Posts filed under italy

Soho Mojo: Mesmerised by Said

I'm using the word MOJO for this blog article, not only because it half rhymes with Soho, but to be able to try and convey the sense of magic and charm that I feel walking around the sweet spots in Soho.

I have found a place, which I didn't realise actually existed in reality because it is something that only existed in my mind.  This place is called "Said" AKA chocolate heaven.  It is the London branch of a well-established chocolate shop from Rome.  "Said" which stands for Societa Azinoria Industria Dolciumi (the association of the confectionary industry) is a chocolate shop from Rome, dal 1923 Antica Fabbrica del Cioccolato (1923 Antique Chocolate Factory.)  Thankfully for us, they have now got a shop in London.  

Posted on November 11, 2015 and filed under chocolate, desserts, italy, london, sweet.

Venice and her Birthday Parties

 

Let's just say, I have friends in high places.  What I mean by "high places" is blissfully calm and serenly beautiful places.  And by those places, I just mean place. 

Venice. My second home.  

According to my iphoto albums, all my photos of Venice for the past few years look the same.  The city is identical, as is this photo of the view from l' Accademia, one I've taken many times before, to the point that I could just be fishing through old photographs and pull out a snapshot from previous years.  One thing that changes are the inhabitants that are left in the city.

As well as the cakes that are left on the table! 

 

What I do is I have one base chocolate recipe memorised in my mind.  It's actually the family chocolate cake recipe that my mum made me memorise as a child.  No matter how skilled I am in the chocolate making world, no matter how many cakes I know, I will always stick to this.  It makes me think about baking as a hobby, and not as a job. 

So here it goes:

250g Butter.250g Dark chocolate. 250g Sugar. 7 eggs separated, 120g of flour. Pincha Salt.

Method:

Oven 180 degrees

Melt CHOC and BUTTER (melt, not too hot)

Add Sugar and Egg yolks and Mix.

Meanwhile Beat Egg Whites w/ pincha salt.

Add Flour.

Stir in Egg Whites.

Put in a greaseproof dish with baking parchment or well greased with butter. Cook for 20 mins

This is a cake I have been transforming since my adolescence.  When I first made this cake, I added more chocolate and less butter.  Sometimes, I add more flour and less butter and a sachet of baking powder if I want to make a very airy birthday cake with lots of cream on top.  For example, the cake I made in Venice had more chocolate and less flour, as I wanted it to be dense and rich with softened roasted pears.  

 

If—
BY RUDYARD KIPLING
(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

 


Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)

Posted on March 12, 2015 and filed under chocolate, desserts, italy, venice.

I Signori Siciliani / The Sicilian Sirs.

Two men at a bar, who would, if two men were at a bar elsewhere in the world possibly (probably?) be drinking manly drinks, a pint each or a strong whiskey.  These two men instead, have granitas with whipped cream and a brioche.  A piece of brioche is torn away, and then a spoonful of granita is put on the brioche.  There is a technique to how the granita and the brioche are eaten.

Unfortunately I was only able to snap a photo of these signori siciliani once they had  finished their granita. In the photo, they are sitting with their arms crossed, seemingly identical in their looks and posture.  I thought that that moment was priceless.

Granita is a frozen dessert made with sugar, ice and flavourings.  Lemon granita and almond granita is very common all over Sicily.  The texture is between a sorbet and a ice drink- it is surprisingly creamy and smooth compared to the equivalent of, lets say, a frapuccino.  Unlike an ice drink, the ice and the flavour aren't separate.  For example, when you sip a frapuccino, at the bottom remains only ice or icey water.  

 Granita is made in such a way where the liquid is produced and then frozen, the ice is then scraped away so it's strongly flavoured.  When you have granita, there are no unpleasant watery endings.    Intense flavour right to the end.  

* Photos taken in Trapani, with Special Thanks to Elizabeth Style Photography 

Posted on September 3, 2014 and filed under italy.

My Top Ten in Venice

 Sun set by the Misericordia

Let me tell you about a place.

A place where people travel by boat.  A place where the sun shines three quarters of the year round and its people absorb its sunshine, radiating it back onto you with their kindness, passion and laughter.  A place so beautiful that you leave wondering if it was all just a dream that you were once there.

When I moved to Venice in 2011, I fell straight in love with it.  I skipped every where I went.  I skipped so much that once I actually fell over and cut my knee open.  (So maybe don't skip too much when you go.)

People often tell me how the only place in Italy where they have not eaten well, was Venice.  They tell me that Venice is expensive. 

I have a couple of suggestions as well as my list of favourite places to eat and drink.  

Firstly, It's best to stay away from restaurant-ing in and around San Marks square.  It's a bit like eating in Knightsbridge... it's expensive.  Walk down a couple of "calle" (alley ways) away from the square and you'll be sure to find something better for your hard earned euro.

