Posts filed under ‘Restaurants’

Conchords, Ransom, Teeth and Stew

Ciao Bloggisti!

Ecco un’altra lista:

What I’m watching: Caught Flight of the Conchords for the first time last night, dubbed in Italian mind you. I still enjoyed it immensely! It’s like a cross between Peep Show and Glee. Sigh! I wish Mark and Jez would set their woes to music.

Music of the day: I was thrilled to see Elvis Costello on Letterman the other day. I think he has one of the best voices in music and he was on the show to promote his new album, National Ransom. The title track sounds great and the band is tight, which bodes well for the rest of the album. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Best read of the day: I’m currently reading Stephen Fry’s autobiography, Moab is My Washpot. It chronicles the first 20 years of his life and is at times hilarious and melancholy. If you’re a Fry fan, you’ll definitely enjoy following him on Twitter.* Oh, this video is pretty cool, too.

*Stephen Fry left Twitter for a few days due to criticism he received after being misquoted in a recent article on women and sex. He’s back now, thank goodness!

What I’m eating: Yesterday I had lunch at a Sardinian restaurant and was served a teeny tiny portion of grilled tuna steak and malloreddus gnocchi with tomato sauce. Not bad but I was hungry after an hour! So hungry that I decided to make a good old-fashioned Beef Stew.

Stewie Beef!

I got the recipe from my Canadian Living cookbook. Simple and delicious. I even used some of the San Colombano. The only problem was that the kids were disgusted by the vegetables and took ages to finish dinner, or maybe it was the San Colombano that slowed them down. They were also not impressed by the pumpkin spice muffins I just baked. More for me!

Best moment of the day: Bellie’s first tooth fell out!! And she was paid a visit by the Tooth Fairy, even if in Italy a little mouse (?!) usually does the honours.

Worst moment of the day: Little Charlie puking all over me. She’s ok, her tum tum just doesn’t agree with formula.

Where I’d like to go: The China Power Station contemporary Chinese art exhibition at the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli in Turin.

Things that make you go “AWWW!”: Zidane and Materazzi hugging and making up.

Laters!

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4 November 2010 at 10:31 pm 1 comment

Sant’Ambrogio Winterlude

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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16 December 2009 at 11:59 pm 4 comments

A day at the agriturismo

Ciao Bloggisti!

Finally coming up for air after a pretty intense two months. The hubster was away on business which meant life was all work, kids and no play. So of course that meant no blogging. But now I’m on holiday in Canada and have a few free minutes to tell you about my lovely day in the country a couple months ago.

Those of you who live in Italy have probably heard of or visited an agriturismo. I mentioned our visit to a rustic agriturismo in Tuscany a couple of posts back. In my opinion, it is one of the best ways to experience Italy. An agriturismo (a combination of the words agricoltura and turismo) is a renovated farmhouse in a, more often than not, picturesque part of the country. Rooms are available to let and if you’re lucky it will have a restaurant with dishes featuring their very own fresh produce, just like at Cascina Caremma in the town of Besate, Lombardy. Located within the lovely Parco Ticino, Cascina Caremma prides itself on its particular attention towards local traditions, the environment and fine food. They are staunch believers in Kilometer Zero cuisine and serve specialities with ingredients that they have either raised or grown themselves. If you are lucky enough to get a reservation, be prepared for a set menu decided upon day by day, in order to guarantee the freshest, most seasonal dishes possible. Mmmm… I’m getting hungry just thinking about my meal. So without further ado, here are some pictures of my day at the agriturismo:


One of the old farm buildings that was renovated and now houses a modern, luxurious spa!

sweet red and yellow peppers
Roasted red and yellow peppers
crespelle
Crespelle (Italian crepes) stuffed with cheese and herbs
risotto with asparagus and tomatoes
risotto with asparagus and tomatoes
meringue mountain with hot chocolate sauce
meringue mountain with hot chocolate sauce

Pretty impressive stuff. And those were only a third of the dishes they served at lunch! We couldn’t even finish everything on the menu and to top it all off we were shocked at how affordable it was. Hmm, I wonder if they have anything similar to agriturismi in the Toronto area. Must find out! But for now, I’m more than happy with my beloved Tim Horton’s. And that, my friends, is another story….

