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 🙂 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?? 😦 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.


New year new adventures…

It seems like yesterday that we were looking up to Christmas… and once again I am guilty as charged from not blogging for a long time! December turned out to be a tough month, with 2 bouts of various bugs which netted me half a stone and generally made me feel pretty dreary… so much so that I missed the fabulous TFGE Christmas do at Locanda dei Gusti… 😦 what a shame, but I was still under the influence of the dreaded norovirus!
Christmas was what was needed though… spending a bit less than a fortnight with family in Rome, enjoying walks and exhibition with lovely husband recharged my batteries.
As ever, we rekindled our family traditions for the Eve–our thin dinner!–and for the Day–our big dinner! 🙂
I made my fritto alla Romana and this year it came out very well, light and fluffy. Don’t ask me how, making the batter has no rime or reason for me, I use the same method and yet every time it is different. So, cauliflower florets and apples enjoyed the batter treatment whereas sliced artichokes were just dipped in egg and flour… ok, frying for an hour and half is a bit of a chore, but then the results are rather amazing! The Eve also saw my Mum back at the helm of pasta al tonno, roasted fish in the oven and a casserole of various seafood and crustaceans!
The Day was well, traditional… fettuccine al pomodoro were followed by roast lamb and roast veal loaf, potato roasties and steamed greens–broccoli from our kitchen garden and also steamed carrots and various salads!
Capodanno was spent with good friends–and I contributed la lenticchia, i.e. lentils stewed with garlic, celery and tomato, a traditional dish for New Year’s Eve, as it symbolises money and good luck. I enjoyed these on their own, but they are traditionally served with cotechino! Look here for an idea:
We got back refreshed and ready for more adventures… see the next posts for what I have been up to. I promise more regular kitchen and garden updates but watch out for my pics on twitter too!

…lovely to see you back!!

This week was a long one and the next will be even more so and decisive… but now I wish to spare a much heartfelt thought for my friends of the best blog/collective, Total Food Geeks Edinburgh! Wednesday 27 November saw  us getting together once again after several months around a table, for a long-overdue catchup and some fantastic food in Mithas on Dock Place in Leith.

Blythe (aka the man behind Lunchquest, great blog/review website for Edinburgh and surrounds), David, i.e. Pie and Beans, Rose, aka EdibleRose, Simon and new member Adam, plus David’s lovely wife Pat shared a delicious Indian meal and had the opportunity to talk about what we’ve been up to and also think forward to what will come out of our ever energetic joint blog and group as a whole! TFGE is an amazing network and for me it’s been a key moment to meet them all, as I was struggling to find my feet in Edinburgh shortly after moving… so expect more about what we do.

Before I go, I thought I’d write something about Mithas… well, you know, I lived in Birmingham for 3 years, hence I have standards when it comes to Indian! However in the past 2 weeks I was lucky to visit 2 establishments that showed me that good Indian food is indeed at hand here too.

One is Rivage in Easter Road–licensed but with BYOB option, it offers some very wholesome, freshly cooked and quite creative food, mainly from the North, but still, with very wide choice.  Plenty to go around for veggies and vegans (I had brinjal bhangan and a lovely veggie masala for my main) and also somoe lovely meaty options: I was impressed at seeing the choice of lamb and seafood based dishes, and my pals (from the St Vincent de Paul group at St Mary’s Cathedral, another great network! :)) seemed all very happy. With shared starters of popadums, samosas and aloo tikki, it all came for £16 which I can tell you, given the quality and the size of the portions, was a real steal!

The other is Mithas… well, this establishment well deserves its 2 rosettes, I can tell you.  My TFGE pals enjoyed the meat tasting menu (£29.95 a head and a choice of several starters and mains from a very imaginative list!) whereas I followed the well-thought through advice of the head waiter and went for 3 starters and 2 side dishes from the veggie  list for a truly fabulous and tasty feast… with a bottle of Cobra it all came for me to £36 but I can assure you, it was worth every penny.  Mithas is an elegant place, the service is attentive and kind and the food is really delicious–a different league from Rivage although I must say that Rivage is not far at all!!–and up there with the various Kitchin, Larder and yes, I’ll push my envelope, Castle Terrace!

Most of all the outing at Mithas made me reconnect with with Total Food Geeks Friends… which is truly priceless. For all of you this is a wholehearted recommendation–if you are out on Easter Road (which also sports the Mash Tun, a very nice pub!, along with, of course, Cornelius, a really amazing offie), go and eat at Rivage for an Indian.  For an Italian, of course, cross the road and ask Graziano to host you at Al Dente!  If you are out in Leith instead and want to impress your date, your business pals or simply have a swanky meal, Mithas is for you!!

happy week all!