TThe bar at Linari must be at least 12 meters long and is shaped like an “L” or an allen key. The shorter section is in front of the espresso machine and is a good place to stand or lean, with one eye on both doors and the case, and the other on the silver machine with its crown of hot cups. I’m not sure which movement I prefer: the swipe to remove the used coffee grounds from the filter basket or the twist to put the freshly filled filter holder back in place. Certainly, watching a barista make an espresso is not something that bores me; on the contrary, in fact: the dark grounds deposited in the basket and pressed firmly, the twisting, then the hiss of pressure forcing the correct measure of water through the compressed grounds and the dark stream into a small cup.
Sometimes sugar, sometimes not. If I do, I move clockwise 15 times, because years ago I overheard a conversation between two people that I liked the look of and copied them. The other thing about shaking is that it is mildly hypnotic: a seven-second meditation with a cup in the company of others, but completely alone. The bar has a glass top, so if you haven’t paid for a cake, you might regret looking down at the well-lit, fairly well-laminated one. CroissantsBangle-sized, raisin swirls, donut-shaped Donuts.
Meanwhile, standing in the first half of the longest section of the bar means dealing with a large mirror. What is best done by looking down at more cakes and Small pizzas, which are thin in crust and the size of large fried eggs covered with a tomato stain, some of them with cheese as well, which is folded in two and eaten in four. And if it’s 4 in the afternoon, look not down, but to the last few meters of the bar, where the glass-fronted fridge is full of sandwiches and nine kinds of cookies and Trueccini, or small cakes.
Also know as mignon, which my dictionary defines as things that are “nice little; delicate”(Small and pretty; delicate), although some are quite resistant. It is the pastry equivalent of Woolworths ‘pick’n’ mix. There are fried bignè filled with cream or thick custard and covered with a layer of frosting, mini cannoli Y cassate with its cherry nipples, rum smoked babà, mini Sachertorte and, for the sake of this column, let’s just say they are my favorites, tiny frilly-edged cakes filled with a drop of pastry cream and topped with red berries, of all kinds , but most of the time strawberries. On the shelf behind the counter are gold trays in 12 different sizes, depending on whether you want six or 75 mignons. Or you can buy a large one in the giant refrigerator next to the TV. And if you can’t buy one, you can make one.
Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving fizzy or espresso, standing, leaning, sitting, in the company of others, then the last slice alone.
Cake with lactose and strawberries
You will need a 23cm to 25cm tart tin, ideally one with a loose bottom.
Homework 10 minutes
Cool 1 hour +
chef 40 min
It serves 8
For the pastry
110g of cold butter, diced
240g of all-purpose flour
80g of icing sugar, plus extra for dusting, if desired
1 pinch of salt
1 large egg more 1 extra yolk
For the custard
4 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
30g of all-purpose flour
500ml of whole milk
The enthusiasm of 1 lemon, unwaxed
Make the dough by rubbing the butter in the flour until it resembles crumbs. Add the icing sugar, the salt, the egg and the extra yolk, and gather everything into a ball. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
Working on a piece of parchment paper, roll the dough into a thin circle one centimeter larger than the can. Use a rolling pin to lift the circle into the can and press down and to the sides, but leave the overhang (you can cut it later). If you have time, relax again. Puncture the base and, if you want, add a circle of parchment and baking beans. Blind bake at 200C (180C fan) / 390F / gas 6 for 25 minutes, or until fully cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven and, while it is still hot, trim the overhang. Let cool.
Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed skillet, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a balloon or electric mixer, until pale, fluffy, and twice the size. Add the flour little by little, whisking constantly.
In another skillet, heat the milk and lemon zest to almost (but not fully) boiling, then remove from heat and add, whisking, to the egg mixture.
Return the skillet to medium heat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to slowly roll from the back of the spoon.
Scrape the still hot lactoseit was in the cake box and smooth the top with a knife that has been dipped in hot water. Let cool, then garnish with strawberries, either sliced or quartered, neat or casual. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving, if desired.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism