Clandestine

A day at the bakery

The morning was crispy and fragrant, like fresh bread, when I headed to one of the oldest bakeries in town in order to learn the secrets behind the Italian essential for excellence: il pane. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

5:30 a.m. A ray of light touches Piazza Del Pantheon and, as the breeze caresses my, brrrrrr!!!, too summary outfit (there’s still quite a temperature shift from night to day) giving me the shivers, I realized, once again, that Rome in the morning holds the most dazzling of secrets: it looks like it’s been built a moment ago, for your eyes only. Oh my, what a bliss.

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As I walked by the narrow roads, the Roman cobblestones, i sanpietrini, leaded me to the most sumptuous tiny squares, as greeting as a lively living room. I went through the Ponte Sisto and found myself in the bohemian Trastevere district. Having been an authentic Roman for my entire life, I still find it quite hilarious to get lost in the melting pot of side streets to the point that, after my first coffee and with my head clear enough, or so I thought, I still couldn’t’ quite find my way to the oldest baker in town, turning flour into bread with lievito madre (sourdough), which makes it fluffy and lasting for over a week.

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But then Gina appeared: imagine a lady dressed in black, all frowned and focused while peeling potatoes, who told me, unflappable: “You obviously got lost my dear, it’s the most wonderful thing I can tell you”, which only added to my feeling of inadequacy in front of Rome, a city where one always feels either too big or too small.

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Abandoning myself to that overindulging feeling, I finally found my way through the most iconic of senses: smell.

Dusty, floury, and oily, bread is usually to be found in every Italian table, a synonymous of hospitality and prosperity. Back in the old days the well to do families would consume nothing but white bread, as a symbol of their accomplished wealth, whereas the brown bread would be left for the agricultural working class.

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The head baker Giampiero is an institution at one of the very few last bakeries in town. He and the boys treated me like an equal for the entire shift, and that included handling packages of 25 Kg. flour and bite the pizza dough to make it flawless and crusty. I felt as happy as ever when I finally got my hands on my first filone (Roman style loaf of bread) ever, even though I burnt a finger in the process, since it was too irresistible and I simply couldn't resist. But that's part of the game, I guess.

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I brought a bunch of bread loaves on my basket, they look like a well decorated bouquet of flowers. I jumped on my bike, thinking about the millions sauces that will accompany it for brunch tomorrow. Let the weekend begin.

With bread and tulips,

Eleonora

Scenes from a Japanese tea ceremony

Amongst the things that remind me of what a great deal of life is dedicated to celebration is the Japanese Tea Ceremony, also known as The Way of Tea,  which tradition has endured for over 1200 years. No wonder why the #foodhappiness transmitted during my cooking workshops rings a bell to many.

In Paris, I took part in this Japanese cultural activity which revolves around both the preparation and presentation of matcha (powdered green tea). It's such a solemn performance that the art of its ceremony can be studied in universities and colleges all over Japan.

The tea gathering I literally bumped into, took place in a marvellous shop located in the Rue de Seine and wholly dedicated to this sublime art, Jugetsudo. Jugetsudo means “the place from where one looks at the moon.” At the time it was established, in the 1854, its founder Maruyama Nori had in mind this sentiment towards nature so particular to the Japanese heart of deeply savoring the existence and the passing of the seasons. From ancient times, the Japanese have been attuned to the worship of nature, knowing how to savor its beauty, as for example, the view of the moon rising in the sky and glowing onto the mountain slope, reflecting in the water. While contemplating this backdrop, they would write poems and have tea, and present offerings to the full moon at harvest time.

With love and matcha,

Eleonora

Mesmerizing Food Ideas

For those of you who know my food style, I get loads of inspiration from worldwide homefood. Research can be endless, and it can get you to peaks of gourmet paradise as well as unrequired, indigestive hell. Then there's purgatory, or better, Le Purgatoire, a parisian space where delightful homefood meets design in the form of temporary art exhibitions. A private dining room sitting up to 16 people and cooking classes on the go for the fresh produce seekers. The atmosphere is upscale bobo (bourgeois bohémien) and the space captivating. But the most exciting item of all is Alain Cirelli's creation, le crayon du Purgatoire (Purgatory's pencil): this pencil, created by adding water and agar-agar, can be sharpened directly on the dish, driving it to new tasty dimensions.  We'll always have Paris gets to the next level. crayons-condiment-purgatoire-alain-cirelli-2-700x364

When taste is not (only) about food in the plate. This is what the online magazine Fine Dining Lovers is about. And what could the main covered subject be today? But of course, The World's 50 Best Restaurants evening, which was held last night in London and minutely detailed on all social networks, with René Redzepi's pride and joy winning, that is Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, a place I would love to discover later on in the year.

