Tag Archive | restaurants

Asparagus Fest at “The Verandah”

Last weekend I invited you, my dear blogging friends, onto an imaginary flight to Bangkok to join our table at “The Verandah”, the elegant restaurant overlooking the mighty Chao Phraya River at our favourite hotel, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.


This is the domain of Chef Pierre (Rimoneau ) who, as part of “The Verandah’s” Asparagus Fest, has graciously parted with two of his most delicious Asparagus recipes, especially created and prepared in order to showcase the delicious flavour of the wonderfully white asparagus and the organically grown green asparagus and using ingredients from the Royal Projects.


In fact I am off tomorrow “Asparagus hunting” in our new hypermarket. It will not be the wonderfully thick white kind of variety which was very much part of my German seasonal feast, when I still lived in the country of my birth, but just the very thin green variety which I got to like later in England – better than nothing at all, I say. Don’t you agree?

Asparagus Salad with waxy boiled quail eggs

 80 g Asparagus, green import

 90 g Asparagus, white import

120 g Asparagus, local (wherever you are)

  30 g mixed salad

 20 g sundried tomatoes

 10 g parmesan shaving

 65 g boiled quail egg

  1 g edible flower

 25 g lime and olive oil dressing

 ½ g chervil


Peel and boil the asparagus: 3-4 min for the green one’s and 8-10 min for the white one’s, according to their size. Test.

Pick and clean salad, dry and mix together.

Boil the quail eggs, 3 min. Cool them down and peel them.

Prepare an olive lime juice dressing with salt and pepper.

Set the salad in the plate, add the asparagus cut in length, the sundried tomato cut in strips, and add a flower on top.

Add some parmesan shaving and at the last minute cut the quail eggs and place them on top of the salad, the yolk should be running into the salad.

Serve right away – with the dressing separately.



So, for whatever your personal taste buds crave, I suggest you try both – and why not!? I am sure you will not be disappointed. Second recipe will follow in a couple of days.

I hope you all enjoyed your treat and of course I will pass on your comments together with my personal thanks to Chef Pierre and to Executive Chef Stefan for their kind help and support.


See you again soon, Carina 


Orchids galore!

You my dear friends, who have been following me here since last year, know by now that without any doubt the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Hotel in, yes of course, in Bangkok/Thailand is my most favourite hotel of all those beautiful hotels I have stayed in.


You also know, that the floral genius Khun Ken, displays every few months one of his incredible creations for the guests to admire.


This time, in order to herald in summer, Khun Ken has ‘decked the hall’ with this striking display of purple orchids.


So, come and lets board an imaginary plane and fly out to Bangkok where we can sit in the lobby once again with our tea, coffee and/or drinks and those absolutely delicious Macaroons 🙂 and enjoy the view.


And if you feel up to staying on for lunch or dinner later, join us on The Verandah for one of  Chef Pierre Rimoneau’s specially created dishes, showcasing fresh white asparagus imported daily from France alongside green asparagus from Thailand Royal Projects. This Asparagus Season lasts until 31st May.  Come back for recipe later!!


Surfing on Mango Wood

For the last 10 days I have been at war – at war with the twice annual flu-bug! Not nice at all, especially in our heat. But in the end I emerged as the winner – thanks to my Doctor, some antibiotics and of course because of the loving tender care of my husband!  🙂

So here now is the conclusion, as previously promised, of our short ‘sojourn’ in Kovalam.


For our last evening at VIVANTA by TAJ KOVALAM  the golf buggy took us right down to the shore of the Arabian Sea to the hotel’s new contemporary restaurant appropriately named “BAIT”, a very rustic looking place befitting its location.

Our table was set not inside the restaurant, but outside, close to the edge of the beach.

The smell of the sea, the crashing of the waves against the huge bollards along this strip of private beach, competing with the soft sound of music coming from the main restaurant, set us into the right mood to look forward to Chef Elangovan’s promised culinary surprise for that evening.

