Springtime in Italy

Back from my holiday and so much to sort out!

I always come back loaded with food, particularly cheese, Parmesan and Montasio (my local fresh cheese) which I usually freeze. I always bring back farro (Italian spelt) and dried borlotti beans for my soups and always fresh radicchio from my dad’s field which will last me at least a week in the fridge (so I can munch away and still feel like I am on holiday!).

When I arrived in Italy it was lovely to see that my mum’s lemon trees on the balcony had several lemons on them. They seemed to be smiling in the sunshine!

lemons

There were also a few vases of aromatic herbs ready to use.. infact I made the most of them whilst I was there as I did lots of cooking.

I love the fact that I can cook whilst I am in Italy too as the ingredients are different. The season is about 2 months ahead than the UK so at this time of year there are more fruit and veg available.

aromatic plants

I went out in the countryside and I took photographs. I am learning about photography at the moment so it was a good place to practice and learn as the lighting is so good at this time of year and the warm sunny spring days allow you to be outdoors for longer.

water fountain

lemon tree

Dandelion flowers are everywhere now with the yellow colour so dominant at this time of year in most fields!

dandelion flowers

dandelion flowers

And of course lots of daisies everywhere too!

daisies

violet flowers

pink flowers

We ate lots of artichokes which are now at the end of the season. My children like to suckle the leaves until the reach their tender heart. It is like a game to them!
Have a look at my recipe for whole Roman artichokes cooked in a pan and a tutorial on how to clean them.

artichokes

If you like to add them to pasta, meat of fish it is best to clean them and remove the outer leaves first and then cook only the heart.

cleaning artichokes

Asparagus are coming into season now and we had them almost every day in risottos, pasta or just steamed with olive oil and lemon. White asparagus are very common in Northern Italy. They are creamier and more delicate than green asparagus.

asparagus

Strawberries are coming into season too. Check out my strawberry soft light cake which I made there.

strawberries

Over Easter we had the classic Italian Colomba cake, soft and perfumed with vanilla, orange zest and almonds.

Italian Easter colomba cake

And plenty of fresh eggs from a nearby farm.

eggs

Some of them we coloured by boiling them with onion skins.

coloured eggs

The children enjoyed playing the old game of lining the eggs on the wall, throwing a coin and trying to pierce them with it.. and that was not easy! I used to play this as a child too.

piercing eggs

And finally it was my birthday and I celebrated with an artisan freshly made ice cream cake, decorated with soft meringue and fresh fruit…delicious!

My birthday cake

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18 Responses to Springtime in Italy

  1. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    I don’t blame you for coming back with loads of food. I would need an extra suitcase for everything I wanted to bring back haha.

  2. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    Happy Birthday, Alida!! That’s a gorgeous cake…exactly what I would love for my birthday :-))
    Happy Spring!
    p.s LOVE your new profile photo…
    Angie

    • Alida

      Thank you Angie!

  3. Susana

    Happy belated birthday alida!

    • Alida

      Thank you Susana!

  4. Marjana

    Very beautiful pictures reminding me of my country Slovenia. I am going to visit Milano, Bologna, Padua and Verona. I intend to buy farro and radiatori ( my favourite pasta) to bring with me to Japan. What would you recommend me to buy in Bologna? Would you recommend any cheese that would be ok in the suitcase for about 30 hours in May?
    I would be very thankful receiving any recommendation.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Alida

      Hard cheese usually lasts very well. Every region has its own speciality cheese. Ideally it should be vacuum packed, you can ask the shops to do that for you although often, especially in supermarkets you can find them already vacuumed packed.
      Parmesan or grana padano cheese will travel very well.
      I like radiatori pasta too! In Bologna you will find so many different types of pasta (tortellini are the best speciality there and you can buy them dried too).
      Enjoy your holiday!

  5. la cucina di Molly

    Che belle foto, sei brava a fotografare, complimenti! Bellissima la torta del tuo compleanno, ti rinnovo gli auguri cara! Buona serata, baci!

    • Alida

      Grazie cara Vanna!

  6. Chiara

    buon compleanno Alida ! Le tue splendide foto hanno portato la primavera ! un abbraccio

    • Alida

      Grazie Chiara!

  7. Dottie Sauchelli Balin

    Dear Alida,
    Ciao, I must say to you Happy Birthday dear friend! I do hope that you had a wonderful day filled with your family and lots of love…Now your post is awesome. Your description of everything is so amazing, I feel like I am right there with you in Italy. You really have a talent for photography and the photos of the flowers are brilliant! The artichokes are a favorite among my family. We love them anyway we prepare them. (especially stuffed) I love asparagus and the strawberries look so sweet. I was very impressed with the eggs. They are such a dark color especially when you boil them with the onion skins. The ice cream cake is a favorite..and so beautifully made. Thank you for sharing your family vacation time….enjoy!
    Hugs and love πŸ™‚ Dottie xx

    • Alida

      You are are a sweetie with all your nice comments Dottie. Thank you for all your nice words and I hope your mum is feeling better. xxx

  8. Elisabetta

    What a lovely post Alida. Love reading about your holidays in il bel paese. Your photos are awesome too. I get rather frustrated (to put it mildly!) when I’m in Italy as I want to bring home all the food I can’t get here. Some of it does go into my suitcase though. The only thing that deters me is the luggage weight! πŸ™‚ xx

    • Alida

      I know what you mean Elisabetta.
      All my suitcases have wheels now so it gets easier to take heavier stuff. I could not be without my parmiggiano which costs a fortune abroad. When my children were small I used to buy more stuff like organic baby pasta, special cereals I used to buy at a farm for their breakfast and good quality olive oil (you know Italians often keep the best olive oil for babies!).
      The good thing is that these days at least there is more and more Italian food available outside of Italy or online. We just need to make sure that it is made in Italy as you can often find fakes, especially in parmiggiano and prosciutto.

  9. uno spicchio di melone

    Che bello foto Alida, mi piacciono i colori e la positivitΓ  che trasmetti! Bravissima!
    unospicchiodimelone!

    • Alida

      Grazie cara buona giornata!

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