My happy moments from 2014, New Year’s resolutions and snow

The Snow Queen Milla.

The Snow Queen Milla.

It’s snowing from yesterday. Italy, the land of the sun around here looks pretty much like Winterfell, but I’m not Arya Stark even though I got her short hair and her surly attitude.

town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy

Town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy.

image8

Quite a lot of snow I would say.

Milla, my 9 year old cocker spaniel is snoring at my feet enjoying her cozy blanket. I guess in a perfect wintery scenario the only things that are missing in the picture are the sound of crackling fire and a hot chocolate with marshmallow. Too bad I don’t have either of them, but I can fake it with the virtual fireplace sound on a 5 hour long youtube video and a Nutella jar.

Usually the end of December leads to make new resolutions for the next year, but they almost never work, at least for me, like the classic losing weight, or spending less money on unnecessary stuff. Because let’s face it, these two are the hardest promises to keep for a woman, am I right?

The last couple of months have been really tough on both G and I, so there’s not as much enthusiasm to start a new year as the previous New Year’s Eves. However, I feel it’s necessary not to give up to negativity, so the one and only resolution I am making for 2015 and my future as well, is to work really hard on myself in order to start finding happiness in every little thing.

2015 will be a year of change and I know it for sure. It’s not just the holidays’ atmosphere to do the talking, but the recent circumstances that are pushing me to do something, more like a make it or break it kind of situation.

I like to keep this blog as a drama free place, so I want to start my important resolution from here.

As you might have previously read on The Weird Frittata, every month I like to write a chart/bucket list of products/places I loved and recommend. This time it’s different, because I’m going to write what made me happy during 2014 even what it looks like to be negative, because I want to believe there is a bright side in everything.

So, here it is:

  • The early months of 2014 spent at home in Italy with my family. Even the unemployment has its own bright side, because I could treasure every moment with my parents and relatives (you know, Italian families are quite big). I had the wonderful experience of reconnecting with my family and enjoy my Nonna’s cooking, which I tried to recreate and practice as much as I could. Needless to say that her special recipes will always be in my heart for ever.
  • Moving back to the UK. This time I discovered London from a new perspective experimenting with ethnic restaurants, discovering new recipes and hipster places, just what I needed after a long Italian winter. This rediscovery made me realise how much I love food and the industry that gravitates around it, to the point that I would like to blend in and be part of it. Even though I’m thankful to London for each life experience I had, my love-hate relationship with this city keeps going on, and I’m afraid it’s not going to last that long. It’s like when you get back with your ex and you know that after the initial happiness the old problems will rise again. In fact, here I am again in a “It’s not you, it’s me”, kind of phase and I am grateful for that, because I know that I need to look for something else in my life. Rather than something, it’s somewhere.
  • House sharing again, Thank you London rental prices! Seriously how could this be positive? You might ask, but I’m now more convinced than before of what I want for 2015. Respect is the first answer and I could go on, but anyone who has shared a property knows, for example, how hard it is to keep it clean without ending up in an argument with the other flatmates.
  • All the job interviews gone wrong. You can learn from your mistakes, they say and I’m sure to have learned something about myself and how to deal with these kind of situations. Luckily, it’s not all about me. There are lot of jerks who think they are entitled to treat applicants like trash, because they are in a position of power. I am thankful I don’t have to deal with them on daily basis.
  • Now something not about me. G. finally entered the career field he chased for a long time and I’m happy for him to have found his own path. It’s just the beginning and will be difficult but seeing the person I love being happy makes me want to work hard as well and pay him back with the same positivity he gives me every day.

I saw on Pinterest something called resolution jar and I believe it’s a nice idea to keep the positive mood throughout the year. What you have to do is just fill an empty jar with notes about all the good moments you have during the year and then, around the end of December, you can empty the jar and go through all of your notes to remember those positive moments that we tend to forget in favour of the negative ones.

Now for all of you lazy people out there (including me), this is a lovely idea but also a commitment as well, so find whatever works best for you: a notebook, a board, a calendar or just an app on your smartphone, but never stop staying positive!

I’ll try my best, you should too.


Happy New Year, guys!

Advertisements

A day in Naples and the best pizza in the world. Gino Sorbillo’s review.

image12

Vesuvius volcano.

Naples is like a lioness, beautiful, haughty and arduous to tame. The collective consciousness about the third city of Italy is made up of diehard preconceptions: a poor, anarchic and at times dirty urban centre on the slopes of a volcano. I’m not here to say this is just not true, because each and every stereotype always has a pinch of accuracy. Also, if the essence of a community remains strong throughout centuries, not necessarily the said people won’t open to change for the needs that modern times demand. What I would like to point out here is that although I come from a region that borders with Campania (the region where Naples is the main centre) and my dialect is strictly similar to the Neapolitan one, due to centuries of Neapolitan domination in the fragmented South, I also had preconceptions. I had them because the last time I visited the city I was about ten, and well, almost 20 years ago the situation was a bit different than it is now. The neglected architecture of the buildings always stays the same, just as some grotesque “personalities” you can find in the narrow alleys that form the map of the city centre. However, this time Naples felt cleaner and safer. It’s true that Christmas is a busy period for the city, because tourists from every part of Italy and the world hit the San Gregorio Armeno alley, to visit the artisan workshops specialised in the creations of nativity scenes. For this reason it would be only logical to consider the hard work of the municipality as something special for the holiday season, but apparently the city is dealing with an actual desire to change, in order to make the ancient capital of southern Italy a modern European city. Some results are already showing, just like the project Stations of Art which is aimed at changing the perspective of the city’s perception by allowing contemporary artist to take over the design and architecture of some underground stations. In fact in 2012 Toledo station was chosen as the most beautiful underground station in Europe

