I have decided to take a step of bravery and post an Italian recipe. Since finding out my 14th Great Grandfather was from Rome via ancestry.com, I’ve figured that I’m basically Italian anyway.
The Italian cuisine is quite misunderstood in the English-speaking world and the proof of that is all over the internet in comments by angry Italians protecting their cuisine and culture by calling out our inauthentic recipes. I do understand that if we are going to take from their cuisine, we should at least remain true to what a dish is and to the ingredients. If we want to make it our own, we should simple call it something else. Like faux-bonanara or cream-bonara – anything you like.
With this in mind, I hope this recipe is as true as possible to a traditional Roman carbonara, a creamy pasta dish containing the following; guanciale (pancetta can be used as substitute if now available), eggs, pecorino, parmesan, pepper and white wine. The method to make it can vary but, traditionally, the ingredients do not.
Italian food as a rule is very simple which is one of the reasons I love it so much. It is all about making something beautiful by marrying together just a few really great ingredients. That is exactly what this recipe does.
500g pasta (I like to use rigatoni but anything that holds the sauce, spaghetti is most common)
200g pancetta (if you can get guanciale even better)
4 Eggs (1 per portion – we eat double portions in this house)
3a0g parmesan (extra for topping)
Boil the water for the pasta
In a large pan fry the pancetta and add splash of white wine (cook until crispy then set aside to cool)
Meanwhile begin to cook the pasta in salted water
Mix eggs into pancetta
When pasta is al dente, add to the egg mix and toss pasta until fully combined and the emulsified (cook on very low heat and keep the pasta moving – you do not want to end up with scrambled eggs!)
The sauce should be smooth and creamy and should cling to the pasta
Add the cheeses and some cracked black pepper and toss to combine
As we cannot go to Greece, why not bring a little of Greece to our homes instead. Here is my delicious moussaka dish to make your Easter isolation a little more joyous.
As we cannot go to Greece, why not bring a little of Greece to our homes instead. Here is my delicious moussaka recipe to make your Easter isolation a little more joyous.
3 large potatoes
For the meat:
150g minced beef
150g minced lamb
2 cloves garlic
1 splash white wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp sugar
For the béchamel sauce
2 egg yolks
Cheddar cheese (optional)
Slice potatoes, aubergine and courgette. Then prepare a large pan with a generous amount of olive oil and begin to fry potatoes. Once cooked, remove from oil and place on plate or tray lined with kitchen roll to remove excess oil. Season with salt, pepper and thyme then begin to place a layer of potatoes onto baking dish. Repeat this process for the aubergine and then for the courgette.
Dice onion and lightly fry in olive oil until soft. Then add minced meat and cook for a few minutes till browned. Add tomato puree and mix in then add wine, chopped tomatoes and cinnamon stick and sugar. Season with salt, pepper and oregano and leave to simmer for 30-40 mins.
For the béchamel Sauce
Melt butter in pan. Then add flour, mix in and cook for one minute. Gradually mix in milk, making sure there are no lumps then season with nutmeg and pepper. Leave to simmer for 8-10 minutes then add in the cheese and the eggs yolks.
Layer potatoes, then aubergine, then courgette, then meat, then béchamel into a dish (I like to grate some cheddar on top too). Bake in the over for 35-40 mins.
I want to use this space to share things that will hopefully bring; hope, gratitude and joy, during this uncertain time. Whilst the news is scary and some days are more challenging than others, I have also never felt so grateful than right now for the simple things in life: books, the internet, my morning cup of coffee, a cupboard full of ingredients, fresh air and the morning sun.
So today, I wanted to share this glorious chocolate mousse recipe that I hope can bring a little joy to you and, if you’re lucky enough to be in isolation with them, then your loved ones too.
Mousse au Chocolat (Serves 4)
8 Egg whites (large eggs)
40g Caster Sugar
Melt in bowl butter and chocolate
Beat lemon juice and egg whites until soft peaks form
Add sugar then beat until firm peaks form
Add egg whites to melted chocolate gradually (one third at a time) but quickly and until thick and well combined
Place into containers and put in fridge for 3 hours
Megalochori is a picturesque traditional settlement located on the Southwest of Santorini. This captivating village is filled with white washed buildings, cobbled paths, wooden doors, old cave houses, gorgeous churches and a stunning view of the caldera. It is truly, a beautiful and enchanting place to wander.
When your legs get tired you can visit the central square to unwind and embrace the local culture and cuisine where you will find shops, cafes and local tavernas.
We particularly recommend Tzanakis, an authentic family run taverna own by a lovely woman who showed us into her kitchen and gave us the pleasure of choosing from the many, delicious dishes she had made that day. It was a very special dining experience and both the food and service was warm and soul-filling.
