Abruzzo Foodie Weekend

This weekend was full of food.
Yesterday, we had lunch in https://www.ristoranteilvignale.com/ in Rapino. It was so delicious I forgot to take photographs. I had the best peppercorn steak I’ve ever had in Abruzzo. Cooked to perfection. It was a beautiful restaurant and the staff were great. We sat by a big open log fire, which set the atmosphere perfectly. Long drive from Colledimezzo, but we were in the area to meet friends and it was definitely worth it.
Today, we met friends for lunch in https://www.villaegle.com/ in Atessa, and I did remember to take photos. Fantastic meal in a beautiful restaurant which is hidden away so well that you wouldn’t even know it was there. There are so many great places to eat here. Villa Egle is only twenty minutes from home so we’ll definitely be back.
The restaurants in our area range from excellent local dishes to sophisticated dishes that could compete with any upscale restaurant in Rome or Milan.
I love to cook, but enjoy eating out about once a week. This week I got lucky. Two great meals.
I feel like I’m advertising Abruzzo! I’m not, stay away, I want to keep it to myself.
There were only four diners in Villa Eglie due to COVID. Let’s hope these restaurants survive the pandemic.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone…work tomorrow. Oh wait, I’m retired!

Foraging and Cooking – Local Delights

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. This silly old girl broke her wrist last week. Yes, I fell in the house and have three fractures and one break. hurts like crazy, but mostly it is frustrating. Difficult to function with one hand. Typing one handed is something I never thought I’d have to do! Anyway…..

Let’s get back to food! I purchased some very cheap, local red chillies on Monday. Don’t they look delicious? I had enough to make five small jars of picante sauce, which goes great with any Italian pasta. The only ingredients were chillies boiled in olive oil, garlic, and salt to taste. Delicious!

Yesterday I was given a bag of wild spinach by the little lady who lives down the steps from me. We see her foraging often walking the country paths with her walking stick over her shoulder and bags full of wild greens dangling from it. It seems to keep her fit and healthy. Today I picked out the grass and weeds and chopped off the thick stalks, before chopping and washing the spinach. Now I’m going to wilt this in olive oil with garlic, pesto (made from my own basil) and serve it for lunch with chicken.

I think I’m quite daring. I think foraging the countryside to use what is available is a great idea, and there is a lot available. Wild spinach, asparagus, artichoke, pomegranates, plums, apples, olives, persimmon to name but a few.

The good people of Abruzzo live cheaply, what can’t be foraged is bought local, it works well.

Food for all Tastes

The past few days have been filled with rain and writhing mists. Lovely to watch from my window. I don’t mind days like this, it gives me time to reset myself and take care of indoor chores I’ve been putting off for too long. My kitchen now much more user friendly in preparation for my son-in-law, who likes to cook. He will be here at Christmas…got to have the kitchen ready for him.
Yesterday (Sabato) wasn’t so bad and we met some friends for a fish and chip lunch. British fish and chips are not a regular cuisine in Abruzzo, but a lovely restaurant close by called Osteria Livornese, was serving them as a special for two days. They were delicious. We drank a little too much wine, but oh well. The chief was Irish and cooked the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. He was pretty amusing also…oh wait, of course he was, he’s Irish. We’ll visit the restaurant again and try out their specialty which is a fish broth called cacciucco.
When I opened my eyes at 7am this morning I thought it was still night time. The rain was heavy and has barely let up all day. I’d love to go for a walk, but not a chance. Instead I practiced Italian (as always), and then decided to harvest some of my basil and make pesto sauce. It turned out great!
I cooked Lancashire Hotpot for lunch, with Parmigiano Reggiano sprinkled on top, just to give it an Italian twist.
It’s still raining so I’m going to open one of Mr. King’s books, (Stephen to his friends) and laze away the afternoon in front of the fire.
Enjoy your Sunday everyone! (Buona Domenica a tutti)

The Pomegranate Trick

In Greek mythology, the pomegranate was known as the ‘fruit of the dead’ as it was said to have arisen from the blood of Adonis. … Hades, God of the underworld, used pomegranate seeds to trick Persephone into returning to the underworld for a few months of every year.

