This time last year…

I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, freshly plucked sweet crimson cherries in hand, gazing at sun sparkles shimmering across a breathtakingly azure ocean and clear blue sky, and squinting to identify where the two actually meet. Grappa impaired vision.

The small terra cotta and mustard hued fishing village surrounded by heavy grape vines and silvery olive trees below looks to relinquish its tenuous grip on the valley and tumble into that ocean. A number of villas actually did in the Autumn of 2011when flash flooding tore through the township consuming everything in its path to the sea. You’d never know it today though. Stoic folk these Ligurians…good thing that Grappa.

Behind me, nestling beneath a burgeoning Cherry tree, sits il Ciliegio (‘il Ciliegio’ translates to ‘the cherry tree’), a quaint little restaurant lovingly tended by a welcoming family who’ve just taught me how to cook five delectable Ligurian dishes. Each course consumed with great gusto and washed down with Prosecco, Frascati, Chianti, Sciacchetra (a delicate sweet wine from the region) and finished with a rich espresso….and Grappa.

As the last sediment of city deadline driven tension dissolves I smile and whisper to myself…’girlfriend you’ve made it!’ The Italian Riviera. The Cinque Terra. Monterosso al Mare…your new home! My gracious hosts are chortling for I’m also squealing ‘bello! magnifico! splendido!’ Damn Grappa mouth. Here’s one of those recipes…Grappa optional!

Tiramisu (the Ligurian way)

Need:

500g mascarpone cheese
4 eggs
Zest – thick strips of the surface of one lemon
4 tablespoons sugar
Coffee
Savoyard (lady finger) biscuits
Cocoa or shaved dark chocolate for dusting

Do:

• Separate eggs
• Beat the 4 yolks with the sugar and strips of lemon zest until light and fluffy (the zest removes the ‘eggy’ taste, remove it and discard after beating)
• Add mascarpone and incorporate well
• Beat egg whites until soft peaks form
• Fold egg whites into the mix, stir gently
• Prepare strong black coffee
• Reserve six of the Savoyard biscuits
• Break two Savoyard fingers each into the bottom of six individual glasses
• Soak the biscuit in each glass with two tablespoons of coffee
• Top with the mascarpone cream
• Liberally dust with cocoa or shards of dark chocolate
• Insert the remaining Savoyard finger
• Serve with espresso and dessert liqueur of choice.

Grappa – an alcoholic beverage, fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume. (Wikipedia) Damn Grappa!

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