We could hardly wish for a more romantic setting – the tiny flickering lights of hundreds of fishing boats way out at sea, the clear stars above us high up in the sky, candles on our table and all over the garden.


But to top it all, we had a huge full moon shining down on us, sending its silvery light across the water.

It was then that we decided that we will come back here in a few month time – just for a little break again.

Chef, for this occasion, had prepared indeed a very special treat for us. Something, I must confess, I had not come across before on all my travels around the world.


Red Snapper on Mango Wood


Red Snapper Fillet                     300 g

Green chilly                                   10 g

Salt                                                a pinch

Small onion                                  5 g

Curry leafs                                  a few

Ginger & garlic paste                 1 tsp

Turmeric powder                        ½ g

Tamarind or lime juice               1 no

Coconut oil                                    5 ml

Mango wood or

Tamarind wood slab                    2 nos



Make paste out of chilly, ginger, garlic, turmeric and tamarind or lime juice.

Grate the small onions and mix with marinate paste and coconut oil.

Apply the marinate all over the fish, rest for a couple of minutes.

Grill the fish in hot pan on both sides

Place the fish on mango wood slab and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

Before serving garnish with sprig of curry leafs.

Accompaniment with roast baby potatoes and char grilled vegetable.

This is a truly delicious fish dish, light and delicate in flavour. I will have to go out hunting for Mango tree slabs from a ‘friendly’ timber merchant since I have a feeling that this preparation will be arriving on our table a few times soon.

PS. Since I have been talking about ‘Mangos” here I cannot get a well known song out of my head; a song which I learned whilst living for 3 years out on the wonderful island of Trinidad/W.I. and was made popular in the James Bond Film “Dr. NO”.  “……..Underneath the Mango tree me Honey, And me can watch for the moon …..”



(Photos: CS and JS/Manningtreearchive.com)

Mysore and ‘Petter Pan Fish’

No, this is not a spelling mistake and to be frank, I was not even able to find out why exactly this dish was called ‘Petter Pan’.

Having driven by car for 13 hours to see our youngest daughter, Andrea, we were able to take her out of her College for at least one day and two nights and moved her into our hotel “The Regaalis” in Mysore – the City of Palaces.


Of course we were more than happy to be with her for at least those few hours, but we did not have time to go and visit the Royal Palace (again) – which really is nearly a whole day affair (and worth a blog entry by itself), if one wants to do it properly. It is certainly worth it and if you can plan it try to go on a Sunday evening, when the whole Palace is illuminated with thousands of small lights.

The Regaalis is a very pleasant 4-star hotel not too far from the city centre with swimming pool and an excellent reputation especially for its local cuisine. I was taken into the very spacious kitchen to meet ‘the man in charge’ of this gastronomic territory, Executive Chef Aga Thammar Murthuza, who, in his own words, “… wishes to make the dining experience of each and every guest of his a special one….” And he most certainly did not disappoint any of us.


Andrea chose the above fish dish from the menu and Chef happily parted with his recipe for me to share with you. I promise it is really delicious. In fact I went to my local fish market nearby this morning to see if I could get Basa. And lucky me, I was able to get a nice piece which I will make tomorrow for lunch. If you cannot get Basa fish, any other white (softish) fillet will have to do – but take pain to pull out all the little bones before you cook this fish (I have a thing about bones in fish and will forego to eat even the most delicious dish if there are any bones left!).



Basa Fillet                                                               500 g

Salt and pepper                                                     to taste

English Mustard Powder (or readymade)      1 tsp

Lemon Juice                                                         3 Lime

Capers                                                                   10-15 no’s

Blanched Spinach                                                50 g

Baby Potatoes                                                      50 g

Chopped Parsley                                                  15 g

Assorted Vegetables                                            50 g (Broccoli, Zucchini, Carrot)

Garlic                                                                       10 g

Method of Preparation:

Slice the fillets of Basa, marinate with fresh lime juice, mustard powder, salt and pepper.

