With our jet lag on the wane and a breathtakingly beautiful day set before us, hubby and I ventured out for the afternoon and decided to go up and east instead of down and west which is our usual path. In this case, up and east was across the border into Italy.
If you've lived in the region for a while, you may know the charming Bar la Grotta. It's the first place you hit in Italy just across the upper French border crossing. You can sit for hours while you have drinks and enjoy the stunning views of the French coast from the terrace. Inside they have a small stock of Italian foods,wine, booze, reasonably priced scotch, and Italian lottery tickets so you can stock up after you pay the tab. Since we hadn't been there in ages, I took some time to poke around the shelves inside to see what was new.
Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of pre-packaged products but when I spotted a boxed mix for Farinata for a mere €2.99, I thought I'd give it a try and I'm glad I did. It's just one of a bunch of baking products that Italian food manufacturer, Lo Conte makes as part of their "Magic Flour" line.
|French Socca in Monaco's Port Hercule|
Farinata is a traditional Italian peasant food made with chick pea flour, salt, water, and olive oil. In France Farinata is known as Socca and if you've ever been to an outdoor event in France or the outdoor market in Antibes, you've probably eaten it or at least seen it. The best stuff is made in a traditional wood burning oven from a Socciste who bakes it at ultra-high temperatures in big, round copper-bottomed trays. You can tell if it's good by the long lines of people waiting for it like hungry birds.
When we got home, I ran to the kitchen and went to it.
The kit consists of a 300g bag of chick pea and rice flours and a little 20g bag of flavouring, a mixture of powdered rosemary, mint, and salt. It makes two pans of Farinata, each is enough to serve 6-8 people as a generous snack or appetiser. It has the added bonus of being gluten free so it's ideal for anyone who's following a wheat-free diet.
|Pretty golden chick pea flour|
After translating the instructions, which were quite vague, I mixed up two batches, one with and one without the herbs and both were delicious although we preferred the herbed version. In fact, we munched on them for the rest of the afternoon.
It didn't quite measure up to what comes from a traditional Socca vendor but for a home baked version made in an everyday oven, without the complex flavour imparted by a wood fire, it was still delicious. Add a glass or two of rosé and it would make a nice snack or appetizer to share with friends.
You can probably find the Farinata kit in most Italian grocery stores but why not get a nice view in the bargain?
Here then, are the English instructions with my extra, detailed notes should you ever decide to make it yourself. I recommend that you do!
Pan 25cm x 32cm
200ºC or 385ºF, 25 minutes plus 3-4 minutes broiling
For 1/2 of the box or one pan of Farinata or, 6 servings.
Into a medium bowl, measure 150g or 1- 1/2 cups of the flour mixture and 10g or 1 tablespoon/half of the herb mixture.
To this you add 500ml or 2 cups of water, 20g or 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
If you're not adding the herbs, add 1 teaspoon or 6 g salt.
Mix well with a whisk. Let the mixture rest while you preheat the oven to 200ºC or 385ºF.
Coat the pan with 2 tablespoons or 20g of oil.
Before you bake the Farinata, to avoid spilling the mixture which is quite liquid, put the oiled pan in the oven and then pour the mixture into the pan.
After 25 minutes of baking, turn on the broiler and broil the Farinata for 3-4 minutes to brown the top.
In keeping with tradition, you should cut the Farinata into small squares and serve the plain Farinata topped with ground pepper. And of course, eat it with your hands.