Cricket, Coconuts, Pimms and Pasta…

The last month has been particularly busy for me. After a trip to the UK visiting friends and family we got back to Italy in time for the Festa De le Cove which I blogged about last year. (Festa 2013) It was a good weekend once again despite some bad weather but somehow the clouds dispersed and the sun came out just before the main parade of floats. There weren’t many this year but, one was spectacular and I’ve put up a photo.

Amazing Chicken Made from Straw and Corn

Amazing Chicken Made from Straw and Corn at Festa De Le Cove 2014

The following weekend I was responsible for organising a joint 60th birthday party for a couple of old friends, one from England and the other a resident in Sydney Australia. These two chaps had been at university with The Man (many years ago) and more friends joined us all for a fun packed weekend. For the main event on Saturday 19th we invited a few Italian friends to tag along and planned an English summer fete with cricket and coconut shy included.

flagsgarden

coconutshy

We hired the garden at the back of the Comune (Town Hall),a huge area of grass, a bandstand and a smaller area of with mature trees. The view from the gardens towards the mountain was pretty AWESOME! I use that word for our visitors from Texas! (Sorry I didn’t get a photo) The weather was scorching, far too hot to lob balls at either a coconut or a cricket bat until at least 8pm!

We managed to set out the tables and benches under the trees and fortunately for us a door had been left open to one of the ground floor rooms which was empty and cool so we set up the tables in there for food and alcohol. Naturally there was Pimms on offer. The Italian guests had never supped this delicious beverage and after a first cautious sip they guzzled away!

garden

The Man made sure everyone had a turn at bat and a chance to bowl in the cricket and that equal opportunity was given to bash a coconut down. He ran the events in his own inimitable fashion – in other words – no one quite understood the rules. It was a knockout kind of thing. Prizes were indeed won! Petritoli fridge magnets were awarded to first, second and third in both events. Is there no end to The Man’s generosity? There were some happy faces around.

 

On Sunday 20th I arranged for a bit of pasta making. It was again a very hot day but with tables under the trees, a few beers keeping us hydrated a jolly time was had by all at La Scentella with our friend Roberto Ferretti.

Roberto with Olivespastavino

Roberto with Olivespastavino

Roberto gave a demonstration of how to make fresh tagliatelle the way they do it in Marche…secret ingredient? A little vino cotto. This is ‘cooked wine’ and tastes a little like Madera, it’s traditionally given at the end of a meal with almond biscuits or cake which you dip into the liquid. Delicious.

kneading

Roberto allowed four people to give a hand. It was hard work ‘kneading’ the dough for a good fifteen minutes and luckily no one lost a finger when carefully cutting the prepared dough. Looked pretty dangerous though, I thought at least one pink painted fingernail might end up on our plates!

Our Four 'Demonstrators'

Our Four ‘Demonstrators’

Twenty-four people sat down to eat after the demonstration. Roberto prepared a feast for us, it was a completely vegetarian meal and even though the majority of the guests were carnivorous I never heard one complaint. In fact the opposite was the case. We had a small taste of the pasta prepared by our friends, followed by a massive plate a pasta that had been made earlier. The tomato sauce served with it was simple but delicious, wild celery was detected, I understood it to be a herb, quite distinctive. Roberto is a keen herb grower and can easily identify any wild herbs growing in the fields. I’ve often seen him out with his carrier bag searching and collecting. The next dish on the menu was a fabulous ratatouille with potatoes, peppers, aubergines, tomatoes and herbs. Roberto is a very good cook.

Lunch with Friends

Lunch with Friends

The food was amazing but what really made the meal perfect was firstly the company; close friends and family.  Secondly the ambience; we were eating outdoors, seated around a long table, everyone talking, laughing drinking and eating in the shade of a few trees, surrounded by lavender and rosemary bushes. Our guests from Australia, the UK and America were given the true Italian experience. The Man and I think we’re very lucky to be able to enjoy this lifestyle all the time.

I stupidly didn’t get the recipes for the sauce or ratatouille but I do remember the pasta. Basically, 100 grams of strong flour, an egg, some oil and about a teaspoon of vino cotto…and…a great deal of elbow grease. I’m going to try it soon, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Phew a long blog from me this week, but there was a lot to write about. Actually, this barely covers half what we all got up too but don’t want to get boring!

Eating Out in Brooklyn

pasta

‘You can eat out every day in Brooklyn for a year and still have plenty of places left to go…  some of the best restaurants in New York are here.’ that’s what one taxi driver told me. During my stay in Park Slope I did my best to try as many of the restaurants as I could. It’s common to eat out and popular to have a take-out. My daughter told me that home cooking is not a priority in New York.

This blog isn’t about reviewing restaurants but I just wanted to give you a little taste (excuse the pun) of my gastronomic experiences. I have included links to some of the cafés, bars and restaurants I enjoyed.

Roasted Carrot Salad

Roasted Carrot Salad

I had some wonderful pasta with rocket pesto, fresh tomatoes and zucchini at Rucola, a fabulous Italian restaurant on the corner of Dean Street and Bond, to start we had roasted carrot salad, unusual and delizioso (delicious obvs). Slow cooked barbecue pork is popular on many of the menus, often served in a sandwich and of course all sandwiches come with fries, and the fries are fantastic, there are mostly roughly cut and thin, perhaps a little heavy on the salt but I don’t mind that. Salads are abundant and you can mostly get a base variety of lettuce and then add what you like to the top, Building on Bond made a mean salad, Bob’s Cob being one of them.

Of course, hamburgers are plentiful and there are $5 hot-dog stands on every corner of Manhattan. Food from street vendors is popular and people pick up a pretzel or a doughnut on their way to work. Speaking of doughnuts I had them twice for breakfast, best  I’ve ever tasted, honestly…

Delicious caramelized onion soup at Café Colette in Williamsburg, an area of Brooklyn. This café was buzzing one Monday lunchtime. Alchemy bar and restaurant in Park Slope Brooklyn was just round the corner from our house so a favourite haunt with the family. Roast chicken was a popular choice for us but also the mussels went down pretty well!

It was wonderful to stroll down 5th avenue Brooklyn, (not to be confused with 5th Avenue Manhattan) and stop at one of several coffee shops to choose a coffee from the enormous list of options. Straight coffee, soya latte, cappuccino, mocha, espresso, skinny latte, chai latte, etc., and of course everything comes in small, regular or large AND you can have any of them iced! Best to make up your mind before you get to the shop then you don’t stand staring at the menu boards for ages. Of course, coffee must be accompanied by a little something; croissant, muffin, Danish, cookie, turnover…oh it goes on and on and so have the pounds! Mercifully, as I also did a lot of walking whilst staying in America I have managed not to pile on too much weight.

One more little point…Before leaving I did have to pay a visit to the amazing deli, Sahadi’s on Atlantic Avenue to purchase a few double choc malt balls to bring back to Italy…didn’t buy nearly enough though…
choc balls

Next time I visit NYC, first thing on my list is a trip to the famous deli Dean & Deluca’s in Manhattan …I just don’t know how I managed to miss it this time round. Guess I was a little busy becoming a Nonna (Grandmother) and that truly was the best experience for me during my stay.

Book for a menu..great idea

Book for a menu..great idea

Coffee and Pecan Bun ...yum!

Coffee and Pecan Bun …yum!

Rucola

Rucola

Cafe Colette

Cafe Colette