Tag Archives: Summer

Frank’s Cafe

16th September 2013

I probably shouldn’t say things like this (as it’s a bit embarrassing for me), but I do think that some places make you feel cooler than others.  When there’s an atmosphere, a location, a buzz that’s exactly right and appears effortless.  

Frank’s Cafe is one of those places.  Before I continue, just get a look at this view.

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine called some last minute birthday drinks and so a group of us met at Frank’s on a Thursday night.  This was before autumn set in, and the evening was clear and warm.

To get there, you make your way to Peckham multi-storey carpark, and then climb all the way to the Level 6 rooftop.  It feels a little strange pacing through the concrete slopes and stairs on foot, but as soon as you come out into the open air it all makes sense.

Frank’s Cafe is open from July through to September and is part of the Bold Tendencies Sculpture Project.  This means that there are some interesting pieces of art to have a look at if you go and visit.

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The sunset and city skyline were stunning, and the wide open space was full of Londoners enjoying the late summer weather.

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There is a bar under tarpaulin which efficiently churns out drinks (I am reliably informed that you can now download an app to place your drinks order before going to pick it up) and an open grill.  The food is specials that change daily along with an assortment of finger food – sardines, olives, smoky nuts and so on.

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We sipped on Campari cocktails and snacked on hummus with hunks of bread.

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And then settled in to watch the night arrive.

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You can find the Frank’s website here.  They’re closing for the year on September 29th, so you’ve still got time to go.  

If the chill has already got into your bones and you don’t fancy wrapping up, then make sure it’s on your list for next summer!

Frank's Cafe and Campari Bar on Urbanspoon

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Cervinia

3rd September 2013

I spent two and a half weeks of August in Cervinia, which is in the Italian Alps.  O is doing his first ski instructor levels out there, so I hopped on a plane (and then a train.  And then in a car) to go and visit him.

I took a LOT of photos, so after plenty of sorting, I have managed to choose my favourites.  I think I’ll let the pictures do most of the describing in this post…

If you’re interested in mountains, waterfalls, and of course, Alpine food – then read on!  (Not surprisingly – there’s quite a bit of cheese involved)

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The view from the glacier above Cervinia where you can ski all year round.  This is looking back down towards the town.  During the summer, you take three lifts up to get to the slopes…

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Matching in mint green (so hot right now)

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Predictably, being Italy and all, the pizzas are amazing.  This one had Fontina cheese, Speck ham and mozzarella.

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A morning on skis

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And the afternoon at a glacial pool

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Heading down through the clouds for Raclette, potatoes and pudding…

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(Before)

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(After)

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One night we took a trip to the next town down the mountain, where we stayed at Locanda Quattro which is a little chalet hotel with only four rooms.  Each room has a special feature – a Turkish bath, a steam room… and ours had… a jacuzzi of course (what else).

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We’d done the Raclette, so it was time for la Pierre-chaud…

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Back up at Cervinia, one of the walks we took was to a massive dam above the town.  In the winter, it’s in the middle of the pistes.

The water is unbelievably blue.

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When we reached the dam, we went for a closer look…

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Playing train on an old railway track

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All that walking builds up an appetite I can tell you!

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And the best thing about being in the mountains?  Drinking as much hot chocolate as you can.

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O’s parents came to Cervinia for a couple of days while I was there and we had some lovely meals with them.  I tragically forgot to photograph the best cheese fondue I’ve ever had – was too busy drowning myself in Mont D’Or.  

But at the beautiful Saint Hubertus I had honey duck breast with roasted potato chips and courgettes – see below.  The chips were roast potatoes in disguise – get it?  One on my ‘to make’ list.

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Rabbit and burrata ravioli with vegetable cubetti (wow)

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Lemon sorbet

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When not hiking, skiing or sleeping, we mainly spent our time dog watching (Cervinia has the most beautiful assortment of dogs of all shapes and sizes I have ever seen) and playing cards.  Hey, it’s not a party town!

Check out this guy

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The biggest walk we did was up to a refuge on the snow line.  On the way we passed some incredible waterfalls.  The valley Cervinia sits in has several, and they make the setting completely stunning – especially with the Matterhorn in the background.

We had some fortifying milkshakes, and set off.

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It was getting pretty hot so Mowgli decided to take a dip…

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Suitably refreshed, we carried on up the mountain.  Up, up, up – legs were burning by this point!

You could see the dam all the way on the other side of the valley.

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Finally, we reached the refuge.  It was incredibly satisfying sitting down to some meat, cheese and bread.

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Although before too long, we had to make our way back down – we hadn’t brought sleeping bags to stay overnight.  

There’s a great restaurant in Cervinia called La Copa Pan where we ate a couple of times.  It has a basement bar and is beautifully furnished – a combination of modern colours, brass fittings and traditional mountain décor. 

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Olive oil, balsamic vinegar & rosemary

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Fondue bourguignonne

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There was also a delectable amuse-bouche of goats cheese, béchamel, fig chutney and rosemary.

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Which pretty much brings us to the end of my trip!  Maybe this post was a little too long, but I couldn’t resist – sorry.  I left Italy feeling refreshed and rested, with lungs full of mountain air.

Hopefully I’ll be able to return to Cervinia in the winter one day as I’d love to do the ski all the way into town from the top of Plateau Rosa.  

O will be home soon, and I can’t wait to see him.

‘Nearly Pesto’ Pasta

21st August 2013

The summer is flying by, and I’ve been meaning to post this for a while.  However, Italy, skiing, and bad internet connection have all provided enough of an (enjoyable) distraction that I haven’t gotten around to it.  

OK, no more excuses – here is a simple pasta recipe that I made last time I went home.  It’s like a tangy, lighter version of home made pesto. First stop – the greenhouse, for fresh basil. 12 The warm, tomato-ey smell of the greenhouse is one of my favourite things. 1 2 3 Basil in hand, I returned to the kitchen to prepare the rest of the ingredients. 13 For this pasta sauce, you’ll need:

  • Parmesan or other hard cheese – I used one I found in the fridge and can’t remember the name of – will update!
  • Pine nuts
  • Basil
  • Lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cream (if you like dairy)
  • Tomatoes, courgettes and so on can be used as a side salad if you fancy it – or you could mix them into the pasta.  Options!

(I’m sorry I haven’t included quantities – that’s because I didn’t really use them.  Just go for a ‘good handful’ of everything, and adjust to taste).

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Grind up the pine nuts with a pestle & mortar, and then throw in some more whole ones for a bit of diversity in the texture.  Add the parmesan to the nuts as well.

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Chop your beautiful fresh basil…

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And then grate the rind of a lemon and throw the whole lot in with the nuts and cheese.

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(My lemon is a bit pink because it got up close and personal with a pomegranate.  But no harm done.)

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A nice big slosh of olive oil and a squeeze of the lemon – and there you are.  The next picture isn’t that pretty but it’s what it looks like.  It tastes fab though.

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You can set that on one side or in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.  When you are, boil up some fresh pasta – don’t forget to add a bit of oil and a pinch of salt to the water.

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Put the cooked pasta into a serving dish and pour the sauce mixture on top of it, then toss it all together.

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You can add more basil and ground pepper on top to serve.  I also sloshed in a little bit of cream.

Everyone to the table!  

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Glass of wine?

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I think someone was a bit jealous…

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