Eating Italy | Part 2: Perugia & Assisi

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Crossing the Rubicon

Following on from my last post on our stay in Verona and Bologna, in this update I will cover our time in picturesque Perugia and nearby Assisi. Leaving Bologna we caught the train South, crossing the Rubicon in the process.

Well I think we did anyway, latitudinally speaking, but let’s not let facts get in the way of a good, clichéd subheading.

Perugia was the one destination on our whistle-stop honeymoon tour of Italy that I knew next to nothing about and had no preconceived notion of. I think that helped me love it all the more. That, and the fact that the greatest dish of our entire stay in Italy was to be found here in Perugia. Continue reading

Eating Italy | Part 1: Verona & Bologna

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“I am at length joined to Bologna, where I am settled like a sausage” – Lord Byron

When it came to choosing a honeymoon destination Italy was the obvious choice for us. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a career which has offered me the opportunity to work all over the world and holidays which have taken me far and wide and yet somehow I’d never visited Italy.

Italy, a country so vividly etched in my imagination through it’s people, art, culture, history and of course gastronomy and yet I had no first hand experience on which to base my impressions.

Time to right this grievous wrong, a 3 week tour from Verona to the Amalfi Coast taking in some of our favourite culinary hotspots was the perfect way to celebrate our marriage. Continue reading

The Famous Belgian gets married!

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Or the hardest meal you’ll ever plan…and never eat

You may have noticed a distinct lack of activity on this blog recently that’s because…we got married! My wife and I both work in events for a living, but I have to admit planning our own wedding was more work than I ever imagined possible. I had naively imagined I could combine planning a wedding whilst maintaining a functioning blog…not so!

Happily married (and of course we had an absolutely brilliant, amazing day that we will treasure forever) I now have time to reflect on one of the most important aspects of the wedding day for us both – the food!
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Tagliata di manzo

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A Cut Above

Steak Frites is of course a Belgian institution, arguably the national dish along with Moules Frites. It is certainly a well established Friday night tradition in our household, not every week, but maybe once or twice a month as a treat. Fortuitously our local butchers have a Friday special – two huge steaks for £15 from a choice of Sirloin, Rump, Fillet or our cut of choice – Rib Eye.

My walk home from work takes me straight past the butchers door and it is now almost hard wired into my subconscious to pop in on a Friday to pick up a couple of steaks. It wasn’t until I got home this week that I realised that, dare I say it, I was a little bored of Steak Frites. Yes it is a wondrous dish, but like anything you indulge in too often, the magic wears off. So it was that I turned instead to our regular summer steak alternative – Tagliata di manzoContinue reading

Gentse Waterzooi

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A traditional Flemish Chicken stew

I haven’t added a Belgian recipe for a while, so I thought it was high time to cook one of the classics – Waterzooi. It’s a nice recipe for this time of year when the weather is a little unpredictable, a comforting dish but surprisingly delicate and relatively light – delicious rain or shine.

Waterzooi originates from Ghent in Flanders and would have traditionally been made with fresh water fish, but this variation containing chicken is now more common and is a great example of the sociology of food – the change in recipe indirectly caused by one of the first recorded acts of industrial espionage.  Continue reading

Chili con Carne y Frijoles

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With apologies to Texas

You may suspect, by now, that the chief ingredients of all chili are fiery envy, scalding jealousy, scorching contempt and sizzling scorn. ” – H. Allen Smith

There are so many brilliant quotes about Chili con Carne, the one above comes from maybe not the definitive, but certainly one of the funniest articles ever written on the subject. Another favourite is “”In Texas, four things temporal are held inviolate — women, states’ rights, a cattle brand, and chili.” – Joe Cooper

(A quick note on the language used below – when I say Chili I am referring to the dish Chili con Carne, when I say Chilli I am referring to the fruit, and yes they are a fruit not a vegetable!)

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Butterflied leg of Lamb, Herb Potato Salad and Summer Vegetable Ragout

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An early showing for a summer staple

It’s not summer yet, with snow this week I’m beginning to doubt whether it is even spring , but I couldn’t wait to cook this any longer. If forced to choose a favourite roast a butterflied leg of lamb would be near the top of the list – especially when cooked on a BBQ.

It’s still a little too chilly and the weather too unpredictable to break out the BBQ just yet, but briefly roasting a butterflied leg of lamb in a conventional oven, finished with a short blast under a hot grill still produces wonderful results. The key with the lamb to my mind is a nice long marinade, a hefty slug of seasoning, a brisk roast at a high heat followed by a good rest. Continue reading