Sun is out and so the flowers… and I exhale!

Ach, don’t I just love February? Spring seems to be getting closer, at least in days like today, when the sun is out!, and both hubby and I have our birthdays!
Last weekend saw us going to Rome: he’s started as visiting prof now, and enjoying himself tremendously, lodging at my folks ๐Ÿ™‚ and working away… yesterday as a gift my folks took Alistair for lunch at the Riserva in Canale Monterano, which is near our home in Oriolo and what a little jewel for the food they offer… the menu is not very vast but the produce is local and the offerings tasty! They also bake pizza in their woodfire oven at dinner, but lunch is all about ribollita, lasagne and fettuccine and the much prized local lamb!
Last weekend, my Dad took us all to lunch to one of our favourite Roman haunt, i.e. Trattoria Perilli al Testaccio! My Mum, hubby, sister and kids all gathered to celebrate my 36th birthday (yes, I am an old bag! official!): veggie soup, carciofi and spring greens were had, along with Shiraz from Casale del Giglio… Hubby enjoyed tagliolini ai carciofi and veal cacciatora, whereas the kids got stuck in lamb roast with potatoes. My Mamma, instead, enjoyed trippa and a portion of cacio e pepe, shared with big sister. Perilli is just the place for good, not pretentious Roman food. I recommend it to any pal wishing to sample my city’s cuisine… several friends went and were treated really well, so I never fail to thank Mr Perilli and his family and employees for having looked after my friends every time I go!
Now that hubby is away, well… I am not saying I am bored but don’t I miss him?? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Last Tuesday I really appreciated going to Hush Hour at Lucky Liquor, where I had a nice catch up beer or two with my pal Blythe (of LunchQuest fame!) and lovely friend Rose!! Much fun for us Total Food Geeks Edinburgh will be had, so watch this space!
And now, late lunch beckons… mushroom broth, quick and easy, I think. So before I go, herewith my recipe!
for one
300g mushrooms, any type you like, washed and chopped
350ml veggie stock
1/2 tbsp olive oil
a handful pearl spelt or barley, soaked for at least 3 hours
mixed greens, shredded (anything you like, sorrel, spinach, kale… even frozen spinach will do! :))
salt, pepper, parsley and chilli to taste
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion, chopped

In a pan, heat the oil and sautee garlic and onion for a few minutes, then add the cereal. Mix well, then add the mushrooms and seasonings. Cover and let stew for 5/6 min. Pour over the stock, lower the hob and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve.


Out and about in the country… Dunblane and its surprises! :)

