Sunday, July 21, 2019


Given my lingering recollection of the Mediterranean from the hilltop estate in Porto Rafael, Sardegna, I am almost embarrassed to summon in particular the breakfast I prepared each morning when staying there. For one thing I am not much of a cook. My success (if any) is more by accident than anything else.  It helps to have quality ingredients and to avoid messing with a good thing. That dish has since become my signature matutinal creation, one of few recipes in my bailiwick. I confess the constituents of all my meals - whether because they are unimaginative or elemental - contain a variation of identical properties; namely, wheat, olive oil and salt. These predominantly pasta or bread fares I succeed to elevate by the critical choice of herbs and select protein.

Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza dough. Focaccia can be used as a side to many meals or as sandwich bread. Focaccia al rosmarino is a common focaccia style in Italian cuisine that may be served as an antipasto, appetizer, table bread, or snack.

On the evening of our late arrival at Villa Luna from the airport - and before even having paused for a restorative drink - we speedily visited whatever delicatessens were still open at that hour.  In this remote mountainous area it was strangely easy to find exceptional items. The two I chose without hesitation were the focaccia bread and ham slices.  To these I added the classic staples of olive oil and salt.  What I hadn't anticipated was what I discovered the following morning when acquainting myself with the flourishing hedges immediately adjoining the kitchen - rosemary.

The word rosemary is based on the Latin ros marinus, from ros "dew" + marinus "of the sea". This woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple or blue flowers, is native to the Mediterranean region. I thrill to its nautical theme!

Today - years later and thousands of miles from Sardinia - I streamed along the country roads surrounded by burgeoning corn stalks.  It's mid-summer and hot. The clouds scattered throughout the sky told a different story with each view, sometimes mounting castles, others pensive whisps of pink and grey, occasionally the threat of storm. In response to a recent chance purchase of an exceptional pizza made with focaccia bread by Baker Bob - and having by coincidence subsequently eyed a large rectangular piece of focaccia bread at Sobey's grocery store in Stittsville - I resolved to attempt a repetition of the culinary delight. To the list of bread and rosemary I added grated mozzarella cheese and vine-ripened tomatoes. The preparation consists of frying the bread topped with the other ingredients in olive oil until the edges are crisp and brown.  This evening the bread will complement my already prepared gazpacho soup. This for the time being is as close as I will get to a summer meal. Or Sardinia.

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