Side note: Megalochori is also known for vineyards and wineries which you can also take advantage of touring whilst visiting the village. Unfortunately we did not manage to visit these.
Emporio is Santorini’s largest village and traditional settlement.
Emporio means “trade” as the village was once the centre of all trade and commerce on the island. Narrow alleys, stone houses, tiny windows, beautiful churches and a medieval castle makes Emporio a fascinating and mesmerising place to get lost (and you probably will get lost as it is an absolute maze). It isn’t very touristic which makes wandering through this charming village calming and peaceful.
During our walk here, we spotted a quaint little bar selling freshly squeezed orange juice. A welcomed refreshment in the blistering heat. If you take a trip to Emporio, make sure to map out this place and stop off to enjoy a refreshment whilst relaxing and taking in the incredible view.
The beautiful Island of Thirasia was once part of Santorini but after the volcano eruption at around 1600BC, Santorini was broken into many pieces and thus formed Thirasia. Today the island has only 150 permanent residents and is said to resemble Santorini pre tourist industry. In summer time you can experience the idyllic island via daily boat trips and enjoy dining in one of the many delicious tavernas that look onto the stunning clear blue sea. We devoured a lobster souvlaki, grilled in right front of us; it was utterly divine.
Vylchada is one of the most tranquil and interesting beaches in Santorini due to its beautiful rock formation, also caused by the volcanic eruption in 1600BC.
Whilst visting Vylchada you can take a pit stop at the amazing To Psaraki for lunch and enjoy a stunning view onto the blue marina. The food here is fresh, simple local and truly delicious. We particularly recommend the tomatokeftedes (tomato fritters) and the fava beans; both particular to the Santorini cuisine.
5. Akrotiri Sunset View
Yes, the Oia sunset is beautiful but it is also so busy that it is difficult to fully embrace it’s beauty.
If you want to enjoy the sun coming down in a more peaceful, quiet setting, then grab a bottle of wine and some glasses and head to the Akrotiri Sunset View. Here you can enjoy the sun setting over the breathtaking caldera in an idyllic, much calmer setting.
There are plenty of beautiful spots to watch the sunset in Santorini but this was our favourite.
Tips for getting around:
The Island is small, a scooter or quad bike is the perfect means of transport. You can also use the local bus service which is efficient too. Alternatively, you can of course rent a car.
Oh Fondue, a gift from the Gods. An evening meal of fondue is as much a part of the traditional ski trip as the skiing itself. A trip to the alps in winter would not be complete without that indulgent moment of finally resting your tired legs after a long day on the slopes, a glass of wine in one hand and a fondue fork in the other, dipping that little cube of cheese into the pot and smothering it in the delicious warm melted cheese and ultimately, devouring a whole pot of melted cheese and wine in one evening. It is continuously a highlight of every ski trip for us.
This oven baked dish made with potatoes, onions, lardons and reblochon cheese is another hearty and cheesy dish, perfect after a long day on the slopes. Potatoes. Cheese. Lardons. It would be hard to go wrong really. It’s rich, filling and on a cold winter’s day; the perfect warming and indulgent meal.
3. Mont D’or
A rich, delectable, cheese baked in the oven and normally served with potatoes and charcuterie.
Self-serve wheel of cheese served with boiled potatoes, salad and charcuterie. I’m ranking this last. Yes, sorry to the raclette lover’s out there but raclette just isn’t the tastiest cheese out there and I seem perpetually disappointed when I order this. I wholly recommend the Mont D’or over this as a substitute. It is richer and far more delicious.
Today I’m sharing my ultimate savoury crepe feast.
Whilst I love a traditional buckwheat galette, using a sweet crepe with savoury ingredients is such a treat. The combination of sweet and savoury and the picking of all the fillings gives me so much joy.
We like to put on a good spread of meats, delicious cheeses, salad, pickles and our key staples; mustard and mayo.
On this occasion we laid out the following:
Salad (lambs lettuce, avocado, tomatoes)
Charcuterie (French saucisson, Italian prosciutto, British ham)
Cheeses (Abondance and Tomme de Savoie – both brought home from our recent visit to Haute-Savoie)
Cornichons and olives
Sauces (mayo and mustard)
For the crepe mix:
2 Large eggs
1 Cup flour
1 ¼ Cup milk
Third Cup sugar
Butter for pan
Whisk ingredients together in a bowl.
Rub a little butter to heated pan
Pour ladle size portion of mix to back and swirl mix to form round crepe.
