Tag Archives: italy

Looking Back: 2015

Happy new year to all! As we head into 2016 we thought we would have a little look back at all the Make, Do and spend activities over the last year…..

sharpen pencils

January 

Getting Organised

blood orange and pistachio cakes

February

Blood orange, almond and Pistachio Cakes and Rhubarb Rum

b outfit 2

March

The Big Clothes swap  & an exclusive interview with Richard III on the day of his burial

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April

A guest Post from our Friend Holly Loves Cake & Those Doughnuts 

bluebells

May

Bluebell Woods

elderflower sugar 1

June

Elderflower Sugar & Mango Frozen Yoghurt 

Positano

July

B & E do Italy, plus Jam Tarts  & Macarons

watermelon cake 5

August 

Watermelon Cake

Nyhavn

September 

B Visited Copenhagen, E made Elderberry Vodka

rolling

October

Pumpkin & Spice Sugar Buns

November

What November?!

grown up hot chocolate

December

Amaretto Hot Chocolate

All best wishes for 2016!

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Bake: Sour Cherry and Peach crumble

AmereneThere were many highlights to our Italy adventure but one of my favourite discoveries appeared in the garden just outside our apartment in San Benedetto.

We took a small apartment in the grounds of an ‘agritourism’ farm set in the mountains of Emilia Romagna where we arrived as weary travellers on a sunny saturday afternoon and our host greeted us with free wine before showing us to our home for the next 4 nights.

The apartment was small and almost perfectly formed but we planned on spending our time outside, relaxing by the pool and eating alfresco. So once our bags were dropped we set about exploring the grounds, beginning with the garden.

The garden had many hidden treasures, plenty of fragrant herbs and flowers including lavender, sage and thyme, apple trees with the beginnings of fruit getting ready for autumn and trees bearing what appeared at first glance to be suspicious red berries. “Are those cherry trees?” I asked our host who confirmed that they indeed were and went on to describe them as “Amerene” or “bitter cherries” it was then that the penny dropped, our garden was filled with at least half a dozen sour cherry trees with just ripe fruit.

Having only ever encountered Amerene dried and packed into vacuum sealed bags on supermarket this was pretty exciting and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bake with these little beauties. Self catering always presents interesting challenges when it comes to cooking, we were of course without scales, whisks, a sharp knife or a fully functioning oven, so this recipe was developed without these tools and the question of what to make became a difficult one as it needed to be kept simple. Never the less I was determined that there would be dessert and it would include our newly discovered amarene.

The peaches were acquired from the local supermarket in San Benedetto, a modest store – imagine your local co-op but fill it with freshly baked sourdough loaves, freshly made pasta, every variety of cheese you could hope for and all those illusive vegetables you can never track down such as courgette flowers, aubergines the size of your head and heritage tomatoes, all in a shocking array of different sizes. Yes, we ate like kings in Italy, they just do food so well.de stoning sour cherries

To Make Sour Cherry and peach crumble you will need

  • 2 peaches
  • 100g sour cherries
  • 2 sprigs lavender
  • 180g honey
  • 200g butter
  • 130g semolina
  • 300g plain flour type ‘0’
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • lavender and sage flowers to garnish
  • yoghurt to serve

Remove the stones from the cherries and slice the peaches, mix together with 80g of the honey and the flowers from the lavender sprigs. Place all together in an ovenproof bowl and set aside.

Place the remaining honey, butter, semolina, flour and the leaves from the thyme sprigs together in a bowl and rub the ingredients together until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Scatter the crumble mix over the top of the prepared fruit and place in an oven pre-heated to 160°C. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

to finish, scatter over the sage and lavender flowers and serve with yoghurt.

peach and sour cherry crumble

This is a simple dish that celebrates fruit, it’s definitely best enjoyed in the sunshine!

