Italian delights

Italia! Bellissimo!!

Our Italian lunch did not disappoint, and we finished yet another international lunch reflecting how good life is.

We started with bruschetta, which was my favourite. I had prepared the fetta, garlic and chopped basil the night before, so it was well-flavoured by the time it got onto the yummy crispy  toast with the tomatoes that had been chopped and also stored with basil the night before.

Jan liked the pan-fried gnocchi with sage and parmesan, which is one of my favourite Donna Hay recipes. I have tried to make potato gnocchi many times but it always ends up very claggy (maybe I use the wrong kind of potatoes), but this recipes uses ricotta. It hasn’t failed me once.

Will brought some lovely home-made ciabatta. He’s got bread-making down to a fine art, has Will. And we had some lovely oil and vinegars to dip it into.

For the first time in more than 40 years, I used a recipe to make the sauce for the lasagne, and I’m very glad I tried it. Adding bacon and chorizo gave it a real kick, and I also used beef and pork mince for the first time – usually I just use beef mince. The recipe said to add mixed spice, but I won’t do that again, and I wonder if it should have read mixed herbs.

The osso buco was also note-worthy, and as delicious as it usually is.

But the desserts! Oh, the desserts! Are there better desserts anywhere in the world than in Italy? Tiramisu, fresh strawberry gelato, cannoli, coffee and amaretto panna cotta – wow to each of them. Did I really say the bruschetta was my favourite?

Well, they were all my favourites until the affogatto appeared. Love, love, love affogatto!

The marsala and lemonade, as expected, took us back in time, as we reflected on those drinks we thought were so sophisticated back then – cold duck, Mateus rose, phorphyry pearl. And then Jan announced that she used to drink marsala straight. She’s hard-core, that woman!

Jill and Neil brought a bottle of chianti, and a bottle of chinotto (which we never got around to sampling). The chianti was perfect for quaffing in the sun over our mains – but we adjourned inside for dessert as it was a tad too hot outside.

Liam wrote the quiz questions, and did an amazing job. Thank you, Liam! And his strategy to prevent Will from winning the quiz was a great success. I won the quiz but, in truth, I should win every quiz seeing as I put the factsheet together! The quiz, and the answers are attached to this post.

Again, Elysia has taken a great range of photos. Thank you, Shish – you’re a treasure! And thanks for choosing Italy – it was a very good decision.

Next month we’re off to China. Lani wants me to help her do the quiz questions – I’m so excited that the kids are getting into the spirit of these lunches. Lani also wants to try some of the different Chinese foods before our lunch, although she keeps asking for dumplings with water in them – where on earth did she get that idea?

Sadly for now, it’s ciao and grazie to Italy, and ni hao, to China.






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