When crepe begins to bubble on top and lift from the pan, flip and cook other side until each side is golden
Don’t forget to save a couple for dessert and serve with fresh lemon and sugar, Nutella or whatever else your sweet tooth desires.
Majestic brightly coloured buildings, a vastly underrated cuisine, wonderful people, sunshine, sea, art, culture and so much more; it is no wonder that Lisbon, the city of seven hills has seen such a surge in popularity in recent times.
There are Lisbon guide’s in abundance on the internet, but we thought we’d put our two-cents worth in there anyway.
EXPLORE THE DISTRICTS
Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood. Get your walking shoes on and explore this charming neighbourhood with narrow streets and colourful buildings; experience the sunset at the Portas do Sol viewpoint and enjoy some live music and a glass of local wine in one of the many traditional bars.
Party till dawn in the Bairro Alto district; a vibrant, bohemian neighbourhood filled with bars, boutiques and restaurants.
For lively, downtown vibes, head to Baixa; Lisbon’s most central and renowned neighbourhood. Beautiful squares, opulent 18thcentury architecture, tiled houses and a bustling atmosphere with shops, bars and restaurants a-plenty.
For history, green open spaces and iconic landmarks, visit Lisbon’s most monumental district, Belem. It’s so much more than just custard tarts (although we do love those too).
COLLECT SOME GEMS
A hipster’s paradise that feels a bit like ‘Lisbon meets Copenhagen’. Set in an old industrial site, you will find: cafes, bars, restaurants, a number of local start-ups, street art and a very nice book store. It is a bustling place and well worth a visit whilst in Lisbon if you are looking to experience a more modern, youthful side to the city.
Make sure you visit on a Sunday for the flea market where you will find plenty of vintage clothing, hand-made items and a number of local, young designers and vendors selling everything from handmade jewellery and swimwear to old records and DVDs.
Fiera De Ladra
Fiera De Ladra, Lisbon’s most famous flea market is held every Tuesday and Saturday. You will find everything from art and hand painted ceramics to antiques and second hand items. There are so many hidden treasures to be found here. Whilst visiting, make sure to stop by Armazem das Caldas where you will find an extensive collection of beautiful, well-made ceramics in every shape, colour, print and pattern you can imagine.
FILL YOUR BELLY
Taberna Sal Grosso
After shopping till you drop at Fiera De Ladra head to Taberna Sal Grosso to unwind and refuel. The food here is simple, fresh, local and utterly delicious, the place itself is unpretentious and very charismatic.
We shared everything and had: the orange salad which was so refreshing in the summer heat, the bacalhou confitado (cod confit) which again was simple, delicate and fresh and the pork belly and celeric; the pork melted in our mouths and the sweet and creamy celeriac puree complimented the meat beautifully. We also opted for some sweet potato fries on the side which were fried and seasoned to perfection. Exceptional quality and lovely service.
A trip to Lisbon would not be completed without the consumption of Pasteis de Nata, we ate countless, but our favourites were from Manteigaria. They were creamy, sweet, perfectly crisp and freshly made in front of us.
The most famous of course are from Belem which we opted to skip, if you do decide to go to Belem, a tip is to sit inside and enjoy them with a coffee to avoid the very long queue.
Mercado de Campo de Ourique
Skip the over-hyped Time Out market and head to Mercado de Campo de Ourique for a more local market experience. Enjoy a drink at one of the many bars then fill your bellies at one – or many, of the delicious food stalls. We suggest Malha Mariqueira for seafood lovers and for traditional Portuguese snacks head to, Alhos e Bugalhos. After refuelling with all that food and drink, you can take a wander round the local produce stalls and digest with a coffee at Café de Mercado.
TAKE TRAM 28
After Mercado De Campo De Ourique, I suggest taking a stroll around this residential area and soaking up the relaxed, local atmosphere.
Conveniently Campo De Ourique is located on the last stop of Tram 28, Lisbon’s oldest tram. If you want to experience the tram, get on here and you should be able to enjoy the luxury of a seat. Grab a seat by the window and enjoy the gorgeous journey through from Camp de Ourique to Alfama.
Side note: the tram will get exceptionally busy and is a hot spot for pick pockets so be vigilant with your belongings.
TAKE A DAY TRIP
If you have time, a visit to Sintra is highly recommended. The vibrant and eclectic castle is utterly mesmerising and a sight to behold. Stunning views and set in a beautiful park, it is a haven for ‘instagrammers’, photographers and architecture enthusiasts.
City breaks, although wonderful, can be intense. Take a pit stop at Jardin da Estrella, a beautiful, tranquil park with a more local vibe. Take a seat on the bench, read a book, enjoy an ice cream and watch the world go by a little more slowly.