Wednesday, 30 April 2014

#ReadCookEat round-up

When I tentatively approached Chris from Cooking Round the World if he would like to run a joint linky for ReadCookEat challenge, he kindly agreed to go along with my crazy idea. We didn't know if there might be any interest from fellow bloggers, as there are so many excellent foodie challenges and linkies around, some have been running successfully for years. Who ever needs a new challenge?
The idea was to choose a work of fiction and recreate a meal mentioned or described in the book.

As an opening entry Chris has chosen a book "Three men in the snow" by Erich Kastner. Pasta and beef were a favourite dish of the main protagonist of the book, and Chris has creatively recreated the scrumptious meal. His Pasta with Beef would make anyone feel like a millionaire for sure.

I went for my favourite series by Alexander McCall Smith, and the famous fruitcake which features in several books. I dedicated my cake to Mma Ramotswe, a traditionally built lady detective.

After the linky was announced, we waited with trepidation on who will be our first entrant and which book and recipe they would choose. We waited and waited. I was biting my fingernails.

And what a marvellous first entry we got. Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary did a splendid job with her most unusual Medieval Horsebread, inspired by Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth. She wrote so eloquently on the subject, that I promised myself to re-read the novel, which I have read over 20 years ago. You really should read the recipe, as it is a work of art.

Lovely Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews has submitted not one but three delightful recipes (Cheryl, you are my friend forever!).
Butterfly Cake from Butterfly and the Birthday Surprise was a lush lemon curd filled sponge cake. She had it easy, of course, as she had help from two mini-chefs Juliette and Pierre. The cake looked so pretty with a butterfly on top and scattered dried cranberries. Send me a slice by courier!

Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic, and Cheryl's Blood Orange and Pear Lemon Drizzle cake (with hidden pears) was a homage to the little creature with a big appetite. It was an adorable cake, and I would be happy to have a slice or two with my tea.

Then there was a turn for an exotic dish that I never came across before - Cheesy Briouates, as mentioned in The Darkening Hour by Penny Hancock. These filo pastry parcels are little pockets of deliciousness, and it's another recipe on my must-try-to-make list.

A lot of ideas were buzzing in my head, and this time I moved from Botswana to Sicily and its sex symbol, Inspector Montalbano, a great foodie of modern times. Andrea Camilleri's books are a veritable encyclopedia of the Sicilian cuisine, and I would love to recreate more dishes described in the books. The recipe for Polpette di tonno was mentioned in The Snack thief, and they were absolutely delicious.

Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden is a much loved book. There are many food references through the book, and Alison from Dragons and Fairy Dust has chosen Chelsea Buns for her recipe. They look absolutely beautiful and taste lush. They look so gloriously tempting, and would taste great eaten outdoors with a flask of tea or at home.

Sarah Bailey is a published author, and I was delighted that she decided to share her colourful and flavourful Fish stew with us. Saffron is one of the ingredients in this splendid stew. What a feast for eyes! The recipe was inspired by Ian McEwan's novel The Saturday. And mopping up the juices with a chunk of bread is an excellent idea.

And the last entry is a great homage to Thomas Wolfe's "Look homeward, Angel" - an evocative post by Caroline from Caroline Makes. Caroline takes us to North Carolina in 1929. Her recipe for Chicken and ham croquettes is inspired by the authentic recipes from the period. Caroline writes passionately about her favourite author, and her enthusiasm is so contagious that I want to read this novel.

Well, what a variety of recipes and books! Thank you all for taking part!
We're going to run the ReadCookEat challenge in May as well, so if you missed doing a recipe this month, please come and join us next month.

Shortlisted in BiBs!

Beaming from ear to ear today, as I discovered that my blog has been shortlisted for a BiB award. I saw the announcement on Facebook that the shortlists were published, and as I scrolled down the list, I had to rub my eyes, but there it was, my blog. It came as a total surprise for me, as I am not good at asking for nominations and this year didn't even hint to anyone, not even my darling husband.
The Brilliance in Blogging shortlist is made up of 16 blogs in each category. I made it to the shortlist in SOCIAL category (just proves that I am good at "yakking", and here I thought I was a social hermit, or as my husband once kindly called me a social disaster).
Just wanted to say Huge Thanks to everyone who voted for me. I am most grateful!
The voting is now open, and I would be ecstatic if you spare a vote for Chez Maximka in SOCIAL category (see below or use the button on the side bar). I am most grateful for your support, without you, my readers, my blog wouldn't be what it is today.

