Gnocchi

Some snaps from Rome & the addict’s recipe …

Rome was exactly what I had expected. Full of life and sunshine, it is a city of hustle and bustle, of espresso shots and scooters and of incredible ancient ruins scattered across the entire city. Rome is a city for exploration, of religious devotion and most importantly for food.

When backpacking  across Europe I was savvy with my money and often I bought food at shops and markets or binged on complimentary continental breakfasts supplied by the many hostels I visited – For Italy however my frugalness left me and I ate out all day everyday during my stay at this vibrant and gastronomic country!

Italian food is my absolute favorite. Where taste and comfort is at the heart of it, Italian food does away with any fuss or pretension and when made with love and fresh ingredients packed with flavour – Italian food is eccezionale!

Below are a few snaps from my trip to Rome and below that is this week’s scrap on an Italian favorite – Gnocchi. It’s surprisingly easy to make and the recipe below is fool proof, perfect for a lazy sunday afternoon whatever the weather. Admittedly I tried my first ever Gnocchi in Rome and let me tell ‘ya – I wasn’t disappointed!

I ate at a small restaurant that was a short walk away from my hostel. Tempio di Mecenate is a cosy spot where they serve good wholesome homey food. It’s good value too and is close to the enchanting Porta Magica – a magic portal in a garden which is a quiet and special find rarely surrounded by tourists.  Before traveling to another dimension, I recommend having lunch at the restaurant and although it will cost you extra, sit outside in the sun – it will be worth it.

Old school Roman dining beside a garden of magic – bellissima! (…yes I’m unashamedly throwing Italian words into my post)

House of Augustus
House of Augustus

House of Augustus Tower

Virgin Pillar

Pantheon, Rome.
Pantheon

Pantheon, Pillars

Pantheon,Pillars

Pantheon, Entrance

Gnocchi

Although in Rome, I had Gnocchi with a rich ragu sauce. The recipe below is perfect for beginners and although it does take some time, it is incredibly simple and can be made into larger batches and stored in the freezer for future use.

This recipe ensures the Gnocchi is the centre of attention. The sauce is very light which I think compliments this starchy and substantial pasta

Ingredients (Serves two) 

2 large potatoes

2 cups of flour

2 eggs

parmesan

garlic

onion

basil

pine nuts

butter

Lemon juice

salt and pepper

olive oil

  1. Peel the potatoes and boil them in a pot for about 20mins (or until tender). Do not overcook them. You want the potatoes to be tender and fluffy – not too soft and mushy.
  2. Drain the potatoes well. You want to get rid of all excess water and have the potatoes dry before mashing.
  3. Give your potatoes a good mashing (or push them through a potato ricer – if you’re more fortunate than I & have one)
  4. Place mashed potato on a clear work surface and top with the flour.
  5. Grate a generous amount of the cheese and add it to the potato and flour mixture.
  6. Sprinkle some salt on the mound and roughly give it a mix with your hands.
  7. Create a well in the centre of the mound and add the beaten eggs.
  8. Mix the flour, potato, cheese and egg together until it forms a dough.
  9. Knead it only until it becomes well formed. It should be a little sticky but not too much. NOTE: If a little flour is needed add some but be careful – too much flour will make the pasta hard.
  10. Shape the dough into one large rectangular shape making sure it is even in height, about 2cm thick.
  11. Cut dough into rectangular strips about 10cm long.
  12. Roll each strip into a sausage shape making sure it is even.
  13. Cut the sausage shape into 2cm pieces and use a fork to indent the gnocchi pieces with ridges.
  14. FOR THE SAUCE: As the fresh gnocchi takes only 4mins to cook. Leave the pasta aside and dice an onion and some garlic.
  15. In a hot pan saute the onion and garlic with some butter and in a separate pan toast the pine nuts until golden.
  16. In a pot of boiling salted water add the gnocchi and cook for 4mins ( you will know when the pasta is done as the gnocchi will float to the top)
  17. Drain the gnocchi and toss it into the pan. Mix the gnocchi in the buttery sauce gently and tear some basil leaves adding the herb & a little more butter to the pan. Add the toasted pine nuts to the pan with the squeezed juice of about half a lemon also. Stir gently. Season with salt if needed (bare in mind the cheese & butter is salty) & a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
  18. Serve in warm bowls with grated Parmesan on top, a sprig of basil & a final sprinkling of nuts. A drizzle of olive oil wouldn’t go amiss either!

Dig in!

NOTE: Gnocchi can be kept in the freezer for future use. Just pack the pieces in a zip bag with a little dusting of flour (to prevent them sticking) and defrost them the night before you need them

This is comfort food in a bowl and although it uses simple ingredients -it doesn’t skimp on flavour. It may take some time and attention but gnocchi isn’t as daunting  as you’d think – give it ago.

