Mooching around Modena

We went to Modena for a few nights: Rome-Bologna on the Italo train, then a local train Bologna-Modena. It was lovely! Amazing being able to leave Lazio as well. Modena was very clean and tidy, and the historical centre is a glowing assembly of buildings painted terracotta, siena, orange, yellow: just beautiful. We’d been to Bologna before, but Modena is much smaller. Famous for aceto balsamico di Modena (balsamic vinegar), it also has a Ferrari museum and Casa Museo Luciano Pavarotti. We stayed outside with masks on, and just enjoyed exploring the food and wine.

We had encountered pesto di Modena before: basically, it is pork lard beaten with pancetta, garlic and rosemary. Best enjoyed on toasted tigelle (little bread ovals) with some chilled Lambrusco. We also had gnocco fritto – not fried gnocchi, but pillows of fried or baked dough (again, with lard) served with mortadella, salami and other cold cuts. Or with jam for breakfast. The tigelle are also nice with Nutella for dessert.

A wedding! Finally festivities like this allowed again.

We also sighed over tortellini at the market, bought balsamic vinegar and and had some wonderful meals, like at Francheschetta 58 (more affordable than Osteria Francescana, though that looks wonderful). Definitely a region to explore more: maybe Parma or Ferrara next time, after the summer?

Tuna orzo salad for a hot Sunday

Almost July, and all is well. It is a warm dry day here in Garbatella, and the streets are deserted and quiet. People have left for daytrips and weekends at the seaside: Ostia, Santa Marinella, Sabaudia, the Isole Pontine. Last night we were up on the condominium roof terrace watching Italy play Austria, and roars were echoing across the nightime sky for every close chance. (Yes, Italy won, which is a continued great morale booster.) There is optimism in the air.

All of Italy is in the white zone from tomorrow, which means the only rules that still have to be observed are to maintain a safe distance and avoid crowds. Wearing masks will be optional, which will be strange. We’ll see how it goes. Vaccination numbers are good so far, the roll-out has been impressive here. Now we are waiting for the digital EU COVID-19 vaccination passport to see if we might be able to travel home to safely see family after 18 months away. Lots of variables but we are crossing fingers, and are still being cautious. I hope things are better also on your side.

This was lunch today: an assembly of items for a summer lunch salad. Adjust amounts to what you have. It’s warm here (maybe 33C) but after four years of heat and humidity in Accra I have no complaints about Roman summers.

Tuna orzo salad with celery

  • 1.5 cup orzo perlato (pearl barley)
  • medium tin good tuna in oil
  • 4-5 stalks celery, chopped
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tbs good olive oil
  • 230 gr tinned cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 230 gr tinned borlotti beans (drained and rinsed)

Boil the pearl barley in salted water for 15 min or so, until cooked. Drain. In the interim, assemble other ingredients and toss. I used a little smoked Spanish olive oil as well, for some extra pizazz. Fresh parley would be nice here too. Chill and eat later, or just enjoy at room temperature.

A new mural In Garbatella was unveiled a couple weeks ago: this is Alberto Sordi, a famous and much-loved Italian actor. He lived just around the corner as a child.

Apple cake on a gray Sunday

It is a gray Sunday here, but the neighborhood is heaving with people lingering over lunch and starting apertivi. Rome opened up a couple weeks ago, but it is still a novelty to hear people talking at the bar across the piazza and chatting on the street below. No indoor dining yet, but outdoor tables are spreading and people are making the most of it.

A fried came over so we had a lovely walk up to the allotments near Regione Lazio before coming home for tea and cake.

We have not been out much yet, but it is nice to feel that summer is on the way!

Simple apple cake with cinnamon

2 eggs
180 gr white sugar
180 gr flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
90 gr soft butter
150 ml milk

4-5 apples: enough to get 300 gr peeled and chopped apple pieces
1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tbs sugar

Whisk eggs and sugar light and airy. Add flour, salt and baking powder, then milk and butter. Whisk well. Peel and chop the apples, then in a separate bowl toss apple pieces with cinnamon and sugar. Heat oven to 200C. Line a rectangular baking tin (20×30 cm) with baking parchment and pour in half the batter. Distribute the apple pieces evenly over the batter, then pour the rest of the batter on top and even it out with a spatula or spoon. A punch of salt on top before it goes into oven is nice.

Bake in middle part of oven for 25-30 min (mine was done at 25 min). Cool on a rack before serving.

This is a light fluffy apple cake.
A cat who lives up the hill and likes to snooze roadside.