Posts tagged ‘Italian food’

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!

4 November 2010 at 10:31 pm 1 comment

Time!

Ciao Bloggisti!

I never thought I’d quote Steve Miller (the bane of my university years) but “time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future”. I can’t believe it’s already November and that my little girl is already two months old and my “big” girl just turned seven!

For the last few weeks “time” has been on my mind: the lack of, the speed of, the wasting of, the quality of, etc.

I’ve also been pondering how best to reconcile my need to write with my überbusy existence). Yes, I’m getting used to life with three kiddos but I still have the urge to create things other than babies and clutter. I’d also like to communicate in some way with the outside world because I’m cooped up at home most of the time. But how to do it in between feedings, laundry and sleeping?

The only thing I could think of that would best fit my schedule is a point-form list of what I’m doing, thinking about, reading, etc., because world wants to know! Ideally I’d like to post one every day but, come on, we all know how prolific a writer I’ve been lately 😉 I’m also going to write traditional posts (god willing!) from time to time so this new system isn’t set in stone.

Ok, here we go!

What I’m watching: My current obsession is the American version of The Office. I can’t get enough of it and I’m trying to control how many episodes I watch per day because I don’t want it to end! I have Seasons 1-5 (thanks Sue!). I was a huge fan of the UK Office and was doubtful I’d enjoy the US version but I was so wrong. The writers and actors have done a superb job with each and every one of the characters. Maybe in some twisted way it reminds me of work and is a way for me to “escape” to the office every day.

Music of the day: yesterday I enforced a No TV day and played CDs instead. A little bit of Schubert and Vivaldi but my favourite was The Beatles White Album. Perfect for a rainy day, or any day for that matter. That time spent in Rishikesh did them good. It has a bit of everything and will never let you down (well, except for Yoko’s screaming in Revolution #9. It scared the baby.).

Best read of the day: this is actually from a few days ago but I happened to read it now. I had no idea the Japanese were this crazy for doughnuts. They sound like my kind of people!

What I’m eating: I just polished off a heaping plate of spaghetti with sugo di stufato d’asino. That’s just a fancy way of saying “stewed donkey meat sauce”. I know, it doesn’t sound as good in English but let me assure you, it was yum. Oh, and last night the hubster made a divine risotto alla zucca, or pumpkin risotto. He also cooked his famous frittata, this time with turnip tops (cime di rapa). And thank god I can have a glass of wine from time to time because tonight we’re going to open up a bottle of San Colombano, the only DOC wine produced in the province of Milan.

Best moment of the day: Baby and Diggy “talking” to each other. She was even laughing a little bit. So sweet!

Worst moment of the day: My kids overhearing the expression “bunga bunga” and giddily repeating it over and over again. Cringe cringe cringe.

Well, this turned out to be longer than I thought. But it was fun!

Will I keep up with it? Only time will tell.

2 November 2010 at 3:53 pm 3 comments

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

Desperation Poutine

Ciao Bloggisti!

Well, here we are, week after my rant about Italy and I’m still peeved! This time for a problem at my daughter’s preschool. It’s a long and complicated story, too boring to explain in detail but basically they decided to close the school for three days because water was leaking from the roof. And even if my daughter’s class isn’t even in the same building as the school with the water leak, they magically found a bit of condensation in their classroom (it’s been raining non-stop here for four days straight) and the mayor declared their classroom as unsafe as well. How nice! Especially since there’s a long weekend coming up. That way the teachers can add three more days to their vacation!! The funny thing is, my son’s daycare is in the same building as my daughter’s class and they’re still open. Hmmm….

Ok, enough of my complaining! Let’s talk about something infinitely more interesting. FOOD! Since I’ve been feeling homesick of late, one evening I decided to make one of my favourite Canadian comfort foods: poutine. Quoi?? You don’t know the celestial concoction of  french fries, gravy and cheese curds? It was one of my go-to meals when I was a university student in Montreal as it was cheap, filling and the perfect cure for a hangover. There’s even a so-called Italian Poutine, made of fries, shredded mozzarella and bolognese sauce that you’d never actually find  in Bologna but which I didn’t disdain either.

However, the other evening I wanted the real thing. I happened to have some leftover homemade chicken gravy and decided it was the perfect time to take a walk down Canadian culinary lane. I wanted to do things right so I fried my fries instead of baking them in the oven like I usually do. The only problem was that I didn’t have cheese curds. Hmmm, what would be a good substitute for curds? Why Asiago, of course! So I carefully assembled my Desperation Poutine: first the french fry base, then the Asiago and finally the piping hot gravy. I closed my eyes and took a bite.

poutine

My first thought was, “Meh”. After all that work, all the expectations, my poutine was a bit of a disappointment.  As you can see, the Asiago didn’t melt, which is what happens to curds upon contact with the hot gravy. Perhaps the cheese I used was too aged or too cold. But that stringy, cheesy goodness which is essential to the whole poutine experience was missing from my invention. But I haven’t given up hope. Now I have to try and find cheese curds here in Italy or book a flight back home asap!

Help a Canuck girl in need! What Italian cheese would be the best substitute for curds?

1 May 2009 at 12:11 am 12 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


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