It is Ferragosto today, 15 August, and the peak of the Roman summer. The name of the holiday derives from its original Latin name, Feriae Augusti (“Festivals [Holidays] of the Emperor Augustus”). Shops are closed, our palazzo is deserted, and my will to cook dwindles steadily with the rising temperatures. So I was thrilled when our visitor Tony made us dinner. Sicilian fennel-orange-olive salad, a timballo of zucchini wrapped around tagliatelle in fresh tomato sauce, with a lovely fresh Pecorino wine. Then he served these peaches for dessert. Even better the next day!
Tony’s peaches in prosecco
One bottle of prosecco
2-3 tbs sugar, optional
Start the day before serving, at least. Find a nice deep dish you can cover, that will fit in your fridge. Wash the peaches, and chop them coarsely. Remove the pit, but leave skins on. Sprinkle sugar on, maybe half a tablespoon per peach depending on how sweet they are. Taste: remember, the flavours will develop as the fruit steeps. Pour over the bottle of prosecco. Cover, and place it in your fridge.
Leave covered in fridge for at least 24 hours, or even 48 hours. The cold peach pieces will now have a gentle taste of prosecco, while the prosecco itself will have turned slightly pink and peach-flavoured. Ladle into some pretty glasses, and serve cold.
So simple, and utterly delicious! Perfect for hot weather. So I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday, at the ever-gracious The Novice Gardener, and will be ladling this out there. Many thanks to host (welcome back from your holidays!) and co-hosts.
Notes: In case you do not have prosecco, Tony also makes this with white wine, which is also wonderful. The bubbles vanish anyway. Just use something not too sweet a wine that you would like to drink, or something like a light elderflower cordial, with sparkling water.
Here is our very empty piazza just now, lunchtime Ferragosto. Look at all those parking spaces! There is a group of pensioners chatting below. I can hear music from the palazzo across the street, and someone shouting “Ciaoooooo!” nearby. Six years ago we were newlyweds, we had just bought this flat and we spent Ferragosto painting the bedrooms. The old lady across the street thought this was riveting, and spent several hours watching us from her window, propped up with a red pillow. Stranieri moving in! Foreigners! It was really hot, everything was shut nearby except the bar across the piazza. Nice people, terrible coffee; but with no kitchen here we were desperate for a cappuccino, however bad (it was). We did have our new fridge, sitting in the living room (it was all about to be renovated) so lunch was IKEA pickled herring, eaten with paint-speckled plastic spoons.
It was fantastic! Every August 15 I am reminded of that day, of the heat and the paint and the herring, and how happy we were. And still are! Buon Ferragosto a tutti!