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I can’t believe that I never finished my food memories of Italy.  Last September we were there!  And now we’re almost into June.  Terrible.  I shall try to pick up where I left off and share more of the lovely food we found and ate in Italy.

After our first night in Naples (see Part 1) we made our way by bus to the Amalfi Coast.  The journey by bus along the coastal roads was hair-raising!  Suddenly we went over the top and there was the sea far far below…

Every journey by bus after this I discovered that I had to eat in order not to feel sick as we wound backwards and forwards along the coast – bags of airy cheesy flavoured Wotsit-type crisps were my life saver.

We stayed at an agriturismo called Sant Alfonso in Furore.  It was all the way at the end of a very long road, down which we dragged our luggage in the heat. 

Our room was cool with a stunning view over the coastal hillsides and sea beyond.  Twice a day, every day, we would hear these bells, gently clanging across the valley.  A herd of goats would head up into the hills and back down again at night.  Blissful.

For breakfast there was a generous spread of pastries and cakes.  I always find breakfast in other countries fascinating and unfamiliar.  I always seem to try to make a familiar breakfast out of what there is available, and sometimes it doesn’t quite work! 

Cute heart-shaped sugared buns.

Over the next few days we often had lunch and dinner at Sant Alfonso.  Dinner I must say was unmemorable and often quite heavy going as we felt we should eat four courses every night – a starter, pasta course, main course and dessert!  Phew!  Whether we were supposed to eat all four courses or whether the Italians thought us all very strange for eating so much I shall never know!

The lunches however, under the shade of the terrace with a cool sea breeze were lovely.  Delicious platters of antipasto – salami, ham, mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, grilled artichokes, pasta, melon, bruschetta, and delicious pickled aubergine with olives.

All served with crusty bread.  If only we could eat like this every day.

The farm grew grapes, their vines stretching out along the terraces which were cut into the steep hillside all around.  They also had some friendly goats and a fig tree that dropped sticky ripe fruits everywhere.

We also discovered a number of wild herbs growing naturally.  I think this was thyme sprouting from cracks in a wall…

And wild fennel along the road to the farm – this was used in quite a number of dishes we saw on menus.

And on our first night on the Amalfi Coast, in a quiet corner of the softly lit garden, looking out across the black sea and twinkly lights below, Mr Rigg got down on one knee and asked if I’d marry him.

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As part of celebrating our five years of being together, N and I went to an organic cafe in Altrincham for lunch on Saturday.  I’ve known about this cafe for a while, tried their delicious Victoria Sponge cake at the Trafford Food Festival, even been to the Italian restaurant opposite it a number of times, but I hadn’t ever been to into the cafe itself.  We wanted a simple lunch of sandwiches, but good sandwiches – not dodgy pub sandwiches or any that would leave us wishing we’d made them ourselves at home.  Hullabaloo claims that all its food is homemade using organic and seasonal produce, so it seemed like our best bet – as you can see, the more we cook at home, the more difficult we find it to eat out.

Hullabaloo is set in a pretty little courtyard in Altrincham, and when we arrived we thought it was closed – it looks very dark inside and until you’re up close you can’t tell whether there’s anyone inside, that and the sign in the door read ‘closed’.  It must have just swung the wrong way round, because the cafe was open and there were a couple of people inside enjoying their lunch.

The cafe is one small room, which although has dark tiles floors and a wall of black shelves filled with organic wines and cookery books feels very light inside.  At the back is a counter with a selection of homemade cakes atop it, behind it is a small kitchen where Suzi, the owner, cooks the food.  The menu’s are written on brown paper bags, as are the drinks list. 

N went for a brie, bacon and cranberry open sandwich, and I went for one of the specials – grilled Portebello mushrooms topped with brie, bacon and caramelised onions.  Both we served on soft organic bread, with watercress and mixed salad leaves.  They were in a word – divine.  The brie was room temperature (a delight as so often brie sandwiches use it straight from the fridge), and in my case had oozed slightly from the warmth of the mushrooms.  The bacon was flavoursome and N’s cranberry sauce a deep ruby colour.  Our plates were licked clean.

orange, almond and chocolate bun :: Hullabaloo cafe, Altrincham ::

orange, almond and chocolate bun :: Hullabaloo cafe, Altrincham ::

After we finished our naughty desserts – N chose the homemade frosted carrot cake and I had a moreish orange and almond bun filled with chocolate frosting – we had a lovely chat with Suzi who told us about her monthly seasonal evening meals.  It’s a mystery menu, devised using whatever’s at the seasons best.  It sounds great fun and we are planning to go in the next couple of months.

remains of N's carrot cake :: Hullabaloo cafe, Altrincham ::

remains of N's carrot cake :: Hullabaloo cafe, Altrincham ::

Hullabaloo was a refreshing experiencing for us in the world of eating out.  There’s nothing worse than going out and spending money on food only to come away thinking ‘I could have made this better at home.’  Suzi’s food was thoroughly enjoyable and the perfect way to spend out anniversary lunch.

crumbs

crumbs

N rolled his eyes when I brought out my camera, so there are only a few pictures of my delicious cake – blame the boyfriend.

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Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world – at least, it’s probably my favourite out of all those I have visited.  It is somewhere that I would happily go back to over and over again.  I don’t really enjoy spending time in cities, having lived most of my life in the countryside I find them very claustrophobic, but Barcelona is different.  It has an underlying calmness that runs through it streets, despite the hustle and bustle of city life.  I would recommend it to anyone.

Peaceful park :: Barcelona ::

It has a fantastically rich food landscape, with beautiful cafes, tapas bars, patisseries and markets on every street.  There are small bakeries selling baguettes, simply filled with a smear of fresh tomato and Serrano ham, ideal for the weary tourist.  There are so many tapas bars to choose from that it’s hard to recommend one.  We found one we liked in the Barri Gothic area and went back more than once – it was nice to go in the second time and for the waitress to recognise us.  One of my favourite dishes were garlicky haricot beans. 

selection of tapas :: Barcelona ::

There are stalls at ‘La Boqueria’ market with tables piled high with exotic magenta pink fruits with a cluster of black seeds, halved and sold with a spoon for a healthy snack on the move. 

Fruit stall :: La Merchat Boqueria, Barcelona ::

Then there is the Christian Escriba Pastisseria on La Rambla. 

Christian Escriba Pastisseria :: La Rambla, Barcelona ::

 It is a stunning (much of Barcelona is stunning) small bakery – described on their website as a cake shop (www.escriba.es) – which has a small cafe, and tempting displays of pastries, cakes, chocolates, tarts, and other tasty things. 

chocolate display :: Christian Escriba Pastisseria, Barcelona ::

Last time we visited we had brekfast here everyday. 

Pastries and Spanish hot chocolate :: Christian Escriba Pastisseria ::

Should I ever live in Barcelona, my life would be happy but somewhat short lived if I breakfasted here everyday.

*I am going to try making my own Spanish style hot chocolate – I will post a recipe once it has been tried and tested!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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