Days merge into one another as work takes over the long August days here in Cagliari. Wandering through the old town at 6am is great as the sun is slowly rising over the hills to the east and by the time I have finished my Tibetans on the deck the sun is just over the buildings the other side of the marina.

I have been going daily up into Cagliari to buy fresh veggies, breads and other small necessities such as Prosciutto or Pecorino, to add to a lunch that I would be preparing. It has been fun speaking with the girls in the local deli who know my Italian is basic but help me as they have a strong Sardinian accent and sometimes the things they say I cannot understand like at the local fruit and vegetable sellers in the markets I visit. I get involved in local conversations with the women who shop daily at the deli and have to tell you all that is going on with their lives or their neighbours. I can only catch half of it as their dialect is far beyond my reach, but I still understand what they are asking for and what they intend to do with the food that they are buying ! The local butcher, will mince some beef for me which I need for ragu or a moussaka or de bone chicken thighs for me on request for no extra cost. It appears to be a pleasure to him and a great time saver for me ! Now being the week before Ferragosto, the feast of Assumption, lots of my little favourite shops are closed for the holiday, August 15th and really the main summer holiday period in Italy. I have been wandering down different streets to find a suitable fruit and vegetable shop to buy from. But I cannot complain I can still find my favourites cherry tomatoes and basil ….

Fresh local basil and cherry tomatoes

The market was full again of wonderful fresh vegetables and fruits, the fish stalls were bustling with the locals desperate to get the freshest of fish for the meals. Here in Cagliari and up in Oristano there are large fish farms farming sea bass and bream, mussels and clams so the markets are full of these fish. I laugh to myself as my friends in Rhodes, Greece, who own a fish taverna always talk of the Italians who only want the farmed fish that they buy from the farms in Greece and here I am in a large fish farming area where the locals would rather buy the non farmed fish! It means that those who cannot afford the wild fish can still eat the sea bass or bream. The mussels are enjoyed by all regardless of their life as in reality most of the mussels that are eaten are farmed throughout the world.

So that lunch we all happily ate clams and mussels in a rich tomato sauce to be soaked up with fresh crusty bread. Being that I only eat fish and not meat and try not to eat farmed fish let alone endangered fish I am always searching for fish that is sustainable in the areas I am in. However as a chef onboard a yacht I have to feed the guests with foods they enjoy, like and want so I have to sometimes goes against my wishes. There are some great websites that can help you find fish that are sustainable such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California or the Marine Stewardship Council. They are worth looking at and learning about the marine life that we are loosing as we over fish in this world. I stopped eating tinned tuna whilst I was based out in the Seychelles one season next to a tuna canning factory. I spent some time talking with some ex fishermen and learnt rather a lot about the tuna fishing industry in the Indian Ocean which I would rather have not learnt but to be honest it made me realise that it is all about money rather than the fish or the dolphins they killed as well. I know my small effort not eating the tinned tuna does not stop the industry but it is my way of being against it. I try not to eat too much tuna unless we catch it on the yacht or I know of the people who have caught it.

Early August and we had a birthday onboard, so a Pavlova was on the menu ! I had made such a wonderful one last year for Kade’s birthday I was wondering if I could make an even better one seeing as he was turning 30 this year…. With fresh peaches and blueberries it slide down perfectly after a lunch ashore in a small funky restaurant on a point close to Cagliari

Pavlova

Birthday Peach and Blueberry Pavlova

5 egg whites room temperature

300g caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp cornflour

2 tsp vinegar

500 gm whipping cream

6 ripe peaches

1 punnet fresh blueberries

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup caster sugar

Heat the oven gas mark 2/100 fan forced/ 110

Line a baking tray with baking paper with a circle drawn on the underside measuring 24cm in diameter

Mix together the vanilla, cornflour and vinegar until they are well combined.

Whisk the egg white until doubled in volume at least and then add the sugar tablespoon at a time alternating with a teaspoon of the vanilla mixture. Continue to whisk the egg white mixture for at least 10 mins until it has grown in volume and become very thick, shiny and white.

Gently spoon the mixture into the circle. Be careful not to squash down the meringue as this will flatten it and you want to keep as much of the air inside the meringue as possible to keep it high and light. It will also mean that the inside will remain gooey and melt in your mouth as you eat it!

Place it in the oven and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hrs. Once it is cooked open the door of the oven and allow the Pavlova to cool down in the oven.*

An hour before serving mix the boiling water and sugar together and stir dissolving the sugar. Peel and slice the peaches and place inside the warm sugar syrup together with the blueberries and then place in the freezer to chill, stirring occasionally.

Just before serving whip the cream so that it is stiff and pile onto the middle of the Pavlova and then gently pile on the fruit and serve. You can as I did shave some dark chocolate over the top as well. Enjoy

There are many adaptations to this Pavlova which in time I will add to this site… chocolate Pavlova with chocolate cream or chocolate swirl Pavlova with strawberries ! But the one above is as good as the rest and you can use what ever fruit you like or ice cream instead of cream. It is there to experiment and enjoy.

*I sometimes have a problem with this as inevitably when I cook something that has to cool in the oven with the door ajar or open we tend to go sailing at this point and being that my oven is a fan forced, amazing 90cm Gaggenau it retains the heat so leaving something in the oven when I cannot open the door means it ends up cooking for much longer!



Advertisements