Apart from the Basilica itself, most of the buildings around the Piazza are shops selling leather goods: coats, bags, shoes, etc. I remember entering one of the shops on the left side of the photo and trying on a gorgeous floor length black leather coat. The cutting was superb and the leather was very soft. I looked fabulous wearing it, even if I may say so. Hehehe... However, I was living in hot and humid Singapore at that time, so I couldn't see the point of buying the coat, no matter how tempting it was. Looking back, I should have bought it. I guess I was too young and naive to know the value of investing in a classic coat then.
The Basilica looks really ornate outwardly, so I was expecting the inside to be at least as nice as that. I was quite shocked when I stepped in, as the inside was very plain, grey and humble looking compared to the outside. I suppose I shouldn't judge the Basilica by it's cover... Inside are the tombs of famous people: Dante, Michelangelo, Voltra, Gallilei, Machiavelli, Lancio, Rossini, etc.
That's my only memories of Florence. Not much, I know. Perhaps it wasn't as impressive as I thought it would be...
As promised, this week is all about pepperminty things. So with much pleasure I present to you the recipe for Kendal Mint Cake, a hugely popular mint treat in England.
According to an article I read, the Mint Cake was created by accident in the 19th century. It's fame spread after being first sold at Kendal railway station. It's also popular with mountaineers due to it's energy content.
I'm no mountaineer but I love eating them alongside my chocolate drink. Somehow they always remind me of Lake District and wintry Christmas.
This recipe makes 16 squares.
450gr (1lb) granulated sugar
150ml (1/4 pint) milk
5ml (1tsp) peppermint essence
1. Butter an 18cm (7inch) square shallow cake tin. Place the sugar and milk in a saucepan. Bring very, very slowly to the boil over a very low heat, shaking and swirling the pan occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Place a thermometer in the pan and boil rapidly until the mixture reaches 140C (275F). Remove from the heat and add the essence, beating well until smooth and cooled slightly.
3. Pour into the prepared tin. As it cools, mark out squares with a knife. Once cold cut into 16 squares.
Clever idea: dip them in chocolate, leave to dry on top of baking paper. Voila: after dinner mint!