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Explore: Italy

DSC01829 Italy is seemingly the place to be this summer! Following on From B’s trip to Positano, C and I also headed to Italy this year. We went on a little tour of Emilia Romagna region in northern Italy with our friends who shall be known as Lizard and Wizard. (Their allotment featured right here a little while ago.) We basically ate our way through the region. From the hills of San Bernedetto to the street markets of Bolognia there was plenty of pizza, pasta and gelato. I’ve whittled down my photos from 600, which was quite a challenge so apologies, this is a long one, and photo heavy. (Actually, i’m not sorry at all!) DSC01680 We began our tour with four days in the restorative hills of San Bernedetto. Via the wonders of Airbnb we took a little apartment in an old stone house on the grounds of an agriturism farm with a pool, restaurant and Amerene trees in the back garden (we will talk more about these sour cherries another time, needless to say this was one of the most exciting find of the holiday!) We walked in the forest, drove along weaving mountain roads, explored nearby towns and even ventured over the boarder into Tuscany. We swam in the pool and battled it out at dominos and trivial pursuits. We cooked pasta, drank prosecco and ate alfresco. Low points, towards the end of our stay we found a scorpion in the sink and a mouse drowned in the pool so were glad to be moving on! DSC01682DSC01691DSC01747DSC01764DSC01754DSC01759DSC01799MenuDSC01826 DSC01824DSC01728DSC01838DSC01785Firenze During our stay in San Benedetto we took a train to Florence and spent a very hot day exploring the city. Along with several thousand other tourists we climbed Giotto’s Bell tower so we could view the city and the Duomo from above. This involves 414 step climb through narrow corridors so not for the faint hearted, but the panoramic views of the City are spectacular. Duomo, on the approachFlorence from aboveModena Our next stop was Modena, the home of Balsamic vinegar. Modena is just lovely. A  peaceful, elegant City with narrow streets lined with umber and pink town houses. We were here for just one day and managed to pack in a light lunch at an incredible vegan restaurant, the most amazing Gianduja gelato i’ve ever tasted and finally, diner at Massimo Bottura’s 3 star Michelin restaurant Osteria Francescana currently rated number 2 in the world. I didn’t take my camera into the restaurant as I just wanted to relax in the moment and enjoy the meal, but this was truly a once in a lifetime foodie experience. We meet Massimo, C and I were a little star struck so fortunately Lizard and Wizard were there to maintain the conversation! He wore New Balance trainers which are made specially for him by the manufacturers, so he told us. We opted for the tasting menu which featured some of Massimos famous dishes such as “Oops! I dropped the Lemon Tart” and “The Crunchy Part of the Lasagne” Italian classics re-interpreted in molecular gastronomy through Massimo’s unique creativity, wit and imagination. climbingModenapostModenaGelato GiandujaapricotsBologna Our Final stop was Bolognia, the capital of Emilia Romagna. Bolognia is a vivacious medieval city with bustling streets lined with arched colonnades. It is, as the name would suggest, the birth place of that popular ragu bolognase sauce, though traditionally this should be served with a tagliatelle or penette to allow the ragu to cling to the pasta. Spagetti bolognase is essentially a bastardised version of this classic Italian dish that has been lost in translation. There is of course quite a bit more to Bologna’s food culture also!  This was to be my second visit and I was excited at the prospect of revisiting a few remembered places, not least the cook wear/hardware shop Castaldini which sells unique pasta making equipment and a host of bakewear delights. We had been told that Bologna’s food markets were a must see, after a false start which landed us at Bologna’s rag market we finally tracked down Via Drapperie and unearthed some culinary treasures. Parmisan, pasta, buratta and Mortadella were all on the menu, all at extremely reasonable prices too. There is so much to do in Bologna that two days probably wasn’t quite enough, we went to the outdoor cinema outside the San Petronio Bascilica in the Piazza Maggiore where we watched Don Giovanni on the big screen. Bologna also boasts  not one but two leaning towers, one of which is open to the public for climbing, never one to turn down the opportunity for a panoramic view I was all for the 498 step climb though strangely this time no one else was keen, I went it alone and climbed the rickety medieval wooden staircase to the top of the tower. We also managed to cram in as much pizza as possible before it was time to head home, and a little Chianti also! Bologna tourismDSC02218Castaldinioffertarag market findsPasticceria mignon Bolognafresh vegpomidoriVia Draperietortellini freshissimiParmisanWizard + BalconyChiantiwood fire pizzaPepperoni pizza

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Visit: Positano

Positano

On the 25th day of the 5th month of 2015, five friends flew out of rainy London to spend five days enjoying the beautiful town of Positano, on Italy’s Amalfi Coast

I’m starting this post in fairytale style, because that’s sort of how it felt – full of stunning scenery, lovely sunshine and completely stress free

I’d say the holiday could pretty much be divided into – eating, climbing steps, messing about on/in the sea, reading, playing cards, absorbing sunrays

We stayed in a large AirBnB apartment with a seaview veranda, which was pretty close to everything we needed and was owned by an Italian guy who sounded more British than us!

