Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Breakfast at the Vignassa

As I said in another post [click here] breakfast is the best meal of the day as far as I’m concerned which is useful considering that I run a bed and breakfast and not a bed and something else. One of my guests suggested I write something about breakfast at the Vignassa So, I’ll try.

Because I like breakfast so much I like to prepare breakfasts that are, with the ingredients available here, as memorable as possible.

We can’t do a cooked breakfast mainly because the two main ingredients bacon and sausage are impossible to come by so we do continental.

We have discovered over the last two years that though the Italians are famous for their love of Nutella chocolate spread and biscuits and milky coffee in the morning, this may not actually be so as we have noticed a different tendency, at least as far as bed and breakfasting is concerned.

We started off offering guests a sweet breakfast only. This consisted of homemade walnut or almond bread, a loaf of shop bought rye bread as an alternative, Nutella in individual portions, some shop bought jams and three or four types of homemade jam. Laura makes jam several times a year using either our own blackberries or strawberries or buying organic oranges, apricots, strawberries and so on from the Frutto Permesso which is an organic farm in a village near here. The jams are presented on the breakfast table in little ceramic pots.

For some reason it’s not easy to find salted butter in Italy but unsalted, at least to my taste, seems to go better with jams than salted. We use individually wrapped butter pats.

Then every breakfast we try to offer a different type of cake. The ones I like best and which usually turn out the best (not being very good at baking) are carrot cake, shortbread and apple pie. I used to do a lemon cake too but it was usually too lemony for breakfast and I ended up eating it all myself on a regular basis, putting on kilos and kilos as I did so.

But then we had a German lady stay with us and, having myself lived in Germany for some time, knew that a savory brekker is often preferred. So we went to our local shop and enquired about local cheeses. I must just point out here that we are great believers in the use us or lose us philosophy. We usually buy at the shops in the Hamlet of Santa Margherita, the nearest shops to our house. There are two general stores, a haberdasher, a garden shop and a newsagent. It is not always true that local shops cost more. Some things do but most things don’t and anyway we know everyone which makes it a lot more fun to shop locally than in the hated supermarkets. So we found some cheeses, that we liked and more to the point that our German guest liked, and ended up presenting a small selection for our Italian guests too along with some thinly sliced roasted meat, or ham or salami and when I can be bothered, a little garnish. It was a great success and as soon as we started to do it regularly we discovered that given the choice, just about everybody, including the Italians go for the cheese. So now we present both sweet and savory.

We also have yogurt on offer and cereals. To make sure the cereals were always fresh I had to keep eating them myself and buying new packets thus adding to the kilos around the midriff yet again. But then we found that Kellogg’s had brought out in Italy too those individual mini portions in their own boxes which is great because the remain sealed until they are used. This was another surprise. Cereals are not nearly as popular as I thought.

Another thing that we have discovered is that Italians rightly love their espresso. We bought an electric espresso percolator which is fantastic as it makes good coffee and keeps it hot for half an hour before switching itself off. We also have barley coffee which is very popular here, plunger coffee, and instant, and of course various types of tea.

Milk is more difficult being the usual milky tasting liquid which is the only thing you can buy in the shops these days. There is a shop in Luserna which is the next village, which has a dispenser serving freshly milked un pasteurised moo-juice. You take your own bottle (thus saving on plastic) and it’s is cheaper too. Though we are told that it is not necessary to boil it, we do anyway. We do though always ask our guests if they do want this type of milk because it really does taste of milk and is not always to everyone’s taste.

We serve breakfast in the lounge across the courtyard as this offers he best view of the woods below. Very very rarely we have had guest eating breakfast watching the roe deer grazing at the edge of the woods below but more usual are the birds in the walnut tree and the red squirrels.

During the colder months, as I have to get up a couple of hours before our guests in order to light the furnace, I also like to light the box fire in the lounge as I think it gives a more relaxing and comforting start to the day and a warmer type of warmth, if that makes any sense.

1 comment:

la.sartore said...

Husband, have you done the washing up yet? You are too prolific! smiley xx wife