Sunday, 2 September 2018

Flickers of summer: Rome, Florence and a special dinner with a friend

I had a busy, wonderful summer time with my mum in Woking and surroundings. The weather was unbelievably gorgeous, sunny and warm most of the time, sometimes hot. I felt I was living in a sort of extension of the Italian peninsula in green Surrey countryside with a perfect Mediterranean climate, except for the humidity.

I spent July and August at home, but before it I had a week in Rome and a few days in Florence with my mum. She had told me some time ago that she wished to visit the Uffizi Gallery she had never seen before, so though I had been in Florence last Easter with my husband, I was happy to see it again with her. Florence is such a beautiful city that you can never get enough of it. Besides Uffizi, we visited most of the churches, went to Palazzo Pitti, where there was an engrossing ongoing exhibition called Tracce, which compares haute-couture models with works of fine art from the collection of the Modern Art museum of Palazzo Pitti. We also visited Gucci Garden and Ferragamo museum where there was a new exhibition about Italian people who lived and worked in Hollywood; you can read my review on the exhibitions in Florence here:

Brancacci Chapel with Masaccio’s frescos impressed us as well. The desperate, stark naked Adam and Eve expelled from Eden look so human and real that the other works by Masolino and Filippo Lippi painted near it seem artificial and insubstantial in comparison.

We had luscious ice creams at Carraia, where they make the best ice cream ever, and idyllic breakfasts and dinner times on the cute balcony full of flowers of our Airbnb with a stunning view of Brunelleschi dome. Unfortunately, my mum, who is 88, couldn’t do as much as she would have liked as she gets tired easily now and she suffers from harsh back aches due to her twisted spine. She walks slowly and needs to rest from time to time. Nevertheless, we could do a lot considering her frail conditions. She enjoys art very much so Florence is certainly her ideal place.

In Rome we visited the exhibition of Turner at Chiostro del Bramante near piazza Navona, an unmissable place to see if you visit the capital. I can see Turner in London at Tate Britain, of course, where there are several rooms dedicated to the great English painter, but admiring his work in this wonderful venue was a comprehensive experience. There were about a hundred works on display, some of them
flabbergasting, and an installation inspired by one of his paintings at the end. You can read my review here:

Besides helping my mum with her last chores and shopping before leaving for England, we visited one of my best friends who lives in the centre of Rome near piazza Campo de’ Fiori. She is a lively, high spirited person with whom I’ve always had a great time just walking around the centre, having an ice cream or a drink together or simply having a chat sitting on a stone bench in piazza Farnese. We had intrepid tours in Europe, mainly France and Spain, together in the past, in that blissfully unsettled interval between the end of the studies and the decision to settle down, that for me was getting married and having children, a choice I’ve never regretted.

My friend is a great cook, like most Italian people; cooking for her is a pleasure as much as eating and she takes her time not only in the accurate balancing and mixing of ingredients but also in the artful arranging of food. Everything she makes is superbly delicious and at the same time very simple. She is originally from Sardinia so this time she prepared for us some Sardinian ravioli (ravioli Baradili) with cherry tomato sauce. Here is the recipe:

For the ravioli you need to prepare homemade pasta sheets with 300 g of 00 flour or plain white flour and 3-4 eggs. Mix the ingredients, knead the dough and let it rest for about half an hour then roll it out using a pasta machine. In the meantime, prepare the filling mixing 250 g of ricotta, the grated zest of a lemon, an egg, a tsp and a half of sugar and half a tsp of ground nutmeg. Cut the pasta sheets in squares with a wheel pastry cutter, fill it with a tsp of the ricotta mixture and seal the ravioli damping the hems with water. You should make ravioli of about an inch and a half side.

For the tomato sauce you need: a can of cherry tomatoes, half of a white or red onion thinly cut, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, fresh basil and white wine.

Pour some oil in a saucepan with the onion, let it simmer for a while but do not burn it, add the tomatoes, about half a tsp of salt, sugar and some pepper. Let it simmer for at least half an hour. Add half a glass of white wine and the basil. Let it simmer for another half an hour or till it becomes thicker, but it doesn’t need to be too thick.

Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water and drain them. To serve your ravioli you need to follow this procedure: pour some tomato sauce on a deep plate and sprinkle grated parmigiano and grated percorino on it, put 3-4 ravioli on the plate and add more tomato sauce on top, and parmigiano and pecorino again, then another layer of ravioli and tomato sauce and the grated cheeses until you have about 8-10 ravioli in each plate (apparently this is the ideal portion).

She also served some pane carasau (Sardianian thin and crispy flatbread), bresaola with rocket and black olives, all properly ‘watered’ by red wine. To end our glorious dinner, we couldn’t skip a well deserved ice cream from Frigidarium, a Sicilian ice cream parlour in via del Governo Vecchio. It was a wondrous, substantial way of being together.

No comments:

Post a Comment