Allow fish to marinate for 5-10 minutes.

Grill the marinated fillets on a griddle.

In the meantime roughly chop the garlic and the blanched spinach.

Heat 1 tsp of butter in pan, add the chopped garlic, sauté till golden brown, add the spinach and stir for 35 to 40 seconds. Boil the assorted vegetables, drain the water, sauté the vegetables with some butter, a pinch of salt and some dried herbs. Toss the boiled baby potatoes with some butter and chopped parsley. Finally heat some butter in a pan, add the Capers and the lime juice and stir for a couple of seconds.

Once the fish is completely done, dish it out on to a plate. Add some sautéed Garlic Spinach, Parsley, Baby Potatoes and the butter sautéed Vegetables. Top the fish with the caper-butter sauce. Garnish with some chopped parsley and a slice of lime and enjoy the first of our three “Regaalis” dishes created by Chef Aga.


Symphony of Talents

…… and all this in one so young.

Whilst we were recently in Bangkok, Ms. Amanda Hyndman, General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, announced the promotion of Stefan Trepp to the position of their new Executive Chef. He succeeded the brilliant Chef Norbert Kostner who becomes the Hotel’s Culinary Director. I wish them well in their new endeavour.


Chef Stefan was born in 1979 in Switzerland. He started off on the long hard road of culinary excellence to become a Master Chef in Chur/Switzerland, where he studied for 3 years. He very quickly but steadily rose up in his profession by first working in some of the best hotels in Switzerland, before he embarked on his professional journey around the world to the USA, Dubai and the Philippines, where he was Chef de Cuisine of the Mandarin Oriental Manila.

He left Manila in 2007 and joined the Banyan Tree Phuket/Thailand as their Executive Sous Chef in September of that year.

 Chef Stefan is a highly innovative Chef who totally lives and breathes food – this is his all time consuming passion and his total dedication to his craft shows in the dishes he prepares for a highly sophisticated international clientele.

 In 2009 he joined the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok where he started working closely with the famous Chef Norbert Kostner, the then Executive Chef.

 Chef Stefan’s love clearly now belongs to South-East Asia – the places, the peoples, their custom and above all their unique cuisine.

He has an incredible talent for bringing edible art to your plate, but how can one ‘destroy’ such a beautiful ‘picture’ by actually eating it – a good and valid question and the answer is simple – only with a heavy heart! After all nobody likes to destroy beauty.


With Valentine’s Day not too far away, he created a most delightful Appetizer for me and for you, my friends, and he named it:

Steamed Blue River Prawns

Young Vegetables, greens and Mango

Virgin olive oil and Thai lemon dressing


12 pc or 1 kg Blue River Prawns

0.2 kg leek

0.1 kg Carrots

Half a piece of Fennel

Half Onion

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 pc Small Radish, whole, washed

1 pc Carrots, peeled and washed

0.2 kg Fresh Pea in pod washed

1 pc Beetroot whole, unpeeled

0.1 kg Green pea sprouts

8 pc kg Cress flower

8 pc Eatable Nasturtium flowers

0.2     lit Virgin Olive Oil

0.1 lit White wine vinegar

2pc Thai green Lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Method for the Blue River Prawns:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and season with salt and pepper.

Add diced leek, carrots, fennel and onion and boil for 5 minutes.

Reduce heat below boiling point and add Blue River Prawns, simmer gently for 4 minutes.

Allow the Prawns to cool in the cooking liquid.

When cold take out of the water and peel off the shell.

Method for the Vegetables:

Wash and peel carrots and slice into thin long slices.

Boil carrots for 30 seconds in seasoned water. Remove from heat and place in ice cold water to cool.

Roll carrots and set aside until needed for plating.

Wash beetroot and boil in water ca 15-20 minutes or until soft.

Allow beetroot to cool in the cooking liquid.

