Lunch at Rovello

Lunch at Rovello

By
Manuela Darling-Gansser
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740669030
Photographer
Simon Griffiths

One of the great pleasures of travelling is arriving home and sharing the experiences of your trip with others. If you have made a culinary journey, as I did in Sicily, then the best way to do this is to prepare a meal with lots of your favourite dishes from your travels. No amount of words can convey the full experience, but if you prepare food for people they will understand.

Our family home, ‘Rovello’ (named after the village above the house in Lugano where my father lives), is in Sydney, a city that enjoys a benign climate for most of the year. In front of the house is a broad terrace overlooking the garden with views of the harbour beyond. On the terrace, shaded by a wisteria-covered pergola, is a long dining table. Whenever possible, this is where we eat. In particular we have a tradition of a family lunch on Sundays.

In spring, lunching outside can be a bit hit or miss as the weather can be so variable. But on a good day, with the sun shining and beginning to shed some warmth and the first wisteria blossoming on the pergola above, the whole experience can be wonderful. As luck would have it, for my ‘Spring in Sicily’ lunch we had just such a day.

When I think about the food of Sicily it is the incredible variety of the seafood and vegetable dishes that I find really memorable. The desserts and cakes are memorable too, of course, but that is another story. So on the morning of my Sunday lunch I was up and about early to go to our extraordinary local fish market. There I found beautiful swordfish and some very fresh baby octopus and squid. At my local fruit and vegetable shop, I found wonderful tender radicchio and very young potatoes and leeks.

Whenever I prepare a special lunch such as this, I like to cook a number of different dishes and put them on the table all at once. They get sampled and passed around from person to person. It’s very convivial and a great way to try a number of different flavours – everyone can choose their favourites.

In my family, helping with the preparation is very much part of the lunch. Everyone likes to join in, and on that particular day I had many helpers, including my fifteen-month-old grandson. It was so hard to choose which dishes we would try; the truth is I would have loved to cook all of them – and maybe I will over a number of Sundays to come.

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