Trattoria Vino e Cibo

This little hidden Trattoria and the meal we had there, wasn’t just a highlight of our recent trip to Italy, it was the best fish place I ever visited so far. Had we not been taken there by our dear friends we wouldn’t even have found it, let alone tried it. But we were so glad we visited this place, because here is where we had our best food moments.

Trattoria Vino e Cibo turns out to be a delightful tiny restaurant (very few seats) where you can taste the real cuisine of the Marche. The décor of this place is nothing out of the ordinary, even a bit tired. But don’t go there for the interior, go for the cooking and great wine!

The menu is unique and varies day to day. It all depends on what is caught at the nearby harbour. There’s no table top food menu, instead the owner comes over to the table with an A frame board, where you get to read the days creations. (Talk about locally sourced produce and reducing your carbon footprint! Seems they’re doing it right in Italy, you catch what you catch and eat what you catch. They’re not trying to meet quotas for supermarkets)! Ambiance is very cozy and the service is splendid and friendly.

We also had a local white wine, which we all loved, completely different from anything we’d ever tasted, so many different layered flavours. Often wines we buy in the UK will make me sneeze, like an allergic reaction, maybe because of certain sulphites or preservatives. This Italian wine, nothing!

We trusted our Friend who is local to this area with the food choice and everything he choose was amazing.

Pane e scombro

Pane e scombro

Tartar de Tonno

Tartar de Tonno

Cannocchie limone e rosmarino

Cannocchie limone e rosmarino

Seppioline ripiene al forno

Seppioline ripiene al forno

Rombo al forno con pendolini, olive e basilico

Rombo al forno con pendolini, olive e basilico

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Trattoria Vino e Cibo

Via Fagnani, 16

Senigallia, Italy

Beef & Prune Stew

I guess what makes grey and cold Autumnal days more bearable is the delicious comfort food. I love this stew and I’m going to add it into my ‘Absolute Favourites’ list, – so simple and so flavoursome.

Beef and Prune Stew

BEEF & PRUNE STEW

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

250 g stewing beef, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons plain flour

200 g stoned prunes, roughly chopped

4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Method:

  1. Put the butter and oil in a large saucepan.
  2. When the butter is melted, put the onion, cook it until translucent, add ground cumin, cook for few more minutes.
  3. Coat the beef in a flour, season with salt and pepper, add the beef to the casserole dish and stir well to mix with onion.
  4. Cover the meat with a few cups of water, the water should be just over halfway up the meat. Bring to the boil and then lower to a gentle simmer.
  5. Add half the prunes and cook for 1-1/2 hours until the meat becomes tender and juicy.
  6. Keep the pot mostly covered during this time — the only time I lift the cover is for a few seconds if the heat builds too much and it starts to boil. You need to keep this dish at a very low simmer.
  7. Add remaining prunes along with the salt and pepper.
  8. Simmer for another 30 minutes or until the meat is tender and the liquid has thickened and reduced.
  9. Serve with fresh parsley and dollop of sour cream, if desired, and with crushed potatoes.

Beef and Prune Stew with crushed potatoes

Monastero di Fonte Avellana

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We’ve just come back after short but lovely break to Italy. Without mentioning the food, one of the highlights for us was a trip to Monastero di Fonte Avellana, a  Roman Catholic hermitage in Marche region. It is truly a peaceful place with a few well preserved buildings and the natural surroundings are beautiful and tranquil.

The location is a bit remote and, I have to say, driving on the road up to the monastery was a bit adventurous and not very enjoyable. Both my sister and I felt a bit ‘fragile’ after reaching the top, however, soon after we were rewarded with the most stunning views, spectacular surroundings and authentic hospitality.

Apparently, you can stay there over night on a sort of B&B basis, but some people (like us) are coming here for hiking in the mountains, especially this time of year it is absolutely beautiful.  The only regret we had is that we could not stay longer.

I loved the harmony and peace of Fonte Avellana and thought that we must come back to explore more hiking trails in the area, breath the clean mountain air and listen to the silence.

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Mark’s highlights included catching multiple Italian grasshoppers, a lesser seen green spider, and a very speedy lizard.

Before leaving we visited the store where you can buy different goods produced by monks whom live there, including herbal teas, bitters, sweets, creams, soap, and for more adventurous their honey liquor, which  has 90 percentage of alcohol!

We tried this bright yellow ‘paint stripper’ on our last night after a proper Italian meat feast. If you like Pernod Anise, maybe you’d like this. Very fragrant, very yellow and very very strong. The best way to kill off any seasonal cold germs!!!

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Baked Apples with Walnuts and Ginger Biscuits

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Summer is over (although I do enjoy the continued good weather, which it is at the moment), I’ve been busy lately and completely neglected my blog. I’ve been cooking a lot and collecting recipes to share, but some of them are not relevant anymore,(think strawberries, and I do try to be as ‘seasonal’ as I can). Also my mind is already set on Autumn, so I’m going to forget, well I mean to file some of my summer recipes till later and jump straight into the Autumn audition..

One of the things I absolutely love about this time of year,  is the APPLES! I love them as they are and I love anything with apples.

Here is one of the simplest ways to enjoy apples. Baked apples are so easy to prepare, but my filling makes them more exciting.

BAKED APPLES WITH WALNUTS AND GINGER BISCUITS

Ingredients:

4 good-sized eating apples

25 g butter

50 g brown sugar

2 handfuls chopped walnuts

3-4 ginger snap biscuits

zest of one orange

Plus: Cream or custard to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C.
  2. Use an apple corer or a small knife to remove the cores from your apples.
  3. Place the apples in a slightly buttered baking dish.
  4. Crush the biscuits, using the rolling pin until the mixture resembles wet sand, add butter, brown sugar, chopped walnuts and orange zest, mix until everything is incorporated.
  5. Stuff this mixture into the hole in each apple (where you removed the core) and rub the outside of each fruit with some of the leftover mixture.
  6. Place in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden and soft.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down for about 5 minutes before serving.
  8. Serve it meanwhile still warm with custard or cream, also spoon over the lovely caramelised juices from the pan!

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