When cold remove from liquid, peel and slice into thin rounds. Use

a cutter for desired shape and size.

Set beetroot aside until needed for plating.

Slice raw radish into thin disk and set aside until needed for plating.

Add green peas in boiling and well seasoned water until crunchy.

Remove from boiling water and cool in ice water.

When cold peel peas and set aside together with the rest of vegetables.

Mix olive oil, lemon juice and white wine vinegar to a dressing, season with salt and pepper.


For the plating:

Cut Prawns into 3 medium size pieces and gently place on the outer left side of a round plate.

Add the vegetables in between of the Prawns; add eatable Nasturtium flowers, green pea sprouts and cress flower.

Before serving, drizzle vinaigrette carefully over the prawn, vegetables and flowers and add fresh Mango dices.

Tip: This dish can be prepared one day in advance and be plated on the day after or when needed.


(Photos: Manningtree Archive)


When a few years ago the one-time British culinary “Wunderkind”, Jamie Oliver embarked on his trip to Italy he was told by an elderly couple at his parent’s Pub in Essex, that he must make sure to cook “Turkey Tetrazzini”. He had to admit of never having heard of this recipe. So he rode the waves of the Internet and found out all what there is to know about this particular dish. He discovered that this dish, which goes by various different names (Chicken-, Turkey-, Tuna- Tetrazzini), is also quite often simply referred to as a “Pasta Bake” – a name which I personally hate.

Ok, I admit, this is a very simple, unassuming and very difficult to photograph dish, but – although by many regarded as an ’old-fashioned’ dish by now – it has managed to get people around the world asking in the Oliver Twist way “….. Please, Sir, Can I have more……” because it is such a delicious dish, elegant and yet comfort food in one. But let’s face it, who really cares here if it is old-fashioned or not, nouvelle cuisine, neu, modern, hip, hop or however you want to call it – like good clothes, which never really go out of fashion completely – in fact only just sort of hibernate for a few years and then surface again as the latest inspiration of the new hot Designer of the moment. Food also has a period of certain popularity, which comes and goes. Who in the UK does not remember the one Christmas and the Oh so popular Delia Smith and her Cranberry’s!?

There must be numerous variations to this recipe, but I give you my own trusted version which I have been serving at my table around the world for so long now.

But coming back to the, for me at least, ever young “Chicken Tetrazzini” the story, according to Wikipedia goes that this dish is named after the Italian opera star, Luisa Tetrazzini and it is widely believed to have been invented ca. 1908-1910 by Ernest Arbogast, then chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California, where Tetrazzini was a long-time resident.

When “in my previous life” I lived for 4 ½ years in Western Nigeria, (European) food items were then extremely difficult to come by, even on “the black market”. Chicken though I was able to get as well as the occasional delivery of spaghetti, which I unashamedly sort of stockpiled for entertainment purposes. Some other small essential items were brought back from the UK in my suitcase. And so, out of necessity, this dish soon became my own ‘piece de resistance’ when we had to entertain foreign VIP’s.

One of my favourite visitors and guest at my own dinner table was the person in the photograph below.


Sir Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton. He was Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1963.

I was really blessed on the whole with the nicer kind of visiting VIP’s unlike some of my peers. The majority of them were easy going, kind, appreciative of the difficult situations and places we had to deal with, the non availability of sometimes just basic food stock, endless power cuts for days (and of course no generator!). Sometimes even a “bread-and-butter” letter and/or a small thank you gift like flowers, chocolates, books or even small treasured items like Malden Salt reached me and the letters in particular meant a lot, just a few kind words. Remember, those were the days prior to Smartphone’s, iPods etc. (just think about it – how did we ever manage as well as we did without all those gadgets?!) In fact I learned early on “in my previous” life that some of the nicest and most appreciative and considered guests are the ones who are really very important in their private and professional life and the others, who have just put up that facade, are the real – and how shall I put it elegantly – ……pain in the neck!!

