They say that sourdough is the mother of all breads. Honestly, I have to agree. For a long time I was baking my bread using fresh commercial yeast that you can buy from any regular supermarket. But I was never truly satisfied with the end product. The crumb was always dry and floury like the loaf had been overcooked, and despite trying out various experiments to make our oven steamy, I could never achieve a crisp, golden crust. There had to be another way…


Last Sunday we had nothing planned so after driving down the motorway we ended up, quite spontaneously, in the fishing port of Chioggia. Known as “Little Venice” because of its ancient origins and strategic placing for sea defence, it’s an unusual grouping of islands within the Venetian lagoon famous for its fish market and seafood restaurants. For a small fee you can take a mini boat cruise, but we opted to stay on dry land and sampled the local “Cichetti” instead. And what are cichetti I hear you ask? Think Spanish “Tapas” , and you won’t be far off the mark.


A few years ago, I can’t remember exactly when, I got hold of a large quantity of industrial sized pallets. They measured roughly 3x2 metres, and the stringers/runners which are usually more or less the size of a 2x4 were more like 4x4s. It took some work dismantling these beasts as the huge nails used to hold them all together were well and truly embedded. It was inevitable that some of the boards would split during this process but I salvaged as much as I could and ended up with a lot of good, usable wood. First things on my list of projects were a pair of raised vegetable beds and a potting bench for the garden.


What can I say that hasn’t already been said before about the humble frittata? Firstly, what is it? I would describe it as the Italian answer to the French omelet, or the Spanish tortilla, kind of. Only it’s much thinner. Doesn’t have any added milk, cream or cheese and is served flat not rolled. The non-egg ingredients (in this case, wild hop shoots) are cooked prior to the addition of the eggs as opposed to cooking the egg, adding the filling, then rolling. Generally the frittata is much lighter compared to its French and Spanish cousins, ideal to be eaten with a fresh salad as a lunchtime snack as the weather starts to get warmer.  

You may be thinking, what are wild hop shoots?