I love when a city surprises you. When you have certain expectations for a place and then you get an added dimension that you never predicted. There are two cities which have done this to me. One was Mexico City and the other, the one and only, Florence. These were both cities which I always wanted to visit, for obvious reasons but I was completely blown away by both of them, not just because of the absolutely awesome experience of being a tourist there but due to the overwhelming sense of belonging I had when visiting. A sense of complete infatuation. Like falling in love for the first time and just being obsessed with just about every characteristic of a person. I was fresh out of school when I visited Florence and my love for the place has not diminished.
I’m not genetically predisposed to being a good traveller. I suffer from chronic motion sickness which makes travelling by any means other than my two very own feet, incredibly challenging. I get ridiculously nauseous and as a result, pretty awfully anxious. Luckily my desire to explore the world and experience new places has managed to inspire me to medicate myself to a point of unconsciousness and to travel on airplanes across giant oceans. Since the act of travelling is so unfortunate for me, the destination itself has to be truly awesome to make the whole endeavour worth it. Florence was one of those destinations I’m so happy I braved an aeroplane for. It is a city which I could happily spend an eternity in. I could go and admire the godly curves of David’s bum and never tire of it. I could eat gelato as a staple diet and I could walk the streets and never feel lonely for the history that surrounds would always make me feel a part of a grand narrative. When I saw that Emiko Davies had written a cookbook filled with recipes from Florence it was pretty hard to resist the temptation to leave the house immediately and buy a copy, so that’s exactly what I did. This absolutely stunning book is a wonderful way to transport yourself back to the beautiful streets of Florence and to bring delicious food into your kitchen wherever you are on the planet. No planes necessary, only an imagination and a memory.
This decadent chocolate cake is one of the many fabulous recipes from the book. Super simple and perfectly Italian.
Torta di Pera e Cioccolato – Pear & Chocolate Cake
From Florentine by Emiko Davies
• 50g Sugar
• 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into eighths lengthways (I used Beurre Bosc pears because I think they look like they would sit well in an Italian still life painting and they are great for cooking, with a spiciness that suits this cake perfectly)
• 150g dark chocolate
• 90g unsalted butter, cubed
• 90g caster sugar
• 90g almond meal
• 3 eggs, separated
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 22-24cm round springform cake tin.
Combine sugar and 500ml water in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the pear pieces and poach for 10-15 minutes (until just tender). Drain and allow to cool.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until the butter has melted.
Add the sugar and almond meal, stirring to combine. Allow the mixture to cool and then add the egg yolks, stirring till fully incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks and then gently fold into the chocolate batter.
Pour the mixture into the tin. Arrange the pear pieces on top of the batter, pushing them down gently.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the tin.
Here’s to travelling through books and the stomach for a little while.