Posted by: Debra Kolkka | April 1, 2014

The spaghetti harvest

 

I was just watching BBC World and delighting in the story of an April Fools’ Day hoax in 1957 about the spring spaghetti harvest, and thinking about finding the clip, when I opened a post from one of my favourite bloggers. Trust Frank, from A Frank Angle, to have already found it.

Please go to Frank’s post and enjoy this wonderful story. I’m sure it will make your April first.

afrankangle.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/0n-toasting-april/

Enjoy a plate of freshly picked spring spaghetti today.

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I remember watching the ABC in Australia when I was about 13. The program informed us that gamma rays from our TV kept flies away. There was much family discussion about the scarcity of flies around our set.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 30, 2014

The return of piggie

You may recall that we had a visit from our neighbour, Vittorio, and his pet cinghiale last year at Casa Debbio.

Here they are in my tomatoes last year.

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Yesterday they returned and how piggie has grown.

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I mistakenly referred to piggie as ‘he’ before, but she is a very lovely young lady. She is 1 year old now and loves to go for a walk with Vittorio.

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She likes to find new things to eat.

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She was heading off towards my new garden when Vittorio called her back. She does respond to commands, reluctantly.

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They were last seen trotting towards the waterfall, she loves her bath.

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It seems she has become part of the family and is unlikely to be eaten.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 28, 2014

Above a door in Genova

In the Via degli Orefici in the old city of Genova in the north of Italy is the doorway to a shop, nothing special really.

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…but look above the doorway.

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You will see a relief…Adoration of the Magi, attributed to Giovanni Gagani and dated 1460.

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That it is still there intact is amazing. We wouldn’t have noticed it if a kindly local had not directed us towards it.

Italy is full of surprises like this.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 26, 2014

Some spring snow

Our run of gorgeous spring weather came to an end a couple of days ago. We have had some much cooler weather, rain and snow on the mountains around us. I love a bit of snow so I headed towards Montefegatesi so see what I could see.

It was a bleak day, but I was soon rewarded by the sight of Prato Fiorito with a snowy covering.

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As I drove higher on the road towards Montefegatesi it was clear that spring had been put on the back burner for a while. Everything looked desolate and cold.

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I’ll come up in a couple of weeks and show you a completely different scene. These trees will all be green and gorgeous.

Prato Fiorito looks pretty spectacular in any season and in any weather.

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…and on the other side of the ridge.

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I drove on to Montefegatesi and down the other road via Monti di Villa, Pieve di Monti di Villa and Granaiola.

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I think it is very beautiful, but I am ready for spring. I have just planted a weeping cherry at Casa Debbio and I don’t want it to get cold.

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Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 23, 2014

Wild asparagus risotto

Now that spring is here there is lots of delicious new season food in the markets in Bagni di Lucca. I found some wild asparagus, the long thin spears that appear in spring on the mountain sides, and just had to buy it…perfect for asparagus risotto.

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The spears can be slightly bitter so I blanched them in salted, boiling water for a minute or 2.

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Drain and refresh the asparagus with cold water and cut into bite sized pieces.

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Chop the onions roughly.

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In a frypan over medium heat melt butter, add olive oil and gently fry the onions.

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Add a cup of arborio rice and stir to coat with the oil and butter.

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Add hot stock a bit at a time and stir until it is absorbed before adding more. You will need about a litre of stock for this amount of rice.

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Add the asparagus just before the rice is cooked al dente. It should still be firm to the bite, not mushy.

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Turn off the heat and add some grated Parmesan cheese and stir through.

Eat…this is enough to 2.

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I served it with a salad of valeriana and tomatoes tossed in olive oil with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

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Wild asparagus…another reason to love spring.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 20, 2014

A gorgeous new shop in Lucca

I was very disappointed when one of my favourite shops in Lucca closed down last year. It was the very beautiful In Villa in Via Vittoria Veneto. The elegant owner had delightful selection of things for your home, baby wear and gifts.

