All the things we love
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.
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.