Summer arrived a few months early. During the week end temperatures reached 33°C, and I saw a thermometer in the sun that read 39°C! This is not natural, not even in the Mediterranean. So we spent most of our week end outdoors, picnicking in the park, taking walks and basking in the beautiful sunshine.
Milan, not always considered a gem among the many beautiful Italian towns, is called the city of hidden gardens, terraces and courtyards.
Here are a few corners off the beaten track (for tourists at least).
The Idroscalo was originally built for hydroplanes in the Twenties. It is now a recreational area for the city of Milan.
We also went to Villa Necchi Campiglio. Did any of you see the movie "I am Love" starring Tilda Swinton (2009)? The villa, which was said to be the real star of the movie, was built in the Thirties and is an example of Italian proto-modernist architecture, with stunning interiors, that also boasts an imposing art collection. Access to the gardens is free and it is a nice place to sit and read a newspaper while sipping a cappucino or enjoying lunch at the café by the tennis court.
The Necchis didn't have it bad, with a private garden, tennis court and swimming pool right in the center of Milan.
|Discrete garbage can|
via Mozart, 14
And did you know that just a few steps away, there are flamingos year-round in the garden of Villa Invernizzi? Whenever we walk by, my kids love to press their noses agains the gates and look at them.
On Saturday we went to a friends' house for a housewarming party. Inspired by the almost florescent green leaves exploding even in the most grey corners of this city, I decided to make a lime tart. Out came my Joy of Cooking, my already open pack of Digestive cookies and that bag of limes that had been patiently sitting in my fridge waiting for my attention. I had two cans of condensed milk in my cupboard from another dessert I made a while back. I was set to go. Isn't it the best feeling when you make a great dessert using things you already have? I just love it.
Notes to self: do not bake a cake that involves whipped cream at the height of summer (or in the first decade of April, like I could've known...). The whipped cream started melting while I was taking pictures.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker (I used Digestives)
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of cookies - I used 1/4)
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) butter, melted and cooled
(1 tsp ground cinnamon)
15 oz. can condensed milk (425gr.)
4 large yolks (I used five normal sized yolks)
1/2 cup lime juice
3 or 4 tsp grated lime zest
about 1 cup heavy whipping cream
(1 scant tsp confectioner's sugar)
The recipe suggests using a 9 or 10 inch tart pan. I used an 11 inch one and added a couple of tablespoons of condensed milk and an extra egg yolk into the mixture.
Put cookies in a food processor or crush them with a rolling pin in a plastic bag. Put aside a couple of tablespoons if you want to decorate the top with them later. Mix together with the cooled butter, sugar and cinnamon. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and put crumb mixture in a tart pan and distribute evenly. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let Cool.
While the crust is baking, whisk together the condensed milk, 4 large yolks, 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice and the zest from the limes. When the crust has cooled, preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and pour the filling into the crust and bake for about 15-17 minutes, until the center is set but wiggles when you move the pan. Let cool and refrigerate. Whip the cream and decorate as you please or simply serve with the whipped cream. If you have key lime, use those. I am very jealous!
Oh, in case you were wondering, the green beans actually turned out exactly how I expected them: crunchy, tangy, a touch spicy and refreshing. We served them to our guest with cheese and salami and a cold glass of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene and everyone liked them, kids included. The jar was promptly filled with some more and topped of with a little vinegar.