Secondly, don't carry a map. You can always find your way to the touristic spots without a map by asking locals or following signs.  You will never walk into dangerous outskirts since they do not exist in Venice.  The so called "outskirts" are where its all at, anyway. With a map in your hand you'll just get frustrated.  Instead, walk down little streets that look like dead ends but infact lead you into large piazzas, sit by the canal with a gelato when you get tired of walking, whip the map out to find these places to eat and drink:

1) Pasticceria Rosa Salva:

Best pastry and coffee

This pastry shop is the best place to go if you want a quick coffee or even a long cappuccino outside.  Rosa Salva have a few shops, but my favourite one is in "Campo San Giovanni e Paolo," since there are seats outside and the square is absolutely stunning.  There is also one in San Marco with a wider range of "tramezzini" (small sandwiches) and pastries, however nowhere to sit outside.  Be sure to try the "croccatino", the most incredible small chocolate cake layered with a light, praline cream and a ever so subtle feuilletine biscuit with a "caffe shakerato" (iced coffee.)  Absolute bliss.

Campo San Giovani e Paolo

San Marco 950

2) Casa Bonita: romantic dinner

This restaurant is my favourite for a special dinner at an affordable price.  I think that the fish antipasti is one of the best for its money.  The baccala is to die for (similiar to cod roe- eat with bread and a glass of prosecco).  Their range of pasta is also very good and you can sit outside by the canal.

Cannaregio 492 

3) Gelateria C'a d'oro: Great gelato

I am telling you about this gelateria not only because the gelato is incredible, but because it comes with a second advantage: a secret spot to eat it in. So you buy the gelato (Ricotta and honey is a great choice) and then with your back to the gelateria you turn right, up the Strada Nuova and you take the second right which is a little alley way.  Walk down the alley and there is a little spot looking on to the grand canal which is simply magical.  It makes the gelato experience that much more intense. Trust. 

Strada Nova 4273/b

4) Pizza al Volo: best pizza

In my opinion, this is the best pizza

in Venice.  It is take away only, therefore perfect if you are on a slight budget or if you just want a snack.  It's in Santa Margarita (and yes, they do do Margarita pizza) which is where all the students hang out.  Grab a beer and sit on the ground where international and Venetian students drink spritz until the early hours. 

Santa Margarita 2944/a

5) El Pecador: Best sandwiches

Also known as "la Peca" is a London bus transformed into an incredible sandwich joint.  What could be better? It's in the Lido island, so perfect if you take a day trip to the beach from Venice (boat goes from San Marco and takes 15 minutes). They do all types of filled sandwiches and there is always a long queue of locals waiting for their turn.

Lungomare d'Annunzio

6) Al Timon: Best bar and cichetti

This has been my all time favourite bar in Venice, the cichetti are incredible and go down perfectly with a glass of prosecco. There is a boat attatched next to the bar which you can sit on.  On this last trip to Venice, I noticed that Al Timon was getting even more popular and crowded so get there early to get a good space!

Sestiere Cannaregio 2754

7) Trattoria dalla Marisa: typical italian lunch at an affordable price.  

This is the best lunch spot, especially if you're looking to not spend too much on your trip. Marisa has been feeding the "operai" (manual labourers) for years which means that the portions are generous and the quality is consistent.  You can be ensured a hearty pasta, main course with meat and vegetables as well as wine, water and coffee to help it all go down for 15 euros.  Oh, and it is by a canal as well which means amazing view. Tick, tick, tick. 

Cannaregio 652 

8) La Poppa: Bar and best hangout.

No tourists are at La Poppa.  It is only locals, which means a glass of good wine costs one euro, and the concerts are free.  The decor is delightful and there are books everywhere, although most people hang out outside in the warm evening. 

Sestiere Santa Croce 1539

9) La Vedova: best meatballs (cichetti)

I've read a secret recipe online for the meatballs of La Vedova and it's been on my list of things to make for a while. 

When you go to the bar ask for an "ombra" which is a small glass of wine for one euro. Ask for red wine to have with the meatball.  The meatballs are the best in town and this has got to be one of your Venetian experiences. 

Cannaregio 3912

10) Viziovirtù: Best chocolate and hot chocolate. 

This chocolate shop is the only shop in Venice selling decent chocolates.  They use modern methods and flavour combinations always keeping a slightly Venetian look.  However, it is not at all touristy like many other shops you will find.  They are genuinely authentic, delicious chocolates.  In the summer, they serve more ice-creams that chocolate because obviously the weather does not permit fresh chocolates stay in shape under a 35 degree heat!  In winter they also do really good thick hot chocolate.

San Polo 2898/a 

If you visit any of these recommended places, I would be thrilled to hear about what you think, so hit me up! 

*All photos taken by Abigail Scheuer 

Posted on August 29, 2014 and filed under venice, italy.

A Series of Sicilian Sub-Stories

This was the kind of trip where so much happened that we left not quite believing that only a week had passed. It was unintentionally packed with unplanned adventures and precious moments.  The kind of moments where you close your eyes and you beg your mind not to forget that this happened.

There was something almost mystical about our holiday- it was as if luck walked into our little bubble whenever we needed it.  Five minutes into getting into Palermo, a taxi driver offered to take us right to our doorstep for the same price as the bus. 

