Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The world's most popular stimulant...(part uno)

Aside from pizza, pasta, gelato and wine..what else comes to mind 'food-wise' when you think of Italy? If you haven't already guessed (which I'm sure you have) it's something that wakes you up, gets you going and can have a real kick to it. And no, I'm not talking about red bull (which, for the record, I'm not a fan of). I'm talking about coffee of course.

Before I came to Italy I wasn't a major fan of coffee. Weak coffee that you can buy in buckets in the UK that is. Living in a country where coffee is like a religion, an addiction, a way of life...there's no escaping it. And so I began a path of, take naps and drink coffee.

It just looks so.damn.good.
Down here in the south, they don't have Starbucks. Lots of people that I've asked have never even heard of it! That's just amazing. A worldwide chain that hasn't even make so much of a whiff of coffee beans in these parts? They must be doing something here that's far better. In my town, you go to a bar to get a coffee. And 'bar' here doesn't necessarily mean a place with pool tables, a load of students and alcoholic drinks offers. Granted, you can get an aperitif, or another beverage with a bit more of a kick, but most of the time, a bar is where you get your coffee.

The Caffe', or Espresso
If you're imagining therefore, a load of coffee shop style establishments with big, comfy sofas you're going to be disappointed. Yes, tables and chairs do exist (see above photo), but most people take their coffee at the bar. They come in, order, drink, and go. That's it. It's not an occasion for socialising (although the Italians never do anything silently..apart from eating perhaps) and it serves a purpose- to get a little hit of something good, without indulging in any illegal practice. One of my students called coffee his 'fuel', and I think this is an appropriate term for many.

Here are a few interesting facts for all you coffee lovers out there:

Coffee is the world's most popular stimulant

The coffee bean is actually a seed inside a bright red berry

Ethiopian shepherds first noticed the effects of caffeine when they saw how their goats reacted after eating these coffee berries (they became somewhat 'frisky' and seemed to 'dance' around)

A man called Luigi Bezzera (can you guess his nationality? :D ) invented and patented the first pressurised cylindrical coffee machine...

...and he invented it to increase his employees' productivity time- by ensuring they had shorter coffee breaks by having a quicker coffee fix.

 For more interesting coffee facts, have a look here. Part 2 of my coffee themed blog post is coming soon!

Tomorrow morning I'm off to the UK, so until my next post, feel free to have a nose around- I would especially recommend checking out the food section.
Ci vediamo presto!!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Teaching in Italy (an article by yours truly!)

So, here it is. My finished article on Teaching English in Italy! I hope it's useful for any of you who are interested in...well, teaching in Italy, or know someone else who is. If you have any more questions, get in touch :)

You can view my article by clicking... here!

Don't forget to explore the rest of the Expat Arrivals website too, for loads of other expat info.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Monday treat

So, it's Monday again.

What better way to start the week, than more gorgeous dolce to drool over. So, from the Innelli Pasticceria, I present you with some very, very tasty dolce...

Hope you've had a good start to the week!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

This week, I have been mostly....

1. Cooking. Mostly with aubergines, actually...

2. Entertaining. Cooking Italian food for Italians?! Tricky. But not if you've got a great Italian man to help you (watch out for his ridiculously good Parmigiana recipe in the future!). I'm proud to say that the antipasto and dolce were all my doing though...

3. Drinking nice wine. This is a lovely Rose from Salento..

4. Reading- in Italian! A lovely birthday present which I've just got round to reading now. I've read some of Sophie Kinsella's books before, and this one is really good so far!

5. Watching friends feed my terrapins pineapple. Apparently it's something that should be given 'very a treat'. Well, let's just say that several chunks of the stuff were fed to them. 

The (not so secret) pineapple feeding taking place

6. Looking forward to my UK trip. I leave on Thursday morning. Yaaaay!

please please let it be like this...

 7. Writing an article on teaching in Italy for expat arrivals. Watch this space!!

Hope you've had a great weekend!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The little things...

So yesterday, myself and my boyfriend were talking about the meaning of life.

Well, sort of...

Anyway, he said something that I really agree with.

'Devi essere felice con le piccole cose...'

In other words, it's the small things in life that should make you happy. You should enjoy life's little pleasures.

Do you want to know one small pleasure that I really enjoy?

Breakfast on Saturday morning. Coffee and croissants with the boyfriend. The sun is shining. Everything feels really, really good.

Breakfast in Italy is a sweet affair- nothing savoury in sight. The coffee is incredible, and the sugar rush definitely sets you up for the day...

Friday, 20 July 2012

FOOD FRIDAY: awesome antipasto

Yes, it's Friday again!

Are you looking for an easy, light lunch/dinner option?

Do you fancy something that doesn't require much cooking?

Are you rather lazy like I am?

Well, here's a solution for all of the above:

Easy Antipasto!

Whether you are making something for yourself, your family, or have agreed to host a load of guests (eek!), antipasto is the way forward. I've been eating lots of it recently, because I'm golosa, and because these light dishes are perfect for when it's hot outside. Slaving away over a hot stove? Errm, no thanks. Have a look at these simple antipasto ideas:

Mini Bruschetta 
Chop up some tomatoes (into small pieces), add some salt, olive oil and oregano. Then add a garlic clove (whole, but remember to remove later!) and leave in the fridge for an hour or two. Serve on small slices of fresh, crusty bread.
Fried Mozzarella Balls
Take some small balls of mozzarella, dip into egg and then roll in breadcrumbs (don't forget to add a little salt). Heat up enough olive oil in a pan to almost fully immerse these mozzarella balls, and then fry them for a minute or so. Any more, and they will start melting and lose their shape. As you can see, mine are not perfect!! Definitely a learning process... and be careful of the hot oil!