The wonderful mosaic of Toledo underground station in Naples. Project by the Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. Credits: The New York Times

Where does food place itself in this context of traditions looking at the future? Exactly in harmony with everything else. Street food is a market that lures young entrepreneurs, because they have the chance to offer the classics of Neapolitan gastronomy in a new light by enhancing the traditional preparation methods, using quality Italian products and social networks to promote their business in the quickest way to the public. This is just what happened with the famous Gino Sorbillo’s pizza that I finally had the chance to try. Gino Sorbillo for whom pizza making runs in the family, is a young talented chef. His passion for the traditional Neapolitan pizza motivated him to improve it by researching and experimenting with mother dough, different organic flour blends and ingredients in order to find an excellent and easy to digest recipe. Gino Sorbillo’s research never stops, in fact it seems that he is trying to create a dough specifically for coeliac disease affected people with the same texture, taste and digestibility of the regular one used in his 3 pizzerias. The ingredients used as toppings are all the best Italian products the country can offer, with their origin and traceability stated on the menu. In other words, Quality. Yes, with capital Q.

Now let’s talk about the experience: image10 The location. You’ll recognise it from afar even though you’ve never been there before, because there’s always a queue that looks endless. You have to be patient, because sometimes it’s necessary to wait hours to get a taste of the best pizza in Italy (and the world in my opinion). My advice is to go either at the opening around 12 or after lunch time at 3. This doesn’t mean you will not queue at all, because as I said the place is always packed with people, but the wait is more “human”. image3 The pizzeria is an ancient two storey house, property of Esterina, Gino’s beloved aunt who passed the passion for pizza on to him. The decor is minimal because all the attention is concentrated on the product. Anyway, in my opinion it wouldn’t harm to modernise the retro style of the place, but retro is not to be intended as the vintage design that is so trendy right now. I am talking about 90’s Italian, so last century!

The service is very fast even though the waitresses aren’t smiley or chatty. I would have certainly appreciated some more courtesy, but I understand that heavy shifts and dealing with every kind of people at a fast pace can get easily on everyone’s nerves. For this reason, there’s no tablecloth on the table and glasses are disposable, just like their napkins. When customers are ready to leave, a waitress comes and cleans the table in a few seconds, so it’s ready for the next group of people.

The pizza. The base is light and soft but doesn’t tear up. This is the result of working the dough and stretching it by hand only, because Sorbillo refuses to use industrial machineries. To those who are not familiar with Neapolitan pizza the dough will taste as still raw, but believe me, it’s not. You will realise it immediately, because after eating you pizza you will not feel full and bloated. As I mentioned before, high-digestibility.

My Osvaldo pizza.

My Osvaldo pizza.

I got an Osvaldo pizza which is made with cherry tomatoes, smoked mixed buffalo&cow’s milk provola cheese, mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella, extravirgin olive oil and fresh basil. Only 5€.

Vittorio pizza.

Vittorio pizza.

G got Vittorio, an amazing mix of Apulian tuna, Taggiasca olives, Mount Saro’s wild oregano, Italian organic passata and mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella. Price was 7.50€.

My vote is 9. Sorbillo’s pizza is extraordinary, the best I’ve ever had, because it is a combination of harmonic quality ingredients with a digestible dough, basically the dream. I can’t give more than 9, because some aspects of the overall experience can definitely be improved, but of course I recommend you to try Sorbillo’s amazing pizza because, I can assure you, nothing will ever be the same after that.

Gino Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Naples.

Sunday Brunch at Lantana Shoreditch: my review.

It happens every Sunday. I roll out of bed with semi closed eyes uttering weird sounds and wander in the house before realising how late it is and regretting those two hours I overslept, because the bed couldn’t let me go. The routine continues like this: usually after drinking some coffee in slow motion, I call my mum to catch up with the latest family gossip, but every time I end up getting scolded. Why? Simple, because it’s almost lunchtime and I preferred sleeping rather than waking up and do the preps for Sunday sauce, as every good Italian woman should do according to my mother’s and gran’s thought. At this point I have two options: 1) Lie and tell her that the sauce is on the stove simmering since 7 am and if I am convincing enough I also can find a quick excuse for my sleepy voice. Unfortunately I am such a bad liar, so I go straight to number 2. 2)Tell her I’m going to have brunch.

