The end of the summer and the start of Autumn. The best time of year for fresh produce. September in Italy has been fairly mixed weather-wise – which is good, as a bit of rain encourages the fungi. The market stalls here have lovely displays of porcini (Boletus edulis, also knowns as ceps. Though I like the traditional British name: penny bun. As, you know, they look like little buns) and galletti (Cantharellus cibarius, chanterelles).
Both of which are lovely with pasta. I’ve cooked with porcini for years, but in Britain we more typically just get the dried ones. It’s not that penny buns don’t grow in the UK, it’s just that we’re a bit crap at taking advantage of our wild fungi varieties. When I asked the girl on our fruit and veg stall about how best to cook these mushrooms, she basically just shrugged amiably and said “aglio, olio e prezzemolo”: garlic, olive oil and parsley. Your classic, basic Italian flavourings. If in doubt, aglio, olio…
So here are the constituent parts of lunch the other day, with fresh fettucine from another stall on the market.
The same day, we managed to work out how to watch The Great British Bake-off on iPlayer. Yay. In the episode we watched they were making doughnuts (or donuts). Which, inevitably, set off a craving. Your standard British jam-filled doughnut is something I’ve never seen in Rome. Which is fine and dandy – I wouldn’t expect or need to see it here. Instead, some local goodies hit the spot. Specifically some frittatine di mele, “little fried things with apple”, like mini apple doughnuts, purchased from Pasticceria Nonna Nani. This is a pasticceria that opened earlier this year, and is owned by the same people as Da Simone, an excellent pizza a taglio (pizza by the slice) place across the street. The street in question being Via Giacinto Carini in Monteverde Vecchio. The nonna (grandmother) in question, Nani, being conspicuous by her absence.