Tag Archives: Garbatella

Chilly Rome, and helkornbrød III

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A cat basking in December sunshine. We had ambled up the hill to meet friends from Accra at the farmers’ market on Via Passino, and a lovely sunny morning it was. Laden with biscuits (brutti ma buoni, neretti, cantucci)  we brought them back for a lunch of cacio e pepe ravioli from the pasta shop downstairs, with a market-bought lemon and fruit crumble for dessert. It’s been a very nice Roman day.

Garbatella

Walking back through the narrow streets of old Garbatella, on our way home. It is really odd, knowing that in twelve days I’ll be headed back to Accra again. Am I packing for three weeks there, or a year ? There is still no news on what 2018 brings, which is rather nerve-wracking. As usual, baking is calming and feels soothingly productive when most else is uncertain. Tonight we see friends, so this bread is coming along as our contribution. My husband is baking jollof-flavoured focaccia, so the kitchen is warm and toasty and smells divine.

Since I am only here for a few weeks, the pantry is low on seeds and flour types, so it’s variation III of helkornbrød, wholewheat bread with cracked wheat. Here are variations I and II. This time I also used overnight-soaked cracked wheat, but I added a pre-ferment overnight sponge for flavour.

Saturday potluck bread: helkornbrød III

The night before:
150 grammes of whole cracked wheat
250 grammes of water
Leave to soak over night in covered container, on counter in cool kitchen (17C) or in fridge.

Also the night before:
50 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
100 grammes coarse rye flour
100 grammes wholewheat flour
10 grammes fresh yeast, crumbled (or 5g dry yeast)
200 grammes water
Stir together. Leave over night in covered container, on counter in cool kitchen (17C) or in fridge.

Next day, in large bowl:
500 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
100 grammes wholewheat flour
15 grammes fresh yeast, crumbled (or 7.5g dry yeast)
250 grammes water
3 tbs vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
+ the soaked cracked wheat with any leftover liquid
+ the overnight sponge

Stir it all together, mixing well and folding with spatula, you will see the structure develop. Moist, sticky dough but not wet: I was thinking of round loaves this time, hoping the dough would not collapse if baked free-form without tins, but still wanting a decent hydration. Very guess-timated here. Leave to rise until nicely doubled. Here it was left for four hours in the kitchen, while we went off for our market walk and had impromptu lunch guests, which was great.

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When our friends had left and the wine glasses were washed, I folded the dough vigorously in the bowl with a spatula for a few minutes, then split it in two and shaped two rounds, sitting on parchment paper. I covered these with a tea towel and let then rise again for an hour or so. I slashed them before baking and sprinkled both with some water right before they went into the hot oven. Bake at 225C for 45 minutes or so, depending on your oven, on lower rack.

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Off to dinner they go! These could maybe have had five more minutes in, but the jollof focaccia also needs baking. It sounds odd, but is really good for apertivi! Same Gabriele Bonci dough as usual. A very good weekend to all.

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Two very hot days in Garbatella

Piazza Bonomelli, deserted in the afternoon heat. What a luxury, 48 hours at home in Rome! Our suitcases are packed for the return to Accra: freshly baked cantucci from Tuscany, truffle salami from the farmers market here Sunday, migraine medication for three months, and a little mozzarella. Let’s hope my suitcase is not delayed 24 hours again…

The Lucifer heatwave is still in force, too hot to do much. Quiet streets, 37.6C right now but not yet passing the 2003 record of 40.6C. 

Caffe freddo at the Bar dei Cesaroni up the hill, a Roma stronghold. Nero the parrot is still there. Good that things do not change too much here!

Photo from January when it was MUCH colder.

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?