Like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, here we are, poised and optimistic about a season with guests. 

In the meantime, we continue the cooking adventure. While I have made a boeuf bourguignon, at the tail end of my longing for different cuisine, I've returned again to Italian dishes. We have a young French/German couple, David and Lea, staying to help out, and this inspired the dalliance with the classic French dish, cooking everything separately - mushrooms, small onions, pancetta - this is what the last stage added to the creuset after cooking the beef most of the night in a very low oven. 

After our warm spell, we had another cold snap. We covered our newly planted basil seedlings, which everybody warned me not to rush because there would surely be cold weather in April. Of course the locals are right. It was so hard to imagine after 18C and 20C day that we could possibly return to minus zero temperatures. This made me think of farinata, which is so comforting to eat in cold weather. 

My son and I were touring around Liguria when we first starting looking for an Italian property to buy (it took four years!!!). We found ourselves on the coast, in Savona, hungry at an hour when Italian restaurants are not yet open, around 6.30pm. In Australia, you can largely eat whenever you're hungry. No so in Italy. We asked at several restaurants and the earliest opener was, at a pinch (they said we could have an aperitivo) at 7pm. Instead Dan saw a queue of people outside what looked hopefully like a food shop. Indeed it was. The doors opened and we found a table. Everyone else was there for takeaway farinata. The takeaway queue didn't stop all night. We tasted our first of this amazingly healthy and delicious chick pea dish which was basically served, without you asking for it, as a kind of starter. It's made with chick pea flour, water, olive oil, salt and rosemary. I've been hooked on it since. Once I stopped off in Genova specifically to stay the night to experience this heaven again, only to discover that it's a lunch time dish - yours truly had arrived around 6pm and had a train to catch at 10am. All I found was a tired piece in a panificio.

So, I learned how to make it. The secret is a very high temperature  (at least 280C) oven and a copper pan, which I didn't have, but the next best is cast iron or aluminium. Now I'm so passionate about my cooking journey, I've ordered one to arrive before my next attempt. Lea and David made the ratatouille to have with it.

Since showing them the area still isn't possible with the Orange Zone, since most places are still closed, I wanted the young ones to experience Italian cuisine. We made Taglietelle together one day and they were amazed how easy it was.