Monday, 19 November 2007

Tanti auguri Nonna!

Nonna con i crostoli

This is my gorgeous Nonna, Livia. Yesterday we held a lunch to celebrate her 80th birthday! As well as the family, we invited some of their friends (including The Three Widows, who speak very little English) over for a summery buffet meal, eating at a long table under the loggia.

Lunch - roast in foreground

As you can see, it was quite the colourful feast. In the foreground in the above picture is the roast chicken (two kinds of stuffing), potato salad, a sliced green olive toscano loaf from Phillippa's, green salads and prosciutto e melone.

Prosciutto e melone

I'd had a big night on Saturday and arrived chez Mum and Dad a little late, but still had time to prepare the insalata caprese and the prosciutto e melone platter - the prosciutto was just the right thickness (not insubstantial, but not leathery) and we were lucky enough to pick the juiciest, tastiest melon I've had in ages. Prosciutto e melone, along with salade nicoise, are just about my very favourite heatwave dishes!

Lunch - vitello tonnato in foreground

The other dishes served up were (starting at the top left of the above picture and working our way down) spinach pie from Continental Deli located next door to Glenferrie station (the Continental is home to the best dolmades I have EVER eaten) accompanied by two kinds of relish, insalata caprese (using bocconcini rather than pure mozzarella balls), fresh shaved beetroot and tomato salad, salad of fagioli from Nonna and Nonno's garden with Spanish onion, and in the foreground the platter of vitello tonnato (poached veal in tuna sauce - for the uninitiated it may sound bizarre, but don't knock it til you've tried it!).

Nonna's 80th birthday lunch

All the guests tucking in to the lunch...

Nonno at lunch

My Nonno - looking amazing for 86 years of age!

Nonna's crostoli

Of course, Nonna made her sensational crostoli. She gets them just right: not starchy or at all oily, but sweet and crisp and velvety at the same time. They're the only crostoli I eat (yes I am spoiled...) - I once tried a crostolo at Brunetti's and it was horribly oily and greasy!

In addition to the crostoli, we served up two tartes aux framboises from Laurent.


It goes without saying that every good Italian meal finishes with a brutally strong espresso...


Cindy said...

What an incredible spread! I can see that you've got the right genes for a long life full of good food and family. :-)

Vida said...

Wow, this looks so delicious, how wonderful that your nonna is so well and she is beautiful... we LOVE old people (as my girls say) in this house, cannot get enough... vitello tonnato is Loredana Grossi's favourite dish that her father Guy prepares, I think I vaguely remember having at their place but I don't remember if I like it, the lasagne they prepared was outstanding (as you would expect) and the suckling was something special... these were the days when Guy's father Pietro was still around and took great delight in helping prepared the food... these are lovely memories and you will have your lovely memories for years to come... Thank you for "inviting" us to your nonna's special day!! Vida x

Vida said...

Claire you better give me a broom to sweep up the names I dropped!!! It is all true though, Loredana and my Alana went to school together as well as kinder and my eldest daughter Melisa went with Carlo, Loredana's older brother... Vida x x x

grocer said...

i want to be a part of your family!

jfox said...

oh how lovely! thank you for sharing your photos, looks like a perfect way to celebrate :D
(i want to be a part of your family too!! ;p )

claire said...

Thanks for your lovely comments, everybody! I am lucky to have my wonderful "nonni". I will blog in the future about more of her wonderful cooking - her handmade gnocchi, sugo, pesto, fritole, etc etc...

Don't worry about the namedropping, Vida! Lucky you to personally know such famous foodies...

stickyfingers said...

Vitello Tonnato and Crostoli are two of my favourite things...and what a culinary heritage...lucky you.