Monday, 27 January 2014

pinza and blackbirds

in italy, the last three days of january (29, 30 and 31) are called the days of the blackbird {i giorni della merla}, and they are traditionally considered the coldest days of the year. and i hope they will be freezing cold, because it is also said that if the days of the blackbird are as cold as they should be, then a fine spring is around the corner, but if they are warm, it means that spring will arrive later than usual. 

with such a weather, staying indoors and baking are the best thing. a typical winter cake in veneto, friuli and some trentino's valleys is called pinza. there is no recipe of the pinza. it  varies from location to location, from family to family, with some basic general features. the ingredients are simple, typical of the rural tradition: white flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, candied fruit, dried figs, raisins and fennel seeds.

the very special occasion to eat pinza is usually the panevin, when families gather togheter, and you can taste all the different pinza recipes they made! 

this is how i do it. 

200 g cornmeal
200 g wheat flour
120 g softned butter
1 egg
130 g sugar
dried figs*
250 ml milk
a coffee cup** of grappa {grape spirit}
a coffee cup** of sweet wine
baking powder 
1 orange
salt to taste

* quantity as you like
** i mean espresso

put the raisins to soak in the grappa. knead the flours, butter, baking powder, egg, zest and juice from the orange, salt. add raisins with grappa, sweet wine, figs and almonds. add warm milk. the dough will have a quite liquid consistency. pur on a cake pan, bake for 1 hour at 170°. 

better served with hot wine, friends and the best stories from last year. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

București. January, Friday 17th

Stavropoleos monastery | mănăstirea Stavropoleos
Bucharest could be a beautiful city. my friend Anna {the pen behind green holiday italy} warned up with these words, when M. and i arrived in the capital of Romania {flew there with Wizz Air, about 2 hours from Treviso}, where she and her mate hosted us for a lovely weekend. it could be indeed. such a culture's crossroad, with one foot in europe and the other still in the former soviet union, with a latin language, russian words, balkan food and middle eastern influences. but not yet.

there are charming corners, as the Stavropoleos monastery. all that remains from it is a little church, which looks lovely from the outside {first picture} but is way better inside: velvety atmosphere, hand paintings lit by candles, dark and gold. it was the first thing we stopped to see while sightseeing in the historic centre.

Lipscani district
Lipscani is the heart of the city centre. it used to be the most important commercial area of the city. many streets still bear the name of their trade, as can be seen in many european cities. looking at the old buildings {a nice mix of art nouveau, neoclassical, near to medieval memories}, it seems clear why, in the interwar europe, Bucharest was nicknamed little Paris. nowadays Lipscani is recovering from a long period of degradation and neglect. most of these buildings need to be restored, but the whole recovery of the district seems to be going towards the creation of a modern noisy area of bars, strip clubs and cheap shops, without any vibes, any traditions. i think it deserves better.

neoclassical building detail

women near Biserica Curtea Veche
the best moment of our day in Bucharest was a visit to the old princely court church {Biserica Curtea Veche}, the oldest of the city. it started like a normal visit of a tourist site, but we soon realized that there were a few tourists, and most of the people was in the queque, waiting for praying in front of holy icons. with fervor and emotion, they lit up dozens of votive candles, kissed the icons, then went away, in silence. the most authentic moment of the day. 

we had just one day to visit Bucharest, and i'm sorry we didn't have the time to see two museums which seem quite interesting: the museum of the romanian peasant {muzeul tăranului român} and the national village museum {muzeul naţional al satului}, but our weekend continued with a roadtrip to Transilvania, which i can't wait to share with you!

p.s. good news! i diari della lambretta has been shortlisted for the Italy Magazine blogger awards, category best travel  so, if you like it here, that's the link to vote!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

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