For the love of truffles

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A few weeks ago, a friend and I went to Italy for the Festival of White truffle of San Miniato. An obsessive truffle lover with dreams of becoming a truffle hunter, she was the perfect guide and trip companion. San Miniato is a beautiful town, in the province of Pisa, set on three hills in the middle of the valley near the Arno river, with gorgeous views stretching all across the Italian peninsula.

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We departed early Saturday morning from London Stansted and flew into Pisa Airport. Our driver and guide, Elvis picked us up and whisked us off to our beautiful residence, “Podere Il Giardino” a family owned farm with gorgeous vistas, an outdoor pool and fir tree lined paths. The location was perfect as was the villa style apartment complete with shuttered doors opening out onto patios all around.

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Once we had settled in, Elvis took us back to his house where his mom had prepared some delicious Italian bruschetta. I cannot explain the freshness of the tomatoes and the fruity zing of the just pressed olive oil. That bruschetta was one of the highlights of the entire weekend.

The area of San Miniato is renowned for its white truffle production and this fair takes place the last three weekends of November. You can learn about the ancient art of truffle hunting, plus taste and buy fresh truffles found by the truffle hunters (tartufaio) from the area. During these weekends, San Miniato is buzzing with people flocking from all over the world, and local handicrafts, indigenous produce, and street food is dotted around the festival.

We took a shuttle up the hill to begin our truffle journey. The weather was nippy, the sky was pink and purple, the mountain looked over gorgeous Italian landscapes, there were sounds of Italian stall owners calling out to us, and there was a heady brilliance to the afternoon. We walked around trying out different cheeses, pate, chillies, oils and meats. After our taste buds had been zinging for a while, we sat down and had rich yummy gelato and then went back to tasting. The Italians were all very friendly and jovial. Though they all understood English, we were glad to have Elvis with us to translate and explain the finer intricacies of the festival.

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Possibly my favourite two things at the festival other than the truffles of course were the freshly pressed aromatic olive oil and the creamy burrata. We bought litres of olive oil to take back with us, which has transformed my pasta and salad. Since San Miniato is not too far from Florence, it seemed a shame not to squeeze Firenze into our calendar. A half an hour train had us at Firenze Santa Novella Station efficiently. Though we hadn’t been able to purchase tickets due to a system failure, the train conductor was kind enough to let us travel without a penalty given we were visitors.

What’s Firenze without feasting your eyes at the Duomo? A short walk brought us to Piazza del Duomo and the beautiful cafes, shops and stalls sprinkled around it. The Duomo is an architectural masterpiece and should be seen during the day and at night to get the full impact. We rushed around trying to absorb as much of the Florence vibe as we could and then all too soon it was time to take our train back to San Miniato. For dinner we went to a trattoria for dinner and had some of the classic dishes like Spaghetti Aglio Olio, Ravioli, Bolognese, and of course Tiramisu.

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The next day we explored Bologna and all too soon it was time to head back to Bologna airport to take our Easyjet flight to London Gatwick. Italy has a spirit unlike any other European city and every time I go there I think I fall in love with it a little more. There is no doubt Italians definitely do it better. Viva Italia!

Veni, Vidi, Amavi.

 

 

 

 

 

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For the love of truffles

Blog refresh.

I have been away for a considerable amount of time, and though i cant cite them as excuses, my 2 boys have made it almost impossible to think, let alone write. I do want to attempt a fresh start and therefore here I am. Blog refresh. I thought I could start with a little update on what I have been up to.

Stop Press!

I have recently been asked to become a regular London contributor for an architecture portal based out of Dubai. Since I am not an architect, I will be showcasing London from a design perspective. My first post-Graphic London-is now up on the blog and this will be a series of Streetscapes.

Check it out here.

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Mama life.

Timmy is fast becoming an almost grown up where his statements leave me quite stunned. He is thinking, processing and expressing at a very rapid pace. Tomorrow is book day and he wants to be Sherlock Holmes, which should be interesting. Last weekend we visited Somerset House and he loved reading all the exhibition signs. He has discovered Enid Blyton’s Mr Meddle and Mr Twiddle series and finds them both utterly fascinating.