Fighting the mozzies with PreVent

We arrived to Italy a week before Easter. Having left a rainy good old England, we descended from the plane into a warm sunny air field. Italy at Easter time is beautiful, with lots of greenery which hasn't been yet mercilessly scorched by the sun, with lots of blooms and flowers. It is vibrant and fresh, full of colours and aromas. Quite perfect, if not for mosquitoes which are powerful enough to spoil any holiday. In the past we used the incense coils (favoured by the locals) which don't work that particularly well and leave me with a headache. My skin is very sensitive to mosquito bites, if bitten, I will be suffering with an itchy bump for weeks afterwards. To be honest, I would be happy to try anything to repel the unwelcome holiday spoilers. When I saw on Twitter that PreVent were looking for bloggers to test and review their insect repellents, I tweeted back to them, mentioning that I'd be happy to do it, if they would wait until we go to Italy for Easter.

Two items from PreVent range were the first to be packed in the suitcase. I wanted to be ready to fight the mozzies. These products are made from natural ingredients, including 1% pyrethrin which is derived from African chrysanthemums.
What does PreVent promise?
"The active ingredient in PreVent has been used as an insecticide as well as a repellent for over 200 yers and it is safe and effective on both adults and young children. It has extremely low toxicity so it's good for the environment as well as being perfect for sensitive skin
With many insect repellents packed with chemicals and other nasties, PreVent offers a natural alternative without compromising on effectiveness. Having started life as a pest control product PreVent now offers your family the expertise and efficacy of a professional repellent without any of the harshness associated with such as hard-hitting solution. For up to 8 hours, you and your family can be protected from all biting insects, including mosquitoes and midges, with just one application of PreVent - available in aerosol, pump spray, cream or wipes".

What did we think of it?
We tested a PreVent spray and PreVent cream (available from Hygienesuppliesdirect).
The spray/aerosol bottle is small in size, and is very light. You can easily slip it in your purse or even pocket for going out and about. You can also use it as a space spray, i.e. spray in the room or tent if you're camping. It does have quite a strong odour which quickly disappears.
The cream tub also comes in a convenient size. These products are also available in a full-size pack to last for a fortnight or more.
It doesn't have the same strong smell as the spray, in fact it is quite neutral. It is not greasy when applied.
I am always cautious with new creams and lotions, as my guys have very sensitive skin.
For the first night, I used PreVent only sparingly on my children, but there was no skin reaction. I applied it to my own face and hands quite liberally. And though my older son has had a couple of bites on his cheek, I managed to stay bite-free, and typically I am the first one to be eaten alive.
I haven't been bitten even once, so for me it worked really well. Out of four of us, Sasha has been bitten more than once, he is clearly the sweetest of us all, literally. So, though not 100% effective for all members of our family, it nevertheless protected the majority.

Disclosure: we received the samples of PreVent for the purposes of testing ad reviewing. All opinions are mine.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Almond and marmalade biscotti

Just yesterday Eddie and I were sitting in Burford garden centre's cafe with our friend Jen, who took us there by car, and enjoying our sweet treats. Jen and Eddie picked some almond biscotti, and Jen asked just how difficult was it to make your own biscotti. So, I thought it must have been fate when for the Random recipes meet Alphabakes linky I picked a book of Delia's Cakes and Almond Biscotti were no.1 (number selected by my son).

Almond and marmalade biscotti
110g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
75g golden caster sugar
25g ground almonds
50g whole blanched almonds
2tsp limoncello
1tsp orange flower water
2 heaped tsp orange marmalade (42g)
1 egg

These twice-baked biscotti are very easy to make, and I will be definitely making them again. They're absolutely moreish, warm from the oven. I bet they would taste fab with a small glass of Vin Santo for a proper Italian experience.

Mix the dry ingredients first, then beat in the egg, add the limoncello, egg, orange flower water and marmalade. Mix well, using hands, and put the dough in the fridge for half an hour. Take it out and roll on the lightly floured surface into a type of flat log about 25cm long.

Place the flat log on the greaseproof paper on the baking tray and put the tray in the oven preheated to 170C. Bake for half an hour.
Take the tray out, and while still warm, cut the log into diagonal slices about 1 cm wide.

Put the biscotti back on the tray and bake for another half an hour at 150C.

Keep in an airtight container (that is if there is anything to keep).

I have missed the deadline for Random Recipes & Alphabakes,
but there are some other linkies that I hope to catch up just in time, like Tea Time Treats which is co-hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Jane from The Hedgecombers. The theme this month is preserves.

