All the things we love

December 19, 2014

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My husband is a unique man. At least that’s what we’re told, I don’t really know any different and he obviously doesn’t. Ben just is who he is, and who he is is someone who wants to spend their thirtieth birthday cooking with our friend, Rosa, and her Sicilian-born mother.

Rosa runs cooking demonstrations, you see, which Ben adores attending. And he has long expressed a desire for a private session so I arranged just that, with the help of lovely, generous Rosa. On the morning of Ben’s birthday we arrived at Rosa’s parents’ home where we were greeted with hugs, espresso and aprons. Here are some photographs from that day, some of which were taken by Rosa and my mum, who joined us for lunch.

Rosa and her mother, Pina, taught us how to prepare beloved family dishes and shared the stories behind these recipes, as well as tales from when Pina first arrived in Australia in the 1950s. This narration, through a Sicilian-accent, gave the food a context and depth that was very special and touching. With each cooking step and taste of sugo (which we sampled from tea cups!), our appetites were further encouraged, and by the time we sat down to our meal inspired by the land of citrus, swordfish, tomatoes and olive oil we could hardly contain our excitement.

To start we ate pasta alla norma, followed by chicken pizzaiola and then our favourite sfinci doughnuts. It was perfect because it was love. For Rosa’s family and ours, food and the act of eating with loved ones is an expression and celebration of love. This is a language we all understand. If you’d like to learn how to make these recipes yourself be sure to attend one of Rosa’s cooking demonstrations (read my posts here and here). It’s a lovely thing to do with friends, but also as a treat for yourself #treatyoself.

Ben and I spent some time foraging in Rosa’s parents’ garden, marvelling at the variety of plum trees and an old wine press, and laughing with the prickly pears. Have you tried prickly pear fruit before? The red one is the best, Rosa said, and as kids her siblings would all fight over who got to eat the coveted fruit. Throughout the day Ben would pause, look around and say to me, “this is the type of home I want to have. One day we’ll have land like this…”

I know we will, sweets. We’ll make sugo the way Pina did on your birthday and we’ll add the baking powder to the batter for the sfinci, the way Rosa reminded us, and we’ll keep living and loving the way they do, generously.

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us 2


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ben doughnuts sfinci

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pina, ben & heidi 2

Thank you, Pina and Rosa, for the most lovely day. We feel blessed to call you friends xo

Rosa’s Table Culinary Tour of Sicily

Get ready, friends, because Rosa is taking bookings for her next tour of Sicily! This culinary tour goes for ten days, leaving in May 2015, and there are still spots left (though Rosa keeps the numbers intimate). Because Rosa is my friend, I know with delicious certainty how glorious her tours are. For years, Rosa has shared her passion for food and Sicily with me (encouraging my own Sicilian adventures too), and there is nothing more she wants to do than show you her Sicily. Over the ten days you’ll travel around Sicily from coast to coast, visiting the villages where her family come from, touring markets and food producers, dining with The Duchess in Palermo and tasting, feasting, learning and laughing. You’ll see our beloved Ortigia, Ferla and Scopello, and discover how to live and eat like a Sicilian. We love Sicily, Rosa loves Sicily and I know you will too.

Check out the brochure below, as well as Rosa’s website (link) and send her an email if you want more information.


And just for fun, some videos of Ben and I cooking the chicken pizzaiola and eggplant for pasta alla norma.

Heidi xo


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  • Cilla December 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    That post is beautiful. I love the photos of you and Ben. xxx

    • Heidi January 1, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks, Cilla x

  • laurasmess December 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Ah, Aaron and I have the same dreams, except his include building the actual house that we live in (being a bricklayer in his former life. I’ve agreed to being his skinny-assed mud monkey aka labourer aka cup-of-tea bringing wife). We want to have chickens and a cow, perhaps some goats rambling over the landscape, olive trees and a huge vegetable garden, vines for making our own wine… sigh. One day. I love that you and Ben got to experience this beautiful cooking journey together. Rosa and her passion for life seem beautifully infectious – ah, how I wish I could go to Sicily in the near future! Still saving in the aftermath of our massive trip. And cooking. And appreciating the little things.
    Beautiful post as always – and an awesome start to Ben’s 30th year xxx

    • Heidi January 1, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Oh I so hear you, lovely. Your house sounds like bliss. One day soon, I am sure of it. And in the mean time, the little things x

  • Hannah December 19, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Now when you pick a pawpaw / Or a prickly pear /And you prick a raw paw /Next time beware! / Don’t pick the prickly pear by the paw / When you pick a pear / Try to use the claw / But you don’t need to use the claw /When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw / Have I given you a clue?

    Happy birthday again to the wonderful Ben. You really will have land like this, I know it in my bones too. It will be a dream, but real.

    • Heidi January 1, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Thank you, sweet x

  • Millie | Add A Little December 20, 2014 at 1:53 am

    This looks wonderful – I adore pasta alla norma! The photo of you and Ben just warms my heart too! 🙂

    • Heidi January 1, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Thanks, lovely. Pasta alla norma is the bomb x

  • Lulu December 20, 2014 at 7:02 am

    This post is so lovely. Those pictures of you two – framers! And the one’s in front of those gorgeous flowers, divine! What a special way to spend a birthday. Anything that includes pasta alla norma is always a fine day indeed, anyhow! 🙂

    • Heidi January 1, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Amen! Thanks, Lulu x

  • Rosa Malignaggi December 22, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Thank you our dear friends for including us in your birthday celebrations! Mi casa e’ su casa! Our home is your home, you are both always welcome to come and share a feast with mum and my family too. Thank you Heidi for writing so beautifully about my beloved Sicily. Buon Natale! Rosa xx

    • Heidi January 1, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Ahhh Rosa. You’re an angel x

  • Mardi December 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    What a lovely way to spend a birthday! Hope Ben had a great day 🙂

    • Heidi January 1, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks, lovely, he really did x