26 July 2009 at 6:06 am 5 comments

Eating guitar strings

Ciao Bloggisti!
I have to be quick with this post because I’m home sick and so are the kids and they’re finally having a nap, which means I have about 30 minutes to write if I’m lucky. So here goes!
I’ve had guitars on the brain for a while now. As some of you might know, I’m a huge Beatles fan and after watching their Anthology documentary, I got the itch to start learning the guitar again. I half-heartedly began about 20 years ago when my friend Justin (who now happens to be a successful guitar teacher in Manchester) sold me a little acoustic guitar.  But being the impatient and undisciplined teenager that I was, when I didn’t start sounding like a young George Harrison after a month’s playing, I pretty much gave up. But in my old age, I decided to start anew, hoping that my willpower would have built up by now. I convinced to the hubster to buy me a brand new acoustic guitar for my birthday, I bought the Learning Guitar for Dummies book and DVD and now I try and practice when the kids are in bed, praying that my pathetic rendition of Frère Jacques won’t wake them (or the neighbourhood cats) up. It’ll take a while to actually play decently but I’m proud of the callouses on my fingers.
Guitars were also on the menu of the latest restaurant I had the pleasure of dining at in the centre of Milan. Well, to be honest, Da Giannino, L’Angolo d’Abruzzo,  actually served up spaghetti alla chitarra, a square-shaped long pasta made from a stringed tool called chitarra (literally, a guitar). You can read more about this wonderful Abruzzese dish in my pal Joanne’s Frutto della Passione.


(Have to take a quick break. One of the “monkeys” just woke up and is screaming for me.)

(Ok, Monkey #1 now is on the sofa watching cartoons. I’m safe for a few minutes yet!)

Anyway, Jo happened to be at the restaurant with yours truly and raved about how authentic their spaghetti alla chitarra was. And if she says so, it must be true! I also was lucky enough to try the spaghetti in my tris di primi, a sampling of three different types of pasta. As well as the spaghetti, there were giant ravioli called schiaffoni (big slaps!) and little green gnocchi, all fresh, all delish!!
lindas-birthday-2009-028

Tris di primi: spaghetti alla chitarra, schiaffoni and green gnocchetti

Some of my commensali had another speciality from Abruzzo, roasted lamb with potatoes. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, flavourful yet not gamey, a result that’s often difficult to achieve when cooking lamb.

lindas-birthday-2009-031

Roasted lamb and potatoes

I, however, opted for one of the dishes I just have to eat whenever we visit our friends in L’Aquila, Arrosticini. They’re succulent skewers of grilled mutton which, traditionally, should be eaten by holding the skewer with your hands and pulling the meat off the stick with your teeth. And that’s exactly what I did! I don’t know about you but I get a visceral pleasure from eating food with my hands, however messy it can be.

lindas-birthday-2009-034

Arrosticini

These arrosticini did not disappoint, all washed down with a house wine (which I failed to note) served in lovely, hand-painted ceramic jugs.

All in all, I was thrilled with my dinner. The food was great, the service fast and very friendly and best of all, it was extremely affordable.  We paid about €25 each, which included pasta, main course, dessert, wine, coffee and some deadly liqueurs. Prices like that are a rarity in Milan. So next time you’re in town and you’re hankering for a taste of Abruzzo , give Giannino a call. And please do call in advance because the place is literally an angolo,  tiny and always, always packed.

Da Giannino – L’angolo d’Abruzzo

Via Rosolino Pilo, 20 – Milano

Phone: +39 02/29.40.65.26

Opening hrs: Tues – Sat 12:00pm – 11:00pm, Sun 12:00pm – 3:00pm

(Phew! I did it! Monkey #2 is still fast asleep. It’s a good blogging day!)

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5 March 2009 at 5:31 pm 4 comments

Around the world in one city

Ciao Bloggisti!*
When I was back home in Toronto last August, the fam and I went to Centre Island for the afternoon. It’s a favourite summer destination as it has lovely picnic areas, an amusement park and one of the best views of the downtown skyline. Anyway, as I was waiting in line for the ferry, I started to get bored and had a look around me.  And what I saw was incredible. It was like a live-action ad for the United Colours of Benetton. There were Jamaicans, Chinese, South Asians, Koreans, Italians, North Africans, Hasidic Jews and, ahem, “mangiacakes”, all standing in line together for the Island Ferry, their coolers and backpacks bursting with goodies, just like so many Torontonians have done for generations. It was all so wonderfully Canadian!
Being the foodie freak that I am, I was just dying to take a peek at what all those people had in their culinary stash. And I also thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a communal picnic right then and there, passing around the bindaetteok , samosas and potato salad.  In my opinion, nothing brings a country together better than food. This summer I can safely say I was well-trained in the art of nation-building with all the great things I chowed down on during my trip to Toronto and Ottawa. I took pictures of most of the food I ate on my trip (much to the chagrin of friends and family) but here are just a few shots of the memorable dishes I had. And since October 14 is Election Day in Canada, I thought it would be a great reminder of how diversity has become as Canadian as the Nanaimo Bar.
Arugula salad – Torito Tapas Bar, Toronto
Arugula , manchego cheese , roasted almond salad with quince vinaigrette

Mini pappadums, Brampton

My aunt’s spicy barbequed fish

Kerala-style barbequed fish

Butter tarts! A Canadian classic.

