You know that bubble of excitement you get some times? It starts at the pit of your stomach, spreading a warmth through out your body, and ending at the very ends of your hair strands. Every fibre of your body has just experienced that warm happy feeling, that if you could capture it in a glass jar, would surely radiate a pulsing soft yellow glow.
A whole bundle of descriptive happy emotions all wrapped up in that one glass jar. You might get that feeling on seeing a loved one, the simple touch of someone who cares, hearing something that truly speaks to you on the radio, giving something to another, or simply feeling a warm afternoon breeze coming down off the mountains.
For every different person there could be a hundred different reasons for generating that wonderful feeling. And the best thing about it? It usually takes you by complete surprise. There you are going about your business, and bam. Every fibre of your body has just been touched by that invisible soft pulsing yellow glow. Leaving your mouth smiling, eyes sparkling and your heart just that bit bigger.
There are several things that can quite often trigger these feelings for me. Without completely leaving my soul out on a canape platter for the whole world to snack on, I’ll mention just the one today.
Italy. Bella Italia.
Now for any long term readers, this isn’t a surprise. I’ve often written of my love of all things Italian. Italy runs through my veins like a good custard slice does. It’s part of who I am. Not because of an extensive family tree, but my branches have definitely self sown themselves in that Italian direction.
Reading this article (here) on Italian street food brought forward a wonderful array of delicious taste bud memories from my different times spent there. Piadinas in darkened bars eaten at late hours. Wedges of thick volcano hot foccacia eaten while strolling up and down the one street as a teenager. Towering gelato eaten on freezing cold days, eaten simply because we could.
And the one that stands out as the most novel of all?
Ending all night club dancing with a crema filled croissant at 4am. Not just any croissant, but one that can only be purchased from the early morning baker who opens a tiny portion of his centuries old wooden door through a darkened cobble stoned alley way to tired dancers on their way home. A crisp and flakey croissant, still warm from the oven with custard like crema that brushes past your lips far too quickly. The secret baker who made this sweet delight and will only open up to the friend, of the friend, of the friend, who knows where on earth that secret wooden door can be found again come the next Saturday night.
Watching Two Greedy Italians recently I was inspired to make something similar to their Lemon and Ricotta Tart. I had limes and I had ricotta and if I talked to The Monkeys in an Italian accent while I baked the thing… maybe just maybe I could be transported even for a minute or two, to the land of vespas, pizza and that crema filled 4am goodness.
I was willing to give it a shot anyway.
Lime Ricotta Tart
(the love child of this Lemon and Ricotta Tart and this Lemon Meringue Pie)
one can of condensed milk
half cup lime juice and one grated lime
3 separated eggs
300g fresh ricotta
one sheet of puff pastry
Mix all ingredients together, except egg whites. Whisk egg whites separately, fold into mixture. Grease pie dish, line it with a sheet of puff pastry. Pour mixture in and bake 40minutes at 190C.
Verdict?… Dead easy. Tastes a bit like a light cheesecake, and a bit like a not so sweet lemon meringue pie.