It is a blistering winters day or should I say week in Florence and I can’t help but want to cook and eat to keep warm. I went for a great walk into town yesterday to meet up with a friend and check out the Christmas markets. It is an hours walk at a good stride and I was striding at my best to keep the chill at bay. I think we got to a high of 7 degrees yesterday and for this Sydney sider that is bloody cold!!
Anyway, the walk was great, I met up with Mel and we discovered we were a week early for the markets so we decided to have a coffee in one of Florence’s best restaurants Cibreo. Actually we went to their coffee shop, although I’ll have to dine in the restaurant because as we were sipping our coffee the owner came in. Mel had met him before so she introduced me (quite a handsome older man, very much the intense chef you meet in places of note). We shared pleasantrles and then went about our business. My business was listening to Mel fill me in on her week while my new mate’s business made my jaw drop.
Being a person who loves to have a good stare I found my mate talking with a couple of guys that look like they really just wanted to go back to the farm, I was interested, however, I turned back to Mel as she had lots to tell (and yes Mel I really was listening!!), but I turned once more to look at my new mate and nearly freaked out. Before him lay about 5 large white truffles!!! The guys were selling to him, I couldn’t believe it so of course Mel and I had to stop, sniff the air for that sweet, sweet flavour of pure joy before continuing with our conversation and then the next minute my mate is in front of me saying “Hey chef, want to smell?”
“Hmm YES PLEASE!!” I took in every ounce of that massive white truffle and I may have be salivating as well. WHAT A TREAT! Of course that made my morning and the only way it could of been better was if I ate some truffle but I’m happy with smelling them right now. So that was my morning and I was feeling pretty happy when I picked Alex up from school at 12.30 (his short day so he can come home for lunch……I’m sure this only happens in Italy?).
I asked him what he felt like for lunch on such a cold day and he asked if he could try the tomato poached eggs I made for a brunch I went to a few months ago (he has a memory like an elephant!). Thankfully I had all the ingredients so I set out to make them and forgot how easy and tasty they are. I first found out about them through Mel, she told me her husband makes them when she is in the throws of the wedding season (she is an amazing cake decorator/maker) when she never feels like eating anything.
I know there are a hundred different ways to make these, you can put a Mexican, Israeli or Aussie spin on them but the technique is pretty much the same. For my Italian tomato poached eggs I kept it very simple. I make a basic tomato sauce, sauteing off some sweet onions with olive oil on low heat to bring out the sweetness on the onions, then add garlic slices, salt, pepper and pour in about half a bottle of passata (I have also used whole tinned tomatoes chopped up and will add extra water to have enough liquid for poaching), reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Once I have tasted it and am happy with the flavour I’ll crack 4 eggs into the sauce and have them on a simmer.
I leave the lid off for 3-4 minutes and then put the lid on to help with the poaching. Just before I am ready to take them out I will lightly cover the eggs with more sauce to cook that fine egg white film layer on top. We like our eggs runny so I pull them out once the top skin is fully formed, just like a poached egg.
Alex doesn’t like to eat a lot of extra sauce so he has his as they come and served on toast with prosciutto crudo….
I love the sauce, especially when you get some caramelised onions; I also love eating them with white anchovies, it just tastes fantastic, the salty, vinegary flavour blends beautifully with the gooey egg yolk.
Max is home today for his ‘early day’ and just before he left for school this morning he turns to me and says ‘We are having tomato poached eggs today right?……you can’t have all the good things when I’m not here, that’s not fair’. So I guess with that said, I know I’ll be making another batch for lunch today….I think I have some coriander in the fridge, I might have to make mine hot and spicy.