Holidays! A week away on Giglio

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True to tradition, we went to Isola del Giglio for a week (like here, and here, and here.) Every year, a great group of friends, and the same routine: a morning cappuccino (or three) looking at the sea, a swim, lunch in the garden, more reading and swimming, apertivi and a long seaside dinner. Bliss! Who’d have thought this would even be possible four months ago? No international travel for us anytime soon, so a week on a quiet small Tuscan island was bliss.

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We had self-catering accomodation with lots of space, and DIY lunches in the garden every day. Delicious. Salads, fresh focaccine, slabs of cold watermelon, melon and ham. When it was our turn I made Fennel pasta bake with lemony breadcrumbs, glutenfree and regular version, with green salad. Another night I made a peach and mascarpone tart, very nice indeed. The peaches are lovely and sweet.

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Yes, we always carried masks, and it was required to wear them outdoors in populated areas of Giglio, plus in all shops and restaurants of course. Not needed for the beach, if you kept your distance. Masks are just a habit now, we have lots of cloth ones and wash them for the next day. The contagion numbers are pretty good in most of Italy at the moment, which is well deserved after months of lockdown and discipline, and most people are still very careful and respect the rules. The police were also encouraging people to wear masks, in a nice way though, and there was hand sanitizer at all entrances.

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Not too crowded.

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Kitchen with a view. I hope you also get a little safe holiday at some point this summer.

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.

Italian stopover: vongole, leeks and cannelini

Too much travelling the last few months, too little cooking. We just finished a lovely week off the Tuscan coast with friends. I am recovering from food poisoning  (never again samosas in Dar es Salaam…..) so ate little and cooked less, but this dish went down well. 

Italy is also in the grip of the heatwave named Lucifer. HOT here!

Same island every year, always wonderful. It seemed a bit quiet this year, the Italian economy must still be down. 

But we had a great week! Fresh fish and seafood from the fish truck, shouting Pesce Fresco each morning.

Vongole with leeks and cannelini

Bag of vongole (small clams)
Three cloves of garlic
Two leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
One medium tin of cannelini beans or other beans
Generous handful parsley, chopped
Two tbs olive oil
Splash of white wine or water, half a lemon if you have one 

Toast  or crusty bread to serve

Cataplana debut! I bought this in Lisbon in June, took it back to Accra, but decided this holiday was a good time to try it. Special pan for steaming shellfish, it clamps shut like a low level pressure cooker and worked really well. 

First: soak clams in water in sink for half an hour, removing any damaged ones or ones that do not close. 

Hear pan with a little oil and white wine or water, tip in handful of clams and steam 4-5 minutes with lid on. You will hear clams pop open. With a slotted spoon fish out done clams and do next batch, I did this in three batches so they were not crowded. 
Leaving liquid in pan, add sliced leeks and garlic and cook 2 or 3 minutes while you de-shell clams and remove any that did not open. Optional step, we were waiting for a lunch guest.  Then add drained beans, chopped parsley and clams and heat briefly through. Maybe half a lemon squeezed over? Serve with toast or crusty bread.

Happy holidays!