Goodness me, it’s been a month. I have no excuse except that real life seems to have stepped up a pace since the art courses started. Life at the moment seems like one big learning curve as each of the courses runs for the first time. It’s an exciting period, but not without a bit of nail biting too.
Now that the overall renovations of the apartments and studio are finished (nearly), it’s the details that begin to come into focus. This corkboard has been re-commissioned to organise our keys. My father made this board for me years ago out of the corks left over from bottles of wine that he had drunk, he only used the ones that he felt were particularly memorable, either because the wine or the company he drank with had moved him. He made one for me and one for my sister. Of the few things I have that were my dad’s, this is one of the most precious. The corks in the centre are from bottles of Cava that we drank together, to celebrate the stuff that families celebrate, each other. Now, it’s in use everyday and I think my dad would have liked that.
This is another detail that shouldn’t go unnoticed, the amount of wonderful artwork that has been produced in the studio, by visitors on the art courses. This table full of work is by one of our first ‘students’, I love looking at all these vibrant images and somehow it makes sense of what we have been doing for the last two and a half years.
Best thing I ate;
To celebrate the full on juicy lushness that is Umbria at this time of year, I made this verdant soup for the students on our recent botanical illustration course. They weren’t complaining.
The idea of this light soup is to keep it very fresh and green I like to make it, and eat it, within the hour as that is when the colour really zings. The clean, sweet taste of the zucchini (courgette) works really well with a pungent splash of basil oil, and a crunch of charred bread from the griddle.
Zuppa di Zucchini con Basilico or Courgette Soup with Basil
For the soup (serves 6)
1.5kg firm, shinny skinned medium sized zucchini, trimmed
Olive oil, large glug
3 gloves garlic peeled
1ltr good vegetable stock, a cube will do
Sea salt and black pepper
For the basil oil
1 large bunch of fresh basil
150ml olive oil
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large stock-pot and sweat the garlic gently without colouring it. Meanwhile chop the zucchini cross ways into coins and add to the pot, cover with the stock and bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the courgettes are just tender. Blend the soup with a hand help blender, until smooth and green. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to your taste.
Take your bunch of basil and remove any coarse stems, puree the basil with the olive oil and a large pinch of sea salt until smooth and intense dark green.
Serve the soup with a large splash of the basil oil floating on top and a slice of coarse country bread charred on the griddle. Perfetto.