I’ve begun to smell in the air that Christmas was advancing towards us since early November, when the incredibly tempered Autumn still hadn’t showed any sign of crumbling away.
I wandered around Venice without my coat, looking at the first festive lights which were shamefully turned on in advance.. and with them, even a certain sense of bewilderment because, after all, this time of the year is a kind of gap: an ending and a beginning of many things.
I was born on the threshold between two years, just a few hours before midnight on the 31th December 1988, and so this is also – for me – the moment when one more year is literally added to my biographical age.
December is s a weird month, because it marks the change. And this is quite funny, because I find it ironic that I happened to be born exactly in a moment which symbolically represents such a transition stage! It always reminds me what I need to remember more than anything else and that – because of my nature – I find difficult accepting: everything changes. And holy crap if it changes fast…!
I’m here, just a few days before Christmas, writing scattered notes in haste on crumpled sheets for a last minute blog-post, that is exactly my style, as well as loosing it all and starting it all over again. Here I am, in my ever-changing mess.
I’ve never felt so much the traditional spirit of this feast which in Italy is mainly heartfelt as a Christian celebration, probably because I grew up in an unconventional family who refused for most of my childhood years the idea of a traditional Christmas, made of family suppers, trees and balls.
We made the Nativity scene for a while, just because it was a fun play, but it was really fancy because the sheep were replaced with herds of zebras and the backdrop paper… I think it was a little psychedelic.
Then the cats climbed up on it… and that crazy mess was left there almost until March.
But if there’s anything that makes me feel immediately the spirit of Christmas, that is for sure the good food, the one especially cooked with the intention of making something different, to celebrate changes and also diversity – as a value that sometimes deserves to be remembered and even celebrated.
This year I will unexpectedly spend my Christmas holiday in Paris, my beloved city… really so much beloved. There was a time when I could have sworn that it was my place; walking along the Seine with frozen hands into the pockets of my coat, I still remember well the feeling that I had finally found, for the first time, a sense of belonging to something.
Shortly afterwards something changed, because the ever-changing future can upset any certainty and any prediction – as everyone knows – just as easily as I burn pancakes in the morning nine times out of ten, because I’m too sleepy.
I will go back to Paris with the first big love of my life, my Mom.
A great woman and friend, I share everything with her and her unlimited positive energy is the perfect counterweight to my sometimes lunatic mood.
We’ll walk for miles, we’ll talk and we’ll be together just because we want it and we like it.. and because chance got us there, to the city of Love. We’ll think of our beloved – the ones who remain at home – from the Pont Neuf, and we’ll love them even more because we’ll feel free and happy. And this is my wish for everyone of you, for now and always, for every day and every time of the year.
I have a lot to be thankful for this year which ends – amongst other things – with two unexpected photography exhibitions, an announcement to make, a #freakyraku GIVEAWAY (!!!) and such a long series of upcoming projects for the new year that, if I think about them before sleep, I just can’t fall asleep because I am too excited! But first things first.
The exhibitions: the first one was at the Biennale of Photography in Arezzo, Tuscany – where I experienced for the first time the emotion to see my pictures exposed in a beautiful place and in such a huge size that I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to see them that way again… but I hope so!
(If you’ve followed my insta-stories maybe you can remember what I am talking about!).
The second one was in another just as pretty place in Bassano del Grappa, in Veneto – my region, not too far from Venice.
I would like to thank all the people who strongly supported me and my works in these two great events, and everyone who was there with me.
The announcement, instead, concerns a new collaboration with Say Chocolate Boutique where, starting from this month, you can find a selection of our Freaky Raku pottery for sale… and tons of crazy-delicious and elegant chocolates, just in case you’re looking for the last few Christmas presents to make!
I’ve been so much inspired by this beautiful box of chocolates I was kindly gifted by Pino (You remember him, don’t you?!) and especially by the tangerine-scented chocolates, that they have given me the idea for a “very freaky table – style” (isn’t it??) dish, which is really easy to prepare even for a chocolaty unconventional Christmas lunch!
Then, GIVEAWAY!!! How freaky Christmas would be without even a little present?!
To enter, join us on our dedicated Instagram post (it will be up on my feed in few days), and simply make sure you are following me – @thefreakytable and @thefreakyraku, then tag a friend in the comments below. WORLDWIDE open!!! The winner will be chosen randomly on my birthday, Saturday Dec 31th. Good Luck!
Finally and in conclusion, the new year 2017 will bring some adventures to me, starting with two already booked flight tickets: the first one to Australia for our #chiaroscuro retreat with Valentina & Anisa and the second one to New Zealand.. where @thefreakyraku and I will wander into the wild lands of the Hobbits!
I have so much to be happy about, but at this point of 2016 my biggest thought goes to all of you, special people I met on my path and to everyone who have always been there… as well as to everyone who in a way or another is part of my life.
Change is part of us, I invite you to embrace and always smile to it, whatever it brings to you, even senseless things, because there’s a reason for everything even beyond what we expect and what we can understand at the moment.
- 750 g mealy potatoes
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- 40 g unsweetened cocoa powder + 50 g extra
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp salt
- 100 g gorgonzola cheese (or blue cheese)
- 2 pears (Kaiser quality)
- 10 g butter
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 70 g walnuts
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano ( to taste)
- Peel the potatoes and wash under running water. Cut them into medium-sized cubes. Steam the cubes for about 20 minutes until just soft. Remove from the steamer and leave to cool.
- Mash the potatoes with a potato masher into a bowl and add salt.
- Add the egg and sieve the flour with 40 g of cocoa powder a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then, use your hands to combine ingredients, beginning to form the dough. The consistency of the dough should be dense but not too dense and you should determine the amount of flour to use depending on how watery the potatoes are. Too much flour will make for hard gnocchi.
- Cut the dough in 4 pieces. Roll each piece by gently pushing with your fingers, and spread over a wooden board sprinkled with extra cocoa powder. The goal is to make a rope and then cut it into pieces of about 1 inch and roll each chunk between the palms of your hands. Lay them gently on the wooden surface.
- To create little dots (or stripes if you prefer!) on the surface of the gnocchi you can use the back of a cheese grater or a fork just by rolling them on it. This process isn’t strictly necessary, but adds to the aesthetic of your final dish.
- Fill a pot with water, add a little salt and bring to the boil.
- In the meantime, peel and wash the pears and cut them into small pieces. Add the butter to a large non-stick pan and cook the pears over a medium flame for 6-7 minutes until they become soft. Then add a pinch of black pepper.
- Turn off the fire and add the gorgonzola cheese, cut into pieces, to allow it to melt slowly with the heat of the pears.
- Add the gnocchi gently (one at time) into the boiling water. Wait until the gnocchi rise up to the surface, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain them well. Add the gnocchi to the pan with the pears and cheeseand sautè them on high heat just for 1 minute.
- Garnish with crushed walnuts and grated Parmigiano to taste and serve hot.