Her reply is always immediate: “Why? You’re not American.” Then it becomes melodramatic: “Hearing you’re losing your national identity makes me so sad.” Seriously, mum? I should probably take her to brunch next time she visits to try to change her mind.

After a quick search, G. and I decided for Lantana in Shoreditch, a trendy Aussie style café renowned for their excellent coffee blend and their signature drink, the flat white. I had already tried their coffee and cakes at their original location in Fitzrovia during my MA year at SOAS, and I kept going back at the time just to reward myself with quality products after classes, exams, you name it. This time it was all about brunch.

We arrived around 12:15 and we joined the long queue, because the café was packed with customers. Good sign.

The place has nice aged wood interiors without frills, in line with the trendy simple but absolutely vintage style, which is common to many independent coffee shops in London. Not really bright I would say, as the room can only benefit from two windows, so in rainy days like yesterday, the artificial light becomes necessary even at midday.

image5

The very kind waitress asked us if it was ok to wait 20 minutes, and of course we were more than happy to do it, but 20 minutes soon became 40 when we finally got seated. Well, it can happen when the kitchen is particularly busy and orders keep piling up, right?

image4

Soon another waiter came to our table and when I was about to order, he informed us that the food would have taken another 15 minutes. Fair, our order needs to be cooked and plated. Plus, what could have we possibly done after queuing 40 minutes to get a table, stand up and walk away?

Too bad that 15 minutes became 30. At this point I was very hungry and, honestly, annoyed, but our food finally came.

Smashed avocado and streaky bacon on sourdough toast with a poached egg and rocket (£7.5) for me and slow braised beans with ham hock served on corn bread with grilled chorizo, a poached egg and spinach for G (£8.5).

Well, I have to say that the kitchen staff made up for the wait with their flavourful dishes.

image13

A matter of perspective: the portion was bigger than it looks here.

My choice celebrated the always winning union between bacon and eggs, with a fresh note added by a creamy mellow avocado and the final bitter touch given of rocket to complete the dish. Nice, without any doubt. However, I would have seasoned the avocado with some pepper, smoked paprika and sumac just give it a spicy kick.

image15

Same goes for G.’s choice.

G’s order as well had a nice harmony in the combination of ingredients. In fact, the hearty beans braised in tomato sauce and ham hock gave respectively acidity and texture to contrast with the distinctive sapidity of chorizo and extremely peppery corn bread.

I give Lantana 7.5 that could have been easily transformed in a higher score, but the long waiting at the entrance and then at table was a significant source of influence. I perfectly understand that Brunch can be a busy time, but more communication and coordination of the staff could significantly improve the customers’ experience.

Lantana Shoreditch, Unit 2, 1 Oliver’s Yard ,55 City Rd. EC1Y1HQ

Does colour influence the taste and flavour perception of food?

Last Saturday I found myself staring at my partner’s cheeseburger questioning his choice of cheese: Red Leicester.

Red Leicester cheese @Neal’s Yard Dairy. The one in the burger was unnaturally brighter.

Last Saturday I found myself staring at my partner’s cheeseburger questioning his choice of cheese: Red Leicester. I had never tried it before last week, because that bright orange colour sincerely put me off every time I considered buying that cheese. The fact that it’s coloured with annatto, a natural extract of the Archiote tree’s fruit, still doesn’t convince me entirely. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just an irrational instinct, but that colour in a cheese still feels unnatural to me. Never judge a book by its cover, right? So even though I had preconceived ideas, this was the right time to finally have a bite of that intensely bright orange cheese and prove myself I was just having unreasonable biases. A little bite full of expectations, I would say, but then a sense of confusion mixed with disappointment hit me hard: Red Leicester tasted just as regular Cheddar. (Forgive me, cheese purists!) Why was I experiencing that negative feeling? I kept wondering, until I suddenly got the answer: my brain and eyes just fooled me. Even though being surprised and, at the same time, fascinated by this phenomenon, I rationally tried to give myself an acceptable explanation: my brain did an association with a familiar cheese based on that bright colour. Red Leicester should have tasted nutty and sharp, just like my beloved Molisan Provolone Cheese when is aged for a couple of year and gets a warm golden shade. It’s not news that food companies add colourings to their products in order to alter their appearance, making them look fresher and more appealing for customers. It’s an effective technique that bears its fruits because we always “eat with our eyes” first. We start making choices about favourite colours since childhood and try to apply them to various aspects of our daily life. Neuroscientists claim that this is due to an early association of a positive feedback to a certain colour, so during our life we tend to recreate that comforting feeling by choosing the same colour, which often becomes our favourite one. Kids love coloured food because they can associate an exact colour with their favourite toy, or cartoon character. For example, It’s not rare, during the Italian summer, to witness children happily devouring a “Smurf  gelato”, which is nothing other than a blued dyed vanilla ice cream. Less happily their mothers will struggle to remove those stubborn blue stains from clothes, but this is another story. Anyway, sorry mum!

