It is one of my friend’s birthday today and I am wishing him well, there in the cloud. I have cooked him some of his favourite food.
I hope that he will enjoy the homemade pappardelle dressed with a duck ragù.
I was not able to buy him boar (cinghiale) or hare (lepre) as you can in Greve from that butcher who has a stuffed boar in front of his Macelleria. But I know that he is quite fond of duck; he will be just as pleased.
I have kept some of the dough from the pasta to fry and make into crostoli. I will sprinkle them with caster sugar. We can crunch on these later.
Now he’s no longer unwell, he can once again enjoy the Barolo and the Amarone I have selected for this occasion. I know that he is fond of Sicily and I have a bottle of Nero d’Avola. Perhaps we could have a little of this with our cheese? We will try to drink in moderation. I can return the wines from the decanters to bottles and put stoppers in them…I will be happy to drink them tomorrow.
I was able to find some early spring produce and I have stuffed some zucchini flowers with some stracchino, rather than the ricotta I usually use, a little egg with a few fresh breadcrumbs to bind the stuffing, and some fresh marjoram ... not chervil, I am afraid, as it is not in season, this being his favourite herb. He particularly liked it on scrambled eggs.
I almost forgot! I was able to order a great bottle of Riesling from the Barossa. Peter Lehman’s son – David Franz – Makes it. I love his wine and I am very fond of David’s colourful labels. I think my friend shared a bottle of this wine when I last saw him. This will be a perfect accompaniment for the zucchini flowers.
I have a bottle of Cynar for when he arrives and a little Averna for those who wish, right at the very end.
There will be no second course, the pasta will be enough. The ragù smells fabulous and will be quite rich. Perhaps a little Mâche , or matovilc as we called it in Trieste…. lamb’s lettuce for others. I can add some thinly sliced fennel too – this could be the palate cleanser before the dessert.
My friend does like a good Zuppa Inglese. I think that it’s the savoiardi soaked with Alchermes that he likes, although the delicate egg custard is also a winner. He will understand that I was unable to get the gooseberries or the greengage plums that he is so fond of. They are out of season. My friend was able to buy these for a very limited time of they year from one stall in the Adelaide Market. Gosh, that was a few years ago! The stall holder was a gentle and kind Sicilian man who used to grow most of his produce. I will never forget when the stall holder found out who my father was, he almost hugged me. My dad was liked by so many people… my friend was popular too, and liked a chat or two.
Idid find some Josephine pears at the Queen Victoria Market today, so I have purchased some to present with some cheeses – I selected ripe, juicy pears, just as he likes them. He always expressed his dissatisfaction about fruit that was picked too green.
I have not forgotten the cheese to go with the pears. He is fond of a little cheese. Walnuts too. He likes to crack his own. I know he quite likes a little aged Parmesan with pears and I was also able to buy a good selection of Italian and French Cheeses, some are quite smelly and I had to put them out on my balcony overnight.
Bob has baked some bread, my friend prefers to eat cheese with bread. I do too, perhaps I learnt this from him.
So my friend, up in the cloud, I hope you enjoy what I have prepared for you. Happy Birthday from all of us, here below. We all remember you fondly and miss you.
PAPPARDELLE (Pasta with Hare or game ragù)
ZUPPA INGLESE, a famous, Italian dessert
SALAD GREEN: matovilc, also called lamb’s lettuce and mâche
ALCHERMES/ALKERMES (The liqueur used to make Zuppa Inglese)