Monday, December 26, 2016


This year, I am lucky enough to be spending Christmas with my sister, Jill and other members of the family with whom I was reunited two years ago.

Tonight I would like to tell you about a Christmas initiative from Norwich Cathedral which has helped me and, I am sure, many others: Outside the Cathedral is a "memory tree" and visitors have been invited to write the names of loved ones they miss at Christmas on star decorations.  Each visitor made a donation for each star they used and the staff hung them on the tree on their behalf.

Thus, in the city where my story began, stars hang for both my mums - the one I never knew and the one who brought me up - and also for the dad who gave me so much love.

Thank you, Norwich Cathedral.

You can find links to all my adoption posts here.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Here's an old favourite:

Biagio Antonacci - Sognami


This week I wanted to do something different with the pizzaiola steak cut and I decided that a pistacchio and mushroom sauce would do the trick.  In Italy, you just ask the butcher for pizzaiola steak and the cut most often used for this is round steak.  I asked for pizzaiola steak for four people.  I also wanted to incorporate cedro [citron] and this is what I did:

Bistecca in salsa di pistacchi

Cut one cedro in half.  Juice one half and marinate the steak pieces in it with a little dried oregano. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours.  [This will tenderise the meat further as well as adding flavour.] Slice the other half and grill the slices quickly, on both sides, in a little olive oil on a ridged griddle pan.  Set aside.

Drain the steak and pat dry with kitchen paper. Cook the pieces in 2 tblsp olive oil on a ridged griddle pan.  Do not overcook them! Place on kitchen paper as they are ready.  

Keep the steak warm in a dish in the oven while you make the sauce:  Soften a chopped white onion in 2 tblsp olive oil in a frying pan.  Do not allow it to brown.  When it is soft, add 200 gr sliced white mushrooms.  Cook for a few minutes, then add 200 ml panna di cucina if you are in Italy or single cream if you are not.  Keep stirring for a few minutes and season.  Do not let it boil.  Off the heat, add a generous sprinkling of farina di pistacchi  [pistacchio flour - very finely ground pistacchi].

Serve the steaks with the sauce and cedro slices.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


At the Dolceria Primavera in Modica:

Frutta di Martorana can be seen above left and right. I loved the chocolate Christmas trees.

Torrone and cobaita are shown with the liqueur, and various flavours of Modican chocolate are on the right.

There has to be panettone!

 And how nice to see a gingerbread man!

Saturday, December 10, 2016


This song of lost love, to which I can relate only too well, is no. 3 in the Italian charts:

Marco Mengoni - Sai che

Thursday, December 08, 2016


Cedro, cedro,
on the stall
is the biggest
of them all!

Well, this was the biggest cedro [citron] I had seen for a long time and it was on display outside a greengrocer's on this opening day of our annual ChocoModica festival.  I love cedri, both to eat, with seasalt and to cook with, so the sight of this one really cheered me up.

The chocolate festival, as you might expect, features lots of chocolate stalls, selling bars of all flavours, from banana to chilli to more traditional types and there were all kinds of chocolate products on sale, including liqueurs, cosmetics and even chocolate arancini [rice balls].  During the four days of the festival, there are also exhibitions, talks, tastings and demonstrations though I must say access is a problem to some of them and this needs attention.

You can watch chocolate sculptors and makers at work, though a finished chocolate sculpture would have been nice to see alongside those in production.  Perhaps that is to come.  I was fascinated by the fruit carving below but the highlight for me remains the cedro!

ChocoModica runs until 11th December and the full programme is here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


It was with great pleasure that I received a twitter message from Susan Van Allen last night, telling me that Sicily Scene again appears in the list of online resources for the regions of Italy in the wonderful and deservedly best-selling 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go.  This is the third edition of this much-needed guide and I suggest you all order your copies now! It would make a great Christmas present for any woman hoping or planning to travel to Italy and all the men I've shown it to are interested too.

Thank you for including Sicily Scene, Susan and thank you for a great read.

Sunday, December 04, 2016


All my recent posts have been about food and, at this time of year, why buck the trend? Here's how they make cupcakes at the LiolĂ :

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Thursday, December 01, 2016


You don't often get artigianale ice cream out of season in Modica, but this evening my friend Ignaziella and I enjoyed these at a local shopping centre.  I can honestly say the experience lit up my night!


View My Stats