The Butcher of Bologna

Our meal is a disappointment. Beautifully presented pasta and delicious melanzane parmigiana, yes, but the atmosphere is lacking and the prices are steep. Our waitress rushes around the sleek surroundings in a joyless and harried fashion, which is something of a surprise in foodcentric Bologna. It’s almost a relief to be out on the street, … More The Butcher of Bologna

Ristorante da Enzo

I’m watered as I examine the restaurant menu hanging at street level. I take it to be an invitation of a sort. Ristorante da Enzo in Modena (a first floor establishment) has windows back and front, dressed by a variety of healthy plants. Responsibility for their welfare falls upon a green-fingered older woman who is … More Ristorante da Enzo

Le Sfogline

Le Sfogline – sisters of pasta. More accurately, it means: those who make sheets of pasta by hand in the traditional way by using a rolling pin (mattarello). Rick Stein met them once (these particular sfogline, who are indeed sisters) and they reminded him that never in Bologna – or Italy for that matter – … More Le Sfogline

Cornish pasty

I’ve known I was a Cornish Pasty ever since I can remember. It’s a family thing, a bit silly, but consider that my parents’ audience (many years ago) was a delighted group of three small kids. We loved that my biggest brother was a Cockney Sparrer, and that my other brother and I were great … More Cornish pasty

Labels, chorizo and falling off the wagon.

Not long ago, my husband and I were discussing food, thinking through weekend meals. I suggested a chickeny something for the Saturday night. My husband agreed that this was a safe bet for the whole family, before remembering that I rarely eat meat nowadays. He said, “You’ve become a vegetarian really, haven’t you?”. Except for … More Labels, chorizo and falling off the wagon.

Israel and his Peaches

I don’t expect Israel to notice me. But his head turns my way while I am still taking pictures, and he stops. Smiling all the way from across the empty road, he leans with nonchalance against his tractor and readjusts his straw hat, happy to strike a pose. Then he beckons – come, cross the … More Israel and his Peaches

Tortilla de Patatas

I want to do what Elena did in her pink frying pan. Tortilla de Patatas. I try to follow her hand-written recipe to the letter, but her careful Spanish script gives directions so succinct they seem too simple for something that tastes of sunshine and salt and melting-soft potatoes. It is a quintessentially Spanish tapa. I dig … More Tortilla de Patatas

Sugar Quotes

In Spain, taking a coffee can be an enlightening half-hour. Especially if you’re going through a rough patch. “Confía en el tiempo, que suele dar dulces salidas a muchas amargas dificultades.” (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) “Trust in time; it usually gives sweet endings to many bitter challenges” Usually. Thanks, Miguel. Words of wisdom from the great … More Sugar Quotes

The humble potato story

A humble potato – not much to look at – meets a cupful of thyme. The pair realises that times are changing, and so they are. (Scissors, a peeler and a knife are introduced, in a very respectful way). Butter is melted and brought on board, and garlic has a small say too. Sliced, stacked … More The humble potato story