Pear in Prosciutto
I'm not a fan of melon, which is usually the fruit of choice to go with prosciutto, so I decided I'd try pear. It's really good! You could serve these in more 'bite size' portions, with cocktail sticks.

Wrap bites
I made these using rocket, Galbanino cheese, prosciutto and pesto. You could also try them with cooked ham and mayonnaise/philadelphia instead of prosciutto and pesto. Make a normal wrap, leave in the fridge for half an hour (wrapped in clingfilm to keep the shape), and then cut into slices before you serve. 

Grilled aubergines
These you may have seen before. If not, have a look here. This is where the most cooking is involved. If you call grilling some aubergine slices cooking, that is ;)

Finally, have a look here for my tomato and mozzarella spears. These are ridiculously simple but look pretty impressive. Watch this space for more antipasto ideas in the future!

Buon appetito!!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Italian Reflections...

As you all know, I am a keen blogger and English teacher, I eat too much pizza and am obsessed with dolce. I am of course, also an expat, and I've recently been featured on the Italian Reflections website..

(you can find me and my little blog here)

 ...which is a great place to find news about Italy, food and travel information and of course, Italy blogs! Click the link below (or you can click the one on the left sidebar) to be taken directly to this fantastic website.

flower power (and a lack of post offices...)

In my town there is only one post office. This causes me great distress (possible ranty blog post in the future- beware!) The minimum time you have to spend in the post office, even for the simplest of tasks, is one hour. Fact.

There are, on the other hand, more florists than you can shake a stick (or stem..) at. I'm not sure why. Myself and my boyfriend counted about 8 or 9, that we know of. He reckons there's a few more.

Now, Italians aren't super passionate about flowers. They seem to like them as much as any other nation does. But, seeing as we are smack bang in the middle of the countryside, there must be an abundance of flowers to sell. Or, becoming a florist is a very sought-after profession.

 Either way, I wanted to show my appreciation for the (many) florists in my little town. They create the most gorgeous bouquets of flowers, and the prices are ridiculously reasonable. There have recently been a couple of births in my boyfriend's family, so, being as traditional (or, unimaginative..) as we are, we chose flowers as a gift. Have a look at this gorgeous bunch (prepared on request) for baby Giulia:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


I've posted some photos of some tasty cakes before, but those almost pale in comparison to these beauties. They really were the best dolce I have ever tasted! Behold, the delicious dolce from the  'Pizzicato' bakery, located in Vico del Gargano (

In the end (it took ages to choose!), we decided on these fantastic creations. My personal favourites were..well, all of them. From left to right we have: Cassato siciliana, Cannolo siciliano, Sacher torta, Mousse al cioccolato, and at the front, Cestini alla frutta.

If you're in Italy, I urge you to go to this bakery. If you aren't in Italy...I urge you to get on the next plane...and go to this bakery!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Can Italians dance?! Erm...

Erm, possibly not. That's according to this video anyway.

Some annoyingly catchy Italian pop to fill up your Tuesday afternoon.... Enjoy! ;)

p.s- If you fancy something a little less 'pop', check out these songs chosen by the lovely Sarah at Not Just Another Dolce Vita blog.

Terrapin Tuesday!

In case you had forgotten, a little while ago I acquired 2 tiny little terrapins. Turtles and terrapins seem to be the most popular pets around these parts. At least two of my boyfriend's brothers (yes, he has a big family..) have them as pets, and a whole load of my students have them.

They really are tiny little things, but don't let that fool you. They aren't that easy to look after. After I got them, I did a good amount of research. I want to take care of them properly, and avoid any illnesses or deficiencies (which they can get fairly easily, because they're so small).

I got rid of the small container that I was given when I bought them, and swapped it for a much bigger one, adding in little stones (for a 'basking' area..oh how Italian they are) and some nice shells. Oh, and a fake palm tree of course. They seem very content in their habitat.

Unfortunately, Jennifer recently had a bit of an eye infection. This could have been down to a lack of Vitamin A, so I fed the terrapins more veg (they now love parsley and basil leaves, and are slowly coming round to chicory) and some chicken liver (...yum..), and got some special eye drops. Within a week, she was as right as rain, and is more active than before.

Tim is a little wild child who likes to rampage all over the place and steal food from Jennifer. He also likes to hide under shells, sometimes covering his body completely and subsequently giving me a fright because I think he's escaped. Not that that's possible, seeing as the container is a lot taller than them, but still....

This week, Tim has been mostly: stealing Jennifer's chicken liver. And hiding under things.

This week, Jennifer has been mostly: Having food stolen from her mouth. And trying to find out where Tim is hiding.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Officially an expat arrival...

Check out an interview with yours truly on Expat Arrivals, a website which has lots of information for expats all over the world. You can find my interview, as well as loads more expat stuff here:

Watch this space for my upcoming article on teaching in Italy!

Life's a beach...

...with the odd sandcastle on it!

This weekend I spent some time with my boyfriend and his family at the beach. We swam, we sunbathed, we had a fantastic barbecue and, of course, we made a sandcastle. I'm definitely 25 going on 5. It was a lot of fun though! :D

Location: Torremileto, Italy