my first memory of Anna is a phone call from Zoe from barcelona.
earlier that day, nine years ago, an italian woman was browsing through her shop. they started to chat, she was from milan, she worked in the music business, she knew who i was. Zoe was impressed by that woman, so different from all the other italians she had happened to meet thus far. Anna was lively, bright, friendly..

even when i moved to brighton Anna used to call quite often, mostly by mistake: my number was the first in her mobile phone and she always forgot to lock the keypad. i found myself projected inside her handbag, trying to overhear a conversation which was none of my business or just listening to the background noises of a city far away in time and space.
once, though, the noises were those of a band playing on one of the biggest stages in milan: Anna was calling to tell me that that would have never happened without me.
maybe not true but certainly appreciated.

my last memory of Anna... well i'm trying hard to forget THAT. it just wasn't her.

i don't believe in any kind of after life. still, there's the chance i might be wrong (ehi, it has happened before) therefore i am comforted by the thought that, wherever she might be now, she's already telling the boss off.



is my blog burning? - the day-after tartine

the day after tartinei had different plans for clotilde's tartine edition of "is my blog burning?" cooking day.
i had planned the most delicious tartine i could dream of. i even gave it a name, "the three steps to heaven" in recognition of its heavenly taste and its extreme simplicity.
unexpectedly, my usual dealer had run out of the main ingredient, and by no means i would use a lesser quality version, even if in a photo it may have looked the same.
hey, this blog has ethics.
"yeah, whatever.. just tell us what the ingredient is"
well, stay tuned and the three steps to heaven will eventually be posted.
(hint: the ingredient *stinks*).

after all the tartine i came up with is in the true spirit of this blog. instead of being carefully planned and prepared it was rustled up using some left overs from the previous day's supper.

the previous day, last tuesday, i had bought two beautiful, beautiful shoulders of local salt marsh lamb. one went straight into the oven where it slowly cooked for five hours until melt-in-your-mouth-ly tender.
fantastic. a simple fresh green salad on the side to cut through the greasiness of the shoulder's meat and a truly scrumptious dinner was served.
and a lot of leftovers to boot.

lamb leftovers are great for day-after sandwiches or ground to make a quick ragù for some pasta.
or, in this case, to make my day-after tartine.

on a slice of good bread i put a layer of spinach, then soaked the spinach with the juices from the roasting tin, skimmed of the excess fat, then i put a few slices of meat on top and sprinkled with sea salt flakes.
it didn't look that good so for the sake of the photo i added three roasted cherry tomatoes which i then removed.
roast tomatoes and spinach just doesn't work for me.
the rest did.

a nice, ethical tartine.


(my)baby(and her)food

there are strange undercurrents in food blogging.
i realized it when, just before writing this post i checked alberto's blog.

we both live abroad, we both are fathers for the first time, we both face the problem of "emulsifying" two different cultures.
we both decided to blog about it at the same time..


the problems are the same. contrasting advice (italian authors order parents to steer clear from oats for the first ten months while here you are strongly advised to give the baby porridge as first weaning food...) which only agrees on the fact that you should feed your baby only unsavoury, uninspiring food. allegedly healthy but terminally BORING.

so, after a cautious approach, we have started feeding isabella proper food even if not what we eat yet.
she is seven months and toothless after all.

this is what she likes:

  • pears, grated or cooked, with yoghurt or créme fraiche;

  • carrots, steamed and mashed with a bit of butter;

  • baby muesli with breastmilk or formula;

  • broccoli, steamed and puréed with grated parmesan and extra virgin olive oil;

  • chicken legs boiled with celery, carrots, potatoes and onions, all whizzed together including a little bit of chicken skin to add extra kick; her favourite!

  • mangoes;

  • sweet potatoes au naturél;

  • spinach with potatoes, grated parmesan and extra virginolive oil.

what she doesn't like:

  • bananas (very unexpectedly so)

  • lamb (maybe a bit too early)

tune in in a few months to learn about my struggle to shelter her from baked beans, marmite and ribena (they have a "tooth kind" product line... makes you think).


the ten minutes meat feast

ten minutes meat feast
eating meat is a privilege we should treasure and cherish.
intensively farmed and inhumanely slaughtered meat is bad for the animals, bad for the environment, bad for you.
it's a major problem and luckily there is a lot we can do:
talk to friends, spread the word, stop buying cheap meat, buy from small reliable worthy butchers and producers.

there are times when i decide to treat myself to an expensive, deliciously sustainable, well hung tender steak of sirloin from my local butcher.
i cut the meat it in strips, place it on a foil covered baking tray, with garlic, rosemary thime, shallots, lemon and white wine.
ten minutes in the blazing hot oven it's all it takes to be perfect.

my teeth rip through the exquisite muscles of the once living beast.
there is nothing like the thrill the first bite of rare red meat sends to the brain.
for that moment i am just an animal eating another animal.
then i remember:

somebody reared this animal with love.
somebody killed this animal with skill.
somebody cut this animal with craftsmanship.

this animal died for my pleasure.