Sant’Ambrogio Winterlude

16 December 2009 at 11:59 pm 4 comments

Ciao Bloggisti!

Back from my self-imposed hiatus. I’ve been busy with the usual but I’ve also decided to relax more in the evenings and do things to help me wind down after a long day. So instead of blogging I’ve been obsessively watching  episodes of 30 Rock and reading books. Just finished The Namesake. Great up until the first half but the ending was a slight disappointment. Not that I didn’t feel guilty about not writing. Every evening I thought about it but you know, I decided not to get stressed about something that is essentially a hobby. I knew that when the moment was right, I’d start posting again.

So, it’s a good thing I got sick and am at home today. It means I can finally write! So without further ado, let me tell you about my recent mini holiday in Lombard Alps.

While the Milan area may not be as romantic and exciting as living in Rome or the Amalfi Coast, we do have one perk that makes us the “envy” of the Bel Paese: il ponte di Sant’Ambrogio, or the long weekend in commemoration of the St. Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan. What makes this holiday extra-special is that not only do we get St. Ambrose Day off (on December 7, also the traditional opening of the season at La Scala), the next day is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which just so happens to be a national holiday in Italy. And this year we were extra lucky because December 7 and 8 fell on a Monday and Tuesday. So we basically had a four-day weekend!!

We decided to make the most of it and take the kids to the mountains, in the Valsassina and Valchiavenna valleys, to be precise. The little ‘uns were thrilled because the day before we left it had snowed in the area. Us big ‘uns were thrilled because we slept lots and ate even more! Here’s the photographic evidence:

Mountains in Valsassina

A December afternoon in the lovely town of Chiavenna

A selection of local coldmeats, including Valtellina's world-famous bresaola

Two different types of pizzoccheri, a "light" pasta dish made cooked with different types of cheeses, potatoes, swiss chard or cabbage, garlic, sage and butter. The pizzoccheri on the left are made with traditional buckwheat tagliatelle while the ones on the right are made with a type of gnocchi from the Chiavenna area.

Lombards on ice! A skating rink in Chiavenna.

After our lovely holiday we were still hungry for more, so I baked cupcakes. First time ever!

So that’s how we spent our first long weekend of the season. Now I’m desperately trying to book a hotel in Val d’Aosta for New Year’s but it’s not looking promising. So if we don’t get lucky, it means that I’ll be ringing in 2010 with the in-laws. Can someone please help me? Anyone?!?

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Entry filed under: Food, Italy, Restaurants, Travel. Tags: , , , .

Hard Act to Follow? Sorry, eh!

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michelle  |  17 December 2009 at 9:47 am

    I make a lighter version of pizzoccheri at home with no cheese or butter for me (I use oil with peperoncino as condiment), though I do put the works on for my husband.

    We too tried to book in Val d’Aosta for New Year’s, and it was a no go. There are some really good “kinderhotels” and places for kids, but they were all booked up. We decided to head over the border to Slovenia instead, and then on a whim tacked on Budapest! We are doing six days with the in-laws – half the time in Budapest and the other half at a big terme place in Slovenia, with a stop in Ljubjana on the way. Sounds super relaxing, right? At least we do the terme at the end of the trip.

    Went to the mountains for the “ponte” too. My in-laws have a small apartment in a town above Lecco, so it only takes 50 minutes (without traffic) to get there. They used to have a rental place on a tiny mountain top in Valsassina (which is where I learned about pizzoccheri), but it was too far away.

    Anyhoo, hope you are feeling better. We definitely have to meet up after the New Year!

    Pizzoccheri with no cheese and butter??? You’re a stronger woman than me!
    I think I’m giving up on NYE in Val d’Aosta. It’s impossible. I guess I’ll be stuck watching Carlo Conti on Rai Uno. Sounds like you’re going to have a busy but fun holiday. And and a spa treatment at the end sounds amazing.
    Yes, we definitely have to meet, especially since I’ve read you’ll be leaving Italy soon 😦

  • 2. Deborah  |  21 December 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Wow! How did you make the frosting? (for the cupcakes, not the pizzoccheri – I’m still recovering from picking glass out of some pizzoccheri this summer. The restaurant even accused me of bringing the glass with me.)

    Thanks for visiting, Deborah!! Somewhere in some molecular cuisine restaurant, someone has already invented butter/sage frosting for pizzoccheri 😉 But seriously, I just used Nigella’s buttercream frosting recipe and added food colouring. I also used my handy dandy cupcake decorating kit, with pastry bags and tips. I was surprised at how easy it was. Btw, tell me where you had that pizzoccheri so I know NOT to go there.

  • 3. nyc/caribbean ragazza  |  10 January 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Happy New Year…

    Great photos.

    How did you end up ringing in the new year?

  • 4. khomala  |  8 February 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Oh, what a yummy looking picture! It doesn’t help that it’s 9 pm here now and I have yet to take dinner (referring to the pizzoccheri). Is there a recipe i can use to recreate this dish here in M’sia? I’ll pile on the cheese 🙂

    I saw the Namesake. Brilliant stuff from Irfan Khan and Tabu. I don’t know if you’re the “Book or Movie. Not both” kinda person (I am!) but you should try watching it if you can. And yes, I thought the ending ran a bit flat too.


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December 2009


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