aubergine, peas, pancetta, mushrooms, red wine, and tomatoes - pretty much in whatever quanities I felt like - all cooked down into a thick and delicious sludge. It was good; the bitterness of the aubergine and the earthiness of the mushrooms offset the tomatoes very well (sometimes tomato can be a bit one-dimensionally sweet, IMHO). For next time, I think I'll add chopped olives and take it more in the direction of a puttanesca .
The Brazilians are in, doing things to the Salone and the master-bathroom-to-be ( hitherto referred to as 'the chaos room', in deference to the Technical Dept's use of it as a junk-cum-lumber-cum-workroom), in preparation for the tiler to arrive and start laying new floors on Monday. The Brazilians are a lot better house-trained than they were when they first started turning up (and god knows, they should be, after however many years it's been now)...but even so, there was still a trail of cement footprints down the centre of the staircase after they'd left*. All things considered,it's probably a good thing I'll be in Serbia for most of next week, when the worst of the floor-laying maelstrom should be happening!
*since writing that, the TD has confessed that in fact they were his footprints. Definitely a good thing that I'm heading for Belgrade!
Pithiviers, stuffed with Cod
Grilled Duck Breast, with sautéed Aubergine
Bitter Orange Soufflé