I remember when these were the days before three long months of summer holidays. Once school was over, I would find myself all alone in the countryside. There weren’t many occasions to meet friends over the summer holidays, and I would be looking forward to the seaside holidays with my cousin, and September when I was thrilled to be back to school.
I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely.
There were books, and magazines, and Disney comics, handwritten letters and postcards, country rides with my bike, homemade cakes, blackberry hunting sessions, afternoons spent watching old movies and eating gelato. I felt empowered, connected. I felt like I had the chance to grow and to explore my inner world.
This is the same feeling I had the other day while I was walking along my country road with Livia. We have so much to do this summer, a book to work on, a podcast, a weekly newsletter… but I have the feeling that this will be a season of big changes. I feel connected and empowered, thanks to books, podcasts and Social Media. I feel like I will have once again the chance to grow, and explore. Tommaso and I have so many projects brewing on the stove, hopefully, this will be the season to turn them into reality.
And now, as always, a list of things I’m cooking, listening to, watching, and reading, as this is what is keeping me inspired, and connected, from our last newsletter. Read it to discover also 10 recipes to cook this month.
What I’m cooking.
Zucchini and eggs, mainly. Zucchini are the first summer vegetable I reintroduce to my cooking repertoire as soon as the good season kicks in. So I’m making pasta with zucchini, sautéed zucchini as a side dish, zucchini and tuna salads, frittata with zucchini and zucchini carbonara (for this, I’m sharing a recipe below!).
Fresh eggs are my go-to ingredient when I’m late and I have to figure out lunch (more often than you can imagine). As our eggs are super fresh and come from our happy chickens, we have them as a meal at least twice a week. Can you share your favourite recipe with eggs? I want to try something new next time!
What I’m reading.
This has been a good month. I left my phone aside more often and found pockets of time to read. First I read from cover to cover in a weekend L’invenzione della felicità, written by my friend Benedetta Gargano, a novel inspired by her relationship with her nonna, and the time her grandma spent with her, when Benedetta adopted her not to let her spend the last years of her long, exciting life in a nursing home. Benedetta gave her 97-year-old grandma the chance to learn, be surprised, and have fun when she thought her life was almost over, and she was gifted in return with the biggest, purest love. I laughed and cried, and then I run to hug my grandma once more.
The second book has been a revelation. Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art, by James Nestor. This book is a fascinating exploration of the art of breathing, with a memoir approach, that makes everything more accessible, interesting and relatable. From a Paris catacomb to a jogging experience underneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the author collects all the past and present knowledge about breathing. I found myself focusing on my breath more than I have ever done – I have a past with adenoids, so I’ve been one of those children always breathing with their mouths open! It is such a transformative book.
What I’m watching.
Another month of crime series has passed. Growing old, I realize I can only unwind watching crime series, and food-related docu-series. I suffer watching dramas – Tommaso made me cry all the tears watching Clouds, on Disney+, inspired to the true story of Zach Sobiech. On a side note, I just started watching High on the Hog on Netflix, and I’m hooked.
Food, community, culture, resiliency. Based on Jessica B. Harris’ award-winning book, High On The Hog traces the moving story of a people’s survival and triumph via the food that has knit generations together and helped define the American kitchen. From Gumbo to fried chicken, our culinary journey stretches from Africa to enslavement, to the Harlem Renaissance, up to our present-day; we celebrate the courage, artistry, and resourcefulness of the African American people. This is not just an African American story; it’s an American story. A feast for all the senses.
What I’m listening to.
Keep calm and cook on.
I resumed walking in the early mornings with Livia snuggled in her stroller, so my podcast consumption went up again. This month I’m sharing two podcasts I’m really enjoying, plus a bonus. The first one is Keep calm and cook on, by Julia Turshen. I’ve been listening to Julia’s podcast for years now, but season 5 is just a treat, with nine episodes of a virtual book tour. In each episode, Julia is interviewed by a special guest about her newest cookbook, Simply Julia, and you learn so much about body positivity and acceptance, comfort food, home cooking, the process behind writing a cookbook, and much more.
I really enjoyed the conversation with @doriegreenspan, and one of the questions that came at the end of that episode. Who are the four cookbook authors – dead or alive – you would love to cook for and have you join your table? This is such a good question, I’m still thinking about it. There would be Laurie Colwin for sure, but I might come with an answer soon. What about you?
