Am in my element of watching mother nature change the countryside with warming up the air and encouraging the trees to come into bloom, the flowers to slowly open, the grass to grow again in a vibrant green. It is one of the most spectacular times of year to watch things grow again after hibernating. Europe in bloom.. well southern Europe where the weather has enabled us to sit outside again and enjoy lunches, drinks, and dinner in the sun as the days get longer, and warmer.

Driving or walking each day to the shipyard I am in awe at the wisteria  in full bloom in the small villages we are living in Lerici and San Terenzo. It is covering terraces, falling over roof tops, fences climbing up walls and the colour is just vibrant lilac. A colour that just oozes spring. The elderflowers are out in bloom now, so I have to pick this weekend otherwise I will not get my cordial made for the summer season. I have all the other ingredients and just have to hike around Portofino to find great elderflowers away from the roads, so they are not so polluted. The wild garlic, wild roses, lilies…. are just wonderful at this time of year so there is an abundance of colour all around with positive energy flowing all around, certainly gives me a bounce in my step after a long winter !

The artichokes in the markets with their pointed, thorned leaves from Sardinia are in abundance, the asparagus, purple and green are being bunched up to be sold, the oranges still on the trees are still selling well, together with the spring fruits, the strawberries, the loquats which have just come into season here from southern Italy. The fava beans are just in their element and the number of times I just buy a handful and just eat them instantly much to the amusement of crew who just do not get the thrill out of the crunch as I do as I bite into a fresh fava bean fresh from the pod. However they do all enjoy the dip that I make out of them once they have been cooked. 

I had a kilo of fresh peas the other day which I happily podded and then blanched, roughly blended and stirred in some greek yogurt, mint, parsley, chopped spring onions and seasoned. Making it with frozen baby peas is just as good, and of course can be made at anytime of the year. You can always change the flavours with the herbs you use, or even change it to a spiced curry dip. Such a vibrant colour as well 

writing and eating tomatoes and fresh fava beans

Cherry tomatoes so sweet they are like candy are in the shops and markets again. I have been buying them in my normal manner, ( in abundance ) and have some with me all the time so I can snack on them. The crew have just come in from a long day onboard to find me writing with a large pile of cherry tomatoes next to me which I am just slowly devouring, with podded fava beans waiting to be blanched before I make the dip!  I think Spring is one of my favourite times with all the fresh flavours after a long cold, wet winter… which I of course was able to intersperse with a trip to Australia and then 10 days in the Caribbean so I should not complain.

Saudade April 28th 2011

Having just heard that the boat is to be re-sprayed I plunge into annoyance as I was so looking forward to her being taken out of the shed on Monday with the mast being stepped on Friday and then being splashed the following week so I could get back into my galley… but my dreams have been somewhat shattered. There is to be more cooking in the apartment, but I will just have to make the most of it and continue on !  Make the good out of an annoying situation so move on and work on with what I have at the moment….Nothing new in the world I live in !  So I guess there will be a bit of work going on the boat next week with the having to be re sanded and then re sprayed…. 

Cherry Pickers will be on their way next week as the scaffolding is down....

 But it does mean I will be able to hunt around for food stuffs for the season so a couple of visits to Viareggio are in order as are the trips up to Genova to the Asian shop to stock up on Asian ingredients, which can be hard to find in Italy where Italian food comes first and foremost ! Not that I am complaining …. 

ok off to boil up the fava beans to make the dip before I venture out to go and see La Traviata being performed in the small village of Lerici where we have been living this winter. The crew have decided to come along as well, so a cultured evening which will be interesting after a quick bite in a local Pizzeria. 

Tomorrow will be an early rise to hike and pick elderflowers and having checked the weather we are on for a great day …. scissors and bags in hand off I will trek.