Good job no one tricked me because I’d spend the rest of my life in Hades! When I was a child pomegranates were a Christmas treat and I loved them. My mum made me pick each individual seed from the fruit with a pin. It took forever to finish, but I loved it. The pomegranates (melograno) that grow wild here in Abruzzo just fall apart. They are juicy and scrumptious. My good friend Franco gave me four last Sunday and this is the last one. It’s all I’ve eaten so far today because last night we enjoyed the hospitality of Nino and Vittoria. As always their food was delicious. Prosciutto wrapped around a delicious juicy melon for starters, followed by a constant flow of Italian delights, all washed down with excellent local wine. Of course the meal ended with various digestivos. Limoncello, Sambuca and Amaro….to name but a few. Wonderful night. I’ve been trying to pluck up courage to cook for Nino and Vittoria…piano piano as they say in Italy (slowly). They’re a hard act to follow.

Today is a foggy rainy day, but thats OK, it washes the old cobbled alleyways and refreshes the countryside.

I finished my pomegranate while writing this so I hope I don’t get snatched away to Hades!
Have a lovely day everyone.

The Giving Season

No, I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about the fruit bearing season in Abruzzo. Our very good friend Nino brought us this wonderful collection today. We have figs, large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and then his wonderful wife baked biscotti…I don’t think I’ll ever lose weight here.

When I walk I see trees bursting with fruit and the wonderful scent of jam making and baking wafts from open windows as I pass by.

It’s only going to get better as we move into Autumn.

Jamie Oliver Italian Victoria – Fast Food at its worst – Stay Away!

jamie-oliver-italian

We made a trip to England in December, decided it would be a good thing to introduce my son-in-law to family he’d never met because not everyone made it out to Colorado for the wedding.

As expected England was cold, and sometimes very wet, but it was a lovely worthwhile trip. We at great food in pubs and restaurants. “M” on Victoria was fabulous. Great cocktails, fabulous food and incredible service. The pub grub and restaurants up north and in the midlands were amazing. I’ll tell you more about them in another blog. I want to dedicate this blog to Jamie Oliver’s Italian on Victoria.

Our reservation was made almost three months ago. We picked the food in advance from the celebration menu. I made a reservation for five people. It was supposed to be a perfect New Years Eve Meal before heading to the fireworks (which were Spectacular).

We were greeted by the hostess at the restaurant who didn’t say “Welcome to Jamie Oliver”, but said “We need the table by 8:30 so you need to finish your meal by then.”

“What” I’m almost sixty, and a traveling foodie who likes to dine in restaurants all over the US and Europe. I have never ever been greeted so rudely.

We were taken to a booth upstairs and when our waiter turned up to take our order I explained to him I’d ordered everything for our table back in September, including the wine. He looked confused! Eventually the food started to arrive. My smoked salmon was just OK (how hard is it to put salmon on a plate?) No one was impressed with their appetizers, which were a bad start to a terrible meal. The wine eventually came and WAS NOT what I ordered. I can’t drink Sauvignon Blanc, it’s too acidic for me, but that’s what they brought me. A carafe of cheap undrinkable wine.

Main course. Mine was pan-fried cod floating is a sludgy mass of something green! Not good, but perhaps the best of the five main courses we were served. Everything looked like warmed up congealed leftovers , with exception to the vegetables. They were burnt beyond recognition. The Tiramisu Pavlova, ordered for dessert by two people in our party was inedible. You get the drift. We paid over two hundred pounds for this disaster.

Yes I complained, no they didn’t care.

Mr. Oliver, I’ve watched you on television for several years, you are quite a star here in America, but I will no longer be a fan or waste my time on your shows. In my opinion you have put your name to this restaurant as a money-making machine and nothing else. I don’t eat fast foods, but in my opinion, your restaurant in Victoria is an overpriced fast food restaurant (very overpriced for the slop you serve). As a chef, you should be ashamed of yourself.

My advice to anyone wanting a nice meal. Go to “M” which is close by, has great ambiance, and serves good food. Or save your pennies and go to Gordon Ramsay’s Maze where you aren’t herded in like cattle and you’ll be served a meal you’ll remember for the rest of your life, for the right reasons.

Missing in Chinatown

China Town  San Francisco

China Town San Francisco

 

 

 

 Everyone who comes to San Francisco visits Chinatown, it’s part of the magic. 

My first visit was in May of 1999. We walked the streets, saw the sights and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of this magical city. The day are warm, but when night falls…..brrrrrr, cold. I still love the place though.