Tea Time Treats

I had a small jar of Roasted fox orange marmalade standing on the kitchen shelf since Christmas, and nobody fancied it. It was time to use it. And then there is a never-ending bottle of limoncello, though at this rate (using just 2tsp) it will take me ages to finish it. These ingredients would tie in nicely with No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary and JibberJabberUK.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Honey and balsamic vinegar glazed rack of lamb

I sincerely believed we would spend our Easter Sunday in Italy, at my in-laws' house, and Monday was marked as a day of departure in my diary. However, my absent-minded professor got it all wrong and bought the return tickets for Sunday. So, instead of having an Easter lunch with my in-laws we had to be content with an overpriced EasyJet fodder. While Eddie was happy to munch through the kiddie lunch box with Dairylea dunkers and Hula Hoops, I had a horrible hot sandwich, microwaved to death and impossible to peel off from the cardboard it came in. At least they had Twinings tea, though at £2.50 a cup it is a total racket, of course.
Once we arrived home, all the shops were closed, it being an Easter Sunday, and we didn't even have a bottle of milk (I should have gotten a long life carton but I thought we were arriving on Monday, when I would have been able to grab some milk and bread in the corner shop).
We had our "Easter" dinner a few days later, with a rack of lamb, roast potatoes and wild mushrooms.

Honey and balsamic vinegar glazed rack of lamb
rack of lamb (575g)
2tbsp olive oil + more
2tbsp honey
2tbsp Maille honey and balsamic vinegar mustard
2tbsp Maille balsamic vinegar
sea salt, dried mixed herbs
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
about 500g potatoes
1 big garlic, sliced in two
100g wild mushrooms
1tbsp butter
1tsp lemon juice
mixed herbs

2Whisk together olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar and mustard and dried mixed herbs. Sprinkle the rack of lamb with the sea salt, and pour over the marinade. Rub it well over the lamb, and let it sit in the marinade for a couple of hours.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the rack of lamb on a tray, sprinkle it with fresh rosemary. Half way through cooking turn the lamb over, and baste with the marinade.

Cook the way you like it, rare or well done. Personally I don't like pink meat, I find it really off-putting. Just before Easter I was invited to a posh dinner at Oxford. The food presentation was impeccable, a shame the duck was so pink, it was quacking. Everyone around me seemed to enjoy it, though my husband told me afterwards that the duck was awful. Anyway, back to our muttons, or lamb.
Once cooked, cut the lamb between the bones and serve as lamb chops.
Serve with the roast potatoes and garlic as well as the quince jelly. Cut the garlic head in half, sprinkle with the olive oil and salt, and cook with the parboiled potatoes.
Wild mushrooms need just a quick fry in the olive oil, with a tablespoon of Maille.

In this recipe I used a couple of Maille products, which I have talked about in a post Venison stew with juniper berries and Maille mustard. Maille Aged Balsamic vinegar is an excellent product, very flavourful and deep, with the caramel undertones. It is great in salad dressings, or as an ingredient in cooking.
The second Maille product which I used for the marinade was a Maille Mustard with Honey and Balsamic Vinegar. It has just the right balance of sweetness and acidity, and as such it perfect for marinades.
This is my 2nd entry to Maille culinary challenge (just in case you missed my first post, the foodie bloggers were invited to pick two Maille products and then create recipes, using these products).


I could hardly sleep last night, my fears and anxiety keeping me wide awake. My son Sasha has gone on a residential trip with his school today, and I won't see him for three days.

I have never spent a night apart from him, except for three long nights when I was in the hospital, giving birth to Eddie. But then Sasha stayed at home, and my Mum looked after him, when my husband visited me.
Sasha has been very excited all day yesterday and kept showing me the photo of the place where they were planning to stay. He was all smiles, and I tried to smile back to him. He has never slept outside his home without us. When we go to Italy or Cornwall, we are always there, just next door, to reassure him at night, if he feels worried. I know there will be an adult supervision at the residential, but it won't be us. Who will tuck him in bed for the night? Who will give him a hug if he has a nightmare? Who will read him a story before bedtime? How will I survive these three days and nights, worrying for my boy? And more importantly, how will he survive? He is twelve now, and is almost as tall as me, but he is so vulnerable. Being non verbal, it is hard for him to make the other people understand what worries him, or upsets. His autism could be too big for him at times, when he feels overwhelmed with the sounds and experiences. He doesn't understand the time, it is an abstract notion for him. What if he thinks that we sent him away for good?
How will he cope?
I'm very tense. I do try to tell myself that he enjoyed the residential so much last year, but then he only went for the day trips and came back home for the night. For weeks afterwards he kept showing me the photos of the social story of his trip, he loved going to the Bristol science museum and the planetarium, he had lots of fun at the skating rink. Yes, I know all that, and I have no doubt he will enjoy the day trips. It is the long nights that put a great fear in my soul. These nasty fears creep into my thoughts and invade my mind, making me almost paralyzed.
I will gladly pray to any God or deity to keep my boy safe and me sane. Grant me patience and calm down my fears! But how am I going to sleep without my boy at home?