 

Expect more posts on my Italian adventures. I have tonnes of photos, tips and recipes I want to share. This was only a little taste of Rome, there’s plenty more to come – so look out for more on the scrapbook

Venice

A stroll with a camera …

I didn’t stay for very long but Venice was a spectacular city. It was crowded in August but this did nothing to diminish it’s beauty. I took a night train into the city and a night train out. It was a quick stop on my journey to Rome and wouldn’t have happened had it not been for a good friend of mine who took a position at the Peggy Guggenheim gallery. After a VIP tour of the gallery and a quick trek around the city. I vowed to return – hopefully with a lover in hand …

These are a few shots I took whilst making may way through the bridged maze. Venice is truly something.

venice-san-marco
San Marco

 

venice-canal

peggy-venice

venice-boats

peg-venice

venice-balcony

venice-canal-shot

venice-dragon-lantern

venice-dock

venice-tower

Prague

Pub crawls – Spots to look out for

Prague as I had mentioned in a previous post, is an amazing city. It is breathtakingly beautiful and its cobbled streets, battlement walls and Prague castle will send you back in time. The Czech capital is also party central with so many pubs and clubs – you’ll be spoilt for choice. I went on a pub crawl which was organised by the hostel where I was staying at the time, Miss Sophie’s (see my review here) but I had also spent my time in some wonderful bars and local spots during my day-trips. From infamous absinthe bars to bars deep under a cellar – Prague has it all.

double-trouble-bar-prague

 

With a number of adjoined caves & stylish lighting and bars – Double Trouble is the perfect spot to rock up to, especially if you’re new to the city. The drinks are reasonably priced and there is no cover charge which is a big plus! A DJ is there every night except Sundays and as it’s one of the most popular spots in the city – there’s always an event or two from themed nights to live performers.

The bar does great cocktails as well at fair prices (try the ‘Jet lag’) and the bar itself is located close to the Old time square. You won’t have to look far to find it.

Double Trouble – An underground club. Draws a young crowd (us twenty-somethings), modern tunes and the odd eurovision thrown in for good measure. Great spot to try out and with no cover charge, you’ve nothing to lose!

Address: Melantrichova 970/17, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město, Czech Republic.

karlovy-lazne_

The next club is probably Prague’s most famous. Even if I hadn’t mentioned it, you would end up here one night or another. With 5 floors and different themed bars, including an ice bar – Karlovy Lazne is massive. It’s pretty touristy but don’t knock it. It’s a great way to mingle with other nationalities, it’s like a drunken UN gathering with plenty of fun!

With different music on different floors, the club caters for almost everyone. From mainstream pop, hiphop, 80s and chill out tunes – the club is like one huge festival and is the largest club in central Europe. The drink prices are fair but there is a cover charge at 180 krona, which is about 8 euros – well worth the price. You’d be mad not to go once in Prague.

International DJs, Ice bar and more. A great party atmosphere with a central location. It is just across from Charles bridge.

Karlovy Lazne

Address: Smetanovo nabrezhi 198/1 | Praha 1, Prague110 00, Czech Republic

sudu-prague

Sudu is similar to Double Trouble in that it is a cellar bar but it couldn’t be more different. At first the bar seems to be nothing but a small hole in the wall but as you pass through all the mahogany, the bar opens out to something special as staircases lead you to different bars in this tunneled pub. Plenty of seating and the place serves as a restaurant too. I didn’t try the food myself but reviews look promising and the place has a great beer garden.

The drink is cheap too and the place is a great spot to kick back and chill out in one of the many nooks you can find in the labyrinth of bars. Great for a quiet drink or a bite to eat if you’re peckish with friends. It’s not too touristy either which is a plus. The only downside is that as it’s an authentic Czech bar, if too many smokers join at the bar – the place gets smokey. I’m a non-smoker, so this was an issue for me but for one night and a real Czech atmosphere. It was worth the stale & tobacco stinking clothes!

A hidden gem & a unique place.

Sudu

Address: Vodičkova 677/10, 110 00 Praha 1-Nové Město, Czech Republic.

black-angel-christmas

Other Mentions:

I didn’t have the chance but when I return to Prague, I will definitely visit “Black Angel’s” a cocktail bar neighboring the stunning U Prince hotel. The drink is supposed to be great value and the decor & surroundings will have you believing you’re a long lost Romanov!

I was in Prague during the summer but rumour has it winter is the best season to visit this historic bar & restaurant

Black Angel’s

Address: Staromestske namesti 460/29, Prague 110 00, Czech Republic

absintherie

Absinthe Bars: You’ll find many of them within the heart of the city. The feature image of this scrap is one I visited which was found along one of the tiny cobbled lanes branching outwards from the Old time square. It’s a famous spot and you’d be mad not to visit at least one of them!

The best absinthe bar however is the very same I visited. The place offers spirit tours and tastings (which is best bought within a group for value, so if traveling alone persuade other travelers to tag along with you). It’s a cool spot full of history and a little mischief too – with a large drinks menu and expert staff. It’s a place which lives up to its reputation.

Awesome Gothic decor where absinthe is served properly & who knows the Green Fairy  just may appear …

Absintherie

Address: Jilská 7, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město, Czech Republic.