Tag Archives: Michele’s Castliglione Del Lago

Soundtrack Of A Holiday

Brando Lives On! Florence,Rocking Dog

Brando Lives On! Florence

Having just arrived back from Umbria I still haven’t been able to rid myself of the soundtrack of the holiday! Do you find that there is always a tune that is playing whenever you jiggle radio stations, or step into bars or cafes? Often these songs are slightly annoying or indeed very annoying. In years to come you hear the tune again and it immediately transports you back to the holiday destination where you couldn’t help humming or singing it at full pelt. Our soundtrack this autumn in Umbria was somewhat embarrassedly Bruno Mars’s “Versace on the Floor”! Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” takes me to my teenage French exchange trip and to a cafe with a juke box. Newquay, “I’m In Mood For Dancing” by the Nolans, and my first holiday with Andyman in Umbria (1981) Barclay James Harvest’s album “Eyes of the Universe”. There were holidays with The Proclaimers “Lord, I Want To Be a Christian”, All Saints with “Never Ever” and The Bangles “Eternal Flame”etc.. I expect it will be a few days before I lose Versace from my head. Very hopefully I won’t lose the memory of our girls dancing around the Umbrian kitchen with baby Doug’in arms!

We found our Umbrian garden incredibly parched and somewhat resembling Little House on the Prairie. We have been reassured that our “grass” will somehow green up again. The poor Italians have had a scorchingly hot year and it has had a devastating effect on the crops. Vines hung heavy with fruit which I photographed last year tell a very different story this autumn. It has been difficult for the locals to irrigate crops and many wells have completely dried up. In our garden we are lucky to have some olives to pick when the start of November comes. There was leaf clearing to do and a pomegranate and fig tree to plant. Thankfully heavy rains came on our last day and watered those tender new trees. Alas with all the botanical tidying there was no hammock swinging, no sitting in my oak leaved reading nook and no star gazing. One day!

Wonderfully there were little toes in the pool, an inflatable avocado, some luxuriating, and serious lengths done in the cool of the pool.

There were vintage linens to launder and dry in the sun, a chimney to chat about for the woodburning stove, and lovely food to eat both at home and away.

Liv’ and I ventured to Florence and we all loved the lake (Trasimeno) especially the bonfire set up for a wedding. There were delicious custard filled Aragosta’s (lobster claws) to eat, thank you Michele, and refreshing Aperol Spritz’s to drink at Bar Gallo in Panicale. There is the small matter now of working off all that delicious Vongole and Scampi Gnocchi eaten at da Massimo’s! Why is Umbrian food just SO delicious?!

It really is lovely to be back to the green of England in September, with fresh inspiration for new projects.

Have a great week Rocking Dog x

PS Happy 30th Birthday to our boy Alex’. Have a wonderful time celebrating in France. At least there is no embarrassing cake today Alex! In a year gone by (16 years ago) I was seriously inspired by a trip to Amsterdam, in particular a visit to De Taart Van M’n Tante (My Aunt’s Tart). Many of their cakes were bold and risque. What possessed me to think it was appropriate to send a boxed cake with Alex on a geography school trip which was topped by a rubber gimp doll?! Sorry Alex.

Apartment In The Sky,Rocking Dog

Apartment In The Sky

Tiny Toes,Rocking Dog

Tiny Toes

On Dry Land,Rocking Dog

On Dry Land

Vintage Laundry,Rocking Dog

Vintage Laundry

There Will Be Oil!,Rocking Dog

There Will Be Oil!

Chimney Chat,Rocking Dog

Chimney Chat

Down At The Lake,Rocking Dog

Down At The Lake

Cake Break,Rocking Dog

Cake Break

Planting For The Future,Rocking Dog

Planting For The Future

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!