Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 19, 2014

Fennel and blood orange salad

On my final night in Italy I had dinner at a restaurant beside the Hotel Julia, where I always stay in Rome. I ordered saltimbocca and a fennel and blood orange salad. The saltimbocca was fairly ordinary but the salad was delicious.

I recreated it myself shortly after I arrived home…it was quite simple.

The ingredients…a fennel bulb, a blood orange, pitted olives and anchovies.

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Slice the fennel finely.

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Pour a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper on the fennel and let it sit for a while.

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Peel and slice the orange.

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To assemble the salad, place the olives in a dish.

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Arrange the anchovies over the olives.

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…then the fennel.

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…and the orange slices.

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I served it with some grilled Tasmanian ocean trout. The only thing missing was lovely Rome.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 16, 2014

I would live in Venice if I could live here

I know Venice can be crowded and full of tourists, but if you get away from San Marco and Rialto and the streets that join them, the city can be remarkably peaceful, beautiful and quiet.

On our last visit to Venice in June we went to the Dorsoduro area behind the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute.

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As you can see from the photo below, there are no crowds.

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We came upon a gorgeous piazza, or campo, as they are called in Venice. This one is actually a campiello, a small square.

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There was a pretty garden.

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I can’t tell you what the campiello was called, the name had worn off.

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I like the house with the glassed in balcony, the rooftop terrace and the fabulous chimneys. I think there would be Grand Canal views from there.

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Not far away was a cute bar where I could go for lunch every day.

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San Marco and Rialto are wonderful and it is understandable why they are popular, but it is easy to find quiet places in Venice if you wander off the main streets.

To get to Dorsoduro, take the traghetto (ferry) to Salute, walk behind the church and wander aimlessly. Getting lost in Venice is inevitable and desirable.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 13, 2014

Meet the growers

In Australia 2 large retailers have most of the market in fresh food. I don’t really think this is a good idea. The big supermarkets have too much say in prices and even what farmers grow.

This is just one of the reasons I like to shop for food at farmers’ markets. We have some great markets here in Brisbane. Yesterday I went to the Powerhouse markets in New Farm. It was a gorgeous sunny winter day and there was some great produce on offer.

The markets are very popular, which is great so see.

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One of the fun things about the market is that you get to meet the people who grow your food.

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I met a particularly delightful farmer who,  with her family, grew the delicious mandarins, limes and lemons below.

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In all cases the produce is picked as close as possible to the selling day, meaning it is going to taste better and last longer…and be better for you.

This is my haul for the day.

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Do you shop at farmers’ markets?

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 10, 2014

Marchetti…a little bit of Italy

I am back home in Brisbane for a while. I love it here, especially now that winter has arrived. The crisp mornings and warm, sunny days suit me very well.

Of course, as soon as I get home, I miss Italy. Fortunately my friend Michael has recently opened a cafe in the city, and it is full of delectable reminders of Italy. It is worth going for the sfogliatelle alone.

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Michael has them flown in from Naples. The uncooked sfogliatelle are snap frozen and speedily sent to Marchetti where they are cooked and sit prettily waiting to be eaten. I can report that the one I had tasted exactly like the ones I have enjoyed in Naples.

There are other tasty things to eat as well. The filled pannini look just like the Italian variety and the biscotti, made by Virginia from Naples, are amazing.

Today for lunch I had minestrone, which was excellent.

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Say hello to Michael and Virginia.

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Art Deco inspired Marchetti is in the elegant Tattersalls’s Arcade off the Queen St Mall.  Michael has travelled extensively in Italy and has created a delightful cafe that makes me feel right at home.

There is a small area inside with a communal bench, outside tables and a banquette in the centre of the arcade. Michael just happens to be my optometrist as well. That is his shop (Optiko) in the background.

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Marchetti is brand new and the menu is changing regularly. The coffee is great and the food is delicious. Wine is available by the glass and later in the year Marchetti will be open for afternoon and evening aperitivi…I can’t wait for my first Campari or Aperol spritz.

Call in and say hello to Michael and Virginia and the rest of the team.

www.marchetticafe.com

Phone…07 30031344

 

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 7, 2014

Torcello revisited

Torcello is the abandoned island in the Venice lagoon. It is where Venice began. I have been a couple of times in winter and autumn. ( see a previous post here, with photos of the cathedral interiors)

The island offers a completely different Venice experience. A few people still live on the island and it is a quiet, green space to escape from the crowds of the main islands. On a hot summer day we wandered among locals enjoying picnics on the grassy areas beside Venice’s first cathedral.

Come for a summer walk in Torcello.

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There is a lovely vineyard near the cathedral with some interesting sculptures around the edges. The first one may be intended to keep you out of the vineyard.