Sir Harold was a true gentleman and one of the least big headed people passing through my life. He took time out and taught me how best to grow long green beans and tomatoes in our climate. He taught me how best to train the passion-fruit vine over my pergola and the days he stayed with us he treated me less of his temporary hostess but more of a daughter which, yes, I enjoyed.

This dish can be prepared in advance and easily and quickly finished off in the last minutes. To make life easier, I suggest just do what I normally do. I do not have exact measurements; I just go by the “look/like/use”.



4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts cut into nice thin slices

App. 1 lb of button mushrooms, wiped and sliced

1-2 large onions, not too finely chopped, like the bite

5-8 cloves garlic, minced

Some fresh (or dried) Parsley

Some fresh (or dried) thyme

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

8-10 Tbsp butter

Salt, black pepper and grated nutmeg to taste

A good glug of dry white wine (delicious, but optional)

Some flour for thickening

4 cups of good milk

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup good chicken broth (cube)

Enough breadcrumbs mixed with grated parmesan (or other sharp cheese) enough to cover the finished dish

1 whole pack of either spaghetti or linguini



Heat up your oven to high.

Butter a large baking dish (Oven-to-table) and keep aside

In a large wok or pan melt some butter with some olive oil, when hot add chicken and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, keep stirring. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. When done take out with slotted spoon and keep aside. Now add all your mushrooms and sauté over medium heat until the mushroom liquid has evaporated, maybe 2 minutes. Now add everything else like onion, garlic and the thyme m sauté for another 6-8 minutes or so, keep stirring. When it becomes dry add the wine or some of your chicken stock. Add more butter and flour and for a couple of minutes whisk everything together to avoid lumps. Bring your heat to high and whisk in cream, broth, milk, nutmeg. When this starts to boil, uncover and simmer on very low flame until your sauce starts to thicken. Don’t leave this alone now for the next 10 minutes, whisk frequently. When done, add to the chicken mixture.

In the meantime cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water. When done, drain very quickly and add pasta to your chicken- and sauce mixture. Mix very well and put everything into the baking dish. Top with the breadcrumb/cheese mixture and leave in the oven for app. 25 minutes, or until a nice light brown crust starts to show.


So tell me, friends, what is your favourite version of this dish? I am always open to suggestions.


Tomato Soup Gold

When I was still a tiny Tot and barely able to walk, so my mother used to tell me and her story was confirmed by my doting paternal Grandfather, I, out of the blue, developed this irritating habit of closing my eyes firmly shut, swinging my arms (flapping ungainly most likely) and “dancing” around our living room bumping into furniture, knocking down things. When my mother slightly concerned tried to stop me for fear that I may hurt myself or ‘hurt’ some of our precious items in the room, all she ended up with was a little daughter who brutally was forced to exit her imaginary world of ‘make believe’ and come back into the grown-up world with a bump – into reality!

Ever since my mother and some of our friends took me to see Tchaikovsky’s wonderful ballet “The Nutcracker” around Christmas time, this little girl here had only one giant wish, she wanted Fairy Godmother to come to our house and turn her into a Ballerina by the sheer wave of her magic stick. But she did not want a place in the Corps de Ballet, oh no, she wanted only the top job – Prima Ballerina. But in time she had to learn the hard fact that this job was not going to be hers – ever!

But my love for classical music, opera and the ballet stayed with me all through my life.

Years and years later in ‘my previous life’, when back in London on 2 months leave; I was introduced to ‘Glyndebourne’ by some dear dear friends of ours. To be frank, up to then I had no knowledge of this yet another wonderful British Institution. Glyndebourne is a country house, thought to be about six hundred years old, and located near Lewes in East Sussex, England.  Many Glyndebourne attendees come from London by train and wearing evening dress. Glyndebourne is regarded as part of the London/English summer season. Performances start in the afternoon, enabling Londoners to leave town after lunch, and finish in time for them to catch the last train back. A long interval allows opera-goers the opportunity to have their meal on the extensive lawns or in one of the restaurants – but then, and maybe even today, most opted for “picnic on the lawn”. We went by car from Kent where we stayed with Neil and Mary for a few days. The car was laden with an array of splendid picnic items and enough delicious food and drinks for an army – or so it seemed to me at the time.