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I'm always amazed at those who take it as a life mission to improve the food system. That's what Philip Lymbery has done with the now best-selling book about the true cost of cheap meat, Farmageddon. The organization behind this epiphany is the UK based CIWF (Compassion in world farming) that won battles to ensure animal welfare is protected by law, influencing change in the way animals reared for food are perceived by consumers and food suppliers; they are being joined by leading voices from the environmental, humanitarian and scientific communities to challenge intensive, industrialised farming. Definitely worth having a look at.

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Turning food photography into images of a sexual nature is hardly the most original thing in the world, but turning it into a fetish certainly is. Don't you get shivers by looking at this? I do!

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Check out the rest of Doherty’s incredible portfolio of work and editorial photos for the New York Magazine over on his website.

Be inspired!

Yours,

Eleonora

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #8

Once upon a time I was grocery shopping on a vintage Vespa. As I jumped on it, I realized that the colours and smells of this incredible city that is Rome were way more vivid. I could touch the walls as I escaped a tiny street to get into the wonders of yet another square glorified by historical monuments. Rome is truly an open-air museum. So I decided to tell you about the flawless feeling of flying through it. Ladies and gentlemen, here is a #romanity tribute to our favourite Roman means of transports, and madness. vespa8

First, there was the bicycle. Coloured in pale green, blue or red, originally it had no speeds, so it was a courageous and awesome act to climb on the seven hills of Rome on one of those. I am always amazed at the wonderful baskets, that I love to fill with groceries, and the magnificent flowers that go with them. Those means of transport, as simple as they may be, become sumptuous when laying by the side of a Roman column. And the poetry begins. Buy or rent it at Collalti (they will also fix it for you at any given time), either way you'll look terrific!

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Then came the Vespa. 500 Special. Oh If that's something.

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Often found side by side, these two means of transports are the epytome of #romanity. They make a significant part of the charm within the city.

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Running through the city on one of those helps reviving those images of daily life that would go otherwise unnoticed. Try the Trastevere neighbourhood on one of them on a peaceful early afternoon, then tell me your daydreams.

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When I say everyone uses them, I mean it. Priests and monks alike can be seen playing among the urban traffic before reaching the Vatican City, the state within the state of Rome.

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Talking loud in the city is a measure for affection. Enjoy those discussions that stop the traffic of an entire city. On a Vespa special they can sound justifiable.

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But, ehy, there's nothing more fun than strolling around the city with a special 50 that drive your fears (and hairs) away.

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Among solitary roads and spacious angles, a very Italian means of transport is always going to be a safety nest.

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Have a lovely weekend,

Eleonora

Amazing photos, right? Look no further, it's the de-lovely Cucina Digitale

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #7

In a world where opinion leaders /development leaders, even impatient leaders thrive to handle worldly opinions, being a cauliflower leader is as near to #foodhappiness as #romanity can lead me to. That's the state of the art, for me at least. Do you get the message?cauli1

And so, I often find myself giggling through the eternal city's narrow streets, in search for the perfect spot to stop by for a well deserved crowd-rescuing moment.

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The best places in Rome to find solitude are the least visited. Look for them outside the beaten-track, just like the arty and sooo ever-green Caffè della Pace, only steps away from Piazza Navona, yet totally inserted in a bohemian and exclusive atmosphere. Don't mind Dolores, the cuckoo lady who stops by , her entertaining stories, fire red lipstick, as well as her decadent allure are part of the whole charm.