Butter tarts

My favourite: chunky, greasy french fries

Fresh-cut fries and ketchup

Appetizers – Omonia Restaurant, Greektown, Toronto

Three-dip pita platter with tzatziki, humus and melitzanosalata

Canada, vote well!!! Mi raccomando!!!!!!

* Update: I just found out that today is Blog Action Day, an annual, non-profit event aimed at raising awareness on global issues. This years Blog Action Day is dedicated to Poverty. I didn’t have enough time to write a post about the poverty but I urge you to watch the video below and do whatever you can to spread the word.

15 October 2008 at 12:00 am 2 comments

Gnocco fritto and Vasco

Ciao Bloggisti!

How was your weekend? Mine was fun and fat-filled because we went out for a friend’s birthday to a restaurant specializing in gnocco fritto. Gnocchi fritti are fried dough, sort of like mini beaver tails (if you don’t know what those are, check out Frutto della Passione’s description of this classic Canadian snack). The Italian version is from the Emilia-Romagna region and is eaten warm, accompanied by an assortment of coldmeats like prosciutto crudo, culatello, and salami. We went to the Gnocco Fritto 2 restaurant in Milan’s Naviglio area and they just kept serving basket after basket of the fried wonders. Not only did we have generous helpings of coldmeats, we also filled our gnocchi with some lovely soft cheeses like gorgonzola, taleggio and torta alpina.  I would post pictures of our meal but my husband forgot to bring the camera!! GRRRRRR!! Anyway, you’ll just have to imagine it for yourselves. (In retaliation, one day I’m going to dig up some old pictures of my husband dressed in drag for Carnival and post those!)

After dinner we went out for drinks at a nearby bar. Since it was Saturday night, of course there was a band playing cover songs far too loudly for my aging ears, making it almost impossible for me to talk to my friends. So I was kind of forced to listen to the music. Much to my surprise, the band wasn’t half-bad. They played the usual Top Ten, some Amy Winehouse,  Duffy, etc. But the guy did a spot on imitation of Vasco Rossi. For those of you who don’t know, Vasco (aka Blasco) is one of Italy’s most hard-living, hard-rocking singer/songwriters. And like the gnocco fritto, he hails from Emilia. I wanted to post a video of one of Vasco’s biggest hits, Albachiara, but I couldn’t find anything except unofficial concert footage. However, I did find something unusual that might be appreciated by those of you studying Italian. This is a video set to Albachiara but done in sign language by a man called Daniele. I don’t know much about signing but I thought he did a fantastic job at interpreting the song.

And aren’t his eyes expressive? Ah, there’s nothing like good music to start the week off right!

Buon lunedì!!

6 October 2008 at 5:29 pm 8 comments

McIndia in Italy

Ciao Bloggisti!

Everyone have a good weekend? Hope so. I just got back from a weekend in Liguria, a sort of cottage country for the Milanese. So with all the traffic, pit stops and toddler crises, it basically took us 5 hours to travel 200 km. But we did manage to relax a bit on the beach on Saturday and the kids had a great time. We even went to a local festival, a sagra, where they served inexpensive local food and a very cheesy band playing polka and the Village People. I’ll post more about that some other time.

To add to our culinary adventures, on our way back from Liguria we stopped for lunch at McDonald’s on the highway. It’s become a sort of family tradition. Even if I’ve lived here for over 10 years, I still need that dose of McDs once in a while. You can take a girl out of Scarborough….

Speaking of which, after we made the long, hot trek from the parking lot to the restaurant, I took a look inside and thought I was back home. The place was full of my people, i.e Indians, South Asians, etc. I have to admit I was taken aback. Despite the recent influx of immigrants to Italy, you still don’t see too many people of Indian origin around. So to find the McDonald’s full of them was odd, but in a good way. I guess they were a busload of tourists on a lunch break, sampling the local cuisine ; ) I took the opportunity to point out to my daughter the lovely salwar kameez and saris the women were wearing. She was thrilled to see all the colourful shawls and the people who looked more like Mommy.

So, to further Indian-Italian relations, I’d like to share this clip from comic Russell Peters (who happens to be Canadian). Slightly crude but all in good fun.

(Warning: nsfw)

14 July 2008 at 7:07 pm 9 comments

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