The Lawns at Glyndeboiurne

To this day I will never forget Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” and even now, if I close my eyes I can transport myself back in time and to that magical day. We were blessed with one of those rare beautiful English summers’ days – warm enough to sit out on the lawns during the extra long interval in front of this beautiful Country House and yet cool enough as not to feel uncomfortable in one’s evening dress attire in the middle of the day.

The Organ Room at Glyndebourne

One other fond memory I have of this particular day – Mary’s soup! Not just any old soup oh no, this was her secret family recipe which she consistently had refused to share with anybody else, until I came into her life. And now, decades later, I like to share it with you, dear friends – another little treasure from my memory box!

This is such a quick and easy recipe which you can make for any surprise visit of family or friends, as long as you always have a few basics in your store cupboard. While your visitors enjoy their drinks you whisk this up in your kitchen in no time. But to bring out the mixture of flavour this soup should preferably be served very chilled.


Mary’s Tomato Soup Gold

1 big tin of peeled tomatoes, juice and all (or fresh ones with skin removed)

1 large Onion

5-10 peeled garlic cloves

Some (not too many, or colour of coup will change towards green) parsley leafs

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of black pepper

Tomato Soup

Now put all the above into your mixer and pulse until it is liquid.

Add 3 (or more or less depending on your own taste) large spoons of mayonnaise, and blend it into your tomato mixture.

Now add 2 tsp of curry powder (or more or less) to this and blend in well.

Transfer to a large pretty (glass looks nice) bowl and add 1 tsp (or more or less) of hot Tabasco sauce, mix very well (this is actually the “little secret” people never guess.)  This soup is supposed to have “a kick!” And just before serving this truly delicious soup plop some ice cubes, in which you have previously frozen some parsley leaves, into the soup.

Serve with some extra garlicky toasted bread cubes on the side.

This soup is actually quite filling, so watch out, if you want to serve this as a first course at a summer’s lunch party.

And if you happen to like this, do say a quiet “thank you” to my late friend Mary.





Photos: Glyndebourne courtesy of Wikipedia

Soup by ManningtreeArchive

H A P P Y D I W A L I 2012

To you, who celebrate Diwali, our very best wishes go out to you, our friends and readers, here in India and anywhere else in this world where you may be right now. Have a wonderful time celebrating your festival of lights (and sweets!).

We do not celebrate Diwali in our house, but I wanted to post something on this happy occasion. I also wanted a different kind of picture for my first Diwali on this blog – the usual ones are lots and lots of (candle) lights and lots of fireworks. So ‘sweets’ jumped to my mind. Now I do not really have a sweet tooth and maybe that is one of the reasons why I am lacking a certain talent in baking and/or making those sweets which are so very popular here.

Once I had made up my mind regarding the photographs, I jumped into the car and off I went to a great place not too far away from my house. A place well known to everybody here and which has supplied me with countless cakes of all different kinds over the 10 plus years I now live here. Cakes for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas, and countless other reasons, like just simply saying ‘thank you’ to somebody for a job well-done or to cheer a friend up when she is down in the dumps – Kerala ladies (and men, for that matter) on the whole have a very sweet tooth. And even our daughters like to take back with them to their colleges a small parcel of assorted sweets, biscuits etc.

K.R. Bakes, whose motto is “Baked with Love” was established in 1969 in Coimbatore in our neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu by their Chairman, Mr. Balan. In Cochin alone, one can find 17 outlets, supplying the public with their delicious wares.