I think it may have been my second or third visit here that I found a great place to eat in Chinatown. It was inexpensive and the food was delicious. Of course I never noted the name. My husband and I shared a cheap lunch of fried calamari and hot and sour soup. It was the best we had ever eaten and we vowed to go back…..you guessed it. On our next visit to San Francisco, we couldn’t find it. Every trip since, we have searched, but decided it must have closed down. WRONG!

Here we are again in lovely San Francisco. My husband had to take part in a conference call on Friday afternoon, so I strolled through Chinatown on my own. I found myself outside a restaurant that beckoned me to enter, so I did. I immediately recognized it as the elusive place we had been searching for. More that five years after our first visit, I found it again so I am going to share it with you. If you want reasonably priced, authentic Chinese food search for the ‘Far East Cafe’. It is on Grant, between California and Sacrament streets (on your left if you are walking up the hill).

Far East Cafe is a shabby but, friendly Chinese Restaurant with fresh, authentic, inexpensive food.

Try it, you won’t be sorry.

Far East Cafe Food at Far East Cafe

Dead of July (Small)

EATING MY WAY AROUND THE WORLD

I love to eat and I love to travel so I thought it would be nice to share both with you. I was born in County Durham, in the north of England. My first recipe is a favorite there. It was always on the menu in traditional pubs too. ‘The George’ in Piercebridge’ is a lovely example of an English country pub. 

Toad in the Hole

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 scant teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb of bangers (an English sausage made with pork and breadcrumbs), or good quality pork or beef sausage links (in casings)

METHOD

1 In a large bowl, whisk together the flour with the salt and a pinch of pepper. Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour in the eggs, milk, and melted butter into the well and whisk into the flour until smooth. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.

2 Coat the bottom and sides of an 8×12 or 9×9 casserole dish with vegetable oil. Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Put the empty dish on the rack. Preheat the oven with the dish in it to 425°F.

3 While the oven is coming to temperature, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet on medium high. Add the sausages and brown both sides.

4 When the sausages have browned, and the dish in the oven hot, pull the oven rack out a bit, put the sausages in the casserole dish, and pour the batter over the sausages. Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the batter is risen and golden.

Serve at once.

toad-in-the-hole-1.jpgtoad-in-the-hole-2.jpg
toad-in-the-hole-3.jpgtoad-in-the-hole-4.jpg

This looks very ordinary, but tastes spectacular. Goes well with a glass of stout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love living in Colorado, and would never move back to England, but I do miss the traditional English food. It really is better than it’s reputation.

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The Diet! (Day One)

Dieting is a journey too! It is a difficult journey filled with peril.

In 2009, I decided to take control of my weight, and signed up with one of the leading dietician companies. Over a thousand dollars and four months later I had lost 40 pounds. Everyone thought I was a little too skinny, but I though I looked great.

I stayed a very skinny 143 pounds (I am five feet eight) for two years and loved being that weight.

Now in 2012, 20 pounds crept back on…….do I part with my money and sign up with a diet plan again? I think not.

Do the diet plans work? Of course they do, but once you are finished, no matter what your good intentions are, you can’t continue to eat that way. It’s boring. Cooking is one of my hobbies (go figure). I love good wine too. Yes I snow board and work out, but that makes me hungry!

I have decided to work on my own plan, a plan that suits me and you can monitor my progress.

What do I stand to gain (or lose)?

My gain is the $1000, which will remain in my pocket. My loss? Twenty pounds I hope. Follow my journey and lets see where I end up.

I will check in with you all at least three times a week so you can monitor my progress and share my battles.

Feel free to join me, and to comment as you see fit.

Day 1 (not really a diet)

Breakfast:   8 am. Tea and two slices of toast with marmalade. A glass of grapefruit juice.

9 am. Latte with 1% milk.

Busy day. Spent 2 1/2 hours at the hair stylist, shopped and didn’t get chance to eat again until 5 pm

Ate at the Stagecoach in Franktown. Deliciously bad!

Dinner 5 pm. Glass of Pinot Grigio and some chicken fingers (zinger style) with freedom fries.

You probably are wondering how I can call this a diet. Well, I am dieting for the rest of my life, so today is my (eat what you want) day.

I will weigh in tomorrow and let you know how it worked out.