The one thing I love about Italy in the summer is the festivals, there are so many. The main one of course is Ferragusto which is probably the best time you will ever have if you visit Italy in August. I’ve mentioned before that Atina is really small but there are loads of other small villages around it so every village has it’s own festival. The next village Casallattico even has an Irish festival as so many Italians emigrated from that area to Ireland. Of course each one centres around food with plenty of stalls to choose from, my favourite is always the porchetta sandwich van – so delicious!!

We just don’t have enough festivals here in Ireland, I went to the annual Milford Hospice Harvest Fair yesterday and I couldn’t believe how many people were there. There must have been at least 7-10k, it was packed. There wasn’t a huge amount there but it was just the fact that it was somewhere for families to go on a Sunday. Since having the princess I’ve really noticed how Ireland lacks so much when it comes to things like this, we just don’t have a good family, social environment. Ilva has a really good post on her blog about enjoying the slow life and it really got me thinking about how difficult it is to enjoy the slow life here as there isn’t much on offer and that’s why every retail park in Ireland is packed on a Sunday whereas in Italy Sunday is a sacred family day.

We try to adopt a Slow life approach as you can really get caught up in the fast pace of life that exists in Ireland today, the majority of ours revolves around food of course. I often think if we didn’t have such a passion for food, we would be lost and very bored.  Here’s a few little things that we do to try and slow down:

  • we always sit down to eat together and the princess always sits with us. We have cappuccino for breakfast and a read of the morning papers before one of us goes to work and then we always have dinner together.
  • no matter how busy we have been we always try to cook something even if it is only some eggs in tomato sauce(Italian fast food) but we do have the odd take-away night of course.
  • we go to Bruno’s mother’s house every Sunday for the family dinner.
  • we go for a walk, in Italy everyone goes for a Passagiatta after dinner which is a little stroll to walk off your food and relax and look good while doing it of course:). I know a lot of people go walking here but it normally consists of pounding the pavement at 100 miles an hour trying to burn off calories and speaking at the same time – it always amazes me how people walk and talk at the same time going at that speed. Don’t get me wrong I do the pounding too with the buggy but it’s also nice to “stroll” to the local shop for a 99 ice-cream on a sunny evening and relax.
  • we try to get to the Farmer’s Market when we can.

I know it all sounds very romantic and idealistic but I do think the little things can make a difference to your day and reduce the stress of everyday living which is becoming more difficult in Ireland all the time. I think as a nation we view food and cooking as hard work and just another job but it can be one of the most relaxing and rewarding things you can do when you put your mind to it, I always feel a great sense of achievement after cooking a big meal and everybody enjoying it and it really brings people together. The most important things in our life are definitely family and food and the odd drink of course;)

Now just to completely contradict my post this is a recipe which actually requires a little bit of work but I don’t plan the writing just the recipes and then I just wait to see what comes out when I start. If you’ve been to Italy you have probably seen rice balls “arancini” everywhere, they are such a popular snack. We did them in La Cucina when we opened first but they didn’t sell very well so we took them off the menu, we might try them again!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 300g Arborio or Carnaroli rice.
  • 200g mozzarella cheese – I used a bag of mini mozzarella from Superquinn and chopped them into 4 but you can use a regular mozzarella ball and chop it up.
  • 2-3 slices Italian cooked ham finely diced- I used the Rovangnati range from Superquinn
  • 100g parmesan cheese – grated
  • plain flour
  • tomato sauce – I used our napoli sauce from La Cucina or you could use fresh tomatoes chopped and fry them in a little olive oil until they reach sauce consistency.
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg beaten
  • fresh breadcrumbs- Superquinn sell them in bags if you don’t want to make your own.
  • salt
  • I never measure anything so I hope these amounts are right:)

WHAT TO DO:

 – cook the rice in plenty of salted, boiling water for about 10 mins until al dente, make sure it’s not too soft or it will turn to mush – great culinary speak;)

 – drain the rice and run under cold water so it stops cooking and leave to cool down.

 – put into a bowl and mix in your tomato sauce, egg yolks, parmesan, ham, mozzarella and season.

 – with your hands scoop a handful of rice mixture and roll it into an oval shape.

 – dip into flour, then egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Have 3 dishes in a row!!

 – heat a pan or fat fryer with plenty of olive oil or regular oil and cook your suppli until golden brown.

 – remove with a spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

 – eat warm or cold!!

BUON APPETITO!!

p.s. continuing with Ilva’s theme what do you do to slow down in Ireland???

Tip of the week:  T-bone steaks in Flavins butchers in Castletroy, the best we’ve had in a long time:)

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