Those who know hubby and me know that October and November were tough months… ok, now hubby is well on his way to full recovery, exercising faithfully as often as he can and generally in good nick, but still, the end of November was a good time to take a couple of days off and visit the country! So, last Friday we headed to Dunblane, having booked a room at the Hydro Hotel. It is a small place, Dunblane… but the countryside where it is is so lovely–the river Allan flows across the town and the Cathedral, well, is really amazing!
The Hydro treated us well enough… I enjoyed the pool in the morning and Hubby used the gym a couple of times… but mostly we were walking around the town, reading papers and not doing very much!
On Friday night we treated ourselves to a very good Chinese dinner: China Gourmet looks really quiet in its sit-in area… but is really busy as takeaway, looking by all accounts like a local favourite. I enjoyed vegan spring rolls and lettuce wraps filled with vegetables, stir fried in soy sauce, and boiled rice. Hubby felt the need for a warming chicken and veg soup… followed by a very tasty curry. With good service and very reasonable prices, who can go wrong?
Saturday night, instead, I must say, was less successful… I had booked a table at the Riverside, whose website boasted an extensive vegetarian menu whose courses to my mind could be easily veganised… it turned out, sadly, not to be the case. The chef was simply unable to do so and I ended up with salad and bread… which was more expensive and less tasty than the one I had at lunchtime in another local favourite, Cafe’ Continental! In fairness the manageress knocked off our starters and drinks from the bill by way of apology and with hindsight I should have probably let them know that I was vegan on the ‘phone… however, when at least a couple of the veggie options do not show cheese or dairy as part of their description, I wonder whether it would have been possible to modify their delivery to vegan standards… In the end of the day I had no particular problem asking this in other establishments (firstly Timberyard, which given their love for meat and game would have been forgiven for not being particularly flexible, and instead deliver every time even without notice!)… let’s hope that the kitchen staff at Riverside gain in flexibility and creativity… On the upside, hubby enjoyed his sea bass… however, despite having offered and accepted the parsnip soup he ended up with something looking and tasting like mushroom soup–not a big problem, as he likes both, but still… I wish they had updated their boards and informed the staff!
Dunblane was a lovely find… a word is truly deserved for a couple of pubs we visited, the Village Inn and the Tappit Hen–the latter is a CAMRA Scotland establishment and the choice of ales was really good. The Village Inn is also pleasant and quiet–seems to have a strong following among the locals, which tells visitors all they need to know about how nice it is!
So on the whole, despite our dinner adventure on Saturday, we enjoyed our stay… who knows where we’ll go next year for another break? Meantime, we’re starting getting ready for Christmas: this Saturday my charity group will host our annual Christmas party and thereafter (on Tuesday 9 Dec) the EGP community will get together for mulled wine and mince pies and some good music at Hendersons’!
Before that though–tomorrow, Locanda dei Gusti, here we come: the Geeks will be out in town! ๐Ÿ™‚ more later!

Longer days… yippie!

The beauty of February is not just about lots of birthdays to celebrate… it is mostly about days starting to get visibly longer! ๐Ÿ™‚ This struck me on Friday evening as I was walking from the Library in George Square to Doctors’ to meet my lovely friend Alessandra! The sky still had some daylight in it… what a relief!

Anyhow, this weekend was good and pleasantly busy… yesterday I started my pots in the garden, with dwarf beans, that are among the favourites of my fab lady garden owner Cornelia… and I have also seeded some Little Gem Lettuce in one of the beds, which is good.ย  Last night we enjoyed a performance of Scottish Opera–Don Pasquale by Donizetti, so good fun!–followed by a late Indian dinner at the Red Fort in Drummond Street… honest and hearty food, tasty and served by kind and attentive staff, just what one needs! head there if you are at the Festival Theatre, it is just across the way!

Today, the winds were really high… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I took 3 extra minutes on my 12 miler and at one point the wind sent me on a spin on my feet, go figure it out… STV reports a gust of 83 mph in Edinburgh, I suspect it may have been that one, or a close relative anyhow!

Lunchtime saw me experimenting with turkey breast for hubby… I had taken advantage of a special offer on turkey at my local supermarket… so, I thought I’d put that to use.ย  I cooked the breast slices wrapped with ham and pancetta in olive oil, and a handful of sliced mushrooms,ย with salt, pepper, garlic, parsley and rosemary.ย  It took about 30 min to get them done–you are never too careful with turkey and poultry generally…–but hubby appreciated!

So, just for you…

For one

150g turkey breast, cut in 2 slices

1 slice each of pancetta and Parma Ham, each cut in half lenghtways

1 tsbp olive oil

4 medium mushrooms, cut in thin slices

1 clove garlic

1/2 tsp each of dried parsley and rosemary

1 pinch each, salt and white pepper

Sautee the garlic in the olive oil in the pan til soft; meanwhile wrap the turkey slices in the ham and pancetta; place them in the bottom of the pan, add the herbs and seasonings then cover the pan.ย  Cook on a medium heat for about 10 min–take care that the turkey sizzles a bit–then add the mushrooms, cover again and cook for another 20 min on a slightly less fiery heat.ย  Serve at once.ย  Good with garlic bread–asย  hubby chose to have it–or potatoes and salad.

Next up–lunch with a friend… a very knowledgeable one at that!

Ciao… ๐Ÿ™‚