Posted on February 2nd, 2013
The mind is wandering in the medieval winding cobblestone streets of Porto, wondering what is really so charming about such quaint towns that we never want to leave? Is it an escape from the mechanical life in the big cities, a boring day job, urban lifestyle which gives us no time to sit back and ponder, is it the old world charm to which we all succumb or just the simplicity of life?
As I search for answers, what comes to mind is a tiny cafe in Porto, run by a mother and 2 daughters, serving the best cake in town. And though I spoke to her in English and she replied to me in Portuguese, our conversation took the better part of 15 minutes. As though we completely understood each other, she told me she herself bakes Pastéis de Nata everyday for her customers, in her own little kitchen, because that is what connects her with people. Her cakes have turned customers into friends and friends into family. They weren’t the most expensive cakes in Porto but certainly the most delicious because they were made with lots of love and care. And the fact that people love them is her greatest joy in life (apart from her 2 daughters – which she specifically pointed out towards the end). What struck me was that she has a simple life, simple needs, no hurry to get anywhere, loyal friendships and absence of pretense. She is happy, content and at peace. That day, she became another of my role models.
The virtue of being able to remove clutter from life and simplify life is, in my view, something we should all try and strive for. With that thought, I leave you here with a simple and lovely salad made only with three ingredients but with lots of love and care. Hope you would enjoy..bon apetite!
2 blood oranges
1 fennel or 2-3 baby fennel
6 chervil sprigs, leaves picked
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
1. Shave the fennel and drop the slices into ice water for few minutes to crisp. Drain the fennel slices and pat dry on paper towels.
2. Slice off the top and bottom ends of one orange; shave off the peel and all of the white bitter pith, so only the fruity flesh is showing. Slice into the center of the orange, running the blade along each of the thin membranes that hold the fruit sections, so the fruit is released, let these fall into a bowl. Peel and cut out the fruit sections from all the oranges.
3. Take the bowl with the orange wedges and add the fennel and chervil leaves. Drizzle with the oil and vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss and serve immediately.
Another fabulous Sicilian variation can be found here ∗