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In a city where the past comes as a glorified and refined definition of the eyes who see through it, finding yourself can be as easy as climbing the Roman symbol for excellence: the Colosseum. You might even be taken for one of its inhabitants, if you don't pay attention at details like closing the door before leaving any kind of space. You would otherwise be shouted at: "Ehy, what is it with you? Do you live in the Colosseum?".

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The most inspiring place to reflect and observe the moveable feast of our life (as Hemingway would put it), is the church, any church in Rome really, the city has over 900 of them. Their history define the artistic, religious and intellectual soul of the city. Between many abbeys, 4 papal basilica, the Medieval, the Gothic, the Renaissance or the Baroque styled, the choice is huge, and always a corner away from anywhere in the historical centre of town.

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And as the situation calls for it (in Rome as in life more in general), always stay grounded, but with your eyes up!

Eleonora

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #6

I am not fishing for compliments. fish1

But Romans are, constantly, all the time. The term "coatto" should ring a bell to all of those who seek the company of authentic Roman types. A coatto person is the kind of guy that you would find out at the local bar or square. Naturally restless, impatient at the monotony due to its inactivity, he tends to react with strong emotions and hence has a passion for the sport in general, motorcycles and modified sports cars.

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The typical Roman guy believes the rest of us as apathetic, passive people. Don't mistake his quarrelsome behavior as really rude, in most cases it's just the after-effects of a lust for life. He would wear flashy clothing in contrast with the ordinary fashion. Most of the time you would see him reckless driving and doing hilarious bravado, within the instance of vitality, and a "will to live".

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I am not fishing for compliments, really.

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But I have a sense these fishes do.

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Look at their shining skin, and those magnetic eyes..It's all about the eye really. When purchasing the right fish you should always stick with those carrying a vivacious allure with them. Make the choice of buying fishes which actually swim in our seas, in order to promote local businesses.

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Choose fishese that are not too big in size: the bigger the fish, the greater is the possibility that it contains an accumulation of toxic substances. The only thing you should get toxic about is pristine, utter beauty.

The best days to consume fish in #romanity style are:

- Tuesdays: the fish is at its freshest. Beware of restaurants trying to serve you fish on a Monday in the eternal city, as it would be at least 2 days old. You would be left with a vague stomach-hache that no walk into #romanity could spare you.

- Fridays: Traditionally for the Catholic world, this is the day of Jesus Christ's passion, hence it's a meat-free day. Romans love the combination of codfish & chickpeas. In #foodhappiness we trust.

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Have a lovely weekend,

Eleonora

All pictures here are too good to be true here thanks to the lens of Cucina Digitale

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #4

What If I told you that we could go back in time, exactly between 1957 and 1975, just by walking in the narrow streets of Rome? 500one

It is possible, with the first ever and surprisingly elegant city car of all: the one and only Fiat 500. But that is not all. Think about all those producers that bring you joy: florists, groceries suppliers and "pasticceri" alike, they all use a three wheels minivan, the Ape, to get around the city. And often run in the risk of parking it abusively. But ehy, that's #romanity, too.

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To indulge or not to indulge? That seems to be the question, even though the answer is so frequently: yes, come on, it's only a little pastry. "Pastarelle", as we call it in Rome, are those sweet delights filled with cream and fruits aromas that men bring back home to their wives for Sunday lunch. When it comes to traditions, some are just better kept up, wouldn't you agree?

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Whether in front of the most secluded and splendid fountain,

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or among the ever wonderful, ever green cypresses along the Via Appia Antica,

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Rome lets you find pleasures that allow you to get exclusively at ease with yourself. Finally again. The smell of fresh coffee (taken religiously standing up at the bar),

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accompanied by a doughnut, can make you rethink the concept of doing a u-turn, either it being a spiritual or a practical one. It is true, as they say in Italy, that not all doughnuts come with a hole - not everything can be perfect. As long as there's #foodhappiness. Fashionably so. Thanks to Renato Balestra.

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On a sweet tone, I leave you to make the most of the rest of the week!

Eleonora

All pictures are taken by the extraordinary eye of Cucina Digitale

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #2

Capturing the essence of a place is never an easy task. What lies beyond an image trespasses time, space and all concept of memory we may have. aaaa2

The moment we fall in love with a place is when we finally get a glimpse of ourself.