Gelato Puffo or Smurf Ice cream. @foodspotting

We are the same children, who grow up and change their eating habits for healthier and “more natural” options. We learn the importance of colour in foods as an essential characteristic to judge the freshness of a product, for example we experience the consequences of eating a steak that turned green, and painfully regret we didn’t toss it. Literally. In the meantime, the society we live in has shaped a stable idea about the food we eat, its wide range of colours and the flavour we associate with each one of those shades. In other words we develop a precise idea of what a certain food should taste like based on its appearance in our own cultural context. This is why we are confused, and at times disappointed, when this matching does not happen. Now, try to picture a young woman being tricked by her friends into drinking what looked like a blood orange smoothie. Then imagine her wide-eyed expression when, in a fraction of a second, her tastebuds rapidly experienced the strong sour and salty flavour of Gazpacho.  Yes, that woman shouting at her friends was me.

Yellow watermelon on hungryforchange.tv

Sometimes it can also be fun to see our cultural certainties crumble, like the first time I tried the yellow watermelon. I was visiting a nice Japanese lady in Tokyo, when she brought a beautiful blue ceramic plate with some precisely cut slices of yellow watermelon. Yellow? Thank God, she “couldn’t read my poker face”, but I was seriously puzzled inside. “That melon would have been sour, like every unripe fruit.” My stream of consciousness kept flowing in the few seconds necessary to thank my host and take a slice. A first bite and within a moment I felt so stupid! Because it was even sweeter than the common watermelon I crave every summer. I am sure that without this experience I would have never bought that fruit because of a preconceived idea. The mental association between the colour of a food and the assumption we have about its taste is a field that neuroscientists are still exploring, but recent experiments have revealed some remarkably interesting results. For example, an experiment conducted by the Ohio State University showed how using a red colouring in white wine led the unaware participants to describe the aroma and the flavour of the drink with adjectives belonging to the semantic field of red wine. Colours influence our daily life and even the choice of the food we eat. I am fascinated by the way our brain works, leading us to pick a specific coloured food over another simply because it gives us pleasure. However sometimes the same brain tricks itself and that’s when a new memorable colour related experience is created, whether it is positive or negative. What do you guys think about the influence of colours in the choice of our food? Please let me know in a comment below.

August favourites: 5 food smells and their reassuring memories

 sugo

I know, I know, it’s September already and I haven’t wrote a post in ages but in my defence I was so busy moving back to London that I barely had time to sleep.

So I finally found a place, but I’m not sure if I’m going to stay for a long period or looking for something else, because these two months have proved me that finding a decent place you can call home in London is just like the film Mission: Impossible.

London has changed so much during these three years I left, but its smell of curry and hot soups enhanced by a “little” pinch of glutamate, remains the same that strongly penetrates the streets during the long winters. As much as these two food smells do not really classify as my favourite ones, I have to admit I was relieved it did not change. For an emotional creature of habit like myself, it’s always overwhelming to deal with life changes, therefore in those moments I always look for something familiar to cling on to.

As Marcel Proust wrote in The Search Of The Lost Time,

When from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.

Here are my favourite food smells and the memories they are connected with:

  • Freshly baked bread – Seriously,who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked bread? you can find bread throughout the world, and even with its differences, it remains a constant of nutrition. This is enough to make me feel at home, even when I am far away. When I was little, I always went grocery shopping with my Mum for Nonna and as I gave her the loaf of freshly bake bread we bought, she used to reward me with the first crusty slice. Crunchy and still warm. Reassuring, this is what the smell of Freshly baked bread is for me.
  • Barbecue – I have never been a carnivorous, so when I happen to smell the burning charcoal that fills the air up with smoke I don’t really think about tender juicy steaks straightaway. To me barbecue smells like the end of summer. Every Year, between August and September my big Italian family used to gather in a distant uncle’s country house for a couple of days to produce the homemade tomato passata for the whole year while us kids played outside with my uncle’s two Maremma dogs. The barbecue rewarded the all the hard work of those two days. I can still picture it in my mind: Nonna and my mother checking the last bottles while my dad prepared the fire and I was either climbing on a tree or playing with the ball. Yes, very feminine of me. 
  • Lemon cake – My mother has never been a skilled baker and even her Lemon Cake is far from being amazing (Thanks God she doesn’t read this) but just the thought of her baking this cake fills me up with joy, because the whole building where my parents’ apartment is, becomes permeated by that sweet scent. More than once I overheard neighbours saying things like “This is Lemon cake, I’m sure. Oh, I would really like a slice right now!”
  • Nonna’s Sunday pasta sauce – I know it sounds kind of cliché but this really is one of the most comforting food smells of my childhood. That meaty tomato sauce was carefully prepared from the early hours of Sunday Morning and being left simmering until lunch time, when it was thick and fragrant. That was the scent of uncountable lunches together year after year.
  • Strawberries: I remember my dad picking me up at elementary school on Saturdays, asking me to smell his hands and guess. It was his way to tell him he was coming directly from home where cut strawberries and then seasoned them with sugar and lemon juice. It was his way to treat her daughter on a Spring Saturday. I have never eaten strawberries differently, but now  and even though Dad still prepares strawberries for me once in a while, his hair have been turning grey and I I’m no longer a child with the same carefreeness.