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Polpette di tonno (tuna meatballs) for Inspector Montalbano

"Meatballs!" the professor exclaimed, indignant. "Meatballs are for dogs!"
The inspector kept his cool. The aroma floating up from the dish and into his nose was rich and dense... Pintacuda chewed slowly, eyes half closed, and emitted a sort of moan.
"If one ate something like this at death's door, he'd be happy even to go to hell", he said softly.
The inspector put half a meatball in his mouth, and with his tongue and palate began a scientific analysis that would have put Jacomuzzi to shame. so: fish and, no question, onion, hot pepper, whisked eggs, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs. But two other flavours, hiding under the taste of the butter used in the frying, hadn't yet answered the call. At the second mouthful, he recognised what had escaped him in the first: cumin and coriander (Andrea Camilleri, The Snack Thief)

I love Inspector Montalbano books and movies (Luca Zingaretti is totally sex on legs). One of the major attractions of the series is the description and references to numerous local dishes. I fancied cooking some tuna meatballs after reading The Snack Thief, and looked online for inspiration.
I liked the sound of Jamie Oliver's polpette di tonno, and used it as a base but have changed the quantities, added some new ingredients and changed the way of cooking the meatballs, as I baked them rather than fried.

Polpette di Tonno/Tuna Meatballs
For the sauce (that's a double amount):
2tbsp olive oil
2 banana shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic (I used smoked garlic), finely chopped
sea salt
3tbsp balsamic vinegar (for example, Maille)
2 tins of tinned tomatoes (mix of chopped and plum tomatoes tins)
1/2tsp sugar
1tsp dried oregano
2tbsp chopped coriander

For the tuna meatballs:
2tbsp olive oil+ more for baking
2 tuna steaks (about 330g)
40g pine nuts
1tbsp chopped coriander
1/2tsp cumin
1tsp dried oregano
2 medium eggs
4 slices of bread (white+multi-seeded)
chopped flat leaf parsley

Finely chop the shallots and garlic and fry them in the olive oil for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelised. Season with sea salt and sugar. Open the tins of tomatoes and add to the pan with the onion mix. Add the vinegar, herbs, both dried and fresh, bring to the boil, then simmer on low for half an hour. Set aside, once cooler, blend it until smoother consistency.

For the tuna meatballs, slice the steaks into strips of 2cm thickness, and pan fry with the olive oil and pine nuts for about 5 minutes. Let it cool slightly before dividing in half. Whizz half of the tuna and nuts mix with the eggs and herbs, using a blender, until you get a smooth paste. Break the other half of tuna strips with a fork, add to the paste, and mix well with a fork (don't use the blender anymore). Toast four slices of bread for a couple of minutes, then cube the toasted bread into big size crumbs and add to the fish mix. Mix together.
Make the polpette, rolling the fish mix with your hands. To make it easier, place a small bowl of cold water next to the bowl with the tuna mix, and dip your hands in the water in between making the meatballs.
Take a ceramic tray or big dish, and add a bit of olive oil. Place the meatballs on the tray and bake in the oven preheated to 180C for about 20 minutes or more until golden brown.

In the meantime, cook spaghetti in the boiling salted water until they're al dente. Add half of the tomato sauce to the pasta and serve with the tuna meatballs and some fresh chopped parsley.
Keep the other half of the sauce in a container with a lid in the fridge for a couple of days, or freeze.

This is not a budget recipe, as fresh tuna could be quite pricey, but it is delicious and flavourful. Hope Inspector Montalbano would have enjoyed it.

This is my second recipe for #ReadCookEat challenge which both Chris from Cooking Round the World and I host this month.

Friday, 25 April 2014

My eclectic home: Great British Home Challenge

Toys and books everywhere, a collection of fine china, art works, an Elmer rug and Elmer wall painting... Our house style is truly eclectic, it is a combination of old classic and comfy. There's nothing pristine minimalist about it. Our creative chaos reflects our personalities and style of life, and shows that first of all, it is a family home, child-friendly and much loved.