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Kimmy is now past the 1 year mark and getting more vibrant by the second. Life with him is a crazy blur for the most part; a dizzy roller coaster where we bounce from one mad moment to the next. He adores Timmy and follows him around. The passion for Thomas and friends has been passed on and we can find him sitting quietly joining all the magnetic engines into a big line. Kimmy has also discovered that bathrooms are fun places and makes a beeline everytime a door is left open by one of the unsuspecting fools. Bathtubs are filled, shower gels upturned, pots hugged and a general chaos unleashed.

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Out and about

I have managed to get away for a few hours on a weekly basis almost, and that has been heavenly. Testing make up at Charlotte Tilbury’s new Covent Garden store, browsing lovely stationery at Kiki K, having solitary coffee with a book, even just sitting quietly on the train to Waterloo, all have kept me sane.

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Weekend plans.

Saturday is going to very exciting. Design Junction is hosting a first ever huge design and furniture sample sale this weekend. I have bought my tickets and I cant wait to snag some bargains. I will also be covering the sale for ArchitectEM, so do take a look once the post is up. You can also follow me on instagram to see whats going on.

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Image via Sample Sale website here.

Blog refresh.

Life as a mama: On having two.

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For most milestones in my life, I was given advice by those who had been there before me. Sometimes it was exactly how they said it would be, but mostly I found myself able to handle those moments with suitable aplomb. Some of my friends and I would laugh over the misrepresentation of life by these panicky fear mongers. Marriage wasn’t the end of life as we knew it, it was just a changed version of life. Having a child didn’t mean our independence ended, it just required better management, a healthy dose of humour, a baby sitter and a resilient spirit.

Then baby number two came along, and my spirit took a beating. They were right. It IS unbelievably hard. It IS each man for himself. You can’t hand over the reins to your spouse and disappear because there is one more human who needs you. One more who has thoughts that need sharing constantly and questions that need answering immediately. You can’t leave because this is no walk in the park, this is the real deal.

The first month felt impossibly long. I wanted to cry, scream and shout and I probably did all of them in no particular order. Was it really time for the next feed already? Was it absolutely necessary to do it all over again? Was he actually upset enough to cry quite that loudly? Did I really need to manage his feeds, my sanity and a toddler? Could I quit? Or at least run away for a bit?

Looking back I think the hardest thing was not being able to throw the baby at my husband and take some time to myself to sleep, rest or just be. The first time around, he would walk in after work and I would literally heave a sigh of relief. Phew. My break starts now. This time around though, it meant he needed to give our first child some TLC, who, reeling from the aftershocks of a monster mom, would run to his trusty reliable good ol’ daddy to feel safe.

Slowly though we hit the magic 40 day mark and miraculously things did get better. I felt half human, able to conduct a rational conversation, talk to my son about his day, and manage some sleep too. Slowly the baby started smiling, looking around, being less grumpy and we had nights where my husband and I managed to survive without hating each other.

Then the other wonderful thing happened. The sibling interaction. The one truly amazing thing that makes it all seem worth it. Seeing Timmy singing songs for the baby, excitedly hugging him, watching him play, was a joy unlike any other. We had created a human being, a partner in crime, a brother.

We are now just days away from the 4 month mark and though the perils of motherhood continue, now in the form of early teething, I feel ready to reclaim my new form of independence which though not as footloose as before, is vibrant, rich and very fulfilling.

Life as a mama: On having two.

Quiet and peace. (Late posting)

Here I am. 29 weeks. The baby app reminds me that I have 11 weeks to go which is a sudden jolt of urgency. 11 weeks less than 3 months.
Here I am. Sitting in Starbucks enjoying my festive red cup of white mocha. It is quiet inside my head, and the babble of voices around me can’t break that bubble of peaceful silence.
Here I am. Alone; which now denotes such loveliness. None of that sense of depression or pity that it denoted in younger years. Alone is oh so lovely.
Here I am. Christmas soundtrack plays in the background, with the lights of the Christmas tree flickering, glowing.
Here I am. In glorious London. A city designed to inspire, propel, excite. If I walk out into kings road I will be greeting by the buzz of snazzy restaurants, bistros, fashionable London ladies rushing past, heels clacking on the pavement. Always somewhere to be.
Here I am. A 4 year old at home. Waiting for my husband to join me. Reclaiming myself for just a short while, reading a book, writing this, and that is quite enough for now.
Here I am. Happy. Calm. Peaceful. A train ride between me and the noise.
Rudolf plays on the radio.

Quiet and peace. (Late posting)