I am really curious to know about your favourite ones, so feel free to leave a comment. In the meantime I will try as much as I can to keep you updated about my foodie adventures in London, or everywhere else.

 

And now in Italian.

Lo so, lo so, è già settembre e non scrivo un post da tempo immemore, ma a mia discolpa devo ammettere che sono stata così occupata con questo trasloco a Londra che sono stata fortunata a trovare del tempo per dormire.

Così ho finalmente trovato un posto dove stare, ma non sono sicura se rimanere per un lungo periodo o cercare di qualcos’altro, perché questi due mesi mi hanno dimostrato che trovare un posto decente, da poter chiamare casa a Londra, è come il film Missione: Impossibile.

Londra è cambiata tanto in questi tre anni in cui l’ho lasciata, ma il suo odore di curry e zuppe calde aiutate da un “piccolo” pizzico di glutammato, rimane lo stessa che riempie le strade durante i lunghi inverni inglesi. Per quanto questi due odori in realtà non compaiano nella classifica dei miei preferiti, devo ammettere che mi sono sentita sollevata del fatto che fossero sempre gli stessi. Per una persona emotiva e fortemente abitudinaria come me, è sempre travolgente a che fare con cambiamenti di vita, quindi in quei momenti cerco sempre di qualcosa di familiare per aggrapparsi a.

Come Marcel Proust scrisse in La ricerca del tempo perduto,

Ma, quando niente sussiste d’un passato antico, dopo la morte degli esseri, dopo la distruzione delle cose, soli, più tenui ma più vividi, più immateriali, più persistenti, più fedeli, l’odore e il sapore, lungo tempo ancora perdurano, come anime, a ricordare, ad attendere, a sperare, sopra la rovina di tutto il resto, portando sulla loro stilla quasi impalpabile, senza vacillare, l’immenso edificio del ricordo.”

Qui ci sono i profumi odori di cibo che adoro ed i ricordi che sono collegati ad essi:

  • Pane appena sfornato – Scherzi a parte, chi non ama l’odore del pane appena sfornato? Il pane si trova in tutto il mondo, e pure con le sue differenze, rimane una costante dell’alimentazione. Tutto questo mi fa già sentire a casa, anche quando sono lontana. Da piccola,  accompagnavo sempre mia madre a fare la spesa per Nonna, e quando le portavo il pane fresco, aveva l’abitudine di darmi con la prima fetta, la più croccante. Croccante e ancora caldo. Rassicurante, questo è ciò che rappresenta per me il profumo del pane appena sfornato.
  • Barbecue o grigliata – Non sono mai stato una carnivora, così quando mi capita di sentire l’odore del legno che brucia e che riempie l’aria di fumo, in realtà non penso subito ad una bistecca. Per me la grigliata rappresenta la fine dell’estate. Ogni anno, tra agosto e settembre la mia grande famiglia si riuniva nella casa di campagna di un lontano zio per un paio di giorni. Si doveva produrre la passata di pomodoro fatta in casa che sarebbe poi servita per cucinare durante tutto l’anno. Tutto mentre noi bambini giocavano fuori con i due maremmani dello zio. La grigliata non era altro che il premio finale per il duro lavoro dei grandi durante questi due giorni. Riesco ancora a vedere con la mia mente Nonna e mamma che controllano le ultime bottiglie mentre mio padre prepara il fuoco ed io arrampicata su un albero o a giocare con la palla. Proprio una signorina! 
  • Torta al limone – Mia madre non è mai stata una pasticciera dotata e anche la sua torta al limone è tutt’altro che sorprendente (Grazie a Dio lei non legge il mio blog), ma solo il pensiero di lei che prepara questa torta mi riempie di gioia, perché l’intero palazzo dove vivono miei genitori si riempie di quel profumo dolcissimo ogni volta. Spesso ho i vicini dire cose come “Questo è profumo di torta al limone, ne sono sicuro. Quanto vorrei una fetta proprio ora!”
  • Sugo della Domenica di Nonna – So che sembra sorta di cliché, ma questo è davvero uno dei profumi più confortanti della mia infanzia. Il sugo veniva pomodoro preparato con cura dalle prime ore di Domenica mattina e veniva lasciato sobbollire fino all’ora di pranzo, quando diventava denso e profumatissimo. Quello era il profumo di innumerevoli pranzi insieme anno dopo anno.
  • Fragole – Mi ricordo che mio padre veniva a prendermi a scuola tutti i sabati e mi chiedeva di annusare le sue mani e indovinare di cosa profumassero. Era il suo modo per dirgli che stava venendo direttamente da casa, dove mi aveva preparato le fragole con lo zucchero e succo di limone. Era il suo modo di viziare la figlia in un sabato di primavera. Non ho mai mangiato le fragole in modo diverso, e anche se papà prepara ancora le fragole per me di tanto in tanto, i suoi capelli sono diventati grigi e io non sono più la stessa bambina con la medesima spensieratezza.

