All posts filed under: Sweet things

essi di burano

The sweets of Venice (frittelle, biscotti and Carnevale)

When I remember my first time au pairing, I think mostly of  doughnuts. They were called bombe, and I was obsessed. For two months I ate one every single day. I’d wait impatiently for their delivery to the beach bar, then savour them while they were still warm and oozing sweet creme patisserie. After finding myself stranded in a half-forgotten coastal resort in between Naples and Rome, these hot doughnuts were both freedom and pleasure. In Venice I’ve found my own version of bombe – frittelle. They arrived in the cafes and bakeries here at the beginning of January and will stick around until Tuesday, the final day of Carnevale. The traditional fritole veneziane are small sugar-coated doughnuts, studded with sultanas and pine nuts and best served warm with an afternoon espresso. When they’re fresh out of the oven, the dough seems almost custard-like; light, moist, and fragrant with rum. They’re also slightly more modest in size than the bombe of my au pairing youth – just small enough to  justify eating one with every espresso pitstop. And indeed, I’ve done just that. In Read More

Crêpes

We used to have pancakes once a year at home, on Shrove Tuesday, when the squeezy Jif would appear at the table and my mum would stand at the stove, grumbling about what a fuss they were to cook. English pancakes were never a breakfast thing. I only remember them with the backdrop of a cold February evening, rolled up tight with lemon and sugar, a little damp, a little thick. A couple of Saturdays ago I broke tradition and cooked them for brunch. It was all because of Tiphaine really, my lovely French coworker, who gave me a hand-written recipe for crêpes – the English pancake’s superior cousin.  I’d asked her what her favourite childhood meal was, and like a good Breton she told me it was crêpes. More so now that she’s been in London for sometime, because they remind her of home and weekend breakfasts. It’s funny how moving away from a place draws us closer to the simple foods we grew up with, and more often than not, to one of our national or regional Read More

Banana Bread

It was in a cold greengrocers that Jane Grigson first taught me about fruit. Every Saturday morning I would take her book down from a shelf and learn about the the history of the quince or how best to cook medlars. Jane helped me fall in love with ingredients. She also made working in an unheated greengrocers slightly more bearable for a fifteen-year-old with a hot water bottle permanently shoved up her jumper. As I read more and more in my breaks between serving customers, I came to look forward to new seasons in the fruit and vegetable calendar. September was my favourite month, when customers would bring in baskets of apples for us to sell. It was the Discovery first -a small, sweet apple with a deep crimson flush, and then the Worcester. By the end of the month we had dozens of varieties, piled high next to punnets of foraged blackberries and trays of patty pan squash. I always took the over-ripe fruit home with me. With Jane Grigson’s guidance I made apricot Read More