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.
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