Mañana, domani, tomorrow

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Hello friends, readers and passers-by. From tomorrow, for the next 40 days, I will be travelling with my husband in Chile and Argentina. You’ll be able to follow us on a purpose-built blog called Mostly Patagonia. So pop on over and sign up for postcards from the end of the world! We’ll see you back here in late December or so. Thanks for following!

Perfect Pasta

The finished product of our first batch of homemade pasta has been a great success. We used Pangkarra wholegrain durum flour from the Clare Valley in South Australia. The Silver Spoon Cookbook is a wonderful source of everything Italian and the recipe worked a treat. I’ll be keeping my new pasta machine!

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La nostra nuova macchina per la pasta

First batch of pasta in the new pasta maker. Our big decision is what shape to make? The standard parts that came with my lovely new Atlas Mercato machine are for fettuccine and spaghetti. Our recipe is from the English version of Il Cucchiaio D’Argento, The Silver Spoon cookbook. Our test batch for cleaning out the new machine was really satiny when I was kneading it. Let’s hope the real batch, made with Pangkarra wholegrain durum flour, feels as good. I was at one with the dough. How zen!

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Sunrise, sunset, Orvieto style

Fellow Italophile Debra has posted some wonderful photos of Orvieto. I loved the place when I was there in June and thought this worth re-blogging. Ciao for now.

Bagni di Lucca and Beyond

I can’t decide which I like best…sunrise or sunset. Both look wonderful in Orvieto.

An early morning walk around the edge of town revealed the fields below covered by fog.

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The other side of the town, at the end of the day was just as lovely.

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When life gives you thinly sliced beef…

Beef braciole soaking up all the yummy juices from the sugo.

This reminds me of my mother Louise Pergolini. She didn’t make braciole often, but it was one of my favourites. She had the meat cut thin by the butcher so there was no pounding to do.

Hubby Roo has seasoned these thin pieces of beef on the inside with garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, toasted pine nuts (ground in mortar and pestle with the garlic), salted and peppered them, then browned them in the pan before deglazing with some wine. The house smells divine.

My job? Pour some wine for the chef!

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Bringing Abruzzo Home

Saragolla wheat pasta and lentils from Santo Stefano
Sharing a meal of eggplant parmigiana accompanied by saragolla wheat pasta from Morro D’oro and lentils from Santo Stefano Sessanio

Normally, at home in Australia we pride ourselves on how lucky we are to have a great climate (mediterranean, in the case of Adelaide) which gives us access to a variety of fresh local food and produce, year round.  Living by the low food miles philosophy is possible here. Sometimes I break from the philosophy, particularly when I come back from Italy laden with goodies as I did this year.

Legions of migrants have enriched Australian food culture enormously. One of the earliest ‘foreign’ cuisines in Australia was Italian and it is still much loved here resulting in formerly exotic varieties of fruits, vegetables and other ingredients being quite common now. We have great producers of  Italian-style meats, cheeses, wines, pastas and sweets. Siamo fortunati! We are lucky.

My recent trip to Italy was impulsive,  brief (for me) and truly enlightening. I’ve been to the Abruzzo region in central Italy many times now but this last time I felt that I connected in a more meaningful way. It’s always my aim when I travel to immerse myself in all a place has to offer in the way of history, culture and local tradition. Nothing speaks more of cultural patrimony than what people grow, raise, produce and consume.

In Santo Stefano Sessanio, near L’Aquila, high up in the mountains of the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga, we ate at a restaurant, Il Ristoro degli Elfi. The Lentil soup alone was worth the trip, and we complimented our hosts Anna and Silvan on its flavour and delicacy. After finishing our meal and settling the account, our hosts presented my fellow diners and I with a bag of lentils each.  We had eaten Slow Food designated lentils, and as well as being restaurateur, Silvan Fulgenzi was the grower of the lentils.  So we were eating at the source.

The lentils of Santo Stefano Sessanio
The lentils of Santo Stefano Sessanio – produce by Silvan Fulgenzi

At my wonderful and quirky little B & B in Roseto degli Abruzzi, my grandfather’s hometown,  I was lucky to befriend the owner, Lucia Simioni.  She is passionate about the Abruzzo region and all it has to offer in the way of art, historic hill towns, ancient ruins and interesting initiatives by local people. She has a wonderful garden full of flowering plants and herbs all of which she obtained from a local supplier –  a medicinal botanical garden and agricultural enterprise near the tiny town of Morro D’oro, where my grandmother came from. One day we made an appointment to visit the garden.

The beautiful Giardino Officinale (Orto Botanico Azienda Agricola) with its small classroom and shop, is run by the friendly and knowledgable  Filippo Torzolini.  If you have been to the Abbey at Santa Maria di Propezzano then you were very close.  Filippo opens the gardens, classroom and shop to students and visitors interested in learning about the medicinal value of plants. Products made from plants, such as essential oils and flower-infused liquors and cordial drinks are available.  Filippo also told us about their pasta manufactured from the ancient grain Saragolla. This grain had fallen out of fashion, but he is now growing and producing various pasta shapes. I bought a few bags to try.

Saragolla Pasta
Saragolla Pasta

Click the photos below to see a slide show.

When I returned to Australia I had a cache or lovely Abruzzo products to share with my loved ones. As well as the pasta and lentils I had saffron from Barisciano, also near L’Aquila. And I was armed with techniques and ideas for meals to share.

Other bloggers have sung the praises of Abruzzo producers who are passionate about retaining their long history of gastronomy and I want to add my voice to the chorus that salutes their efforts. I urge you to read my new friend and fellow blogger Michelle’s recent post on this topic at Majella Home Cooking.

We are fortunate to have wonderful products in Australia to cook with and we owe a lot to our Italian migrants who have kept up traditions that bind families and communities together. May we be fortunate enough to go back to the source often. Buon appetito e salute a tutti!

You can now follow my blog on Bloglovin

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/1400379/?claim=y5vhuvb5cvs”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Hi there readers,

I have to add a link in my blog to be able to have readers link to my blog via Bloglovin. It seems a bit clumsy, but I can’t work out how to do it otherwise…

I use Bloglovin to consolidate blogs I follow. It allows me to categorise by topics. So, like all my Italy follows are available at a click.

Ciao for now,

MLTatLarge

I primi di settembre

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In Australia,  early September bring spring with it.  And Adelaide is putting on a spectacular display this year after a long wet winter. The lovely green patch of grass out the back of our house is perfect for spending time with the cats – who are full of energy in the gentle sunshine.

Our front garden is planted with native plants and the grevillea and tea tree shrubs are in bloom.  The native frangipani (Hymenosporum Flavum) is ready to burst into flower as well.

A workmate of Roo’s has a supply of freshly caught fish and we were lucky recipients of some squid and whiting on the weekend.  We put the fish to good use for a light lunch of pan-fried whiting with a pear and rocket salad.

Seafood and salad weather
Seafood and salad weather

Temperatures in the high 20s and 30s Celsius are a sign of sandal season and the green Birkenstocks got their first workout of the season.

Sandals out for the season
Sandals out for the season

I have to admit I am not a winter hater like some; I enjoy wearing cozy layers of clothing, not being sticky sweaty all the time, and not having to be slathered in sunscreen against the summer sun.

But it sure will be nice when the neighbour’s mulberries ripen. There are a few berries just starting to colour so it should only be a matter of weeks if these first days of September are anything to go by.