A slice of cheese with Peter’s Yard
The second podcast is A slice of Cheese with Peter’s Yard, hosted by Jenny Linford, a talented food writer and the kindest person. Jenny talks to cheesemakers around the world, exploring the fascinating world of cheese, from cheddar to brie, paneer and goat cheese. If you’re into Italian cheese, don’t miss the episode on Parmigiano Reggiano, where Jenny talks with Rachel Roddie, and the one on mozzarella, with Katie Quinn and Domenica Marchetti.
I mentioned also a bonus episode. In one of the past newsletters, I mentioned how I truly appreciated Alissa Timoshkina’s podcast, Motherfood. Well, I had the pleasure to talk to her, as I’m her latest guest in her sixth episode of the third series. So if you are curious about my experience with pregnancy and motherhood, from a food perspective, go have a listen! I’m so happy, and excited, and proud!
What I’m dreaming.
HOLIDAYS! Yes, I’m dreaming about the upcoming holidays, the first after two years, the first we’ll have with Livia. We’ll drive South to visit Tommaso’s family in Salento, Puglia. It will be a long drive, so we’ll have to make it over two days. On our journey, we’ll make a quick stop in Montegrosso, as I desperately want to eat again at @pietrozito_antichisapori, where I had the best meals of my life. It has been a farm-to-table restaurant well before it became fashionable, and Pietro Zito’s food is the most authentic, honest, vibrant food I have ever had. Lots of superlatives, I know, but I can barely contain my excitement.
A recipe for zucchini carbonara
There’s just one traditional, original carbonara, and that is made with guanciale, the cured cheek of the pig. But I like to make this lighter summer version, a carbonara with zucchini and a few fresh mint leaves. You can make it while the pasta water is boiling: quick, simple, seasonal, and vibrant. On the blog you can find also an artichoke carbonara.
- 4 medium zucchini, cubed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 eggs
- 50 grams (1/2 cups) pecorino romano, grated
- Fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 180 grams (6.35 oz) spaghetti
- Fresh mint leaves
- Collect the cubed zucchini in a pan with olive oil and a crushed clove of garlic. Add a pinch of salt, too. Brown the zucchini on medium-low heat until soft, then set aside.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.
- In a bowl, prepare the eggs for the carbonara. First, break in two eggs, then add the grated pecorino romano, a pinch of salt – not too much as the pecorino is already quite salty –, and a generous pinch of ground black pepper. Whisk with a fork and set aside.
- Drain the pasta al dente, then toss it into the pan with the zucchini. If the pan is cold, reheat it briefly.
- Pour in the beaten eggs and toss well. The heat of the pasta and zucchini will work on the eggs to create a rich, creamy sauce. Do not heat the pan again, or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Dust with more pecorino cheese, some black pepper, add a few leaves of fresh mint, and serve immediately.
June and our cooperation with our friends from Il Querceto di Castellina
We’re truly proud to collaborate with our friends Mary and Jacopo from Il Querceto di Castellina this month! Located in the Chianti Classico area, Il Querceto is a little corner of heaven, an organic agriturismo and winery in Castellina in Chianti.
Jacopo’s grandparents bought the place as a family vacation home in 1945. It has seen many changes. In 1997 the old vineyards were replanted. Since its first year of production in 1998, Querceto has been relying on sustainable techniques in both the vineyards and the cellars. In 2009 they began their move to organic production, and were certified organic in 2012. Grapes are harvested by hand from the sloping vineyards about the estate, yet another example of the principle in action—that a great wine is born not in the cellar, but in the vineyard.
Querceto is a place of peace and pleasure, where the welcome is warm and family-like and the wine highly connected with food.
For those looking for something extra special, the candle-lit dinners in the Livia vineyard are truly a midsummer night’s dream.
Once we’ll be able to travel freely again, add Il Querceto to your travel destination dream list, but for the moment, we have something special for you!
If you subscribe to Querceto newsletter you will receive a 10% discount on your first online order. You will also be kept in the loop on all of the news and offers coming from Querceto di Castellina.
They also created a special offer for you! Join our Newsletter to learn more about the special offer!
Last but not least, from next Monday, for 4 weeks, we’ll share in our subscription-based newsletter a traditional Italian recipe, paired with one of Querceto’s wines. We’ll begin with a fresh Italian aperitivo recipe paired with Furtivo, their Igt Toscana Rosé.