BritMums came up with an amusing Great British Home challenge sponsored by Victoria Plumb (inspiration centre for bathroom style and design), asking bloggers to describe their home "What does your home say about you?"

We were invited to take part in "What's your celebrity home style" quiz.
In my case the results couldn't be further from reality. It was just plain wrong, don't even know where to start.
I am not into the celebrity culture and was terrified to discover that my home style has been compared by the quiz to the Towie stars. I never watched Towie, but know enough about it.

Can you read it? "You are Mr or Mrs Glamorous".
Who? Me?
"Your style is most like Joey Eassex or Sam Faiers from Towie".
Oh dear, I hate the fake tan, reality shows and hopefully have a few more brain cells.
"Everything about you screams glamour. You always look photo-ready, whether you're working or shopping in designer boutiques,or snuggled up at home in your designer onesie" Wrong on so many levels. Onesie is something I would never-ever wear.
"You crave home comforts that make a statement - a faux fur blanket, embroidered cushions and lots of crushed velvet"
No, no and no, none of the above.
The reference to keys to my Range Rover made me laugh aloud. I don't drive, and hate cars.
"Can't live without: A feature fireplace for all those OK magazine spreads". If you find one in my house, I'll give you a hundred pounds.

So, what's it like inside our house? We live in a listed building, which has been immortalised in a song "In an old-fashioned house..." by Ada Leonora Harris. Her uncle and aunt lived in our house, and she used to stay here.

This house which belonged to the Harris family for over a hundred years, has been our home for over 6 years, or is it 7 already? It feels cozy and welcoming. It has some fabulous old features like dark beams, flagstones, carved pillars in the entrance (apparently they used to be the bed posts over a century ago), and an amazing fireplace with an inglenook. They must have been rather petite and nimble to sit in that inglenook and not get toasted when the fire was lit.

Fireplace with an inglenook

Hall with old worn flagstones and wood carved posts

Living in an old house brings its own challenges. I remember reading a few weeks ago a blog post on the vagaries of living in a rented accommodation, which made it sound that home owners have it easy. Having had the pleasure of living in both a rented and owned house, I would say, there are pros and cons on both sides. Just before our trip to Italy at Easter time, we had a disaster at home: the old plaster ceiling in the sitting room has collapsed. Huge blocks of century-old plaster have fallen with a mighty crack. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but it was too close for comfort, as my younger son was literally a meter away. I still shudder thinking about it. This week I had to deal with lots of mess and dust in the house, as the old ceiling has been ripped completely apart, and a new one has been done.

Eddie begged me to give him a mop to wash the floor after the builders left the other day
Our bathrooom is nicknamed Titanic, because the floor is slanted, as if sinking. When we moved in, we removed some ugly green tiles to expose the old stones, and that's how we left it: one wall of uneven old stones, the other walls are tiled in neutral Italian ceramics. There's nothing flashy about our Titanic. I am on the lookout for the vintage round mirror which would look like a ship's window. I've seen one in the antiques shop but it was way too pricey.

My home wouldn't be complete without my Mum's artwork. And though I am not a religious person, I love the Russian icons as well as devotional art from around the world.
I have a huge collection of art and cook books. My kitchen looks like a tea shop. As I said, it is an eclectic house, which reflects our tastes and hobbies. And not a single copy of OK magazine in sight (or out of sight)...
What does your home say about you?

Boy-Island (portrait of Sasha Varese) by Lyudmila Kravchenko

Russian icon, by Lyudmila Kravchenko

This post is an entry for the #GreatBritishHome Challenge  sponsored by Victoria Plumb, a source of quality bathrooms for every type of home. Take its “What’s Your Celebrity Home Style?” quiz to discover what your home says about you.
If you enjoyed reading my post, you might like to read what my friends Cheryl and Alison said about their homes

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

San Giorgio, Il Drago e La Principessa (St George, the Dragon and the Princess art project in Ferrara)

If you visited Ferrara, Italy, in the last couple of weeks, you wouldn't fail to notice an amazing exhibition project spread through the town - Saint George, the Dragon and the Princess. Twenty five Italian artists and ten artists from abroad were invited to reinvent the tale of St George slaying the dragon. This splendid parade of sculptures appeared in the historical squares and museums of Ferrara.
As the page dedicated to the project explains "St George... became protector of hundreds of cities and nations for his exploits... St George, the warrior Saint, was not only known and worshipped in Europe but, due to his origins in the Cappadocia, is considered the prophet of those far Muslim lands. St George is an important figure connected with Christianity and the Islamic culture, moreover he is the symbol of the struggle of the human beings against hostile elements and the titanic fight to save the defenceless... the Dragon (is) the symbol of the nature, severe plagues, earthquakes... the Princess (is) the symbol of the population, the helpless and the weak..."
St George is also the protector of the city of Ferrara.

