foodaroundblog

recipes and reviews by an italian taster in the u.k.

Madrid: ir de tapas

“No somos sino peregrinos que, yendo por distintos caminos, trabajosamente se dirigen al encuentro de los unos con los otros” ( A. de Saint-Exupéry)

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Flash in the Pan

In Jericho, one of the most lively area in Oxford, Flash in the Pan is the annual appointment for the best Christmas shopping.

Flash in the Pan ‘pops up’ annually, in various places around Oxford and is now known and supported by many people for it’s unique collection of art, jewellery, ceramics and eclectic mix of gifts, food and objects. This year it is located at 109 Walton Street, Jericho, Oxford (OX2 6AJ), in the space which once was the Posh Fish take away.

Suzie (Susan Moxley) and Tess (Tess Blenkinsop) made an huge effort to recreate the Christmas atmosphere in there. As a result, the Gallery is now the perfect place for all your more unusual Christmas presents, many of which are hand crafted and original pieces not to be found anywhere else in Town.

And if you want to treat yourself or your friends to a slice of warming spicy homemade Panforte Di Siena, Panpepato D’ Umbria, Torrone al Cioccolato and different type of traditional ‘Biscotti’, that’s your place indeed. Mariella Bliss, the most popular and appreciated Italian caterer in town, sells a selection of Christmas delicacies.

The ‘Christmas Tree Fellas’ are selling Christmas trees at Flash in the Pan: the trees are ethically sourced non-drop Nordmann Firs from Scotland and come in a variety of sizes, with FREE DELIVERY to OX1, 2, 3, 4 postcodes.

A percentage of each tree is donated to chosen charity for this year which is The Art Room, a charity aimed at 5 – 16 years old who are experiencing emotional and behavioural difficulties, offering Art as therapy to increase children’s self-esteem, self-confidence and independence. An extra good reason to stop by Flash in the Pan.

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Sardinia: a list of

è acqua di vetro – è arena bianca – è bianco latte – è borotalco e pietra dura – è dura terra – è cielo di cipria – è miele nel vento – è abbamele – è filo di lana – è Filindeu – è Maestrale divino – è lingua di sale – è occhi neri – è gigli bianchi – è luna piena – è luna cruda – è crude mani – è mani chiuse e Cortes Apertas – è donne operose – è api operaie – è pascoli d’api – è ginepri in orchestra – è carta musica – è sangue di mirto – è sangue balente – è profumo di alisso – è corbezzolo scarlatto – è terrazza sul mare

it’s water of glass – it’s white sand – it’s  white milk – it’s talcum and it’s hard rock – it’s hard ground – it’s pink powder sky  – it’s honey in the wind – it’s abbamele – it’s wire of wool – it’s Filindeu – it’s divine Mistral – it’s a language of salt – it’s black eyes – it’s white lilies – it’s a full moon (the cruel one) – it’s raw hands – it’s closed hands – is cortes Apertas – it’s hard-working women –  it’s the worker bees grazing – it’s a juniper’s orchestra –  it’s cartamusica– it is the blood of myrtle – it’s balente blood – it’s the scent of alyssum – it’s a scarlet arbutus on a terrace overlooking the sea

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Stowe Garden, quintessential english

Four steps in the green of Stowe Garden, where was born the English garden.
In the heart of Buckinghamshire, just a few miles from the famous Silverstone circuit, there is Stowe Landscape Garden, the first English landscape garden designed in the first half of the eighteenth century by Bridgemant C. and W. Kent, the latter formed in Italy between Rome and the Palladian Vicenza.
“All gardening is landscape painting,” says A. Pope famous English poet of the time, saying that the gardener is basically like a painter who distributes natural and artificial elements composing the landscape as a canvas.

Walking along the streets of this immense property (approximately 38,000 acres, cared for and protected by the National Trust) lights up the excitement of being inside one of those ‘700 paintings with pastoral atmospheres.
The garden is precisely this: not geometry and symmetry typical of the Italian garden, but harmonious composition of natural and artificial elements in a continuous game of perspectives, lights, shadows.
And where are the flowers? One has to wonder, considering that today the art of the garden is mainly related to the cultivation of flowers of different species. The gardens of the eighteenth century, of which Stowe is the finest and most spectacular example, relate primarily to the shades of green and, then, lawns, bushes, forests and vineyards.
The distribution of the trees, even where it seems random, it is not at all: belts, dense forests or arboreal elements apparently scattered and strewn with randomness are all the result of a precise design and an aesthetic project. We are in the midst of Romanticism and the garden is the place par excellence where the emotions and the sense of surprise are solicited: where there seems to be a wild area, here you’ll find a hidden temple; over a slope that suggests an open space, there is a stream of water that goes into a wooded corner where there is a little Grotto with shells encrusted walls (and I can not avoid to think of the secret garden of Palazzo Te in Mantua, also revisiting a classical theme).
In fact, the artificial elements reproduce the styles of the Arcadian landscape: the Temple of Venus, the Round, the River Styx and the Champs Elysees, the Valley and the Greek Temple of Concord that predominates it. And again: the Temple of Ancient Virtue stand as counterpoise to the exedra with the Virtues British, with the busts of the leading men of the time (as if it says “in Great Britain we are not to be outdone”).

In the area called Path of Liberty, there is the Chinese House: the fashion of the time in fact was already looking to the art of Chinese garden as aesthetic reference in which the contrast of opposites is balanced with absolute grace.

And a Gothic Temple, also built with the purpose to impress the visitor with an unexpected style, but in particular to celebrate the Anglo-Saxon pedigree of the family Temple, owner of the estate Stowe: luckily I’m not a Roman says a phrase on the ceiling. The Gothic Temple is now converted into a cottage rented for holidays.
And the sheep? They also accompany the pleasant walk, but beware, not even their presence is random: it helps the eye to catch the games of perspectives and the distances.
The fall colors are still sketchy, and only a few light golden brushstroke anticipates the new season.

