All posts tagged: italy

Sicilian Stories, sweat and bruschetta

Love Italy, love Italian food (except gnocchi – just cannot get that stuff) and have had some amazing food on some fabulous holidays. I think I have visited probably 10 times, from the lakes in the North, to Rome, Tuscany and Venice, to Sorrento, Capri and Positano in the South, but never yet ventured to Sicily. So this year’s holiday was a first. Before Sicily though we have Birmingham airport, and I just wanted to share this gem with you. This beaut is a “sausage bloomer sandwich” and it cost £7. Yep. I will leave that with you…. Taormina is perched halfway up a cliff and is truly beautiful, a wonderful old town with meandering ginnels, alleyways and streets, with ancient artefacts (the odd 2000 year old amphitheatre or mosaic) around every corner, mingling with characterful old buildings and all human life, particularly Italians, for whom this is favourite holiday resort. The streets are packed with shops, restaurants and bars and the views from the cliff side over the med are stunning. Alongside the smaller antiquities there is also a truly fabulous Greek amphitheatre which …

This sexy mamma and that Sexy Mamma…

It takes a lot to impress me. This may be because I am old, cynical and jaded, it may be because I have very high standards or perhaps a bit of both, or maybe I’m just picky and difficult, I’ll let others decide. But just occasionally something comes along that surprises and delights and reminds you why it’s good to be alive. And it is. And Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti is one of those things. Nothing is perfect of course, and I can find a few grumbles  – we were right by the door and it blew open several times and there was sharp wind on that corner, and perhaps, well, no, actually, I’m not even going to bother because this place is absolutely superb and it would be churlish to mention such issues in the scheme of things. SMLS is the third opening in about a 100 yard space in Nottingham’s trendy and bohemian creative quarter, Hockley, by Bosnian chef Edin Gondzic (him of the cool Patisserie, see my earlier blog post ). It …

Get this. Padella – handmade, delicious & affordable pasta – yep, affordable London

If I had a set of drums, I’d do a drumroll before starting this post, or possibly a trumpet fanfare, if I had one of them. Probably fortunately, I don’t have either. Why the excitement? Affordable (yes, properly, really, genuinely, affordable), delicious, authentic, handmade pasta in Southwark. Padella is situated just at the entrance of Borough Market, it doesn’t take bookings but is open all day, so if, like us, you pitch up outside peak hours, you don’t have long to wait (10 mins in our case).There is an open kitchen, and bench seating by the window and at the counter, with some tables to the rear. We sat at the window, all the better to watch the world go by, and it certainly does.. The menu is gratifyingly limited, with a handful of starters and main courses and just 3 desserts. The portions are perfectly judged, I am fed up with being served so much food that I have to leave half of it, or avoid a starter and sweet simply to make room …

Backyard Pizza Oven – finally!

I have dreamt of a pizza oven in our back garden for years. I placed it on the husband’s “to do” list about 10 years ago. Every time, here or abroad, I spotted a traditional wood-burning pizza oven I would drop unsubtle hints and be promised one for the following summer. In the end, with no sign of the pizza oven materialising, I changed tack and put the Finnish-designed Uuni 2 wood-fired oven on my Christmas list. Yep, my Christmas list. That’ll throw him, I thought. So finally this weekend was warm enough to get my pizza oven out and learn how to drive it. It isn’t the home-made traditional oven I had originally envisaged, but this is nonetheless a thing of beauty and, finally, I have a pizza oven in the back garden. My first attempts were simple – home-made pizza dough with a tomato base, mozzarella, few chillies, Italian salami and fresh basil, some with a few peppers. It took a bit of mastering to get the flames inside large enough to ensure …

A little bit of La Dolce Vita

So we were doing a bit of a pub crawl last Saturday…well, I exaggerate a little,…well quite a lot really. We had a couple of cocktails at the lovely Loom in the city’s Creative Quarter and then schlepped over the road to Veeno for a glass or two before dinner. Veeno’s is a pretty simple idea. Think holidays in Tuscany. There you go. Italian wine and nibbles. That’s it really. Veeno is a small “group” of restaurants, supplied by the founders’ own vineyard in Sicily and celebrates the Italian “aperitive” culture with a selecton of wines and typical Italian small dishes to accompany them. We got to Veeno at about 5 ish on a grey, damp Saturday afternoon in the English Midlands. It didn’t feel like Tuscany, still less Portofino, so this place had its work cut out to deliver a Mediterranean vibe. We were greeted by a fab and enthusiastic lady Front of House, who warned us this was not a place for dinner – explained the “offer” and showed us to the rear of …