Thursday, 25 August 2011

The perfect meal

Before I go on holiday I always tell to myself, that I am going to take a break from cooking. It is a good thing to miss it and go back to cooking with even more passion. This time it took me four days to be back in the kitchen. What made me to do this? Local produce in place we have stayed, village called Ginestra. 

I cooked really simple yet beautiful in its simplicity dinner. We sat around the table slightly worm-eaten, listen Vivaldi’s violin concert and its melody seemed to mix well with the sounds of everyday village life. I have achieved a culinary nirvana. It is funny how little human being needs to be happy. 

To cook this perfect meal I went 2000km away from Yorkshire, to warm slopes of Central Apennines, I have become much calmer, and I completely forgot that I need two matching sets of cutlery or plates to be happy. I also reminded myself that food eaten from a chipped bowl can be tasty, even if I only have a cheap table wine handy. 

On Tuesday or Friday around 9.30am I sat next to the open window carefully awaiting some dance music coming from the distance. I was awaiting Cessidio who comes in his van and stops next to the bar first, then he drives to the shop and his last stop in the village is near the post office. He does not have wide selection, but his vegetables are always fresh and good quality. I bought 2kg of tomatoes from him. These were nowhere near tomatoes I see in supermarkets. They reminded me of my Granny’s tomatoes that she used to grow on the allotment. Smell of the tomato vines exposed to the sun always reminds me my childhood. 

Good tomatoes are also available from Neapolitan, who comes to the village on Fridays between 10 and 11am. 

You also need some tasty olive oil to cook this perfect meal. The best I had so far is olive oil produced by Gina, one of the villagers. In Ginestra, specifically in village frantoio few producers make their own olive oil. They you a specific mixture of local olives and it gives the oil very distinctive colour and flavour – fruity yet peppery on the finish. Thankfully I have ordered some in April and tin filled with olive oil was waiting for me in Ginestra when I arrived.

Olive tree in Ginestra

It is not difficult to guess while shopping in Osteria Nuova, that fresh pasta (pasta fresca) made locally in Spinacetto – Greccio is very popular. I bought a packet of strozzapreti fresche (it means “priest choker” – I love it!) and few days later I went back to the shops to get some more, because it was delicious. You can also buy this pasta from Fratelli Liberati deli, where you can buy lovely pecorino cheese, which I love even more than parmesan.  

I chopped roughly few washed tomatoes into bite size pieces, placed then in a bowl with finely chopped 2 cloves of garlic and one crumbled peperoncino. Added little bit salt and set aside for a while. Meanwhile I cooked pasta al dente. When tomatoes released their juices I added a generous splash of oil and some roughly crushed black peppercorns.  



I mixed drained pasta with tomatoes in the bowl and shaved some pecorino on the top. We had it with some lovely chilled rose wine and when we finished pasta, we used some tasty local bread to clean the plates. Nothing went to waste. Not even a drop of this tasty juice and olive oil. 

Why recently I obsessively think about my own house in Italian countryside?

Up date, 14th October

Well... I did not win on the lottery recently (nice roll over!), so I will not be buying an Italian house of my dreams, however I can still cheer myself up by going to the restaurant of my choice  and spending some money that I can win entering another exciting competition. This recipe takes part in LoveTheGarden “A Taste for Tomatoes - a recipe blog competition”, so please keep your fingers crossed!


  1. Tak, tak, tak ! To jest właśnie to ! Prostota smaków daje najlepsze połączenie : ) U mnie dziś to samo na obiad, tyle, że ze spaghetti : )

  2. Beautiful tomatoes, the one in the centre in first photo is a "Cuore di Beue", all those tomatoes are too ugly for supermarkets here, but taste incredible. A shame.

    What a beautiful dish with the pasta, wow and wow! haha!!

    I am enjoying reading your adventure with food.

  3. Thank you very much for you kind comments.

    I am glad you enjoy the Italian pictures and the story. There is another one coming up tomorrow.

    Kind regards!

  4. Your photos are gorgeous - and the food looks wonderful - can you beat Italian cooking? - definitely not.

  5. BeadBag, thank you very much. :) I had very good light in Italy and I am happy with how they look. Shame I do not have such a light in Yorkshire. ;) And no, you cannot beat Italian cooking. :)

    Kind regards. :)


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