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We had lunch at the same place as last time in the beautiful garden restaurant. The food is excellent and very reasonably priced.

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One day I might find the shop open to buy one of the gorgeous sculptures…getting it home might be a problem.

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Don’t miss Torcello on your next visit to Venice.

Take a look at the recent post by Madhu from The Urge to Wander on Torcello for lots more information.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 4, 2014

What to do with that wet swimsuit

My mother used to wear a rubber bathing cap covered in rubber petals in the 1950s and early 1960s. I thought this was the most glamourous thing I had ever seen and longed to have one when I grew up. Now I can’t think of anything much worse than diving into a wave with a head covered with rubber.

Thankfully the clever Italians have come up with a reason to bring these things back. They have turned them into waterproof bags for your wet swimsuit. At last I can have one, without having to put it on my head.

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I found them at this great shop in Lucca, behind the San Michele church.

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They sell lots of other great things for the beach.

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The company is called Brandina and this is what they say about themselves…Brandina is full of passion, joy and happiness, a timeless icon of seaside design. The sea is happiness wherever you are, Brandina has the beach inside and always brings you to the seaside.

If that doesn’t make you want to buy one of their products, perhaps this will. Their handbags come with a keyring with a transparent envelope containing sand from the Riviera.

www.brandinatheoriginal.it

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 2, 2014

Out with a friend in Rome

I came upon this little group on the way to the Trevi fountain.

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Pinocchio certainly gets around.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 28, 2014

Farewell Casa Debbio

It is time for me to go home to Australia. I hate to leave Casa Debbio, especially as the garden is really starting to take shape. I have planted lots of new things and I have been enjoying watching everything grow.

Thursday was my last day at the house and it was a perfect end to my stay. The weather was delightful and Sisto turned on his music for my final dinner on the terrace. Fireflies arrived a bit later and I went to bed to the sound of hooting owls.

The only disappointment was that my lavender, which has more than doubled in size since last year, didn’t turn purple for me. The flowers are all there ready to go, but they didn’t take the final step. I have been talking to them every day in both English and Italian, trying to encourage them, but to no avail…maybe next week, but I won’t be there to see it.

Here is a little collection of scenes from Casa Debbio over the last couple of weeks.

 

I have been eating cherries from the tree, there is one gooseberry getting ripe, and lots of figs. The tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries  are growing and the little herb garden is going well.  My peonies are all growing and I am hoping for lots of flowers next spring along with the rhododendrons under the hazelnut trees.

I know Filippo will do a great job of looking after them for me. When I get back in autumn we will plant more apples, pears, plums, cherries, figs and olives on the terraces. Next spring there will be masses of blossoms…can’t wait.

I just hope the mufloni don’t move in and start eating everything.

 

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 24, 2014

Spello’s magic carpets

I was up bright and early on Sunday morning in Spello to see the progress on the flower carpets. At 6.30am the blockaded areas were alive with tired looking people putting finishing touches to their works of art.

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It is just as well I scooted around early as the streets were full of people by 8.00am, making it difficult to get close to the work.

Anyway, here are some of the completed carpets. I think you will be amazed. In very few cases was I able to get a high vantage point, so there are some odd angles.

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I did have a favourite.

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I stayed at the very fabulous Palazzo Bocci in the main street. I managed to hang out of a window to see one carpet from above.

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I positioned myself in front of the church to watch the entourage enter for the mass.

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You can just see the top of a hat as its wearer enters the church.

Then I waited in the hot sun for them to reappear and walk the carpets.

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The carpet survived its first trampling and most people walked carefully beside them on their way up the street. It seems a shame they don’t last forever.

After one more look from the window I called it a day and went home.

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I wonder how long the carpets last before they are blown away by the wind and kicked by countless feet…anyway there is always next year.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 21, 2014

The night of the petals

I am in Spello for the Infiorata, a celebration held every year on Corpus Domini, the 9th Sunday after Easter. Around 1,000 people gather on the Saturday evening before to create carpets made of flower petals on the narrow streets of this gorgeous town in Umbria.

Spello is full of flowers anyway. Take a look at some of the lovely gardens.

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This afternoon tents were erected to protect the areas to be covered with flower petals.

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Thousands of flowers were pulled apart and separated into colours.

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The designs are laid out on the streets. Some are very complicated.

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Some are much more simple.

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At about 7.00pm work begins on the designs.

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Food is cooked in the streets to feed the hungry workers.

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At midnight the streets were still full with people creating art and people watching them.

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…and the whole town smells like flowers.

In the morning there will be a procession led by the bishop through the streets, trampling all the beautiful flower carpets.

I will be up bright an early to see the creations before they disappear.

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