Month: September 2010

In Pictures: XIII International Cous Cous Fest in Sicily

Don’t you just love the Italians? So passionate and celebrating everything, there’s a whole week dedicated to cous cous in San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily. Cous Cous? Italy? The West Coast of Sicily faces North Africa and has some culinary influences from there, one of them is cous cous. Proper cous cous, not this instant type we have in so many places here or the soggy one that hasn’t been cooked properly and has turned you off it. This was light and fluffy cous cous, nutty and airy, with seafood as a traditional accompaniment (in Italy). Unusual too, only one other place (I believe in Tunisia) has seafood with their cous cous. Chefs from 9 countries gathered and over 2 days we judged the preliminary rounds of dishes. The jury, 8 Italians (from a 2* Michelin chef to a food journalist from La Stampa), 1 Belgian Food Blogger that lives in and blogs from Rome, and me. Persenting were 2 food tv presenters from Italy, there was a Cous Cous Talk Show every night, labs, and it had it’s own Cous Cous Radio …

A Plea for Help: I Want Fiddlehead Ferns

For this post we must pretend that it is 1952. I am using a manual camera, and I have no real clue how to develop the photographs. I possibly opened the camera and let too much light in damaging the film. I possibly soaked the negatives. And let’s pretend that is how I have these rubbish pictures on this post today. It’s been busy. I keep forgetting things. This morning, I took my bright yellow umbrella and put it right by the door so I wouldn’t forget it. I forgot it. I did the same yesterday with my camera. Left it by the door so I could pick it up as I left.  I forgot it.  So, lumbered with an iphone in lowlight conditions, I do hope that you’ll be forgiving. I really want to write about this as it was so interesting. And I do want Fiddlehead Ferns and I hope that you can help me. Last night the Canadian Tourism Commission laid on a cooking class using Canadian ingredients. Imagine my surprise when the …

Bitesize: London Restaurant Festival

The London Restaurant Festival runs this year from from October 4th – 18th. Special festival menus across the entire price spectrum will be available at restaurants across the capital. I personally would recommend hitting 101 Pimlico Rd, Bistro Bruno Loubet, The Bull & Last, Café Spice Namaste, Great Queen St, Hawksmoor, L’Anima, Le Café Anglais, Racine, St John, Tayyab’s and Viajante. Other highlights are Eat Film where you can watch a film then eat a meal inspired by it, a Jason Atherton Pop-Up, a food debate, another Pop-Up restaurant in an airstream caravan in Spittalfields Market then Covent Garden, proceeds of which will go to Action Against Hunger. There is a rumour that some critics will be cooking too. Eat their food at your own risk ;) Most excitingly there will be an opportunity to try the food of some excellent restaurants outside the capital such as The Waterside Inn, The Walnut Tree & L’Enclume. 10 chefs will be pairing 10 London chefs and producing a Sunday lunch on the 10th October (hence 10-10-10, geddit?). …

A Busiata: Pasta Fresca in San Vito Lo Capo

I just love it when by accident you happen across somewhere special. Wandering home from Cous Cous Fest, tired and no longer able to deal with the crowds, I saw a little doorway with people lingering outside. I spied the sign “a busiata” outside, and then, lo, above the door, “Fresh Pasta”. I peered through the rope doorway and saw a gorgeous little space with a few shelves lined with choice products, a fridge full of glorious handmade pastas, and a counter with some more. Fresh cous cous with herbs and dried cous cous were available, this is the town of cous cous after all. Local almonds, biscotti and other Sicilian biscuits (there are a lot!) graced the counter top and behind it, the matriarch was making busiati. What luck! I waited my turn and attempted to communicate (I really need to learn Italian properly!). I wanted everything, but mindful of RyanAir’s ridiculous restrictions I bought 2kg of fresh busiati – 1kg white & 1kg green for €10. A steal. It’s absolutely gorgeous, it may …

From Top to Bottom: Hello Sicily!

I have been jesting that I have had all four seasons in one month and that is how I contracted a very early Winter cold this year. But, really, it is true. Sparkling summer in Lyon at 35° to London’s Autumn (let’s call it Spring for the story), bouncing over to Ireland for our all year round same season, save two weeks of Summer. Then to an early Winter in Lapland where we were in single digit evenings. Now, HELLO summer in Sicily. Hot hot hot, bright skies, turquoise seas, mosquitos a-go-go. And we’ve hit Autumn today with lots, and lots, of rain. Thundering rain. Wake you from your sleep rain. Electrical blackout rain.Flood your hotel room rain. Yes, it’s very wet here this evening. Fabulous though, I have loved every minute. I am never happier as when I am on the move exploring, trying new things, meeting new people, exploring new food cultures, trying new tastes. Generally successful although Tuna Salami is not my friend. Is it anyones? It actually beats Sweden’s fermented herring with its unexpected fishy power …

Skibbereen Food Festival

I was very much looking forward to my friend’s wedding in Cork. Then she revealed that on the weekend of the wedding, just a  few miles away, a food festival would be taking place. A FOOD FESTIVAL! Wonderful. I was not in the best of shape, having spent most of Friday night lost in the woods on the way back to our house (yes, really, we were renting a cottage in a 10.5 acre private wood on a private island), but I bounded in regardless. West Cork has a terrific food reputation, and what I had seen already at the wedding really whet my appetite. I was surprised to see a big screen with the pope saying mass overseeing proceedings. It whisked me back to Pope Jaun Paul’s visit in 1979 (I think), when the country ground to a halt. I was but a nipper but I remember it so well, mainly because my Dad was glimpsed briefly on TV as he attended. Then I realised that they were just waiting for the All Ireland Gaelic Football …

Recipe: A little bit of Pitepalt

We’re going to eat Pitepalt. Pitepalt? Yes, pitepalt. I hadn’t done my research and had no idea what they were talking about. I chose to keep my mouth shut and wait and see. What a treat then to discover that we were going to be eating supreme comfort food, lakeside in Lapland. Potato dumplings, fried over an open fire with pork belly (YES! pork belly), and served with butter and the sugared lingonberries that we had just foraged. Rich, robust and nutty, the potato dumplings, heavier than gnocchi but delicious nonetheless, were coated with pork fat, with nuggets of pork belly for company, smothered in butter with the tartness of the lingonberries raising the tone. BUT, I can’t have any. Well, yes you can. Quick trip to IKEA for the lingonberries or lingonberry jam, and Bob’s your uncle. I can’t help you with the lake though. This recipe is a variation of one from Paltakademin (the Academy of Palt, an association whose mission it is to spread the word of the pitepalt and help people …