Sono davvero curiosa di conoscere i vostri odori preferiti, quindi sentitevi liberi di lasciare un commento.

Nel frattempo cercherò per quanto possibile per tenervi aggiornati sulle mie avventure foodie a Londra, o in qualsiasi altra parte del mondo.

Best Gelato in London: Gelupo vs La Gelatiera

Here’s the situation: I’m stuck at home because of heavy rain (Thanks, Hurricane Bertha) and I’m staring at my empty fridge, hoping that something would magically pop up out of nowhere.

The sound of rain, which is usually relaxing for me, now carries a sad message: Summer is officially over. In other words, for many, ice cream season has come to an end, but not for me. Well, to be honest, I’d rather go for gelato instead of ice cream, but unfortunately it’s difficult to find it as good as the Italian one.

For those of you who are wondering, no, gelato is not just a mere translation of ice cream. We are talking about a different product with a softer and lighter texture than ice cream. This is due to the higher percentage of milk rather than cream and the slower churning process (Look here for technicalities)

Luckily enough, London has everything you can think of, so all I had to do was some research about the best gelato in town and of course, I had to “sacrifice” myself by trying it for you guys.

Gelupo: I’ve been there twice and I was lucky enough to try one of the best gelatos of my entire life. The first time I got licorice, but I was curious to try pistachio, because I judge a shop valid by the ability of producing a real pistachio gelato without food colourings or artificial flavours that I can immediately recognise. Pistachio was as it should always be, a natural light green to almost beige shade and a real taste of pistachio, which means nutty, almost salty. However, licorice was what impressed me the most: bitter and sweet, too strong for some, but definitely not for me, because I loved how this particular flavour and its aftertaste were perfectly combined with their creamy texture.

foto 3

licorice and pistachio @ Gelupo

I went back to Gelupo the week after and I tried ricotta and sour cherry and apricot and amaretto. Again the texture was creamy as it should be, but I found amaretto to be too much overpowering as I could not really taste the apricot. I’m fussy, I know, but let’s be realistic Gelupo’s product is amazing.

Gelupo, 7 Archer Street, London, W1D 7AU.

La Gelatiera – I’ve been there twice as well, as the first time I tried matcha and passion fruit but I went back because I had to try the more daring flavours that this place is also known for.

Gelatiera

Speaking about texture, La Gelatiera’s gelato is creamy and melts in your mouth, so it’s possible to taste the results of the research, the hard work and the time spent perfecting the product.

Passion fruit was so refreshing and well balanced, while matcha was not as I expected in terms of flavour, because I found it mild. In all fairness, I have to say that I am more used to the matcha gelato that I tried in Japan, where the product uses a more bitter green tea which is balanced with the sweetness of the cream. However I understand that a mild version is much more appreciated by a western palate.

foto 2

Matcha and Passion fruit @ La Gelatiera

The second time I felt sure enough to try some unusual flavour, so I chose honey and rosemary with orange zest. Quite impressing given that both rosemary and orange being very strong flavours contrasting with each other on a mild base, honey. As much as I liked to experiment, I believe an entire cone is too much though.

Again I’m a fussy customer and again the product is excellent.

La Gelatiera, 27 New Row, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4LA.

Between the two I choose…both! it’s a tie as they both do an amazing job in selecting their prime ingredients and their preparation techniques, and believe me, you can definitely taste the quality.

I would love some gelato right now, but I’m still here at home listening to the sound of heavy rain and wondering when it’ll stop.

 

And now in Italian.

La situazione è questa: sono bloccata a casa a causa della forte pioggia (Grazie, uragano Bertha) e sto fissando il mio frigo vuoto, sperando che qualcosa sbuchi magicamente dal nulla.

Il suono della pioggia, che di solito trovo molto rilassante, ora è portatore di un messaggio inesorabile: l’estate è ufficialmente finita. In altre parole, per molti, la stagione del gelato è giunta al termine, ma non per me.

Ad essere onesti, io preferisco il gelato italiano rispetto all’ice cream, ma purtroppo è difficile trovare un prodotto simile a quello a cui sono abituata.

Per quelli di voi che se lo stanno chiedendo, gelato e ice cream non sono solo la traduzione l’uno dell’altro. Quando parliamo di gelato (quindi quello italiano), intendiamo un prodotto diverso con una consistenza più morbida e più leggera rispetto all’ice cream, per merito di una maggiore percentuale di latte rispetto alla panna e ad un processo di mantecatura (sarà questo il termine corretto?) più lento. (Guardate qui per i dettagli tecnici.)

Fortunatamente, Londra ha tutto ciò che si possa immaginare, quindi tutto quello che dovevo fare era qualche ricerca sul miglior gelato in città e, naturalmente, mi sono “sacrificata” provandolo per voi.