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What better way to lose ourself in a city than doing so with a beautiful bycicle?

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As springs knocks in, I can't help but bycicling around the city too. All perfectly glorious and glamorous thanks to Cucina Digitale and the wardrobe by Fendi.

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What's your preferred way to go around the city?

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Have a lovely #romanity day!

Love,

Eleonora

All pictures are taken by talented Cucina Digitale

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #1

Rome, Rome, Rome. It's a ringer. What about it? It's decadent, magnetic, multi-faceted, suspended in time. Yes. But that, we all know.

photo credits  © Cucina Digitale

Nothing beats those orange splashed sunsets or the magic rays of lights on those knocking on heaven's door cupolas . How playful to run through its tiny, pizza flavoured streets. Oh boy, the Eternal City is a swinger.

photo credits  © Cucina Digitale

Now, be ready to take all that you think of Rome and turn it upside down in an unprecedented, refreshing way. Because we are going to explore the myriad of its aspects, its allure, its humanity;

Photo credits  © Cucina Digitale

Its spectral angles and controversial lightness of being, its immorality, its immortality;

Photo credits  © Cucina Digitale

Seasonability and sustainability don't overcome its inner and most authentic exuberance. Nor does time alter its unmistakable charm. It's romanity.

Photo credits  © Cucina Digitale

We'll give you the right tools to dream it,  feel it, live it.

That's what true #romanity is all about. Beware of imitations.

Confidential notice: this is a project that will drive you (nuts) directly into the most unusual,captivating, off-the-cuff, tasty Roman scenarios.

You'll be mesmerized. Stay tuned. 

a Romanity sneak peek by @ Cucina Digitale

What is Romanity for you?

Eleonora

Images courtesy of Cucina Digitale

Guess who's coming for dinner

It was one of those stormy weather nights in Rome, when a bunch of girls decided to gather together, strictly in food happiness mood. The whole idea was to get out of that muggy weather, and so the recipes followed.

At first it was herbs & spices scouting, since they are essential to any italian recipe, as twisted as it might be. Aromaticus was of great help, with its wide selection of potted herbs. The girls took on the role of both food investigator and interpreter veeery seriously, in full witch project swing.

Evaporated the tiresome of the city in a glass of good talkative wine (please see the denomination below for more euphemistic reference), we got on with the job, which entailed fish filleting, avocado trimming and mango cube cutting. The outcome was a fresh, delightful summery supper which can be prepared in less than one hour. Must try it to believe it. So, why not giving it a go yourself? It's food happiness time.

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Piquant Prawn Cocktail (4 persons)

Ingredients:

  • 150 gr.  mayonnaise
  • 
1 tbs chilli sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus leaves to serve
  • Salad leaves, shredded
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 
36 raw peeled prawns

We started with the rosé sauce by mixing together mayonnaise, chilli sauce, lemon juice and half the lemon leaves in a small bowl that we then set aside.

We simply divided the salad leaves among the serving dishes, then added small cubes of avocado and the freshest prawns. We finally decorated each dish with dressing and topped it with lemon leaves before serving.

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Risotto Minicakes (4 persons)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 20g butter
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 
1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 1/4 cups arborio rice
  • 
1/2 glass white wine
  • 
4 glasses of vegetable stock
  • 2 tbs of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in cubes
  • 
1 bunch of basil leaves
  • 2 eggs, lightly beate
  • 
140 g mozzarella cheese, cut into 2cm cubes

The whole thing about risotto is that mouthwatering creaminess that comes from simply following the instructions below. First, we heat mix butter and oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. After a couple of minutes add leek and garlic and cook until soft. It will now be the turn of to insert rice. It is essential to keep stirring it for 3 minutes until well blended with leek mix. Next, add the wine and increase heat to high. After 3 minutes wine will fade away, it will then be the turn of the stock to be added to the rice mixture. Depending on the rice instructions, cook it for a total of maximum 14 to 18 minutes. Then add some more butter to cook until creamy!

