September is the perfect time of the year, along with January, to focus on your good intentions for the upcoming season. It has always been like this, since I was a school girl and waited impatiently to come back home from the seaside to buy my homework diary (how I loved to write down my name with my best handwriting!). This year, however, my main purpose is to remember each and every single detail of my holidays – the smell, taste, my toes tickled by the sand, the cool sheets after lunch, the ice cream late at night – and to bring them with me, to face the next Autumn and Winter enriched by the lessons learnt during this glorious summer.
What have I learnt? well, just to start I learnt by heart that is good to take some time for yourself once in a while, that is not a mortal sin to get away for a few days and forget to check your e-mails, because – dreadful revelation – the world goes around perfectly even without you and you will find everything there, waiting for you, when you get back to reality.
I will face the next season with this new awareness, I am confident I will be able to do things better, more relaxed. Once again I had the evidence that the simple things are often also the best, if ever further confirmation was needed… yes, it happens for example when you bring to the table a dish of tomatoes from the garden dressed just with good olive oil and accompanied by just a generous spoonful of fresh ricotta. It is two o’ clock in the afternoon and you just got back home after a morning spent at the seaside. Well, believe me, you have the same feedback you would have if bringing a filet mignon prepared with all the trappings.
I want to bring with me the smell of pine trees, the precious moment of when you wake up with the sound of waves and a smile, the offing swim when it was difficult even to float because we were laughing so hard, the walks with Noa that tried to escape the water, the beach at sunset with no one around, the pink sky that was so beautiful it didn’t even look real, a shared towel and the photos that will remain as tangible memories, along with a thousand more indelible ones.
These are my good intentions for the next season, declared here, now, in front of you with this unforgettable seaside holiday in my mind and in my heart:
- I wish to visit more museums and art exhibitions, because in Turin I spent three days eating, walking and in awe in front Elliot Erwitt exhibition, the Cinema Museum and the Egyptian Museum. I want to be amazed, I want to get lost in the silent rooms of a museum. Next on the list for the upcoming weekend the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Then, in my wish list there is also the American Museum of Natural History in New York, sooner or later, hopefully sooner than later…
- Just imagine how cosy it would be to read a few pages of a good book before sleeping, tucked under the blankets. After enjoying page after page the intertwined stories, the fragility and the incredible strength of two teenagers in Jerusalem in Someone to Run with I took a deep breath and dove into Bruce, the biography of my favourite artist. Words and music are related, the pages are still covered with sand that reminds me of long hours at the beach. The next one on the list is Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-maker and Apprentice to a Butcher in Tuscany, should it never happen that I got too distracted from the kitchen.
- I want to understand something more about photography, to be able to finally get the results I want, without entrusting the good luck or unorthodox procedures. I already bookmarked a few courses held by Fotografiafirenze.it. In May I attended the basic Lightroom course and I found it incredibly useful. I’m ready to go back to school, it is September after all, isn’t it?
- I have the desire to get to know Florence better, and discover the reality that surrounds me. In July I walked in Florence with my camera and my nose up in the air to write an article for the September issue of The Simple Things, and I fell in love once more. I will discover even more hidden corners, gardens, taverns, pubs and inns, and I will report all of them to you.
- This should be one of the good intentions valid throughout the year, but it is worth repeating it: I want to have fun and enjoy my life, doing the best job in the world, because the thirties are truly the most exciting years of your life, the right balance between discoveries, lightheartedness, responsibility and commitment. Of course I’ll take you with me on this trip.
Now I would love to reassure you: we had many lunches made just with fresh tomatoes and cheese, yes, but we also spent some fun time in the kitchen cooking, especially rice or barley cold salads, highly appreciated because we could make them in the morning, stash them in the fridge and enjoy them later, ready and tasty, when we came back home from a morning spent at the beach swimming, sunbathing and playing with our dogs.
We chose fresh and quick recipes, though one day I could not resist the urge to fry a few aubergines, one of the decadent pleasures of the end of summer, along with the sweetest and ripe tomatoes.
Although I could easily eat fried aubergines as they are, such as peanuts, pulling out all my selfishness and strenuously defending my precious bowl of golden nuggets, this time I won this temptation and cooked a good bowl of pasta for my friends. How generous I was! If you overcome the desire of fried aubergines and manage to get to the next step, please try this pasta dish, so hearty and full of flavour. It is the perfect way to celebrate the last days of summer.
The following recipe is for 5 rather hungry people, just as we were. At every meal we looked each other in the eyes and admitted that it didn’t matter if there were leftovers, we could eat them in the evening, and every time, as usual, we would bring back empty and perfectly clean dishes to the kitchen. You can’t help it, the brackish air of the seaside makes you hungry…
- 500 g of tomato purée
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 purple aubergines eggplants
- 250 g of fresh mozzarella torn in small pieces
- 500 g of short pasta
- Fresh basil
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Pour a few tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil in a medium pot and heat with a clove of garlic until golden. Pour in the tomato sauce, season with a pinch of salt and cook over low heat for about ten minutes, until the tomato purée gets all the flavour from the olive oil and the garlic. Set aside.
Wash and dice the aubergines. Fry them in two or three batches in a big pan with plenty of olive oil until golden and crisp on the edges, then drain them and put them in a dish lined with a paper towel so that the excess olive oil is absorbed.
Cook the pasta in a large pot in salted boiling water according to the package instructions, drain it al dente and pour into a big serving bowl.
Season with the tomato sauce, the fried aubergines and the fresh mozzarella, torn in small pieces. Scatter a few leaves of fresh basil over the pasta and add also some grated Parmesan cheese. Toss and serve immediately.
I know that you are dying to tell me which is your favourite pasta with aubergines and which are your good intentions for Autumn… I am curious to read in what you will be involved in next season and to discover new recipes to use the last aubergines of the garden!