We were welcomed by an overly enthusiastic air b and b host and a panormamic view of the city.  She was a passionate baker, so when Elizabeth told her I was a pastry chef in France, she not only asked me every single question she's ever had a-propos cake-baking, but also decided to scream "I love you" as loudly as possible in her super cute fully equipped kitchen.  She made us cakes for breakfast every morning before we sat out in the hot Palermian sun, reading and drawing pictures of the city churches. Because that's what felt right to do.

Fresh Sicilian Lemon Cake made by our host

Ricotta and chocolate crostata

my rooftop sketches!

And we went for market walks.

Grilled Peppers

Swordfish for sale

Arancini the size of our heads were eaten.

As well as ice cream brioche.  The sicilian kids love this snack, (although it may not have one of their five-a-day.) It is brioche bun with lots of gelato inside.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Clearly, the "eat clean" food fad hasn't hit southern Italy, yet.  

An evening in Palermo and a few glasses too many, we got talking to some fellow concert goers.  A girl called Manuela took a liking to us and gave us flowers for our hair before insisting we exchange numbers.   

Manuela asked if we wanted to join her in Castellemare del Golfo, a small town by the sea.  We arrived at Castellemare and sat in a gelateria cafe on a cliff, a place which not only had the most incredible sea view and gelato, but was served by the funnest of waiters who joked that he's been waiting for our arrival all summer.  Manuela arranged for us to have our own little apartment by the sea which we happily checked in to, before going for an evening jog to see the sun set.

And a boat trip happened.  A boat trip that was spent half asleep because the night before we were up night swimming.  A boat trip where the driver explained the whole history of Castellemare and it's close towns.  I was nominated as the translator however I don't think many people were really listening, but just absorbing the beautiful scenery.

A caldo- freddo had to be had.  I was intrigued by this name, "hot-cold." Which is a pan di spagna cake dipped in rum, gelato, whipped cream and hot chocolate sauce. 

We bonded with fellow Sicilian explorers Adam, Alex and Charlotte.  

We hopped on board with them for a road trip to Trapani via Erice, a stunning little town in the mountains which was made up of pastry shop after pastry shop as well as views of the Sicilian coast like no other.

Pastry chefs in the making of genovesi. Ricotta filled cakes

almond sweets in Erice

In Trapani we were welcomed with the same Italian warmth and a colourful apartment on the sea.  We promised that we'd get an early night but got taken away by the live music and danced the night away. 

Of course we had granita.  But I've decided to write a whole other blog post about that. 

Croissants filled with pistachio cream

Our last full day under the Sicilian sun was spent in Favignana, a little island a short boat trip away from Trapani.  We rented one and a half bikes and cycled to Cala Rossa. 

We both agreed that we'd never seen a sea as turquoise as it was in Favignana. 

 This guy made us a sandwich in Faviganana.  His speciality was tomato salad, tuna, olive oil, capers.

A. x 

Posted on August 29, 2014 and filed under italy.

Venice Re-visited.

venicerevisited.jpg

Dear Daddy, 

I've faced my fears.

I've come back to Venice after a year. I was so nervous about coming back, worried that I wouldn't be able to accept the fact that I had ever left for good. I often returned, hoping that that way of life could be picked up as easily as it was at the beginning. But then last year broke away a large bond with Venice and I haven't been able to face her until now. 

But I'm okay.  Last year when I was leaving, every street made me nostalgic and churned my stomach up into a sick feeling of sadness and regret of the fact that I wouldn't live here and Venice wasn't right for me.  You told me I didn't belong here right now. You said "darling, Venice is a place to go but not a place to be." I refused to listen to you and couldn't accept the fact that perhaps you were right. 

But now I walk down the streets with a sense of awe and amazement, admiring how the green water reflects the buildings in an incredible way, how that palace is even more beautiful then ever, how those musicians seem even more talented and your glass of wine still only costs 1 euro. 

You told me Venice is a fish, however I see Venice as a huge rich dark chocolate cake. If you had never tried chocolate in your life you would never miss it, but since you know the sweet richness of it you always crave it. So you have a slice and it's amazing.  Your spoon slides neatly into the first mouthful and the inside of your cheeks tingle and make you smile. Once you finished the first slice you want more. So you have another slice and it's still delicious.  But then you start eating it all with a spoon and you can't stop. So you keep going until all the cake is finished.  You feel sick. You hate the cake and you hate yourself for eating it.  If you ate the huge chocolate cake every day you'd be ill and you'd feel terrible.  In order to really appreciate it's goodness, you need to have it once in a while and then leave it until you crave it again. 

When you were my age, you sang a song called "A place to go". I was thinking about that song today and realised that you must have felt the same way as I do now. You were searching for it too, that place "where you'll be free".  Have you found it yet?

I think I've found my place to go.  A place out of this mad world. A place where people aren't elbowing you out of the way but instead inviting you to walk beside them. A place where you can be totally at peace.  A place to go but not to be.  

How good do I feel to finally accept this. 

Your daughter, 

Abigail x

You singing "A place to go"

Posted on July 2, 2014 and filed under venice, italy, favourites.