I didn’t cook much when I lived in Paris, preferring to go out to restaurants or friends but I loved going to the market. Like in Beirut where I grew up, most of the produce was seasonal and it all looked gorgeous. Sadly, there are few places in London where I love to shop in the same way: La Fromagerie, Pimlico Road farmers’ market and Leila’s Shop which fortunately is closer to home and where I bought this gorgeous radicchio the other day for my lunch. I am not sure why I don’t go back to my old habits of shopping daily, walking over there every morning to buy my lunch. I think I will make it my new resolution for this spring if it ever arrives. Shame I don’t also have a butcher and fishmonger nearby. Or just a farmers market!
The truffle season is nearly over and apart from the half truffle I have in my freezer, I won’t be eating any until next year. Still, I had the most delightful truffle lunch at Quo Vadis cooked by the wonderful and supremely witty Jeremy Lee. He brought in the truffles specially for us and I bought one on a whim, to photograph rather than eat although I did use some of it, shaved over the most delicious scrambled eggs that Jeremy had given me. And when I finished shaving the truffle, I photographed the cut very close with my new 60 mm macro lens to produce an edible landscape. I am having fun with this lens mainly photographing flowers which I post on twitter for Allan Jenkins who started me on snapping flowers. The flower pictures are for him but I may end up showing the close-up photographs of food. Need to do a lot more though, and I need to get better at the technical aspect of my photography!
Some of you will remember Bea from her delicious biscotti and cacciucco. Well, I am back in my friends’ gorgeous house by the sea where Bea cooks the most divine meals, some of which I am hoping to blog before I leave. Until then, I thought I would post the adorable panettone and icing sugar presepio that she made for my friends for Christmas. Such a sweet thing to do (no pun intended). Her edible effort is not unlike the non-edible one outside the Duomo in Perugia below. I guess there aren’t very many ways to depict baby Jesus just born in the barn!
Sicily is the land of sweets. In the old days, the nuns made them in convents. A few still do but nowadays you need to go to pasticcerie or regular bars to sample the amazing range although not all will be good. Two days ago we had a very poor gelato but we struck it lucky this morning when Mary took me to eat the best cannoli ever in the most unlikely place, an ugly hamlet called Dattilo that is home to a few hundred people. I don’t know if the place is mafia land but I am sure that any gangsters there will do the same as the Godfather character and leave the gun for Euro Bar’s cannoli! From there, we went up to Erice, to Maria Grammatico who had made the heart that Mary gave me for my birthday — Mary wrote all about her and her sweets in the brilliant Bitter Almonds. I was hoping to buy a heart but Maria had been travelling, so, we made do with an incredibly delicious Genovese (top picture) plus a whole selection of marzipan sweets for me to take home!