I am pleased to say something equally lovely has appeared in its place. The newly opened Per Vinca by husband and wife team, Michelangelo and Claudia, is full of gorgeous furniture, homewares and gifts…take a look.

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I wish there was a baby in the family so I could buy these tiny booties.

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Michelangelo and Claudia produce much of the stock in their nearby factory just outside the walls of Lucca.

Per Vinca in Via Vittorio Veneto 35.

Ph…0583 493031
Email…pervincarredamentocity@gmail.com

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 18, 2014

Eat in Siberia

We had an amazing Christmas dinner at a beautiful restaurant in Saariselka in Finnish Lapland. The restaurant was called Siberia. We asked the owner why he chose the name. He told us a group of friends pulled a letter each from a bowl and the restaurant would be named whatever came out…Siberia.

We made our way through the snow to Siberia.

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The restaurant is very elegant and includes a cafe for delicious cake and coffee and a small shop selling Finnish designs.

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…and now to the food.

Amuse bouche…duck confit and brioche.

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Course 1…Duck liver brûlée with apple compote.

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Course 2…Sugar salted trout from Lake Inari with chive puree and lemon gel.

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Course 3…White fish from Lake Inari with blanched vegetables, cauliflower puree and vanilla beurre blanc.

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Course 4…King crab soup.

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Course 5…Reindeer fillet with potatoes pont neuf, chanterelles, parsnip puree and port wine sauce.

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Pre dessert taste.

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Course 6…Dark chocolate cake with white chocolate sorbet with blueberries.

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Course 7…Cheeses with honeydew,watermelon and vanilla tomato compote.

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All courses were delicious, I couldn’t pick a favourite. It was a great night, the service was friendly and efficient and the owner, Juha Mehtajarvi, made a few visits to the table to tell us about the food. His philosophy is…use free roaming meat and only wild fish, ingredients must be local and as fresh as possible and each dish must be stylishly presented. He kindly posed for a photo with us. He is second from the left.

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I know it is a long way to go for dinner, but if you happen to be in the area, drop in to Siberia for a treat.

www.ravintolasiberia.fi

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 16, 2014

Almost spring at Casa Debbio

The warm sunny weather is continuing and things are growing at Casa Debbio.

Yesterday was a bit hazy.

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The hazelnut trees on the terraces are beginning to sprout.

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There is a carpet of blue flowers under some of the trees.

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The wild daffodils are looking gorgeous.

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The bulbs I planted have shown their faces.

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These red shoots belong to my peony…I can’t wait to see that bloom.

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The paths are lined with primulas, violets and hellebores.

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Work starts tomorrow on the new garden beds behind the house and along the path to the spring.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 14, 2014

Almost spring in Lucca

One of the fun things about writing a blog is the people you meet along the way. Today I went to Lucca to meet Stephanie and Paul who follow the blog and have come to spend a month in this lovely Tuscan town.

It was a gorgeous day in Lucca, the sun shone and it was delightfully warm, so we had a stroll through the streets before having lunch at Paris Boheme.

Spring is less than a week away, but it seems to have come a bit early this year. The magnolia blooms have almost finished in Corso Garibaldi when they should be about to start.

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The trees on the walls are still bare, but there are tiny buds beginning to appear.

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Some of the trees in the botanical gardens are already well on the way to turning green.

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I don’t know what this one is, but it has the most amazing root system.

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Wild flowers are growing in the sunshine.

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Camellia trees are laden with gorgeous flowers.

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The next few weeks are going to be wonderful, spring is an exciting time of the year with new growth appearing every day. I hope the weather stays dry and warm. We have had a very wet winter and everyone is quite tired of it.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 12, 2014

A host of golden daffodils

I don’t think this is what Wordsworth had in mind when he wrote about delightful daffodils, but I was happy to find on my arrival in Bagni di Lucca that the daffodils on my tiny balcony have appeared.

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Aren’t they gorgeous? Spring is on its way, the magnolias are in bloom and I can see a faint tinge of green on some of the trees.

Today I will plant the pansies on my balcony and on the bridge…there will be photos soon.

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