At the end of the process, add together basil, zucchini and spinach to the rice assortment and whisk well. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 220°C. Grease a 6 x 3/4-cup capacity muffin forms. Half-fill muffin holes with rice mixture. Place a cube of mozzarella on top of each. Cover with remaining rice mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Serve with

Sole with Mango (4 persons)

Ingredients:

  • 2 mangoes, cleaned from skin
  • 4 (800g) sole fillets
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 80 gr. parsley, trimmed

Cut mango into dices and place the mixture into a bowl in the fridge to rest.

Finely slice the lemon. Cut 4 large squares of baking paper. Arrange lemon rounds in the middle of each sheet of paper. Place fish, skin-side down, onto lemon rounds. Spice up with salt and pepper. Wrap the soles firmly in baking paper.

Preheat oven to 220°C. Bake your fish for 10 minutes.

While the fish is cooking, mix together lemon juice, extra virgin oil, sugar, parsley, and salt and pepper in a screw-top jar. Shake well to combine. Pour over the mango sauce. Arrange the  fish on serving plates with the risotto minicakes and just delight yourselves.

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White Chocolate & Rosemary Tartellette (4 persons)

For the almond sugary pastry:

  • 90 g all purpose flour
  • 50 g almond flour
  • 60 g icing sugar
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 room temperature egg

For the white chocolate ganache with rosemary:

  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 120 g of good quality white chocolate
  • 90 vegetable cream
  • 10 g honey

For the tomatoes gelly:

  • 120 g of diced tomatoes
  • 35 g of sugar
  • 1 g of agar agar

The almond sugar pastry is easy to make, by simply creating a fountain with the flour, in the center of which we put the butter (cut into small cubes and not too cold), the sugar and the pinch of salt. Make sure you mix with your fingers until reaching a lumpy consistency, then add the egg and knead with your fingers until well blended. Work the dough with the palm of the hand and wrist (not much though so that it stays light enough). Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for more than an hour (if you keep it for several hours make sure to get it to room temperature before rolling it out).

This easy to do recipe only needs a “night before detail”, simply follow it and it will be a success! The night before leave the rosemary to infuse into the vegetable cream inside the fridge. Upon cooking time, bring the cream to a boil without the rosemary but with the addition of honey, then dissolve in the white chocolate.

In a saucepan, melt the tomatoes with the sugar and bring them to a boil; then add the agar agar to cool and mix with a mixer. Let it cool for a bit. At the time of service blend it again, if it's too thick add a little water.

Line the tart molds with a layer of fine pastry. To obtain a fabulous base, fill the tart molds with legumes, and cook them at 180° for 10 minutes in the oven. Cool the tarts in the freezer for about half an hour. Then get them out of the freezer to pour in the white chocolate ganache, then let them cool in the freezer again for 15 minutes before serving time. Decorate with the gelly tomato sauce and rosemary.

The Clandestine Kitchen, Paris

I was in Paris to hold my very first french oriented  cooking workshop, or atelier as a true born Parisian would rather put it. It's been a full two-days events, with 8 classes lasting each an hour and a half. As I was going through the organization, I was thrilled as much as terrified to have on my list nothing but the purest kind of parisians: the intellectually engaged, art addicted, bistrot goers.Will they hook to my food happiness? As a matter of fact, they did!

The marché de Rue Gros in the 16th arrondissement as well as La Grande Epicerie came in quite handy to get just the quality ingredients I was looking for. I came across the stall of a gentleman called Joël Thiébault which is definitely worth a go, since this man provides Parisian chefs with "la crème de la crème" (the most exclusive) vegetables.

Italian style was indeed priority on the menu, my national flag's three colors ever present in all edible forms. Everything went quite smoothly, with everyone coming fashionably on time. All of the team came equipped with a good quantity of curiosity, enhanced by the practice of some good old fashioned yet revisited Italian traditions. By the end of the workshop, all of the participants have been provided with a pot of original Pesto from Genoua kindly supplied by Francesco Profumo.

I couldn't be doing any of this If it wasn't for the exquisite hospitality of Jean-Edwin, who opened the door of his Haussmanian apartment right by the corner of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to perfect strangers, in order to cheerfully get together, explicitely hands on cooking.

Many thanks to Jamie Cowan for putting his incredible photographic talent at our disposal for the event.