Mr. Anoop, the Regional Manager for the State of Kerala kindly let me put together a small assortment of their special Diwali sweets – there was so much to choose from, I did not know where to start (nor stop) really. So, Mr. Rajeevan, the Shop Manager, came to my rescue and gave me a helping hand.

The Bakery sells special Diwali presentation boxes in ½ kg and 1 kg boxes , but of course, many choose to put together their own assortment from the more than100 different delectable sweets on display. And for anyone with a true sweet tooth standing in front of the counters and looking at the wares, I can hear them mutter “….oh decisions, decisions, decisions!!!….”




Ciao, Carina


I came to Venice for the first time in the late ‘70s and fell head over heals in love with this beautiful ancient city. We arrived by plane from West Africa via London. It was late and we were tired. So we hired a private motor taxi to take us to our Hotel, which was basically next door to the famous “Teatro La Fenice”.

And over the duration of our stay in Venice, which was normally always two weeks in order to catch up with friends, we were treated every morning early on with a free concert (i.e. rehearsals!!). Sitting in our beautifully furnished bedroom (old, slightly faded silk wall paper, highly polished Italian antique furniture, wonderful paintings on the walls and flowers galore in, of course, Venetian glass!) and having breakfast served ‘the old-fashioned way’, i.e. silver, linen napkins, the whole lot!! We were never in a real hurry to get out and see the sights.

The flowers  were sent by friends and even a couple of shops, where we used to buy a few things every year on our return. They all knew that because we were living in West Africa we were starved of ‘European flowers’ – they meant everything to me, chocolates etc. not so much. And being lovers of classical music it is needless to say that we thought we were short of entering heaven. What a wonderful happy start of a day!

When our water taxi entered the Lagoon the ‘lady up in the sky – the sun’ was getting ready to bid this part of the world ‘buana notte’ and the sight of the city being immersed in that special glow created by the sinking sun was, and still is, something which truly takes your breath away.

Claude Monet, the famous French painter, came to Venice with his wife Alice for the first and in fact last time in October 1908. During their 10 weeks stay he painted many of his famous paintings, depicting scenes of Venice, also he apparently said that Venice is a city “too beautiful to be painted”.

This oil painting, ‘San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk’ (also known as “Venice at Dusk”) is certainly both our personal favourite.

Today this painting is part of a collection in the National Museum Cardiff, which is the National Gallery of Wales/UK.

Very close to the famous and, by the way, the oldest bridge across the Canale Grande ‘Ponte di Rialto’ (Rialto Bridge) is a famous restaurant  mainly frequented by the Locals and we learned of this from the then manager of the Italian Tourist Office in London ages ago. I want to write about this place another day – so therefore I keep it ‘secret’ a little longer. Although it was then and still is, the best seafood restaurant in Venice, I had the ‘Fegato’ below – and I never regretted it.

For: 4


500 g calf’s (preferably) or beef liver, cleaned, washed, dried and cut into small neat strips the length of your little finger

500 g onions, sliced very thinly (I use a Mandolin slicer here)

Juice of 2-3 of our little lemon (or to taste)

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

150 g good Butter

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

4-5 fresh Sage leaves (if possible) or some dried sage

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley, finely chopped


First of all, if you are using beef liver, soak this in some milk for 30 minutes before cooking in order to take out any sharp taste.

The next stage is to caramelize the onions – this has to be done on a very low heat and will take some time, 30-40minutes or so. Do not let the onions become dark. Use a wide frying pan, big enough to accommodate all the onions in one layer, add half the butter and 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Take another big frying pan and on a low heat melt the remaining butter and oil and a few sage leaves (or ½ tsp of dried sage). Quickly stir once and add the dried liver to this, but do not use any salt here or your liver will get hard. Change heat to medium and cook liver until dark outside, but nicely pink inside, for just a few minutes. Do not overcook the liver or it will get tough like shoe-leather (not that you ever have tried to eat shoe-leather, I am sure!).

Now add the cooked onions to the liver and squeeze some lemon juice over this and mix. Transfer to a pre-heated serving platter, sprinkle with some chopped parsley for colour and bring to your table.

Traditionally this dish is served with cold polenta (for my Kerala readers: ready-to-cook polenta available from the GOURMET House in Thevera), cut into diamond shape, and lightly fried in sage-infused butter – hmmm, just the way I love it.

But, of course you can use whatever you like, Basmati rice, creamy mashed potatoes (to which I like to add a bit of mayonnaise and a little dollop of  readymade mustard), small boiled potatoes or just nice fresh Multigrain bread to mop up the juices.

Ciao, Carina

(Photos: 2nd and 4th: Public domain of Wikipedia / Rest: Manningtree Archive)

Fettuccine Alfredo alla Scrofa

First of all, this dish is known in Rome amongst the Italians as “Fettuccini al burro’, while the rest of the world calls it ‘Fettuccine Alfredo’ after the man who invented this dish.

I don’t know about you, but JO and I normally try and give the usual tourist restaurants a miss on our many travels, but of course, there is always the odd exception or two.

One of those is a famous old restaurant, still located in its original place in the old city centre of Rome on Via della Scrofa.

It was here that a man by the name of ‘Alfredo Di Lelio’ invented the famous signature dish of this establishment, yes – ‘Fettuccine Alfredo’. Having made this sumptuous dish a few times at home for family and friends, we decided to finally pay ‘Alfredo’s’ a visit on our recent trip to Rome.

The place was packed with mainly tourists, who wanted to try out the ‘original Fettuccine Alfredo’. Yes, I admit that we wanted the same but most of all we wanted to have a good close up look at the famous photo gallery, depicting not only those film stars of ‘yesteryears’ and Mario Mozzetti (whose family bought the restaurant in 1943 from Alfredo Di Lelio) has done a good job in updating this gallery, also showing photographs of ordinary people, government heads and film-, music- and theater people.

There is a nice little romantic story attached to one of the old pictures on the wall. It is said that the fame came to Di Lelio’s restaurant when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks stopped by and fell in love with the dish. This was on their honeymoon in 1920. As a thank you and to express their gratitude the presented Di Lelio with a golden fork and spoon together with a signed photograph which shows them eating in his restaurant which he proudly displayed on the wall – hence the gallery was born.

But most importantly, this is still the undisputed home of the undisputed pasta dish, which one can find now all over the world.

We have been there twice now, but next time we go, we will try one of their other dishes on the menu and sit once again very close to the Gallery.

This recipe should come with a sort of ‘health warning’ because it is so unbelievably delicious and sinful and of course laden with calories. But, please, if you still want to make this famous dish, for once go ahead and ‘push the boat out’ fully. No cheating here, use only the real things, and that means good butter, good fat cream and wonderful Parmigiano with Fettuccine (everything available now here in Cochin at GOURMET House in Thevera)

The other good thing I like about this dish is that it needs only 2 pots/pans, and that it is so quick to make as well.

For 4 people:

1 pack of Fettuccine, appr. 500 g

6 (or more!) Tbsp. of butter

250 ml of lovely fat cream

A more than generous handful of grated Parmigiano

A pinch of grated Nutmeg (optional)

A dash of salt and black pepper, to taste


In one pot boil your pasta in plenty of boiling water. No salt, no oil here! When ready, DO NOT DRAIN, just take off heat.

In a deep pan melt all your butter on medium heat, reduce heat even more and add your cream. By no means, if you want more creamy sauce, just add more cream and butter. Let this simmer for app. 1 minute. Now add nutmeg, salt and pepper and half the Parmigiano. Stir very gently and carefully. Don’t let anything boil or the sauce goes wrong.

Now lift your pasta straight from the hot cooking water into the sauce and with two forks toss all this together.

Put onto a large preheated platter (or onto 4 individual plates) and sprinkle the other generous! half of your Parmigiano over this and serve.

Buon appetito!

Ciao, Carina