Tag Archives: Italian Lakes

The Umbrian Cake Trail With Rocking Dog

Sugar Rush!, Rocking Dog

Sugar Rush!

What better way to restart the Rocking Dog blog than a post about cake! We finally returned home from Umbria on Monday evening after a 1,300 mile drive through Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Belgium. The highlight was seeing Lake Como, Lugano and Lucerne by night. It was so reminiscent of an elaborate model railway layout. Truly enchanting.

In between painting No5 throughout, dismantling bunks, building a bed and reconfiguring furniture, there were small windows of opportunity to go in search of cake!

I am always curious about how people create holiday itineraries. There must be those who go in search of rare birds, those who try to select the most idilic poolside for sunbathing, and those who seek out dangerous sports for an adrenalin rush! My itinerary seems to centre around food. Markets, food festivals, local speciality shops all hold tremendous appeal. Even the humble supermarket is always more exciting far away from home. The solitary shop in the village is an Aladdin’s cave of Umbrian goodies. Locally butchered meats, local vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, Umbrian lentils, it became part of my daily routine to walk Real Live Rocking Dog there in the morning. I believe in the philosophy “use it or else lose it”

We found some spectacular cake shops in Assisi (approximately a 1 hour drive from our little place). Meringues, pastries, Pannetore, bombes and gelato it really was a sugar rush! Interestingly, although I love taking photo’s of the sweet treats I much prefer a savoury plate. Italian cheeses and salami’s are my downfall.

On my first day away from UK I realised just how much I missed Marmite. A mean 150ml jar will need to be stashed in my hand luggage when we return to Umbria in the spring.

Locally, there is always Michele’s with an amazing array of full size and amuse bouche sized cakes, desserts and pastries. My favourite has to be the aragosta (lobster tail). It is a shell shaped horn made up of thin layers of light crispy pastry which is filled with a flavoured cream. The original pastry was created in the monastery of Santa Rosa in the province of Salerno in the 17th Century. Later the recipe was acquired by a pastry chef from Naples called Pasquale Pintauro. He started selling these pastries from his shop in 1818. Michele’s aragosta’s contain a delicious rich creme patisserie. Delicious! Interestingly the girls spotted Nick Ross heading into Michele’s, I wonder what his favourite is!

Wednesday’s and Sundays it’s up to Paciano for a coffee and pastry at Lo Scoiattolo (The Squirrel). Sitting in the family kitchen you can eat delicious bread and pastries from the wood fired oven. Fausto makes a divine cappuccino whilst Lia deals with the Italian/German influenced yeasty loveliness. Our first weekend there, a local town was hosting a Saffron festival. In honour of this amazing local flower product, Lia made delicious saffron buns with a dusting of rose petals and cornflowers, much too good for Real Live Rocking Dog! Later in the week some of the Borgo degli Olivi residents went for a baking masterclass with Lia … more about that in a later post.

Now it’s time to go on the straight and narrow after three weeks of bread, cheese, charcuterie, wine and just the odd aragosta here and there!


Window Shopping, Rocking Dog

Window Shopping

Gilded Treats, Rocking Dog

Gilded Treats

Piped Loveliness, Rocking Dog

Piped Loveliness

Michele's Amuse Bouche, Rocking Dog

Michele’s Amuse Bouche

Take Me Home!, Rocking Dog

Take Me Home!

Too Good For RLRD!, Rocking Dog

Too Good For RLRD!

Rocking Dog Resurrects An Ancient Skirt

The 30 Year Old Skirt!, Rocking Dog

The 30 Year Old Skirt!

In pursuit of finding lining material for Christmas stockings on Material Mountain, Rocking Dog came across a long forgotten skirt. Put on my material stash to up-cycle, memories came flooding back of how much i’d loved the skirt when I bought it in 1986! I remember buying it in a dark and rather dingy basement store in Park Street, Bristol. Ever the bargain queen I bought it from a massively reduced sale rail, together with a dress (which awaits its fate on Material Mountain). I can’t remember how much I paid for them. Ever camera shy no photo’s exist of me in the skirt, but I do have a photo of me in the dress enjoying the Italian Lakes with a bonneted 3 month old Sorrel!

British born Wendy Dagworthy had her own design label until 1988 when the recession hit. She went on to be a tutor at Central St Martins and then a Professor at the Royal College of Art until retiring in 2014. Many of her clothes utilised Liberty print and my skirt incorporates Liberty lawn. The printed fabric is loosely gathered to a broad stretchy cotton welt. If I remember correctly my skirt is actually a dress, the welt forming a “boob tube”. However, in my ownership it has always been a long skirt.

So much has happened to me personally in the thirty years since I bought this skirt. Three children, six house moves (including a move from abroad and a house build), numerous jobs (midwife, school nurse, outreach worker, teacher, catering company owner), 1 lovely husband, 1 grumpy dog, becoming an “orphan”, lots of travels and thankfully generally enjoying good health. Over that time I have gathered valuable life experience. I always say that I wish that at 20 something I could have known what I know now. My mantra includes, it’s not the quantity of friends that matters, it’s definitely the quality. Depression is a bitch! It’s knowing that the length of time grieving for someone is not quantifiable, but life invariably becomes sunny again. It’s being able to put things into perspective and working out what really is important. It’s always being open to learn and experience new things, because time, well it simply…… flies!

Back to the skirt, rather than being reconfigured into something else, it has found a place back in my wardrobe again, and i’m rather pleased!

PS A very rare photo once again… the first to appear on the blog since New Year!

Organised Material Mountain, Rocking Dog

Organised Material Mountain

1980's Label, Rocking Dog

1980’s Label