It all happened in one night: the day before here in Venice we were all dying from the heat and then, after a night of rain, autumn arrived. A new season has begun and for now, it is marvellous. Like every year, I did an extra at the foreign press accreditation desk during the Venice Film Festival and now I have some free time to make plans and arrange my 'school-year' routine. Work-wise, I finally feel strong enough to make some major changes...
As for the rest, tough, things are going to remain the exact same! The first autumnal habit I am eager to re-start is going to the movies at least once a week. On Wednesdays, the cinema costs only 3 euros per person, so that's when we generally see the latest films, otherwise I love to go to the super cosy film library named after Venetian director and film critic Francesco Pasinetti (1911-1949), in San Stae. There I go by myself in the afternoon, at the 5:30 show, with all the pensioners!
The other school-year tradition I am looking forward to is spending one afternoon a week with Matteo, my brother. As soon as he will learn the permanent schedule, we'll arrange something. By the way, how does it work in your country? In Italy when kids go to school there is about a month of 'temporary schedule' and lots and lots of strikes and protests by teachers and staff, which I do understand but -allow me say- make parent's life extremely complicated. Matteo is 16 now, so it's not a big deal, but for those in elementary school ... it's a sort of nightmare!
It is not common in Italy to have free kindergartens or childcare, people have to rely on grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, and the summer holidays are so long that really put every single family to test and it is just necessary for one of the two parents to either stay home or work only part time (or spend half of their salary in baby sitters). Wednesday was the first official day of school and on social media every one was posting pictures of their kids wearing the uniform and waving goodbye, whereas a friend of mine who has 3 extremely lively and energetic kids, well she posted a picture of herself jumping in the living room showcasing a 32 teeth smile, with her arms in the air, and a witty caption saying 'Have a great first day at school kids'... hahaha!!!! Poor woman, I had seen her just a few days earlier at the beach and she was exhausted...
Anyway, going back to our main topic... with September and autumn round the corner, we finally start having less cruise-shippers and I can finally re-start going to the centre without worrying too much. A lovely area in this season is definitely San Giacomo dell' Orio, where I like to stop for a glass of wine, a nibble and some chit chats at Al Prosecco. It's one of my favourite campi (squares), large and spacious, all in pastel pink and with some huge trees that offer shade to those sitting on the red benches. There are two schools nearby so in the afternoon it's full of children playing and parents relaxing. Until a year ago there was La Vida, an ex theatre recovered by the community and used for educational and beneficial activities, but now... it will be transformed into a bio restaurant. The people (called squatters...) were evicted on the 6th of March to free the space for a private initiative, so I do have to say it breaks my heart a little when I pass by. Also, I do wish all the best to the new managers, but I am afraid I won't be one of their customers ... I am just hating the way our mayor and the administration (currently totally based in Mestre) is behaving. Just think that on the island of Burano people were protesting against the installation of the Vodafone 4 giga repeater, but the staff of Vodafone was protected by our local police during the works and people treated as vandals. So now we have this dangerous thing placed over a kindergarten... No wonder Venetian people are angry and can't take anymore of anything!
Fortunately... we can always rely on friends and family! In my case, although I lead a relatively quiet life, I am very lucky, as I have had the same best friends for over 15 years. I don't see them everyday, but I know (and they know) that if in need, a helping hand will always reach out for me. One of them is Antonella from Pellestrina. I wrote about her father, who is a fisherman, in the summer of 2017 in my Venice Detour: Pellestrina and our fishermen post. Antonella, her fiancé Santo and her family have always been so good to me that I will be forever grateful... Now, she lives at about 20 minutes from my home and she has a beautiful garden full of fruit trees, herbs and lavender, so she fills me with food! I happened to pass by her house with Vito when my cousin Mark and his girlfriend Elle (she is soooooo lovely!) were visiting and when we saw them she immediately offered some 'saor' to bring home because, according to her, her dada had made too much and they were fed up of it. So, of course we brought everything home. In addition to the sardines, she also gave us herbs and a huge variety of apples, both green and red.
I used some of the green ones to make a risotto (I know it sounds weird, but in northern Italy it is quite normal! Usually it's apples and a cured meat called speck or sausage), and some others to make apple juice (btw, try combining apple juice and prosecco... it's lovely!), whereas the red ones were turned into sweet morning treats! Yes, because I made hasselback apples in a healthy Mediterranean version, thus replacing the butter with olive oil and lemon juice.
I often bake fruit and dress it with a mixture of oil and lemon, as it gives the fruit a nice and fresh flavour and is much easier to eat with this temperature (in winter, butter will be fine... but for now, lemon is just perfect! Trust me!!!). I left the skin because the apples are beyond organic... and the skin is the part with the most vitamins and nutrients, but feel free to peel it off if it doesn't suit your taste. This hasselback apple recipe is super easy and perfect for breakfast. For a little protein, I add yogurt, but of course ... with ice-cream it tastes even better! I hope you will enjoy it too! Bye for now and talk soon! XXX
RECIPE: HASSELBACK APPLES
10' prep, 30' bake
2 organic apples
2 oat cookies
2 Tbs rolled oats
2 Tbsp crushed almonds and hazelnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1. Pre-heat oven at 180°
2. Wash the apples, dry, slice in half and, with the appointed spoon, remove core.
3. With a sharp knife, make vertical slices leaving the bottom intact.
4. In a small bowl, combine the crushed cookies, the oats, the nuts and part of the oil and lemon mixture. Amalgamate and apply between the slices.
5. Pour the remaining oil and lemon mixture over the apples and bake for about 25/30 minutes.
Serve hot with yogurt or, for a more sinful version, top with vanilla ice cream.