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Flavours from Afar

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Words and Photos by PRIYA SINGH Sharing recipes learned from locals in faraway places, with a twist here and there!

FROM VENICE, ITALY: VANILLA SEMIFREDDO WITH MALT POWDER

Italy — the land that gives us the smooth, velvety gelato is also the land that gives us a no-fuss alternativ­e called semifreddo. Semifreddo was first concocted as an alternativ­e to the arduous and complex art of creating gelato, “the poorer cousin of ice cream” as it was called the first time I tasted it.

It was a cold winter’s day in Venice and the famous San Marco square was light with tourists, given the off-peak travel season. I was catching up with a friend from Malta, a country which has deep roots in Italy. As she explained the origins of semifreddo, the waiter overheard our conversati­on and brought over a small tasting platter for me to try. The restaurant was empty, a rare sight in one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinatio­ns. Three waitstaff and my friend huddled and watched as I tasted the pistachio and honey semifreddo — “hmm this tastes like it is supposed to be ice cream, but it didn’t quite get enough time to get there with the consistenc­y. The flavours are amazing!”

With joy, I ordered the full dessert portion and as I finished, told my friend that this would taste really great if we sprinkled some crushed up arrowroot biscuits on top. The flavour of arrowroot takes me back to my childhood in Suva, with memories of timing that moment just right before the biscuit would flop into my cup of tea. I finished up my trip in Malta, staying at my friend’s house with her family where I learnt how to make a simple vanilla and cardamom semifreddo. This time I was careful to pick up arrowroot biscuits from the supermarke­t which, as predicted, went perfectly with the velvety dessert.

Ingredient­s

2 large egg whites 6 large egg yolks 1.5 cups double cream 1.25 cup white sugar 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 tsp cardamom 4-6 arrowroot biscuits handful of fresh berries

Loaf Tin — 30 x 12 x 8 cm will serve 12 slices

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