You’re on a sun drenched balcony overlooking the glittering Mediterranean sea. There’s a light, cool breeze coming in off the sea, all the way from Northern Africa. On the table in front of you sits a tall glass of fresh orange orange juice, sour and thirst quenching, alongside a small pot of inky black espresso.
In the centre of your little wrought iron breakfast table is a platter of what look like pancakes, tumbled with the most fragrant strawberries you’ve ever smelled.
There’s a bee zooming lazily over the table, attracted by the sweet syrup dripping of each little piece of strawberry. You tumble a few of the dinky little cakes, along with an avalanche of juicily glinting strawberries, onto your plate.
Though they looked like pancakes, the crisp-edged rounds are something else entirely. The interior is soft, fluffy and almost custardy in texture. The taste is sweet and milky, just like the ricotta they’re made from, and the strawberries are something else.
They taste like they’ve been doused in essence of strawberry. There is a hint of the far-off coast of Northern Africa here, something subtly floral and mysterious, but barely detectable. They burst in your mouth, practically flooding with juice. Perfectly offsetting the rich vanilla fritters.
What to do later today? Wander down to the beach, and stake out a striped umbrella among the throngs of tanned bodies? Or wander through the wisteria-lined streets searching for the perfect trattoria?
Or just stay up on this balcony, with your new friend the bee, and pick away at breakfast into the afternoon?
Either way is fine, I think! I’m on an Italy jag (sorry about all the jags). Have you been?
- 250g fresh ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp caster sugar, plus extra for strawberries
- 250g strawberries
- ¼ tsp rose water
- First, prepare the strawberries so they can steep. Wash, hull and slice them in halves or quarters and place them in a small bowl with the rosewater, and a little caster sugar, to taste (1 or 2 tsp is usually enough). Stir and set aside.
- To make the pancakes, place the ricotta in a large mixing bowl, separate the eggs and place the whites into a small bowl.
- Add the yolks, along with the vanilla, flour, baking powder and caster sugar to the ricotta, and stir to mix.
- Whip the egg whites until stiff and then fold them into the ricotta mixture.
- Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat, with a tiny amount of olive oil, and fry tablespoon sized pancakes for about a minute a side, or until golden and cooked through.
- Taste the strawberries and add more rosewater or sugar if desired (less is more in my opinion!), and then serve them up alongside the still warm fritters.