It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster in the little loaf household of late. About ten days ago Nino started saying ‘mama’ in a very deliberate way, calling me back if I disappeared round a corner or snuggling in and saying it rather than the indiscriminate sound making we’ve been hearing a little longer. My heart is fit to burst and it’s literally the sweetest word I’ve ever heard, but at the same time this cognitive leap seems to have brought with it possibly the hardest behaviour we’ve seen to date. Our usually sunny little man has been grumbling and fussing, clinging round my ankles, waking multiple times each night and resisting sleep with a renewed and infuriating fervour for someone clearly so in need of it. Until you become a mum it’s impossible to understand how you could love one little person so deeply and completely, yet at times want to pop them in a padded room, pour yourself a stiff drink and sleep, uninterrupted, for a week.
Today our little sleep resister turns ten months old. I know this fussy phase will pass (until the next one, that is . . .) but am also wary of wishing a single day away. With less than two months of maternity leave left I’m trying to live in the moment and soak up each precious morsel of my baby, so in the spirit of celebration (and because my sleep deprived brain might forget if I don’t write it down), here’s what we’ve been particularly loving about you this month, sweet boy. Continue reading
I’m sure I’ll regret writing this, but for the last few nights Nino has been sleeping better. All that restorative snoozing means he’s bright eyed and bushy tailed the wrong side of 6am most mornings but, while exhausting in its own way, this has encouraged us as a family to make the most of our extra long days. Yes, we may be ready for lunch come 11am, but we’ve also packed in an exercise video or two, a walk round the park, breakfast, snacks, stories, several rounds of coffee, four outfit changes and maybe managed to read a blog or two. On a good day I might even use the time while Nino is down for his first nap to post a recipe of my own . . .
Today, I’m afraid, isn’t one such day: we’re off to Italy on Sunday and in between some freelance recipe development and raising said little human, I haven’t had a chance to successfully re-test and photograph my latest creation. What I do have, however, is a round up of my top ten Italian recipes from the archives. I can’t take you all to Italy with me, but this is hopefully the next best thing. We’re planning to eat pretty well while we’re away – including my birthday meal out and experimenting with a brand new pizza oven (which I’m inordinately excited about) – so do hop on over to Instagram and follow me if you’d like the latest updates. Continue reading
Rich, creamy & laced with chocolate & vin santo: the ultimate Italian pudding
If you’ve never eaten a seriously good tiramisu, you’ve not really lived.
Unfortunately if you’ve eaten a seriously bad one, you’re not alone.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its reputation for being delicious, Italian food is something that continually suffers from major misrepresentation around the world. But rather than focusing on flabby pizza or pre-shaved parmesan – don’t get me started on savoury, I could rant all day – I’m turning my attention today to all things sweet (surprise, surprise). Continue reading
Crusty ciabatta loaves fresh from the oven
When was the last time you licked the plate clean?
In a previous post on sticky toffee cupcakes, I talked about dishes that look ‘too good to eat’. Today it’s the turn of another favourite food expression. While ‘finger licking good’ is a phrase that is sadly slightly tainted (for me anyway) by its association with greasy fast food and a certain white bearded colonel, the idea that something can be so delicious that it makes you want to lick the plate (as well as your fingers) clean is not. It’s appealing and enduring. And something that we all do. Continue reading
Cefalu bathed in Sicilian sunshine
Italy holds a special place in my heart. I’ve been visiting my parents house in Tuscany every summer since before I can remember, and have grown up loving the rich, rustic flavours of the region; hearty ribollita, simple sauces over thick, hand-rolled pici, earthy cavolo nero, beautiful Chianina beef and the ubiquitous cannellini bean (the Tuscans are sometimes referred to by other Italians as mangiafagoili, or ‘bean eaters’). However, while the Tuscan mountains are a place I’ll return to time and again, I also love the seaside, and this summer I was excited to visit Sicily with a group of girlfriends for the very first time. Continue reading
Beautiful beachside simplicity – a table at Uliassi
Do you have an all-time favourite restaurant? One that consistently delivers incredible food and unbeatable atmosphere, where the staff are charming and the service next to none? How long have you been going there . . . five, ten, maybe even twenty years? Has it evolved with the times and are you still delighted and surprised by each mouthful?
I’m not normally one for definitive favourites, for top tens and number ones, but this review carries a lot of weight for me. It’s been a long time in the making. In fact, it was twenty years ago this summer that my seven year old self first trundled along the Italian seafront towards this restaurant, a much littler loaf than I am now, grumbling at my parents that I was tired and hungry, that I wanted to stop for pizza, and why did we have to walk so far when we didn’t really know where we were heading? Continue reading
Like it or not, we live in a consumer culture. Whether it’s Prada or Primark, foie gras or filet-o-fish, we’re a society that knows the meaning of money and (with some exceptions) we like to spend it. Some more than others. What exactly is it that makes people fork out for a designer dress, an eye-wateringly expensive hair cut, a £100+ bottle of wine? Is it an assurance of quality that we often seem to accept as going hand-in-hand with a high price tag, the status and sense of self-importance that comes with flashing one’s flexible friend, or are these products actually better, more rare, made from finer products and with more love, care and attention?
Any review of The River Café is going to mention price, so I’m not going to pussy-foot around it. Renowned for its incredible approach to food and fabulous ingredients, this Michelin starred restaurant is also much maligned for its extremely expensive menu. Jay Rayner has described it as ‘peasant food at plutocrat prices‘, and there seems to be a great divide in the foodie world as to whether it falls into the category of the sublime or the ridiculous. Or as A.A. Gill puts it in his full marks review for The Times, ‘Depending on the delicacy of your own social digestion, the River Caff either fills you with syrupy feelings of excitement, warmth and nameless intellectual superiority, or it makes you want to join a nihilist terror cell’. . . Continue reading
Sharing food is great. I’m not talking about the kind of ‘sharing’ when someone leans over and pinches the crispiest looking chip on your plate, or when an eagle-eyed, weight-watching girlfriend suggests her loved one goes halves on dessert. Absolutely not. I’m talking sharing in a specific context i.e. the joys of tapas-style dining.
No longer confined to the Spanish cuisine which inspired it, tapas-style eating is perfect for big groups. It allows you the opportunity to be both adventurous and gluttonous, ordering numerous little dishes to compare, contrast and comment on without having to commit to one main meal. If you’ve ever sat in front of a menu racked with indecision (followed shortly by food envy when your companion’s meal arrives), then this is the perfect format for you.
Anchovy, black olive & caper pizza
For the last week or so the blogosphere has been alight with talk of Da Polpo, the new venture in Russell Norman’s ever-expanding restaurant empire. The fourth to open in half as many years, it builds on the menus of Polpo and Polpetto, adding an expanded list of pizzette alongside incredible sounding variations on an italian classic, the meatball. Not surprisingly for the brainchild of one if the first restaurateurs to truly harness the power of social media, Da Polpo has been a highly trending topic on Twitter as bloggers race to get their bums on the seats and reviews on their sites.
Pork & fennel meatballs
Having read a number of reviews over the last couple of days, I was left feeling three things. Number one? Hungry. Not surprising given the mouth-watering menu, great photos and gorgeous descriptions provided by some of my fellow bloggers (for some stomach-grumble inducing snaps take a look at reviews from Eatlikeagirl, Crumpeats, Londoneater or The Skinny Bib). Two? Jealous. I’m off to Barcelona next weekend and trying to save pennies for some serious tapas-fuelled budget-blowing, so trying new restaurants isn’t really on the agenda for the next few days. Three? Itching to get in the kitchen.