It takes at least a couple of hours to enjoy the whole estate: the spaces are really extensive. Unless we learn from the British art of the picnic and spend some more time at the leisure to lie on these lawns.. hopefully listening to the Symphony no. 6 cd of Beethoven’s, The Pastoral, which seems to be composed right in front of the splendour of Stowe.

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Mantova storytelling

C’è una piccola Isola che galleggia sui Fior di Loto. Fuori, è tutto un gioco del Grande Fiume che indossa tre abiti diversi per poter sembrare un lago e fare poi un girotondo. Un giorno una viandante, dopo tante piroette della Luna, è tornata all’Isola, come si torna da un lungo viaggio: con un paio di scarpe rotte e una sacca ormai vuota. E’ tornata per guardare ancora una volta la sua Isola, e ha capito che non l’aveva guardata mai (gli occhi diventano pigri ancor prima dei piedi). Allora ha iniziato di nuovo a camminare con il naso puntato verso il cielo seguendo il profilo dei merli per fermarsi poi, nella Grande Piazza. Ha scelto una pietra, proprio nel mezzo, e si è messa su un piede solo, zitta zitta, a fare una giravolta lenta, così da poter perdere l’equilibrio. Ha tagliato i capelli, perché voleva esser più leggera (oppure per non farsi riconoscere), e ha rubato una bicicletta nera che si confondesse bene in mezzo a tutte le altre. Una bicicletta qualunque, nella folla che chiacchierava in una lingua che lei conosceva bene. Ha svegliato i suoi occhi zingari e li ha mandati a zonzo a raccogliere fotografie: una finestra semichiusa, le ombre sulle pietre rosse, i rimbalzi dei portici del centro, la signora Rotonda di S. Lorenzo bassa e grassa, i vecchi, il loro tempo d’argento sciolto nei bicchieri di vino mezzi vuoti o mezzi pieni (dipende dalla giornata), il parco fatto di silenzio verde e Virgilio, il suo custode. Ha fatto una gran scorta di parole, abbracci e pentagrammi tanto che ancora una volta la sua sacca si è riempita (e pensare che credeva di aver finito di viaggiare). Ha anche incontrato una Maga, il suo nome era Ondina, che le ha insegnato l’arte di massaggiare uova e farina: con un incantesimo dalle sue mani sono usciti dei tortelli, belli, ma così belli che quasi era un peccato mangiarli (ma i peccati vanno commessi qualche volta).

Un giorno ha aspettato la notte e ha camminato per trovare un posto nelle strade strette, dove nascondersi. Sotto un lampione giallo due gatti, Nick e Bart, in compagnia di una lumaca irrequieta, la stavano aspettando. L’hanno fatta sedere sui gradini di un Castello e le han detto:

“Prendi. Bevi questo vino buono e raccontaci la tua storia”.

“E’ molto breve, in verità – ha detto lei – la mia storia è quella di chi si allontana per poter vedere le cose da vicino”.

“Allora – hanno risposto – ti raccontiamo noi una storia: questa è la storia di una principessa anziana che ha ancora voglia di giocare. Qualcuno un giorno l’ha chiamata “la bella addormentata”, ma noi preferiamo chiamarla semplicemente con il suo vero nome: Mantova”.

E la storia incomincio’ : “C’è una piccola Isola, che galleggia sui Fiori di Loto…”.


There is a small Island floating on Lotus Flowers. Outside, it’s all a game created by the great river that wears three different costumes to look like a Lake and then it makes a ring-a-ring-o’rose. One day a traveler, after so many spins of the Moon, is back on the Island, as one returns from a long journey: with a pair of broken shoes and an empty bag. She came back to look the Island once again, and she realized that she had never looked at it (the eyes become lazy even before the feet). Then she began to walk with the nose pointing to the sky following the profile of the battlements and then she stopped in the Big Square. She chose a stone, right in the middle, and she started on one foot, quiet as a mouse, to make a turnaround so slow that she could lose her balance. He cut his hair, because he wanted to be lighter (or not to be recognized), and stole a black bicycle that could be confused right in the middle of all the others. An anonymous bicycle in the crowd who was talking in a language she knew. She woke up her gypsies-eyes and sent them around to collect photographs: a half-open window, the shadows on the red stones, the bounces of the arcades of the center, Ms. Rotunda of St. Lawrence, so low and fat, the elderly, their silver-time dissolved in wine glasses half-empty or half-full (depending on the day), the park made ​​out of green silence and Virgil, his guardian. She made a great stock of words, hugs and pentagrams so that, once again, her bag was filled (and you think that she believed she had finished traveling). He also met a Sorceress, hrs name was Ondina and she teached her the art of massaging eggs and flour: with a spell from her hands came out the Tortelli, beautiful, but so beautiful that it was almost a sin to eat them (but sins have to be committed sometimes).

One day she waited for the night and walked to find a place in the narrow streets, where to hide. Under a yellow streetlight two cats, Nick and Bart, in the company of a restless snail, were waiting for her. They made ​​her sit on the steps of a Castle, and told her: “Take it! Drink this good wine and tell us your story”. “Actually, it ‘s very short” – she said – My story is that of one who goes away to be able to see things up closer”. “Then – they answered – we will tell you a story: this is the one of a elderly princess who still wants to play. Once, someone called her “the Sleeping Beauty”, but we prefer to call her simply by her true name: Mantova”.

 And the story began: “There is a small Island floating on Lotus Flowers …”.

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