Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Little Ferry, Golspie

Two days after flying back from Puglia I got on another plane; this time to Scotland to see my housemate Harry who lives in the beautiful town of Golspie, an hour north of Inverness.
After a plane, a taxi, a bus journey and then a drive I finally reach Little Ferry, their gorgeous house next to Loch Fleet.

You may know how I feel about going up North from my post about Ollie's Graduation in Durham. However somehow I wasn't filled with as much dread about heading up to Scotland. This is most likely down to Harry's texts: "Emma it's so hot up here, you'll love it! Been sunbathing all day!!" Harry is known for his exaggerating, and although it wasn't raining, it was by no means sunbathing weather. Nevertheless the sun was shining and it was really beautiful. 

Tea and cake were followed by a lovely dinner and long sleep before the early start to go fishing the following day.

I personally think I'm spoilt at home: I get my washing, cleaning and dinner all done for me. However Harry, George and their little sister Alice are particularly lucky- they are woken up with a cup of tea every morning. I'm not just talking about any tea- it boasted the optimum tea temperature, the perfect dosage of milk and a beautifully aromatic mixed blend of English Breakfast with a little something else... (personally I think it was Lapsang but the secret ingredient was never revealed to me!)

So with a couple of teas down, waterproofs on, packed lunches tucked nicely into my backpack, I was totally ready for my fun-fishy-filled-day ahead of me; it was like I was born to fish.

Harry and his dad, Patrick rowed boats from the other side of the Loch for our fishing outing.

Harry and Dom were in charge of our boat. I have been fishing before, but only for about an hour in Wales with Sarah. So the boys told me to do some dapping to start off with. 

It was totally Notebook-esque. Here I was, chilling on my row boat whilst the boys were powering to the edge of the Loch.

After about half an hour of no luck (although a few takes) we decided to chill on the shores with their gorgeous lab, Feana.

We ate our packed lunches, had a couple of cups of tea each (from Kelly Kettle- such an ingenious idea!) and headed back to Little Ferry.

The views over Loch Fleet from Little Ferry.

The following day Dom unfortunately had to head back home and Harry and I decided we would climb up Ben Bragghie, which once you get to the top boasts panoramic views of Golspie.

At this point, I refused to get in the photo with Harry. Let's just say it was pretty challenging climb.

Three hours of me nattering about my philosophies of life later, we return back to Little Ferry. Cup of tea cradled in palms, we had a lovely snooze in front of Four Weddings and a Funeral, which coincidentally was my choice of film despite the fact that as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out.

At the Marriott's, swimming has to be defined. For many this is totally unnecessary as we know what this entails. However when you live in Scotland, you're a bit of a cheat if you say you've been swimming when all you've done is dipped your little toe in. The term 'swimming' according to the Marriott's means you must submerge your head under water and do three strokes. In theory therefore, if you manage to go swimming in Scotland, you're a bit of a badass.

Obviously I'm up for a challenge, so the following day we headed down to the beach. Yes, that is the beach bordering the North Sea. That's right, the marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean.

I approached this situation as I would a plaster. Ripped off my clothes to reveal my full swimsuit (I thought this may give me an extra layer of warmth), ran in avoiding all of the jellyfish, and assuming I looked like a baywatch dreamboat, "swam" for literally what must have been about 5 seconds, ran out like a girl and wrapped myself in a towel. Done- I am officially a badass.

The others apparently thought the water was relatively warm?! Not when you've just been basking in the Med, love.

We came across a Lion's Mane Jellyfish.

And continued to crunch our way along the untouched sand.

The rest of the days we played badminton, monopoly, we read out books and did a touch of gardening. It was so refreshing staying with a family who are so unbelievably functional: tea everyday on the dot, long chatty dinners and relaxed afternoons enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
Harry's birthday was on the Friday night; our last night before we headed down to our friends 21st. This was my second time swimming, which was not-so-surprisingly warmer after we hit Golspie's finest pub, the Ben Bragghie.

On my final day I was taken to Dunrobin Castle where the Sutherland family used to live. We didn't do a very long tour around the castle, as although it was beautiful, the real spectacle was the falcon show at 11am.

The sky was genuinely this blue, the sun was shining and it was a gorgeous last day in Scotland.

Scotland, you have treated me so spectacularly well. Can I come back soon...? Please?

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Thursday, 15 August 2013

Authentic Stone-Baked Pizza

Pizza is hands-down my favourite food. Put one in front of me and I'll eat it- there's no stopping me. So when we arrived at our Masseria and we saw an authentic stone pizza oven, we all got a little jittery... well maybe just Patrick and I. From Day One we said we were going to make our own pizzas in the ovens and we were determined to stick to our word!

Despite the concierge Angelo saying it was practically impossible for us to cook our own pizzas in the oven because it involves skills that only pizzolos have, we still went ahead with it. And guess what Angelo, they were bloody fantastic. 

First things first: Gather your team. You'll need some strong hunky men (queue Oliver and Adam) to help gather the wood for the fire whilst the rest start making the dough and sauce. 

The thing is with a stone oven is you need to light it a good 3-4 hours (depending on it's size) before you're planning to start cooking. We therefore lit it at 4ish in time for dinner at 7. This is so the stone is so hot that the pizza only needs to be in there for a short while (around 4 minutes). 

Make the fire and then push it to one side of the oven so the flames curl up the roof.

After the fire is lit and burning away, go and fetch only the finest ingredients. 

 Or in Patrick's case some Limoncello...

We found an amazing shop called Di Vino in the local town where, because we purchased so much, the kind man threw in (well-obviously not literally) an extra bottle of rose. Thank you very much- we will be coming back again!

So, at this point your fire should be on fire (excuse the pun). Now it's time to start on the dough and the sauce. We actually got the dough recipe from Jamie Oliver as he's always a super reliable chap. Put a tea towel over the bowls and let them rise in a warmish/dry place. Obviously being in Italy we just put them outside!

It's now time to make the sauce.

There was already a bottle of Passata in the house already which was ideal. So to save on washing up, chop up garlic and fresh basil, scrape it all into the bottle itself and give it a little shake. (with the lid on obviously). Put the bottle in the fridge until you need to use it.

When the oven is hot enough, separate the dough into medium-sized balls and roll them out and stretch them into flat circle shapes.

Then find a super cute child to help you put the toppings on....

We chose the standard Moz, Tomato Sauce and Pepperoni but added a dribble of pesto to make it that extra bit more authentic.

On some of them we did Mushrooms and Peppers.

Put some flour on the pizza- spatula so that when you put the pizza on, it slides off easily without breaking. 

Put your pizzas in your oven and occasionally turn them round using the spatula to make sure they cook evenly.

If your oven is hot enough they shouldn't be in there for very long!

Sit down and enjoy either by themselves or if you're super posh, have a starter like we did of parsley and garlic prawns. Yes please!

Unfortunately this is the only picture we have of our finished- pizzas! They were eaten up so quickly I barely had time to take my camera lens off!

The final thing you need to do is sit down and enjoy the beautiful food you've made with friends!

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