We were on the way to our favourite cafe Leon 'Oro, when I stopped in my tracks. There it was, an unexpected modern sculpture of St George, right next to the cathedral.
It is the most unusual interpretation. Both the saint and his horse are missing limbs, but stand proudly and defiantly. Claudio Nicoli's work stands gracefully amidst the multi-coloured throng, a mix of tourists and locals. As there was nobody to ask, I thought of it as a testament and homage to people with disabilities, whose lives are challenging.

Claudio Nicoli's work
On the other side of the cathedral, Francesco Bombardi's mystic creature, half-human, half-chrysalis mournfully floats above the pebbled square. I would have dearly loved to ask the sculptor how he interpreted his own piece. There is quite a lot of general information on the project online, but I couldn't find any interviews where the artists talk about their ideas.

Francesco Bombardi's sculpture

This melancholic princess made me think of the Lady of the lake. My mother-in-law thought she was a dragon. But of course, that's the pleasure of the art for the people, you can have so many opinions. Is she a princess being consumed by the dragon? Are the dragon and the princess merged together?

Further along, by the castle, there is an amusing ironic trio by Marcello Magoni. While St George is valiantly fighting the dragon, the Princess is totally absorbed in her mobile. Perhaps she is taking selfies, or is posting updates on Facebook?

Marcello Magoni's ironic sculpture
A few metres away, there are two more exhibits. One is a beautiful set of blocks by Paola Grizi. The top block has a carved eye, which might allude to Botticelli's Venus. As you can see, it is not a big piece, as my son Eddie demonstrates. He loved running around the modern art works. They are in harmony with the old squares and parks.

Paola Grizi's art

The next art piece is by Carlo Zoli. It is a splash of colour. The elegant black dragon is pierced by a spear, the faces above him are mournful, solemn and blood-splattered.

Carlo Zoli's work

I got really excited and wanted to see all the works in the project. It was a bit like an Easter egg hunt. In the end we didn't quite manage to see all of them, as some were still in progress, some were a bit out of the way. Some were monumental, some fitted on a small table.

Paola Paganelli placed her unconventional group in Palazzo Schifanoia's courtyard. It is a big leafy green space. My boys were happy to run around, on the carpet of pretty little daisies. The princess and the dragon as powers of nature looked like mystic wicker baskets, while St George appeared as a construction set of big rusty shapes.

Paola Paganelli's work

Giovanni Andriollo has truthfully followed the classic traditions of the old masters. His St George is skilfully carved, dark, solemn, and wouldn't look amiss in any church.

St George by Giovanni Andriollo
While Andriollo's art followed the classic art, Mario Storno has also ventured into the domain of the art history.
His composition reminded me of the sacred wooden sculptures of my motherland, the celebrated Perm Gods, a collection of unique 3D icons.

My personal favourite was an erotically charged work by Nicola Zamboni and Sara Bolzani. The princess is reminiscent of Diego Velazques' The Rokeby Venus. She is all surrender and a very feeble attempt at defending herself against San Giorgio's mighty spear. The symbolism of the spear is all too obvious.

Zamboni-Bolzani's work

The Princess, reclining as an image of sensual languor, might seem like a victim at the first glance. But there is a hint of a smile on her lips, and she knows that she is a conqueror.

St George appears very fierce and determined, but also rather un-saintly with his manly display of weapons and lust for battle.

The range of styles and ideas was astounding, from solemn classic to modern ironic interpretations.

I loved the minimalist simplicity of Giorgio Carnevali's black wrench dragon breathing fire. Very imaginative.

Eddie was much taken with a Lego group by Riccardo Zangelmi. It is an elaborate work made of Lego bricks, colourful and inspired.

He also absolutely loved a dragon made of green bottles, its coils cutting through the lawn like the sea waves. This is a work by talented Alberto Gambale.

A little sign by its side made me chuckle. It says: "Attention! Do not come near. The dragon is nervous".

I cannot possibly show you all the photos I have taken, as my post would be a mile long.

For more information and photos, visit San Giorgio page on Facebook.
There is also an excellent album of photos by Alberto Scuarcia.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall