Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Looks Like Liguria in Here!

Today the kids and I harvested the basil and made pesto in the blender using the simple recipe from Twelve.  Although it reduced quite a bit in the blender, there was still a ton of it.  We decided to try freezing it in ice trays to save for future meals.  Here is a pic of the gloppy goop. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Italy Without Tomatoes

It never ceases to amaze me that Italian food hasn't always involved tomatoes.  Here is another article courtesy of The Florentine explaining this fruit's migration from the Americas as well as other New World foods such as chocolate and pepper.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Italy Reads

A nice and concise list of books about or set in Florence was recently published in an article by The Florentine.  I've finished The House of Medici: It's Rise and Fall and Brunelleschi's Dome.   I recommend both, but feel Ross King's Brunelleschi's Dome is the most fun (I was compelled to read it twice!) and a great peak into the daily life of of a wide range of Florentines during the era.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

American Gardens in Florence

La Pietra Estate
An article that includes the gardens at La Pietra, among others, appeared in The Florentine's online edition today.  New York University was the grateful recipient of the La Pietra estate and uses it as its base for the Florence Study Abroad Program.  I attended the second annual program in the summer of 1995, and stayed in one of the "lesser" villas (Villa Natalia) on the property, although now most students rent apartments in the city center.  This grand formal gardens have breathtaking views of Florence, pleasant breezes, and bats zipping around catching bugs at dusk.  You may even run into a family of hedgehogs.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Top 10 Italy Climbs

Torre del Mangia staircase, Siena
What is is about climbing something?  A good view from the top?  Getting a workout in?  Pretending that you are the first to do it?

There isn't a vertical tower in Italy that I don't want to conquer.  Here are a few of my favorite tower or hill climbs focusing on Tuscany and nearby:

1. Duomo, Florence (read Ross King's Brunelleschi's Dome before you do it...or after!)
2. Walk to Piazza Michelangelo and San Miniato Al Monte
3. Patrol path tour, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence 
4. Hiking the Ligurian coast (especially the cliff-hugging sanctuaries)
5. Torre del Mangia, Siena
6. Torre Guinigi, Lucca
7. St. Patrick's well, Orvieto
8. Leaning tower, Pisa (you've got to do it once)
9. The entire town of Montepulciano
10. Ramparts of Monteriggioni

Oldest RX Source in Europe Turns 400

Photo courtesy of smnovella.it
Congrats to Officina Profumo-Farmaceuticadi Santa Maria Novella for turning 400 years old!

Believed to be the oldest pharmacy in Europe (1221), this historic treasure offered balms and medicinal herbs to the church's monks and Florence's poor.  It's been in continuous operation ever since and now sells mostly perfumes, lotions, and chocolates. We missed this stop on our last visit to Florence, but wish we hadn't.  Happy birthday!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ribollita in Socal

Cavolo nero, a.k.a. Tuscan black kale
I finally found cavolo nero, a.k.a. Tuscan black kale (dark green, really) at the local farmer's market!  My quest to make my favorite ribollita soup was in my grasp.  I used the recipe from Twelve, which seemed to be authentic without taking three days to prepare.  Many other recipes called for making minestrone-ish soup, then adding slices of red onion and bread the next day, then reboiling it the next. Ribollita literally means "reboiled."
The finished product
You need about three pounds of kale and Swiss chard, a bit of white beans, lots of red onion, a couple of stalks of celery, a dab of tomato paste, and some salt.  Getting the mound of greens home and then having to chop them down for an hour was the hardest part.  A good crusty farmer's loaf of bread, well toasted, and set under a ladel of soup in each bowl made it hearty and just wonderful.   Loads of antioxidants and flavor.  We're on night two of it, and it's only getting better.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Move to Italy?

Photo courtesy of homeaway.com
At least for the summer.  I've been spending way too much time on homeaway.com and homeexchange.com - two websites that I frequently troll to find my perfect Florence apartment rental or a house to swap in Sicily.  Deals seem to abound last minute and in the winter.  If only the airfares weren't so high. 

A Florence apt. that is a 20-minute walk from the duomo for 200 euro a week that sleeps seven.  That's some cheap living.  Or swap our Socal house for this centrally located Catania pad.

I can dream.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Neopolitan Potato Gatto

The second dish that we tried out of The Italian Country Table - Potato Gatto - was a hit.  Mashed potatoes layered with parmigiano and fresh mozzarella cheeses, onions, peas, and salami.  All topped with garlic breadcrumbs.  Savory, comforting, addictive.