Monthly Archives: May 2011

Food and Wine: Seasonal tastes

As months go by, our tastebuds appear to know what they want.  Doesn’t it seem more appropriate to enjoy a powerful Red, gorged with the sun of more Southern countries, when it is utterly cold out? On the other hand, a  lighter range seems much more enjoyable when it is excruciatingly hot outside. Hence us reaching out for Rosé and White wine. While season’s change, one’s wine drinking seem to be influenced by the weather.

Food and drinks are usually chosen in accordance to one another:

During the cold days of the year, we prefer richer and warming tastes. Hence our choice of  in-house casseroles, stews and roasts during the winter, accompanied by a strong red.

In the summer, I believe we mostly are looking for something refreshing, aren’t we not? Consequently, I would be more entitled to be on the lookout for fish, seafood and salads, a glass of white wine on the side.

It is amazing how our body and our mind invite us almost instinctively to a certain “art de vivre” (as say the French)!


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Italian Wine: The pinot grigio effect

Italian white wines have taken over  consumer affection. Indeed, for the first time in decades, sales show that French and American wines have stepped down after dominating the British drinkers’ habits.

People seem to very much  enjoy the pinot grigio. Apparently, the Italian white wine has become the default choice in UK kitchens. Sales show that  Pinot Grigio now accounts for 40% of UK sales. That makes it the third most popular grape variety, after the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon blanc.

Why this Italian success? The reasons are highly sensible to how much cheaper its wines are compared to others. According to the Daily Telegraph, an average Italian wine in Britain is £4,23 where a French wine compares to an approximate £5,11 average.

So what will it be:  Gnocchi and Pinot Grigio this summer?

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Fancy a glass of British wine?

Around the Mediterranean Sea, people enjoy their Rosé chilled. It usually accompanies a warm night and a cool meal. Think fish, think Gnocchi and fish!

Rosé is produced in  Southern Europe, as in France, Italy and Spain. What was my surprise this morning, when I discovered that the pink  wine was also produced not far from London.

Apparently, the Surrey hillsides can claim  to producing the best Rosé in the world. Indeed, the Chalk Ridge Rose 2010, from the denbies estate, won the International Wine Challenge. In the world’s  most influential competition, the UK wine bet 360 challengers from 21 countries. I’m very impressed, indeed!

Adding to the medal attributed to the UK,  another was earned by a vineyard located in Kent. At Chapel Down they are proud to produce excellent englishwine, and the IWC Gold award congratulated their achievements. Did you know that its Sparkling Rose Vintage Reserve Brut was served  at the Royal wedding?

So, with your gnocchi this summer, will you not fancy a glass of British Rosé?

I know I will!

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Gnocchi alla Romana

Do you love cheese with a passion?

If so, let’s get started!

Gnocchi alla romana is delicious! They are exactly the right thing to eat when you want to chill out in front of a movie.


250g  semolina flour
1l milk
2 egg yolks
100-200ml grated parmesan cheese
Butter, onions and salt

1. Put the milk and the semolina in a heated pan. When the mixture is ready, it will be thick with a porridge like consistency.

2.  Add the egg yolks, a knob of butter, a pinch of salt and stir well.

3.  Pour the mixture onto a flat surface, preferably on baking paper.

4. Flatten into a large rectangle, about 1 cm thick.

5. When it has cooled down, cut out circles with a cookie cutter (grease the edges so nothing sticks).

6. Put the semolina circles into a buttered ovenproof dish. Add some well cooked onions, sprinkle the cheese over this and pour some cream on top at the end.

7. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, and bake until it’s nice and golden.

Its comfort food disguised as an elegant dish of semolina and cheese ‘gratinee’. Eat with a bottle of red wine and you are good to go!

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Filed under Dinner, Gnocchi, Quick & easy cooking, Recipes

Gnocchi alla Ciociaria

Does your mind go blank as to what to prepare for dinner? Don’t worry here is something for you to drool over!

You will need: pancetta, porcini, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, parsley and sausage.

1. Heat the olive oil over a high heat until almost smoking. Then add the pancetta, porcini, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, parsley and sausage.

2. Cook over a high heat until the sausage is a little browned and the vegetables are tender.

3. Add half a glass of red wine. When it has evaporated, put the tomatoes and the pepper in the pan. Mix it all together and simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi in a large pan of boiling salted water, for about 2-3 minutes, until they rise to the surface.

5. Let them fry in a pan with butter (see photo above).

6. Once the sauce is nice and thick, put the gnocchi in a plate and cover with the sauce.

7. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve.

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A day in Rome

People say that no other city can compare to Rome’s legacy. It may no longer be referred to as the caput mundi (capital of the world), but it is an extraordinary visual testimony of the long gone Roman Empire.

During my stay, I was constantly looking out for the remains of the antique era. I was never disappointed, they are everywhere and mostly integrated to the contemporary architecture. In 5 days, I was hooked.

Rome has an impressive range of beautiful monuments such as the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Farnese Palace, St Peter (although technically part of the Vatican). I could go on and on, but it is true Rome is not only about sightseeing. To make the most of one’s trip, enjoying the different aspects of the city is a must, Gastronomy clearly being a huge part.

Running around the streets of Rome, you may don’t know where to go in between your visits to rest and indulge yourself.

Here are a few suggestions for a day out:

Lunch – Pizza Forum, 34 Via S. Giovanni in Laterano.

Although the place’s design is not its best advocate, the food is really good and price-friendly. Perfect for a little lunch after visiting the Forum, Colloseum and Constantin’s arch (which are basically located right off the restaurant’s street.) This is where I tasted amazing Gnocchi al pomodoro.

Coffee and shopping – Fleur, 46 Via Bocca di Leone.

This little cafe boutique is located just 2 minutes from the magnificent Piazza di Spagna. It is definitely worth sitting down and have a delightful Italian coffee. They come with local treats and the place looks gorgeous!

Dinner – Blanco, 21 Via della Croce.

The very trendy and all white bar/restaurant is excellent, and serves amazing cocktails. This is where I tasted the gnochetti with Gorgonzola and asparagus. Its location is very convenient, since it is minutes away from the beautiful piazza del Popolo, and the  nice places to go out.

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Palermitana sauce

From my trip to Rome, the last dish I remember trying was the “Fusilli Palermitana”. Although I had no clue what it would taste like, its description was mouth-watering.

Pasta with a vegetable medley of aubergine, courgette, pepper onions, cherry tomatoes, basil and pomodoro. How could anything  go wrong? Indeed, it was delicious and I automatically thought about trying it out with gnocchi.

Gnocchi palermitana would make a perfect dish to accompany a  Chianti wine. Let’s call our friends and set up a dinner party, we are cooking tonight!

Palermitana sauce:

1. First of all, chop slices of aubergine, courgette, pepper onions. Put them in a pan with olive oil, and let them cook until they become tender.

2. Add the tomato passata, the chopped basil and tomatoes, the oregano and the olives. You can already smell Italy in your kitchen!

3. Finally, add a little white wine to the sauce. Let the wine evaporate over a medium heat.

4. Cook the gnocchi in a large pan of boiling salted water, for about 2-3 minutes, until they rise to the surface.  Let them fry in a pan before putting them in a plate.

5.  Cover the gnocchi with the sauce.

6. To give the final presentation a typical Italian touch, sprinkle some flat Italian Parsley on each plate.

… Don’t forget the chianti. Dinner is ready!

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Filed under Dinner, Gnocchi, Italy, Quick & easy cooking, Sauces