[Peach with wine, vanilla and crème fraiche]

Saying that my dad talks a lot would be an understatement; he always has something to say. Whether it’s about our new neighbour or a beautiful bug he saw earlier in our garden. Always. A lot.
If you can’t tell straight away that he has some Italian roots you can definitely tell that he’s got Mediterranean blood running in his veins.
Sadly, this doesn’t prevent him from talking the weirdest Italian I’ve ever heard – a mix of actual Italian, Piemontese dialect and patois Niçois. I say ‘sadly’ because whenever we go to Italy he has to talk with everyone. And my mum, sister and I just have to restrain ourselves from laughing because nobody can really understand what he says (Dad if you read this you should know that I am slightly exaggerating as usual).

However, I don’t really mind my dad’s random ramblings because, from time to time, he tells us the most beautiful stories.
I have the most wonderful recollections of my dad telling me about his dad who escaped the Nazis by wearing a lady outfit and taking the train all the way from Germany to the south of France; or his maternal grand-father who sold ice-cream – including the cherished tutti-frutti flavour – in Cannes.
But one of my favourite memories is about his paternal grand-father. My great grand-father.
Tranquillo Zanotti.
Just his name always made me dream. Tranquillo. Calm.
He embodied what we call in French une force tranquille – a massive and robust yet kind man.

He owned a trattoria around Verbania where dozens of people came daily for his cipolle ripiene, fungi porcini gnocchi, cima di vitello and torta di nocciole. I wish I could have tasted his food because, I don’t know about you, but to me all this sounds like heaven in a plate.
The food he made, with love and passion, was the reason of the success of his trattoria.
But being popular in Italy in the late 20’s wasn’t the best thing that could happen to you. A cugina [cousin], who also had a trattoria (it goes without saying that hers was less liked), motivated by jealousy, gave Tranquillo to Mussolini.
One summer night, a dozen of Mussolini’s personal carabinieri broke into Tranquillo’s trattoria and destroyed everything in the main room. Then they went down to the cave – where all the homemade wine was kept – and pierced the barrels, flooding the entire room. My great grand-father was devastated yet decided to persist. Making wine and food was his passion and nothing would stop him, not even Mussolini.
Eventually, he had to stop for a couple of years when he was sent up North to build protective walls because of the upcoming war.
But as soon as the war was finished he moved to France and opened a small restaurant in Le Cannet. It was called Le Lion D’Or [the golden lion].
Now whenever I think about him, one image immediately comes in my mind: a lion with a golden heart – a strong man with the kindest heart ever.

Pesche al vino con vanilla, panna and sablé breton
Inspired by Faith Heller Willinger’s Adventures of an Italian Food Lover

As I was reading my way through Faith’s amazing book: Adventures of an Italian food lover, I spotted this recipe which instantly reminded me of Tranquillo’s story.
Not only he was a great cook and wine maker, but he also grew pesche di vigna [peach trees that grow near wines].

The original recipe uses red wine but I am a rosé-wine lover so I just couldn’t help and had to switch the red for a lighter and fruitier rosé.
I also added a touch of vanilla to complement the sweetness of both the wine and peaches.
Lastly, I used flat peaches because they are sweeter and juicier than normal peaches; and given that, in this recipe, the peaches aren’t cooked I thought that using the best peaches available would yield to amazing flavours.
In the end, the recipe is somewhat different than Faith’s but the end result is – I’m sure – just as delicious.

Pesche al vino con vanilla, panna and sablé breton

serves 2

one vanilla bean
120g caster sugar
300ml rosé wine

4 flat peaches or 2 normal white peaches

2 tbsp crème fraiche d’Isigny
2 petits suisses (or 2 tbsp greek yoghurt)
seeds from half a vanilla bean

2 bought or homemade sablés bretons (or shortbread)

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean. Put both the seeds and bean into a pan. Add the sugar and wine.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes (or until the syrup reaches 110°C). It should be quite thick and when picked between your wet fingers (drop a little syrup into a bowl of ice-cold water and catch the ball) it will make a thread.
Pour into a bowl.
Mix the crème fraiche, petits suisses and vanilla seeds and pipe into two 4cm-diameter glasses.
Cut the shortbread into two 4cm-circles. And push on top of the cream mixture.
Finely slice the peaches (I didn’t peel them because mine were organic) and arrange on top of the sablés.
Pipe the syrup and place the glasses in the fridge for at least an hour.