We like to take our time for cooking. Since we putter around in the settlers’ house, extravagant meals came up short. The kitchen was furnished only makeshift so far, and mostly, we just didn’t have the time to cook for hours. So, what we prepared here was pretty simple with few ingredients, preferably directly from our garden. We want to present you one of these every day meals.
For the dressing, blend all ingredients well with the blender. Heat a pot with salt water until it boils. Cook the broccoli florets 5-6 minutes, depending on the size, and blanch the peas for 2 minutes. With a ladle, scoop the vegetables out of the boiling water and put them into ice water. If needed, halve the radishes, roughly chop the dill and thinly slice the nectarine. Mix all the ingredients for the salad and decorate with roasted kernels, if wanted.
To go on a short trip to Italy just to eat some ice cream might sound a bit excessive, but when we were invited by Grom Gelato* we didn’t think long and accepted. After short research we found out that the founders Guido and Federico have the reputation of making the best gelato in Italy, maybe even in the whole world. We wanted to find out desperately if that’s true.
After a cancelled flight, waiting at the airport, a detour through half of Germany and searching for our lost suitcase we finally met one of the founders of Grom, Guido Martinetti, in Turin. We had a delicious dinner with regional specialities which eased the exertions of the last hours, or better: the last day. The most fabulous focaccia ever, agnolotti with Parmesan, perfect risotto, seasonal vegetables, and of course only the best wines were served. Not only listening to Guido during dinner was fascinating. It was at least as much fun just watching him. Spirited, he took from other’s plates, spooned the Parmesan directly from the bowl and cheered like a child when he saw the next course. Everyone else would have looked rude, but with him it was just plain adorable and it demonstrated his love to the Italian cuisine and to the carefully selected ingredients. It’s the keyword for their whole company. The Grom founders are followers of the slow food movement and with this, their story of success started. Until 2002, vintner Guido Martinetti and financial consultant Federico Grom had no idea how to produce ice cream. An article by slow food founder Carlo Petrini sparked Guidos interest and especially his ambition for this topic. In that article, Petrini vent on about how no one was producing traditional gelato anymore. Hard to believe, since ice cream belongs to the most praised Italian specialities. According to him, high quality gelato with seasonal fruits, without artificial flavours and all the other industrial additives did not exist anymore. This assessment should change only one year later. Guide persuaded his friend Federico of his idea to produce the best gelato you find on the market. With little money and even less clue they opened their first gelateria in Turin, and within short time, ice cream fans beat a path to their doors. With their fresh, unconventional ideas they changed the industry’s rules. Their lack of knowledge led to a completely different thinking about gelato and the production led to success. Until now, 15 years later, the founders study how to manufacture gelato to make Grom even more perfect. Their method is unique. They supply the stores not with the prepared, already frozen ice cream, but with a fresh gross mass which is creamed in an ice cream machine locally, thus getting the perfect consistency.
The knowledge and the recipes alone are not the guarantor for the taste adventure of Grom. Most important are the good ingredients. Here, the founders hit a wall. They couldn’t find products of their demand in Italy.
So they took the next step and built a farm in beautiful Piemont in 2007, the Mura Mura Farm. On the 20 hectare big organic farm in Costigliole d’Asti the best and tastiest types of fruit are grown. Still, they first had to find them. Thus, the farm is also a huge open-air experimental laboratory. While growing the fruits it’s not about aesthetics. Most producers focus on aesthetics because the customer on the market has to be excited about the fruits at first sight. However, the purpose on the Mura Mura Farm is to get the fruits with the best flavour. The apricots, for example, are smaller than those on the market and covered in dots, which is considered a flaw in beauty. On the other hand, the taste is special and can’t be found somewhere else. The same goes for the strawberries, which we passed around curious and excited. 28 different types are grown to choose the best for the gelato. We tried a breed which is part wood strawberry but without the tart after taste. Actually, we have never had such aromatic strawberries before! Beside the strawberries, peaches, pears, figs and melons are cultivated on the farm. A team decides in a blind tasting the best breeds for the gelato. These breeds are then planted numerously. The fruits may ripe on the plant until they reached their full flavour. Usually, fruits are often harvested long before they are ripe so they can be better transported and stored. This of course affects the taste and Guido and Federico won’t have it!To listen to Guido talking about all of this and watching him running around his farm with glittering eyes, describing all the different types of fruit, to show them, let them be tasted, was incredibly lovely. Those two live for their dream and their gelato. It’s bluntly obvious. Not only the gelato but also ice waffles and other delicious treats are produced by Grom: cookies, creams, jams. All in perfection.
Of course, we chowed through the whole menu. Pistacchio, raspberry, Crema di Grom, Sorbetto al Limone… Every type was heavenly creamy, fruity, delicious. Is it really the best gelato in the world? We cannot know, of course. However, we are confident it is something very special and it cannot be found like this anywhere else.
The two days in and around Turin were not alone about ice cream. We love Italians for showing guests their cuisine fervently. So we also visited the hosts favourite restaurants to get to know local specialities, tried wines, enjoyed the hubbub in Turin on the biggest open air market in the world, the Mercato di Porta Palazzo, and from the Mole Antoelliana we had a view on the whole city. We will come back, no doubt! Until then we can enjoy the great Grom gelato in Germany: it will be delivered to selected supermarkets here.
In our last report about our settler house, you saw the cherry trees still in full blossom, now within one blink of the eye cherries were hanging in bright red from the trees. We did not expect to harvest any, as everyone was warning us about the starlings. They would come in a whole swarm to settle in the trees and nourish themselves with the sweet fruits, until nothing would be left behind. Even if one of the main reasons why we decided to move out on the countryside, was the harvest of fruits and vegetables, this imagination was a bit of a relieve for us. As we do not have time to collect kilo over kilo of cherries and to use all of them. There is still too much construction going on. Apart from that, the crowns of the cherry trees are in unreachable hights. We will definitely not get up to these places.
This year though, the starlings did not come. Only a very few were pecking on the cherries. We were able to pick a first batch of 9 kilo. Already this is a huge amount, but on the four trees is hanging maybe ten times as much. We cooked the first kilos and prepared our chocolate cherry clafoutis. It taste best while it is still warm, when the chocolate is still melted. Then, the clafoutis can not get cut into pieces and must be eaten with the spoon, but the dough is super juicy.
Since a few days we were not able to harvest more. Maybe the sweet fragrance will be attracting the starlings, or the wasps. If not, we would love to go back on the ladder with a bucket. And to experiment with the cherries. We want to prepare some in salt. Some in vinegar. Dried cherries, jam, crumble cake, cherry-juice. Ideas are blossoming in our minds!
Preheat the oven to 180°C (conventional mode, not fan-assisted). Pit the cherries. Ground the almonds and mix with cocoa, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl.
With a whisk, stir eggs into cream. Add the egg/cream mixture to your dry almond mixture and stir to make a smooth cake batter.
Chop the chocolate and stir in the batter. Melt butter in an oven-pan or baking dish (approx. 24 cm in diameter). Add the cake batter to the pan and spread evenly. Spread cherries evenly on the batter and bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes.
We like to decorate the Clafoutis with fresh cherries and chopped chocolate.