I wanted to share a few photos with you, as well as a few recommendations for things to do an eat – my only regret of the whole holiday was not thinking ahead and hiring a vintage Fiat 500

PositanoPositanoFlowers in PositanoFiat 500 in PositanoWalking in Positano

DO…

  • Hire a pedalo: When we looked back over the holiday, all agreed a big highlight was the hour we spent on the pedalo we hired from an old guy on Spiaggia del Fornillo – it was equal mix sunbathing, taking the slide into the sea, and (perhaps a little cruelly) pedalling away at speed from whoever had just entered the water!
  • Take a boat to Bagni d’Arienzo: For just 8 euros a small boat will take you to and from this private beach, just 5 minutes along the coast, and you’ll secure a sun bed for the day. That’s if the boat doesn’t break down! We ended up taking a water taxi – and pretty much had the beach to ourselves as a result. Sunshine + a good book + cocktails delivered to your sunbed + dips in the sea = bliss. When the skies turned grey, we decided to walk back – and earn our afternoon pizza!
  • Use your legs: Part of Positano’s beauty, is the way the buildings all stack up on each other over the beaches – but this also means lots of steps wherever you go. The locals must all have the most incredibly toned legs. Putting in a little effort to walk to places was definitely worth it though – for example Spiaggia del Fornillo had a much prettier and less crowded beach than the main Spaggia Grande – and the walk to it was a visual joy
  • Meet the locals: On our last night, walking back from dinner, we were attracted by loud music and followed our ears to what seemed to be a party in a hotel car park. A party which seemed to be almost exclusively made up of Italians, who were handing out endless trays of food which seemingly appeared from nowhere. Feeling intrigued but a little like gatecrashers, it was great when the woman manning the drinks table called me over and offered us all a beer, for free – explaining that this was the town’s mayoral election party but of course we were welcome to join in. So we did – even having a dance to the upbeat band (who played our favourite song – see below!) and applauding the candidate, even though we had no idea what he was saying!

Casa e Bottega, Positano Casa e Bottega, Positano

EAT…

Food probably took up 90% of our time – when we weren’t actually eating it, we were thinking about it

And we were so enthusiastic about getting tucked into piles of silky pasta and scoops of creamy gelato… that I barely took any photos of our culinary adventures!

So, in text, here’s our foodie highlights…

  • Casa e Bottega: (pictured above) a homeware store and organic cafe in one, we had breakfast here on our first morning (my fruit, granola and yoghurt was so light and fresh, and I heard satisfied grumbles from those who opted for poached eggs and spinach) I went back for lunch one afternoon when the others were off elsewhere and had the most amazing salad – smoked mozerella, courgetti, sundried tomatoes, yum
  • Da Vincenzo: recommended by the owner of the apartment we stayed in, we ate here on our first evening and were in no way disappointed. The complimentary mini, deep-fried goats cheese calzone we were given was described by more than one of the party as ‘the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth’.
  • Ristorante Saraceno d’Oro: we ate here twice, not only for the incredible food (a place to get great pizza) but for the brilliant atmosphere. We sat outside both evenings and were treated to super friendly service plus the bonus of being entertained by the lively Balkanic Jazz band – we perhaps got a little overexcited when they sang our song of the holiday Tu Vuo Fa L’Americano (you might know it from the film version of The Talented Mr Ripley!)

PS. The catalyst for us taking the holiday was built around my friend Matt being booked to shoot a wedding there – you can see his stunning photos HERE!

PPS. Keep a look out in the next couple of weeks – E has just returned from a different part of Italy and is sure to report back!

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