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Monday, 18 July 2011

Welcome to Fano, Italy !

After a very cool weekend in London (16 degrees you gotta LOVE those British summers !), I landed in a hot & humid Ancona - clear blue skies & sweltering heat - goodbye SA winter hello my Italian summer!

Cousin Linda kindly collected me at the airport, dumped my bags & off we headed to the beach :) Fano is a small seaside town on the Adriatic Sea, well known for its yacht building and woodwork (beautiful furniture, kitchens ect). We arrived at the main beach called Lido & I was flabbergasted at how packed it was on a Tuesday afternoon - forgetting its holiday time here.

Gorgeous bronzed bikini clad bodies everywhere & amidst them, 2 hours later, a wee pink Scottish lobster, looking every inch the tourist with camera around her neck snapping photos at anything that moved ! We sauntered to a lovely beach cafe called Chalet, which Linda says is packed & vibing on a Thursday eve) and had a cold drink & pizza - to return to our loungers to bask later - THIS IS THE LIFE!! not a lover of cold water & big waves, swimming in the warm Adriatic was a dream. The next day was spent doing the same - absolute bliss- and just as well as I had no idea of the work & long hours that awaited me at the restaurant on Wed :) (

So I arrived at work at 9 the next morning to find all the wonderful fresh fish being delivered & let me tell you it was PLENTY!!! Many different verieties which we don't get in SA. I also met the kitchen crue whom I immediately liked - so jovial, fun, friendly & crazy (you need to be a bit daft to work 15 hour days in a restaurant kitchen right ? ) Alessio & Andrea (both 33) - work like mad people - sooooo fast & productive, yet singing, shouting & swearing all the way! I learnt the swearing fast as its repeated... a lot !!! (I got onto Whatsapp with Stef and said what does "this" mean...and he had a good laugh :) )

What a didn't realise at the time is that I had started on a particularly difficult day, a. the owners Flavio & Elide were away catering in Rome & Elide is the ONLY one who speaks any English. b. there was a big funtion table that night - so rediculously busy c. had arrived in a heatwave of 36 degress with almost 100% humidity, however standing next to the old fasioned open coal grill made the kitchen around 40 degrees! (Picture above of Andrea by the grill, no comment on the rude t shirt :) and a grilled seafood plate below)
It was very interesting to see how we managed to communicate with my limited Italian & plenty gestures. First things first, all that fish needs to be prepared and cleaned fast in that heat...they were very kind to start me off on the easy little fishes. Some of the larger ones needed their heads cut off with a huge knive / axe and everyone but me stood back as they did this ... I think my face was quite a picture when all the revolting fish juices splashed all over my face when he whacked it :) they kept saying Scusa Jeneeeefeer Scusa ! while falling around laughing at me :)

So I donned my tight black latex gloves & started pulling the heads off the sardines & digging out the guts (100's of them !) Next only calamari where I think I was sticking my finger up its bum and pulling goodness knows what out..I hate to think!! YES chaps its ALL GLAMOUR here in a fishy kitchen :) !! Please disregard the lovely photo in the Weekend post ( - she is now a "make-upless", sweaty person sticking her fingers up fishes bums! :)

Speaking of bums, the lads have nick named me Jennifer Lopez - I think this is the only other Jennifer they have heard of. I have seriously strong doubts that is because I am as beautiful and more likely that my bum is just as big :) You have to say it with a strong Italian accent...Jeeeenifeeer Lopeeez... every time they say it I crack up laughing.

Next onto preparing for the lunch & dinner and with such a big menu, I honestly don't know how they manage to make all the special sauces, stocks, desserts, clean & prepare all that fish...but they do! I'm desperately trying to to my jobs, while simultaneously keeping one eye on Alessio to see what he is putting in all the secret sauces and trying to understand what they are saying!! (oh dear not a bloody clue at this point!).

That night besides from a full restaurant, there was a table of 20 having so many different plates of food my mouth was gaping open. The waitors come roaring in (jacket & tie this heat nogal!) shouting orders in stucatto & the kitchen staff shout back louder! Alessio has every gas burning on the big hob bubbing with sauces & risotto & he loves throwing the pots & pans around making as much noise as possible. Its just as you would imaging a crazy Italian kitchen would be!! I find no matter where I stand I'm in the way - getting mowed over by the waitors - so I queitly retreat to the corner with my eyes on stalks & help pack the dishwasher - the only place I could be of use at this point as I have no idea what is going on!

By 11pm they could see I was about to fall over & told me to head to bed. They still continued to clean the kitchen SPOTLESS till 12h30 & returned at 8am with smiles ready for a new day. I was absolutely amazed at the level of hard work from the staff & of the responsibility while Flavio & Elide were away in Rome. Extremely long hours & relentless heat, excuted daily with a great attitute. Deli on Main was a walk in the park compared to this!

I would like to mention that during this week of long hours I have eaten pasta every day & delicious gelato every night after my shift & still have managed to drop 2kgs - girls this might just be the best wedding dress diet ever ha ha :)

I have consumed the most delicious seafood pastas I have ever tasted. Alessio & Andrea take great pride in continuously offering me tasters of everything they make. I am constantly scuttling around the kitchen, poking my nose in every pot & scribbling everything in my notepad like a little inspector :)

Today is first day off and spent much of it resting my aching bod & lieing on the beach. I have found even the little bars on the beach serve the most wonderful espresso (Caffe Saccaria) & freshly baked baguettes ...which I'm eating now as I type this....laden with olive oil grilled melanzane, courgettes, pesto and pine nuts.... I'm one happy girl (except to say I miss my Stef).

See you all next week with more news from the Italian kitchen...

love Jen ...intrepid traveller and soon to be fabulous cook ! xxxxx

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pps: sorry can't find the spell check on this blog thingy


  1. Amazing! The food sounds so good. I was actually going to go to Ancona last year but a travel agent said not to as there isn't much there - I must disagree with her as the beach looks heavenly!
    I will be sure to share you culinary adventures on my blog as this is also what I write about.

    The Wanderfull Traveler

  2. I have visited Fano before, but only for a week. I thought it was amazing! There is so many historical things there and I agree the beaches get so packed! It is wonderful!!
    The only problem I had was that I am vegetarian! They thought I ate fish and I kept having to try get them to make something non fishy!!
    As you are a budding cook.. maybe you can give me a few suggestions for me to make for dinner some time? It's very hard to think of more exciting things to make at dinner time when you are vegetarian!