Saturday, 30 April 2011

A day in Campania, King Prawns and Grappa

Bari seemed a lifetime away, as we stopped outside our house in Campania. As we got out of the car a cold wind greeted us to let us know that we were right on top of a mountain. Gone were the hot sun, the short nights filled with the scent of jasmin and sea and the sound of cars, in the distance, and of dogs barking. Here, Spring had not quite arrived, yet. In Bari, people were swimming in the sea and eating cold water melon!

We had so enjoyed the heat of Bari, the feeling of the sun almost burning your skin, the turquoise sky and the friendly people. Most of all, I missed being with people who know and love me. My family...

Our place in Campania felt cold and damp, but the view, like a woman dressed in black velvet, was as breath taking as ever. Capri looked  more beautiful than ever covered in grey and the clouds in the sky were so dramatic, they reminded me of the frescos which once used to adorn the ceilings of our churches.

Dramatic clouds in Campania

It was cold and the sky was grey, but... how could I fail to see the abundance of beauty, the effort Spring was putting into preparing the ground for its return, there in Campania? The grapevines were just beginning to shoot. Beautiful, jade coloured translucent young leaves decorated the thin, almost straggly branches. Artichokes, as pretty as ballerinas in their tutus, had made an appearance to say "Ciao."

The grapevines were just beginning to shoot

Some of the neighbours had broad beans and lettuce growing in their gardens and the big black and white cat was fatter than ever, and looked beautiful, sat as it was, on an old bench, a pot of orange blossom behind it, whilst Audrey, the slim cat, was singing a love song. Maybe, when we go back she will have kittens! I stopped to look at some olive wood, ready for somebody's fire. A beautiful pile of wood...

Our old neighbour grows lettuce and broad beans in his garden
Broad beans

The black and white cat

A pile of olive tree wood ready for the fire

I made my way down the steep slope, hoping Teresa would see me. But she didn't come out. "I would so love to see her chickens!" I thought. But she wasn't in. I walked to one of the places where I pick wild rosemary, on the side of the mountain. It's so beautiful there... You feel like you are on top of the world!

I couldn't help missing my sun, though, and the heat, the friendly people and those who love me and I felt a bit lonely. Suddenly a ray of sunshine appeared. As I reached our place, I noticed the olive tree branches and leaves reflected on the white table, then the sea, and the boats... a good day for cooking something to remind me of my Adriatic, I thought. So I did...

Gamberoni affogati
(King Prawns in Grappa)

Serves 2

12 fresh King Prawns, shells on
Three or four big glugs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli pepper, sliced
1 stem fresh rosemary
dried rosemary to taste
1 small glass of Grappa or Vodka
Salt and pepper
A handful of fresh parsley

This is really quick, easy, but... delicious!
Before you start, make sure you have prepared all your ingredients, as this dish needs to be prepared really fast or it might burn.

Prepare your ingredients before you start

To begin with, heat the oil in a pan or a wok, until really hot. Add the garlic and the chillies. Stir until the garlic turns a lovely golden colour, then add the prawns. Stir and cook on a high heat for a minute or so.

Next, add the rosemary, taking care not to burn it. I like to use one or two little whole stems of the herb, as I love it so much! Now... very carefully add the Grappa (like I said, you can use Vodka, if you like. I only used Grappa as I really don't like drinking the stuff and use it for cooking. It really doesn't taste nice, as a drink!) then wait till it evaporates, leaving behind a delicious tasting little sauce (good for dipping bread into!)

I use Grappa just for cooking (sorry!)

 Serve your prawns with a garnish of fresh parsley, some crusty bread, maybe a salad and some ice cold white wine. As you can see, we enjoyed our prawns with a glass or two of Castelli Romani (delicious dry white wine from Rome)

My finished dish on a table, outside

1 comment:

  1. I love the last shot...beautiful like the place.