On a recent Tuscan break we discovered on a menu, Spaghetti Ubriachi, literally translated as “drunken spaghetti” but actually being spaghetti cooked in red wine. We came across it in a wonderful family run trattoria high on the hills of Montecatini Alto, where, in broken English, the waiter promised us it was made by mamma in the kitchen in the same way she has been making it for years.
A few nights later we tried it elsewhere, and a few nights after that somewhere else, but none could compare to that original dish which was rich in red wine, perfectly balanced with salt from the pancetta with the sweetness of the caramelised onions. Itching to replicate the dish we scoured the web for the recipe, finding versions of drunken spaghetti and versions of spaghetti with pancetta and red onions, but none that combined the two. Taking the best of all of these we’ve come up with a dish, which we think, is as close as we’re going to get to that Tuscan original:
One thing you notice when visiting Italy is the simplicity that goes into creating delicious pasta dishes; just a few core ingredients can produce a flavoursome meal in no time. A Monday evening favourite for Elldrew is Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Speck Tagliatelle. With just 5 mins prep and 15 mins cooking time, this tasty dish will have you on the sofa in no time, after all, who wants to spend time in the kitchen after your first day in the office of a new week?
We first came across Matera, in Puglia, southern Italy (near the boot heel) when we learnt of the Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita hotel (a stunning cave hotel which we quickly added to our bucket list and just as quickly planned a visit to). I had mentioned to my Italian hairdresser (from Naples) that Elldrew were heading there for 4 days and all he asked was “Why?” I explained to him about the hotel and he seemed a little bemused, whilst having heard of the city he hadn’t realised that it had, in fact, reached international tourist status. After some rather extensive research prior to booking the hotel (we didn’t want to be stuck in a place that couldn’t keep us amused for days, especially when our travel dates were dictated by a very limited flight schedule), we actually began to look forward to exploring the delights of this ancient city.
After such an exquisite meal at the soft launch we thought Ballarò would be the perfect place to take an Australian visitor so they could experience beautiful and fresh Sicilian food, without having to make a detour via Italy, and with an extra mouth we could taste more dishes on the menu (see our first review here).
For awhile now we had been wondering what would become of the old Haverstock Arms pub, on Haverstock Hill (its claim to fame is that its landlord was the on-screen barmen in the 90’s hit talk show “TFI Friday” and it’s where producer Danny Baker and then radio DJ Chris Evans came up with the show concept, and, of course, not forgetting its history as a local watering hole to the non and famous NW3 set)! One becomes complacent when the hoarding has been erected for so long, and although we were secretly hoping for a new local gastro pub or even better still a nice wine bar, we were at first a little deflated to hear the premises would be occupied by a new restaurant – wasn’t there enough in the local area already?
They say staying in is the new going out and so after a busy day putting Planet Elldrew in touch with Planet Earth we thought we deserved a delicious home cooked meal. Plus it was a chance to try a couple of Lorraine Pascale recipes we’ve been itching to sample and a good excuse to avoid the car-crash that is The Voice (Jessie J’s dismal “these things happen on Live TV” opening was enough to scare us off).
About three years ago we headed off to explore the North-Western region of Croatia. OK, we weren’t looking for a city escape but more of a relaxed villa rental in a remote location, somewhere to just lose ourselves…we happened to decide on Momjan, the vineyard region of Istria (South of the Slovenian border, about 1.5 hrs drive from Trieste airport in Italy).