My Search for Authentic Flavours: Cherry Tomato Linguine

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes food to taste authentic. I love picking up recipes for food from books, magazine and most usually now Pinterest and tweaking them until they’re perfect. In fact one of Gary’s favourite meals, sausage casserole, is one I’ve been perfecting over the last decade.

On our recent trip to Rome, the very first meal I ate was a tomato and basil spaghetti. Nice and simple with fresh ingredients and pasta cooked al dente and just right. It was delicious, but the thing that struck me the most was how much it tasted like something I already cook.

I picked the recipe for cherry tomato linguine up off Pinterest, and the main reason I wanted to try it was that it’s a one pan recipe so I knew it would be pretty simple to make. I’ve made it a handful of times, and always enjoyed eating it, but was left with an acrid after taste every time – which I had put down to the use of garlic in the recipe.

So whilst eating this gorgeous plate of spaghetti in the little authentic recipe down a Roman side street, I thought hard about the flavours and decided I was going to make my linguine slightly differently next time.

So about a week after returning I picked up my ingredients and away I went. I have to say, this time I nailed it. I cut out the garlic and instead used garlic oil – oil infused with enough garlic to add the right depth of spice and flavour, but without that nasty after taste. I posted a photo of my creation and had a request to blog the recipe, so here goes; my one pan cherry tomato linguine, tweaked to perfection!

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Cherry Tomato One Pot Pasta (very generously serves 2)

2 tbsp garlic oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (from oil) snipped smallish with scissors
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (left whole)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
200g dry linguine – or however much you want for 2 servings! (snapped in half to make everything easier)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cup of cold water
85g tomato puree
handful of fresh basil (sliced thinly)
Add olive oil to large high sided pan with a lid (I use a cast iron Le Creuset casserole dish), heat the oil, add the sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Coat well with oil, over a medium heat and then partially cover the pan and allow to cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The tomatoes will spit a little as they burst because they’re full of water, so be careful! Add the paprika, pepper and salt, and cook for 2 mins more, stirring well.
Add the broth, water and pasta and increase the heat to high. Then add the tomato puree and mix well. Once the liquid has come to a rapid boil, stir well and then allow the liquid to reduce for about 14 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, give a stir and then add the basil. Stir one last time and then cover the pan and let it sit, off the heat, for about 5 minutes.
Serve with bread to mop up with!

If you decide to make this, I’d love to know what you think – send me your photos and comments, and tell me if you changed the recipe at all.

Happy eating!

When In Rome

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (hi guys!) you’ll know I recently took a 5 day trip to Rome.

It was the first time I’d been to Italy and I was really excited to see what it was all about. I struggle with travel anxiety and especially in places where I don’t speak the language, but G Man had already been and had been fine so I was pretty chilled about this trip.

I’m used to long haul flights so the 2.5 hr flight seemed like a breeze. I was able to listen to the second and third Childish Gambino albums in full from take off to landing perfectly!

We grabbed a shuttle bus with a very friendly driver to our hotel and checked. The River Palace hotel is situated just off the Piazza del Popolo so was in a great location for walking to all the places we wanted to visit.

We arrived pretty late in the day so headed straight out to grab some dinner. We found a lovely little place and sat inside because it was a tad chilly. I had a great bowl of spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce. I wasn’t majorly hungry and the serving was a perfect size. I hadn’t expected this, but it seems in Italy you eat a starter, 1st course of pasta, 2nd course which is your main course and then desert. I couldn’t work out how everyone wasn’t the size of a house!

Back at the hotel we slept badly and we had decided the room as way too small (you couldn’t actually fit into the shower and my knees butted against the sink when I sat on the loo) so we upgrade and moved our belongings into our new room. The second room was much better, we even got an extra pillow each!

I was very impressed with the breakfast in this hotel, which comes as part of your room. There were pastries, pancakes, fruit, cereal, meats and cheeses, bread and hot food (scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausage and bacon) and coffee with juices. All of this was buffet style so you could have however much you wanted, and the dining rooms were never too busy.

Over our stay we visited the Pantheon, The Vatican and saw the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and of course the Piazza del Popolo, amongst other things we passed by. We also ate in some amazing places, one of which was recommended to me on twitter, Di Qua.

We actually ate here twice and I really liked the modern feel of the restaurant mixed with the traditional cuisine.

The other thing I hadn’t expected from the food was that the only things you can eat are pasta and pizza – like every restaurant had the same menu. So it then boiled down to quality, price and ambience. I think we chose pretty wisely!

We also wanted to hunt out a good gelato place, and after searching on Pinterest I saw Giolitti recommended a couple of times. When we arrived we joined a line of people to pay – you pay for the size of gelato you want, and pick up a ticket. You then take your ticket to the gelato counter, where it’s every man for himself (think Brooklyn meat deli) – I noticed whilst we were waiting that they had milk-free options and when we requested these our server was awesome. We specified that we wanted milk free and chose our flavours, and he immediately put down the cone in his hand and said we wanted a cup (I assume the cone had risk of dairy) and then went out the back for a brand new paddle which he scooped my gelato with. I really appreciated how he took my intolerance seriously without being told – much better than here in the UK. We then went outside to eat! I chose Melon and Wild Cherry flavours and they were both out of this world. As we ate the line outside for ice cream snaked out of the door. I think we chose a perfect time to go in!

