Category Archives: Italy

Garbatella stopover in January

Garbatella in January

It’s been a busy few weeks: Christmas in Norway, back to Accra for New Year’s, now a two-week trip to Rome for work, and we head back to Accra this weekend. Unfortunately I picked up a bad cold in Norway, which turned into acute bronchitis. Denial and paracet only gets you so far, I discovered, though I tried! January is also harmattan season in Accra, with dry dusty winds from the Sahara making the city look foggy from dust, which did not help the coughing. So I have had some days sick in bed while in Rome, missing work, and am slowly recovering. Wonderful to be home in our own apartment (the friend of a friend staying here moved out while we are back). We felt the four earthquakes last Wednesday, spooky though no damage here.

Bar dei Cesaroni
 It is weird being back in Rome after 14 months in Accra. The bar up the hill still has good coffee,  tattered Roma signs and the grey parrot outside. Good coffee bars everywhere, lots of public buses! Romans may complain about AMA (rubbish collection), but AMA just collected our broken washing machine and and old armchair, free of charge. No open sewers, no chickens. Lots of people wearing black, and the cars look so small and new! Wonderful food — fresh salads, pizza margherita, mozzarella, rughetta, pasta amatriciana: it’s all been amazing.

Cheese at Garbatella farmers market ….and CHEESE! Real cheese!! Not just expensive plastic “Irish cheddar” from Shoprite. We bought cheese at the farmers’ market up the hill: pecorino stagionato, ricotta fresca con tartufo, carciocavallo affumicato, scamorza, more pecorino with walnuts, with pepper and with peperoncino, formaggio di capra, ricotta secca…….ahhhhhhh. Much of it vacuum packed, going back to Accra with us, and some it being enjoyed fresh now. Bliss.

Garbatella

Here in Garbatella we have an excellent pasta shop downstairs. We had a busy schedule to see friends for dinners most nights, but with me being sick, we had to cancel most and have been living off cheese, and fresh pasta: ravioli con pistachio, agnolotti (meat stuffing), ravioli all’ carbonara….  I am hoping to squeeze in ravioli con carciofi before we go. Every day the selection   changes slightly. Maybe I can get some fresh pasta Friday, and hope it survives the flight back.

Garbatella cat Random Garbatella cat enjoying January sunshine. My goodness, just going for a walk in a pretty neighbourhood seems such a luxury now.  Like being able to drink the tap water, or have an elevator. Internet fast enough to watch videos! Seeing friends and neighbours is lovely too.

Garbatella Via Passino, Garbatella. The pine trees look like they are leaning more than last year. There are changes since we were last here in July last year: the corner pub is now a tattoo parlour, and the ferramenta (hardware store) that closed is now a nail salon. The bar across the piazza that was renovating for ages opened last year and is still there, quite trendy – we went for a drink last summer, and there were actual hipsters there. But most things are reassuringly familiar, which nice. Nice if not too gentrified here, I love this neighbourhood.

We fly back to Accra this weekend, which will be nice too. Accra is great in a very different way, and I am really looking forward to Ghana mango and pineapple again, as well as seeing the wonderful people we know there too. Now we just need to think about what we pack in our 2×23 kilos of checked luggage each: cheese, pasta, more cheese, what else?

Marching in spirit today

In Rome this week, but bedridden with acute bronchitis, so unable to join the #womensmarch taking place at the Pantheon.

But I am following the marches online, and am with you in spirit. Friends are at the Womens Marches in Rome, in Oakland, in DC and in Oslo, Copenhagen, Geneva, London – wish I were there.

And in Geneva:

And in London

Bread with soaker, and Umbrian soup

Seeded loaves

Sourdough is my preferred bread, but sometimes the weekend rolls around and shopping has not been done, laundry is piling up, visitors are are arriving and the sourdough starter has certainly not been fed for the last two weeks. And I’m missing Fiesta Friday again. Oh no! Time to get sorted. Thus we had scrambled eggs and pickled herring for breakfast (yes, I just had a trip to IKEA to stock up on Kalle’s kaviar, sursild and rhubarb cordial), we chucked some laundry in, and I contemplated what other bread baking would best fit the day. It is also finally warm enough for cambia di stagione time here, which is when you change over your wardrobe from winter to spring/summer, and pull out summer shoes and sandals, so it needed to be a simple bread. I soaked the base for this bread, went for coffee, then set this dough, stashed away winter wear, and made soup. All sorted by dinner time.

Bread with soaker (2 loaves)

Soaker:
100 grammes whole wheat berries (helkorn)
50 grammes flax seeds
50 grammes quick-cook oatmeal
250 ml boiling water
Pour water over grains, seeds and oats. Cover, and leave to soak and cool 1-2 hours.

Then:
25 grammes fresh yeast  (or 12 grammes dried yeast)
180 grammes plain yoghurt (I used goat yoghurt)
300 ml water
400 grammes all-purpose wheat flour (I used 00)
150 grammes wholewheat flour
5 grammes salt

Crumble the fresh yeast, pour over water and yoghurt, add soaked grains, seeds and oats. Add flours, and stir it all together. After ten minutes, add salt and fold several times again, until the dough is mixed well. Cover, and leave to rise to double size.
rising dough

Fold the dough again, divide it in two and move the two dough portions to two medium sized baking parchment-lined bread tins. Cover, and let them rise another 30-45 minutes. It depends on the temperature of your kitchen, but you’ll see the dough rise and expand.

Heat the oven to 220C. When ready to bake, slash the tops and bake them for 45 minutes. I increased the oven to 230C at the end, as I thought the loaves were a bit pale.

image

These loaves were destined to be part of our dinner, but with what? We have been watching Italy Unpacked, which is great, and the last episode they went to Le Marche and Umbria. And I had a bag of Umbrian legumes in the cupboard, and a vegetable drawer that had seen better days, so Umbrian bean soup it was. Are the dried legumes not just beautiful?

Umbrian legumes
 

Umbrian bean soup
500 grammes of pearl barley and mixed dried legumes: green lentils, fava beans, borlotti beans, peas (any commination you have), ideally soaked 12 hours
2 sticks celery
handful parsley
small onion
3 carrots
1 litre chicken stock + 1 litre water
salt and pepper to taste
Soak the legumes 12 hours (I soaked these 9, I confess…….). Chop vegetables, toss them in a pot. Drain the soaked legumes, and toss everything in the pot. Cook gently for an hour or so.

There you go: dinner!

bread and soup It’s a humble contribution to Fiesta Friday 65, with thanks to co-hosts this week Effie @Food Daydreaming and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook.

Fiesta Friday