Sugared Almonds

Sugared Almonds, or confetti as we call them in Italy are one of my greatest passions.

I compulsively eat as many as I can find until my teeth ache.

Our new pack memeber was born on 24th May and little Phil’s baptism provided an opportunity to eat a lavish meal and to gorge on confetti.


What I think is fascinating about confetti is that they have evolved so much from the simple ‘sugared almond’ definition they almost warrant a new name like ‘almond delight’ or something less naff.

Anyway in the eighties you could find chocolate flavoured ones but now the choice is truly inspiring. You can select pear and milk chocolate, pear and white chocolate, coconut, strawberry, chapagne and all sort of flavours.

So quite frankly next time you hand me a bomboniera (the exquisite silver ornament that is packaged next to the confetti in crinoline and bows) be  aware that it will be torn to pieces as soon as I get in the car so that I can unlock the almondy goodness inside.Image


We’ve been absent for a while for a number of reasons; summer holidays, work…finding out we’re expecting another member of our pack (in human form)! And sadly, accompanying nausea that made blogging and any kind of movement pretty improbable.

Now safely half way through the third month we’re returning to old habits although the discovery that I have no immunity to toxoplasmosis means that my culinary adventures are dramatically limited.

So, last night we ventured as far as the Naviglio grande where we tried out as an ‘antipasto’ this Brazilian Tekamakeria that we’d had our eye on.

It’s cute, small but modern and the staff is friendly. It definitely embodies my idea of a successful modern eatery innovative food, limited menu, good quality and an eye for design.

Mr Towers has the coquille st Jacques and salmon egg temakinho, while I had to go for fried prawns and surimi (presuming these were all cooked).  The food was served quickly and was yummy but the price on these little parcels is pretty steep and will set you back anything between 6-10 euro per roll.


Atmosphere: laid back but cute. A bit cramped when it gets crowded I should think

Food: Temaki

Dinner for two: Expect to spend 50 euro for 2 people, particularly if you are hungry.

Would we go back? Perhaps, but for a snack and not a proper meal

Italian food in Beijing

On today’s online version of Corriere della Sera an interesting video by Beijing based restauranteurs that explains a little about how to make it in Beijing with an Italian restaurant.

Difficulties catering to sophisticated Beijingren and sourcing genuine Italian products (such as mozzarella di bufala, salami, burrata etc).

PS. Sorry it’s all in Italian!!

A dear friend of ours is going to Hanoi this Autumn and we were keen to list our ‘must eats’ and ‘must drinks’, afterall anything you need to see is on countless guidebooks right?

So here is a rundown of the places we recommend for supper and drinks in Hanoi.

1.Quan An Ngon

In a word: Heaven. Set in a stunning ex colonial villa this restaurant is regular haunt for overseas Vietnamese and tourists from Asia.

The inner rooms of the villa have been gutted to house ample dining rooms, while in the courtyard street food from all over Vietnam is prepared right under your eyes. For a more convivial experience try to grab a seat on one of the long tables in the yard and chat to your neighbours (also a good way of choosing what to order).

Service is slow, but most things are in Vietnam, so keep making orders to keep up pace.

Menus are only in Vietnamese so have a walk around the (crowded) perimeter of the courtyard to check out the various dishes on offer and their names. You can even see them being prepared right under your nose!

2. Au Lac

This one is simply romantic. Named after a legendary Vietnamese kingdom just north of Hanoi this restaurant is in the old school colonial style with vintage fans and the works.

Ask to be seated on the terrace and look out on the street below. Enjoy the peace (quite rare in Hanoi believe me!)

Service is attentive, not intrusive and a delight. Try the tamarind sauce at all costs- it’s gorgeous!

3. The Press Club

And we’re back on to the drinking (look it’s hot, you need to keep hydrated!)

The Press Club is an institution and a tradition and as a tradition I’d say it’s one worth honouring.

A stone’s throw away from Hanoi opera house (next to which in the Opera garden is a nice bar too), this is where the journalists used to hang out during the war. It has history and it shows as it feels like walking into the set of the movie Indochine.

4. Le Corner Café

This is a real little gem. Set up by a group of young entrepreneurial architects this little bar is beautiful and serves great drinks.

Set in a traditionally tall house you need to make your way up some very steep and windy steps to get to the first room. But unless you are on the water wagon you might want to stick to the downstairs bar so you don’t have to face the steps after a few too many of their delicious and ludicrously cheap cocktails.

How to get there:

1. Quan an ngon

Website: http://ngonhanoi.com.vn/

Address: 18 Phan Boi Chau, Quan Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

2. Au Lac

Address: 13 Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi

3. The Press Club

Website: http://www.hanoi-pressclub.com/

Address: 59A Ly Than To, Hanoi

4. Le Corner Cafe Hanoi

Address: 1A Trang Tien , Hanoi

Forgive the unorthodox translation but that’s how this dish is known once it has been taken from the tropical shores of Bac Lieu and transplanted to Oltrepo’ Pavese.

Bà ngoại prepared this full table of delights for sunday lunch.

The idea is that you take a large salad leaf, put in mint leaves, sliced cucumber and then tear off bits of the pizza with your hands and make a little roll. You then dip the roll in fish sauce before you eat it.

The so-called pizza is like a large pancake filled with soy, soy beans, shrimp and mince meat.

Mince sizzling away and batter ready to make industrial quantities of pizza!

From the pan to the table…

Deep in the rolling hills of Oltrepo Pavese every year an extraordinary tournament takes place. Sponsored by Cantina Travaglino, Calvignano cheese rollers from all over Italy meet here to er…roll a cheese up a hill.

Cantina Travaglino

You start from the bottom and throw your cheese rolling it off a belt-type thing to give it extra spin. The cheese has to roll in between certain marks and go higher than everyone else’s cheese, marks are set and you keep moving further up the hill.

The ‘Cantina’ is pretty old and their wine rather good so the event attracts as many people to watch the cheese rollers as it does general wine lovers on a day out.

Young they are not: like cheese, for cheese rolling you apparently need to age a bit before you get really good..

The precious cheese…

Some of these rounds of cheese are cherished for a year before they are taken out to compete. Sadly they all meet the same end and are eaten after the match.

Getting ready to roll…

NeverSeconds Banned!

I blogged last week about this  kid who photographed and published on her blog the pics of the ‘food’ that her school proposed as ‘school dinners’.

Now the BBC reports that Martha Payne, blogger and tiny whistle-blower, has been banned from taking photos of her school dinners by the local council.

With the staggering amount of hits her blog had received Martha was also reportedly raising money for charity.

This is from her ‘Goodbye’ post:

“This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today. 

“I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.”

Later her father explains:

Hi, Veg’s Dad, Dave, here. I felt it’s important to add a few bits of info to the blog tonight. Martha’s school have been brilliant and supportive from the beginning and I’d like to thank them all. I contacted Argyll and Bute Council when Martha told me what happened at school today and they told me it was their decision to ban Martha’s photography.

“It is a shame that a blog that today went through 2 million hits, which has inspired debates at home and abroad and raised nearly £2000 for charity is forced to end.”

Sad to see her go and a very bad PR move by the council. When you have that much visibility (thanks to Martha) you really need to work with it to show the world that you are willing to make changes not try to muzzle it.

That is of course if you actually are willing to make changes .