Friday 8 May 2009

All change!

We're selling the house. Or that's the idea, at any rate...Had you asked me several months ago, I'd have laughed at the suggestion, but to cut a long story short, a building we've lusted after for years from afar (in fact, a mere two streets away...but it's always seemed an impossibility) has unexpectedly come onto the market. We can't have both...and the prospect of sixteenth century frescoes and a garden four times the size of our present one make the whole thing a bit of a no-brainer.

As a result, we're suffering an onslaught of prospective purchasers and agents - eight in the past three days alone! - and there has been much strategic 'home and hearth' cooking, in order to encourage the process. Since the smell of freshly-brewed coffee will apparently clinch a deal faster than the speed of light, there seemed good reason to pull out the stops and get the gastric juices flowing as a backdrop to pointing out the glories of underfloor heating and the generous storage space under the stairs. Tuesday morning's visits were conducted against a backdrop of baking Apple cake (with generous quantities of cinnamon - the smell as it wafts through the house is fantastic!), and the afternoon show-rounds were accompanied by Ragu, richly aromatic as it bubbled gently away on the stove. The smell of baking pastry works pretty well, too, and lemon and tomato tarts have both appeared on the dinner menus this week as fringe benefits to the house-selling initiative...

Watch this space...

And the other all-change is puppy-related. With all fingers crossed, it seems that a great-niece of Bosun's is due to produce puppies next month; one has been reserved, and the Junior-Four-Footed (who has been terribly stressed at being on his own for the past couple of months, poor thing) is now Senior-Four-Footed-in-waiting. The mother-to-be is very beautiful, and in fact looks quite like Bosun, who is greatly missed by all.

New we go, again!

Tonight's Dinner:

Ravioli with asparagus filling.

Pork Loin, roast; potatoes roast with Sage, Rosemary & Garlic.

Crespelle, filled with Pears sautéed in Butter & Cinnamon.

Monday 4 May 2009

The Perfect Risotto...

We were up at Brancoli for the weekend, and went for dinner on Saturday to La Mora, just across the river from Ponte a Moriano. Dinner was good, the vintages were excellent (both from a fattoria called Querciabella, which was new to me, but which the brancolis both knew well), the groups of other diners - stout local ladies, for the most part, sporting hairstyles and large handbags - were worthy of comment....but the centerpiece of the evening was the risotto we all chose for our primi. The best risotto any of us had ever tasted! Bar none. And this from a group who've been eating pretty determinedly in Italy for several decades, now. Perfect texture, and a flavour that was quite show-stopping.

Described in the menu as merely 'double-cooked risotto of Pigeon', it was a challenge to deconstruct the dish (as a basis for recreating it subsequently at home, needless to say). The pigeon had been made into confit as a first step, and then this in turn was transformed into a flavour-rich the course of which the pigeon flesh had been reduced to a few thread-like strings, barely discernible in the final dish. This stock was used to make the risotto in the standard way(using carnaroli rice, inevitably), with a little very finely chopped sage added at the end, and a mantecare of egg-yolk and cream. It seemed that a small amount of highly concentrated sauce - presumably made from the carcasses from the original birds - was added just before serving, along with a couple of slices of perfectly roast pigeon breast as a garnish.

And the result was perfection. A risotto to cross continents for...and certainly one that would justify the price of a plane ticket from London!

We're back in Brancoli next weekend, as it happens...

Tonight's Dinner:

Papardelle, in a sauce of Courgettes, Cream, and Pecorino

Chicken breast, stuffed with Emmental and braised in sage butter.

Mango bavarois.