Gelupo – sono stata due volte in questa gelateria e ho avuto la fortuna di provare uno dei migliori gelato di tutta la mia vita. La prima volta ho preso liquirizia e pistacchio, perché giudico la validità della gelateria dalla capacità di produrre un vero gelato al pistacchio, senza coloranti o aromi artificiali che sono facilmente riconoscibili. Questo gusto era come dovrebbe sempre essere in realtà, un verde chiaro e naturale quasi tendente al beige e un vero sapore di pistacchio, quasi salato. Comunque, il gusto liquirizia mi ha stupita di più: amaro e dolce, troppo forte per alcuni, ma sicuramente non per me. Ho apprezzato molto come questo particolare sapore e il suo retrogusto fossero perfettamente equilibrati con una consistenza cremosa.

Sono tornata da Gelupo la settimana dopo e ho provato ricotta variegata all’ amarena e albicocca e amaretto. Anche in questo caso la consistenza era cremosa come dovrebbe sempre essere, ma credo che l’amaretto fosse talmente forte da non poter sentire l’albicocca. Io sono molto esigente, lo so, ma sono anche realista, il gelato di Gelupo è ottimo.

Gelupo, 7 Archer Street, London, W1D 7AU.

 

La Gelatierasono stata anche qua due volte, la prima volta che ho provato tè verde matcha e frutto della passione, poi sono tornata perché volevo provare dei gusti più inusuali per i quali questa gelateria è famosa.

Parlando di consistenza, abbiamo un gelato cremoso e che si scioglie in bocca, quindi è possibile vedere e gustare i risultati della ricerca, il duro lavoro e il tempo impiegato a perfezionare il prodotto.

Il frutto della passione era rinfrescante e ben bilanciato, mentre il matcha non era come mi aspettavo in termini di sapore, perché l’ho ​​trovato leggero. In tutta onestà, devo dire che mi viene facile il paragone con il gelato matcha che ho provato in Giappone, dove si utilizza un tè verde più amaro che contrasta con la dolcezza della panna. Comunque capisco anche che una versione più leggera potrebbe essere più apprezzata da un palato occidentale.

La seconda volta volevo qualcosa di più inusuale, così ho scelto il gusto miele e rosmarino con scorza d’arancia. Molto buono, considerando che sia il rosmarino sia la scorza d’arancia sono ingredienti dai sapori molto forti ed in contrasto tra di loro su una base dolce, il miele. Per quanto mi piaccia sperimentare, credo che scegliere solo questo gusto sia troppo, perché dopo un po’ stufa.

Di nuovo, sono una cliente esigente magari anche un po’ pignola e, di nuovo, il prodotto è eccellente.

La Gelatiera, 27 New Row, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4LA.

 

Tra i due scelgo … entrambi! si tratta di un pareggio in quanto entrambi fanno un ottimo lavoro nella scelta dei loro ingredienti di prima scelta e delle loro tecniche di preparazione. Credetemi, si può sentire che il prodotto che ne viene fuori è di altissima qualità.

Mi piacerebbe del gelato in questo momento, ma sono ancora qui a casa, sento il suono della pioggia e mi chiedo quando smetterà.

Vegemite vs Marmite, an impartial comparison from an Italian perspective

foto 1

I remember missing hummus during my long months in Italy. I kept telling myself “what are you complaining about? Italian food is amazing.” Yes, undoubtedly true, although what I missed was obviously not just hummus, but the wide choice that London has to offer in terms of different products and cuisines. This testifies how travelling changes our own way of thinking and in this case eating, opening our minds to new food adventures.
For example with the exception of Nutella,I personally never considered spreads as fundamental. Yes, the occasional peanut butter on toast once in a while, but never a necessary pantry staple. Last week while I was pushing my trolley in a busy aisle of my local supermarket I saw Marmite, the British yeast spread, and something happened in my mind.

When I was in Australia 3 years ago I tried Vegemite, the Australian yeast spread, because I was curious about the flavour. “You can either hate or love it, there’s no middle ground” I was told. These words sounded like a challenge I had to take up, so I gave Vegemite a go and I ended up really liking it. So when I saw Marmite, its British opponent, on the supermarket shelf I knew I had to try it see for myself how different it was. Also to discover which side I have to take during the heated arguments between my British and Aussie friends on which spread is the best.

Before I start, for those of you who might wonder why anyone should eat a yeast spread, you will be surprised to know that both Marmite and Vegemite are rich in Vitamin B and folate.

My personal test:

Vegemite:

  • Colour: dark chocolate brown.
  • Aspect: thick almost jelly-like, in fact it doesn’t drip when trying to take a little quantity out with the butter knife.
  • Aroma: first mouldy, because of the yeast, and then you can smell traces of monosodium glutamate.
  • Flavour: extremely salty and of course yeasty because yeast is the main ingredient. Although Vegemite’s recipe includes spices and vegetable extracts, in my opinion they are not so strong to balance the combination of yeast and salt, that I would define overpowering .
  • How to eat it: Aside from the classic Vegemite toast (toasted bread, butter and a thin layer of Vegemite) and its variations, I would add it to stews or soup to give these recipes a nice umami kick.

 

 

Marmite:

foto 2

  • Colour: burnt caramel
  • Aspect: runny, it reminds caramel sauce or dulce de leche both for colour and texture.
  • Aroma: Yeasty as Vegemite but less strong in glutamate.
  • Flavour: As predicted by my nose, Marmite is less salted than its Australian opponent. After the savoury note comes the aftertaste which is slightly bitter, due to a combination of yeast, vegetable extracts and spices that, here in Marmite, I can definitely taste.
  • How to eat it: like Vegemite, on toast, but I would rather use it for the preparation of soups or stews because of its aftertaste that reminds stock cubes.

Yast spreads, you either love or hate them. I my case I ate them and my impartial choice is: Vegemite!

*In the meantime my auntie and my cousin came for a couple of days and I gave them a Marmite toast telling them it was a sweet spread like Nutella, just because I am evil and wanted to see their reactions. Both were surprise by the unexpected flavour but while my cousin was nauseated, my auntie loved it.

 

And now in Italian.

Ricordo che durante i miei lunghi mesi in Italia mi mancava l’hummus. Continuavo a ripetermi “ma di cosa ti lamenti? Il cibo italiano è tra i migliori del mondo .” Sì, indubbiamente vero, anche se quello che mi mancava davvero non era solo l’hummus, ma l’ampia scelta che Londra ha da offrire in termini di prodotti e cucine diverse. Questo testimonia come viaggiare cambi il nostro modo di pensare e in questo caso mangiare, aprendo le nostre menti a nuove avventure gastronomiche.

Ad esempio, con l’eccezione di Nutella, non ho mai considerato fondamentali le creme spalmabili. Sì, il burro di arachidi sul pane tostato una volta ogni tanto, ma non l’ho mai considerato un prodotto da non farsi mai mancare in dispensa. La settimana scorsa, mentre stavo spingendo il mio trolley in un corridoio affollato del supermercato vicino casa, ho visto la Marmite, una crema spalmabile a base di lievito, e qualcosa è scattato nella mia mente.

Mi spiego meglio, quando ero in Australia tre anni fa ho provato la Vegemite, la crema spalmabile australiana a base di lievito, perché ero curiosa provarla dopo che avevo sentito più volte ripetere: “O si ama o si odia, non c’è via di mezzo”. Queste parole suonavano come una sfida che dovevo accettare, così ho dato un’occasione alla Vegemite e devo dire che mi è piaciuta. Così quando ho visto la Marmite, il suo competitor britannico sullo scaffale del supermercato, sapevo che dovevo provare questo prodotto. Anche per scoprire da quale parte stare durante le accese discussioni tra i miei amici britannici e australiani su quale delle due creme sia la migliore.

Prima di cominciare, a quelli che si chiedono perché mai dovremmo mangiare una crema spalmabile a base di lievito, rispondo che sia la Vegemite sia la Marmite sono ricche di vitamina B e acido folico.

Il mio test:

Vegemite:

  • Colore: marrone scuro come il cioccolato fondente.
  • Aspetto: denso, quasi gelatinoso. In fatti non cola quando si prende con il coltello.
  • Aroma: si sente un odore quasi ammuffito, per via del lievito, e delle tracce di glutammato monosodico.
  • Sapore: estremamente salato con retrogusto amaro di lievito, ovviamente perché è l’ingrediente principale. Sebbene la ricetta di Vegemite comprenda spezie ed estratti vegetali, a mio parere non sono così forti da bilanciare la combinazione dominante di lievito e sale.
  • Come mangiarla: parte il classico toast con Vegemite (pane tostato, burro e un sottile strato di Vegemite) e le sue varianti, personalmente aggiungerei il prodotto a zuppe e stufati per dare un pizzico di umami al piatto.

Marmite:

  • Colore: caramello bruciato
  • Aspetto: meno densa rispetto alla Vegemite, infatti cola dal coltello. Ricorda salsa al caramello o il dulce de leche, sia per il colore e la consistenza.
  • Aroma: odora di ievito come la Vegemite, ma risulta meno forte in glutammato.
  • Sapore: Come previsto dal mio naso, la Marmite è meno salata rispetto al suo competitor australiano. Dopo la sapidità arriva il retrogusto leggermente amaro, a causa di una combinazione di lievito, estratti vegetali e spezie che, qui nella Marmite, si sente decisamente di più.
  • Come mangiarla: come Vegemite, sul pane tostato, ma piuttosto la utilizzerei per la preparazione di minestre o stufati a causa del suo retrogusto che ricorda dadi da brodo.

Vegemite o Marmite, o si amano o si odiano. Nel mio caso si amano e la mia scelta è imparziale: Vegemite!

* Nel frattempo, mia zia e mia cugina sono venute a trovarmi per un paio di giorni e ho approfittato per provare loro la Marmite dicendo loro che era una crema spalmabile dolce come la Nutella, solo perché sono cattiva e volevo vedere le loro reazioni. Entrambi erano sorprese dal sapore inaspettato ma mentre mia cugina era letteralmente disgustata, a mia zia mi è piaciuto molto.