Another thing I noticed whilst we were there was that people ask for their gelato in a cone, use a spoon to eat it with and then throw the cone away…. Very confusing.

We did a huge amount of walking on this trip – we hit 23k in one day alone. I’m so glad I took my Sketchers and Tevas. I also sunburned by face quite badly on one of the days…. I’m such a sunshine novice!

I took loads of photos on this trip, so here’s a selection of some of my favourites!

It was an awesome trip and although I was tired by the end, I’m very glad I visited. I’d like to see other parts of Italy now, as I now don’t have the anxiety of the language barrier. If you can recommend other parts of Italy, then please go ahead in the comments. Where should I go next?

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

I’m back from Rome!

I’ll do a dedicated blog post, but thought I’d pop in and let you know I’m back and raring to go.

It was a tiring but really awesome week, with lots of walking, eating and sight-seeing.

I also took loads of photos!

I’ll share more in my Rome post, but head over to my instagram for more over the next few days.

After we returned from Rome we headed straight to London the next day for our next adventure – Moulin Rouge by Secret Cinema! Again, if you’ve read my other Secret Cinema blogs, you’ll know I wait until Secret Cinema have released their event video before posting – I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone until SC have decided to share the details first.

I will say, that I think it was the best yet! Here’s what we wore:

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I had a flouncy skirt on too, but more of that when I post about it down the line. It was an awesome night! But we were so tired from Rome we didn’t stay for the after party.

That’s my trouble – I always like to enjoy things to the point where I’m knackered so after Rome this little outing may have been one too many. It was an awesome night though, and I’m so glad we were able to get tickets.

Back to work on Monday, and to normality – I’ve still got the travel bug though, so who knows where I’ll be going next!

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

Hello Spring! I think…. it’s been bitter and raining, and even though we had a glorious spring-like day last week I fear that was our lot…

But I had a busy weekend, with a family wedding on the Saturday, lots of chores Sunday and then the weekend ended with a trip to the cinema to see Beauty and The Beast.

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And I think I’m the only person in the world not to enjoy it! We saw the film in 4DX which I usually enjoy, but this time around it seemed really unnecessary. I actually felt a little sea sick at parts. I enjoyed Emma Watson in the film, and Gaston and Le Fou were awesome, but the rest not so much. I didn’t like Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts, and I didn’t like the changes made to the original songs (time changes in Tale as Old as Time, whilst they danced) and the new songs were just major cringe. Sorry world, but I wasn’t won over.

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Childish Gambino’s back catalogue this week. After hearing Redbone and LOVING it, and having recently completed watching Atlanta on Netflix, I have become a big fan of Donald Glover and his music is continuing to consistently impress me.

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Work has been tough and intense and trying to get things wrapped up ahead of my holiday next week, I’m focussing extra extra hard on leaving things in a good way before I disappear.

I’m so excited for my trip to Rome though, and I’m really looking forward to some sunshine and a slower pace for a few days. I’m also really looking forward to taking photos whilst I’m there. If you don’t already follow my instagram, then head over, because I’ve been sharing some of my favourite photos I’ve taken over the years and it’s been a great trip down memory lane.

I’ll be posting my Favourites a few days early this month, as it’ll be scheduled whilst we’re away – and then once I’m back I’ll tell you all about my holiday! But until then, fingers crossed for some more spring-like days – come on Britain, I know you can do it!

Experience is Priceless

As a child, I went on family holidays once a year to somewhere in the UK. Usually Devon or somewhere similar. We had a few trips on a ferry to France, but until I met Gary the furthest I’d been away from my home was Belgium, and that was on a school trip.

Gary and I visited New York within a year of meeting, for Valentine’s Day. My first taste of America and we were snowed-in in the most beautiful place to be snowed-in.

506406072_498aaec972_oAnother trip to New York followed, this time in spring. And then for our honeymoon we travelled to San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York.

Gary was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease not long after, and what followed was years of surgery, recovery and coming to terms with a change of life as well as a change of pace for both of us. We put holidays on the back burner and trips consisted of Center Parcs breaks and days out in London, which were great, but didn’t get close to our previous trips.

We then jumped onto the property ladder with both feet and all of our savings. Any home owner knows that the first few years are hard. Belts are tightened and holidays are pretty much off the cards. But this year, Gary and I decided to throw caution to the wind. We’re not getting any younger, both of our health seems to have improved and plateaued and the urge to travel hasn’t been getting any weaker.

This year we have already been to Las Vegas, Gary to Rome and me to Ibiza. We’ve had some lovely weekends away, a trip to Liverpool and next…. we’ve booked to go back to New York!

Not only that, we fly on Christmas Day and will get to spend Christmas afternoon and evening there. We can’t wait to see the Christmas lights, the tree at Rockefeller Center, ice skate – everything! It’s been a long time since we were last there (our honeymoon 8 years ago!) and there have been so many changes to the city since then.

Being a rather Christmassey pair, we have pulled out all our New York movies, and begun watching them with a final flourish of our New York Christmas movies further into the season. Home Alone 2 will certainly feature more than once, Serendipity (and we intend on visiting this cafe during our stay!) and Scrooged are on the list.

This year has certainly been a year of holidays, especially after having not travelled for so many years, but we realised that experience is priceless. You can wait until you’re richer, healthier, have more time, but there will always be something that gets in the way. We’re grabbing the world with both hands this year. I can’t wait to experience the rest of it!