Baking while baking and a night at La Scala!

I have been in Milan for 2 months and I am fed up with pretending to be local. Don’t worry, I still love the language, the people, the food, the place… but it is 26 degrees, there is not a cloud in the sky and people are still wearing thick coats and using the heating. Well, I officially give up. I refuse to pretend I am cold when every English bone in my body is telling me to strip down to my bikini and put on tanning oil. Italian weather is absolutely wonderful and I fully intend to make the most of it!

In amidst the sunshine and balcony tanning sessions, I have also been very busy with University, music making, job interviews and friends. My flatmate and I celebrated her Birthday last week and as such made a delightful Birthday cake for her, as you can see below. This process confirmed my belief that there is no problem that can’t be solved by Nutella and whipped cream.

cake cutcake 3cake

With little equipment we started making the first sponge, unfortunately as an aga and baking powder user I didn’t realise that when you use a conventional oven and magical Italian cake rising powder you can’t open the oven during the process. This cake was a little flat and became our middle layer, the top and bottom layers were much more successful. My resourceful flatmate then started drizzling milk on the cakes – this is something they do in Italy to keep them moist and it worked a treat! We filled the layers with a mix of mascarpone and Nutella (amazing – try it!) and put them together. When decorating the cake we realised there wasn’t enough icing, so we improvised. By improvised, I mean smothered it with whipped cream and threw grated chocolate at it… but look at the result! Fabiola made the flowers – aren’t they beautiful? Just wait to see what we will achieve with proper equipment and enough icing…

In other news my wonderful Mamma visited me last weekend and we went to La Scala for a night of Prokofiev and Dutilleux. I could tell you about how the choice of encore was profound because it was famously played by Rostropovich for whom the performed concerto was originally written for, or talk about the interpretation of the performance, but instead here are some more interesting observations:

1. The first double bassist was really fun to watch because he bounced around while he played.

2. Valery Gergiev’s right hand moves like an excitable bird.

3. It is acceptable to start leaving when the orchestra and conductor start bowing. By the time Valery left the stage, so had most of the audience!

4. If the cello soloist plays a piece you can also play as his encore then you are obviously the same standard as him…

5. Nobuyuki Tsujii can play the piano better than you ever will (Tom Hicks you may be exempt from this) and he can’t even see the keys – incredible.

6. La Scala is incredibly beautiful. We had slightly cheaper seats but still got a viewing box to ourselves! Going to your own bathroom and having your own cloakroom makes you feel like absolute royalty.

scala 3            Scala