Monthly Archives: September 2012

Where it all starts

Everybody has a place that you feel like home or for whatever reason you feel particularly close to. In my case it’s also the place where my passion for food started. I am talking about my parents native city: Civitanova Marche. Civitanova is a small town on the Adriatic coast in the Marche Region.

Many define the Marche as the new Tuscany because as Tuscany has lovely countryside, endless number of small towns and villages situated in the colourful hills, a prosperous agriculture, amazing food and wines. The coast present lovely beaches and not far away mountains of the Appennino worth a visit. I could go on and on enhancing all the beauties of the region but I rather prefer showing few pictures taken during my last visit during the summer, probably the best season to visit the region.

Furthermore Marche is a good option for the fashion lovers. So many famous brands for the high end clothing market have their HQ in the region. Some of them are already famous abroad, such as Tod’s and Hogan. Others, as Prada or Dolce and Gabbana, are producing their clothes and shoes in the area outsourcing their productions to small local companies, which do not have the resources to compete in the market with their own brands.

Competion is though especially from Chinese companies, so the local companies put together their force to compete in the global market. This is what a project called in-outlet is trying to do. As it can be read in their website: ” in-outlet is a guide, which aim is to make its readers aware of shopping proposals, to give directions where to grasp good deals. The guide includes artistic, cultural and rural proposals of a territory that attracts more and more tourists every year.” In-outlet has also an online shop called in-outlet village, which allows you to buy online quality products (Clothing, footwear, bags and accessories and food & wine) directly from the producer . In other words, you can have a slice of Marche Region anywhere you are.

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Santa Maria Pizza

From time to time I really fancy to eat a good pizza (who doesn’t?). But I am quite demanding when it comes to pizza (or any other food..really!!) so I have been investigating for a while, reading reviews by bloggers or experts to find the right place. Every review agreed on one place called Santa Maria Pizza, so the deciosion was taken.

The only negative side of the reviews was that it is not possible to book a table and people could cue for long time, killing sometimes in the next door pub. Aware of this, we decided to visit the Pizzeria at a rather weird time, not for lunch neither for dinner but late in the afternooon around 6 pm. I was amazed that at that time just few tables were occupied.

Santa Maria is a very tiny and very cosy place in Ealing (they now opened a new branch in Kensal Rise called Sacro Cuore), the staff is very friendly and the whole atmosphere is exceptionally warm and very italian. It looks like a corner of Naples in London. The menu is simple: mainly pizza, some starters, few side dished and a couple of dessert. This is the way I like the menu’: it’s easy to read, simple but at the same time rich in choices.

The main character is the PIZZA. Allow me the capital letters because it is really outstanding, the best I had since long time. All the topping are truly Italian or Napolitean, as the owners. But going back to the pizza, I had one called “San Giuseppe” with Napolitean sausage, Bufalo Mozzarella and Friareielli (Wild Broccoli) and my wife had the calzone: a folded pizza filled with fresh ricotta, mozzarella and napolitean sausage. The pizzas look big but the dough is so light that you can eat the whole pizza without even realising it and without feeling full.

The service is very good and fast..you will receive your pizza sooner than expected, also because the tiny pizzeria is quickly getting busy expecially around 7 o’clock.

This Pizza was priceless for me and generally is on the economic side. Prices start from £5.45 and the whole meal for two people, including drinks but not service charge, costs less than £30. A real deal.

Since I tried this pizza I don’t want to eat pizza anywhere else, even though I am tempted to try the rest on the list of Timeout review.

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Fresh Egg Pasta..a typical Sunday in Italy

In Italy Sundays is the day when many family get together, the granma’ makes the fresh pasta, either tagliatelle, tortellini or any shape.

Last Sunday, fresh from a trip to the home land, I woke up and I was keen to make something for me special, in honour of old memories. So I decided to put together a couple of eggs, 200 gr of flour and all the strengths one can have on a Sunday morning, to work energetically the dough for 15 minutes or more.


Ingredients:

For every egg used 100 gr of flour need to be added.

How to do it:

Place the flour in a wooden board, or if you don’t have it just use any clean surface, as I did. Create a hole in the centre of the flour and brake the eggs, adding a pinch of salt. Start beating the eggs while collecting small amounts of flour from the sides. Add gradually the flour to the eggs until obtaining a dough which will need to be worked for 15 minutes until smooth.

Wrap the dough in cling film  and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Start flattening the dough with a rolling machine, if you have one, or by hands, as in my case. Keep working the dough until 1 mm thin. Dust the result of the rolling process with some flour and roll it up. Cut in small pieces 0.5 cm wide to obtain tagliatelle or larger if you want to have some pappardelle.

Note that the same dough could be used for different shapes: lasagne and cannelloni, ravioli or tortellini (if filled with meat or veggies) and many more.

The tagliatelle are good with ragu’ di carne but also with a fish sauce or simply with some fresh tomato and basil sauce.

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Fruit tart

After a well deserved short holiday in Italy and a couple of kilos gained during the short break it’s time to get back to the normal life: no more sun or beach, neither the delicious food always available in every corner. But life goes on and a trip to the home land always comes with plenty of inspirational recipes, fresh ideas and a lot of energy.

Looking my grandma’s in the kitchen, trying to steal secrets, it is every time a huge source of inspiration, it’s like going to a cooking school with chefs that have been preparing the same recipes for the last 60 years or so. It’s priceless.

This is her recipes for a tart with strawberries and custard cream. In other words, it was my attempt to make a fruit tart according to her bespoken recipe.

It doesn’t take long to make it and the result is worth a bit of waiting. All you need for the base are the following ingredients:

170 gr. of butter

300/400 gr. 00 flower

100 gr. sugar

3 eggs (2 whole eggs and 1 yolk)

For the cream:

1 yolk

1 big spoon of sugar

1 glass of milk

1 spoon of flower

Vanilla flavour

How to do it:

Prepare the flower leaving an empty space in the middle where the butter and the sugar will be mixed together before adding the eggs. Once the eggs have been added work the dough until obtain a soft and slightly sticky mass. Leave the dough to rest for half an hour in the fridge.

While the dough is resting in the fridge prepare the cream: mix the yolk and sugar, add the milk and the flower. Add vanilla flavour and cook at low fire mixing continuously clockwise. Cook until the mixture will become thicker.

Stretch the dough and cut in small circles, placing them in a cooking trays for muffins. Cook the base for a 15/20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 180°C. Once the bases are ready pure some of the cream on the top; chop some strawberries and dispose nicely on the top of the tart.

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