Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Italian food is great, but......

I love Italian food.

Everybody knows this by now. But every so often I do crave something a bit different. So recently, I made a fantastic, juicy burger. With Italian twists of course....

Burger bun? Absolutely not. Focaccia, thank you very much.

Juicy Italian tomatoes on the side

Chunks of Parmesan in the middle

Oh my, was it a tasty burger. Might be making another one of those in the near future....

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Afternoon snack, anyone?

In case you didn't know, Italian mealtimes are somewhat different from those in the UK. Lunch is at about 1.30pm, which is similar enough, but dinner? Down here in the south, the earliest you'll eat is at about 9pm. That took some getting used to when I first arrived here!

Even though lunch is the biggest meal of the day, sometimes you need a little extra something to get you through until the evening. So, make way for: The MERENDA. 

This fancy sounding name actually means afternoon snack, usually eaten between 5 and 6 (although this may vary somewhat). Almost everyone I know has a merenda, and it can consist of all sorts of snacky bits. For example, you could have this:

or this:

or this:

or this!

Due to my working hours in the afternoon, I sometimes don't have the chance to have a merenda. But when I do, I must admit that I choose something sweet. A biscuit or two, a cereal bar or a plumcake (those living in Italy will know that this has nothing at all to do with plums..) and some tea (usually iced). It gives me a nice (albeit unhealthy!) sugar rush to get me through the afternoon. What do you have, or what would you choose for your merenda?

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Rain rain go away...

 Yes folks, the usually sunny south has turned into one big lake. Mini rivers are flowing along my street, and the cobbled streets are a MAJOR slipping hazard. I have taken to going out in my rather fetching wellies.

I 'braved' the weather this morning to go for a much needed coffee. There's a lovely little bar on the main street which has become my 'usual' place to get a caffeine fix. The owner always has tasty cakes available too, so I occasionally often indulge.

The other nice little thing about this bar, is that they have sugar packets with little proverbs and jokes on them. Sometimes my Italian doesn't stretch that far, and I have to ask the boy for some linguistic assistance, but most of the time they are simple and actually rather amusing. I read a great one this morning, which I had to share with you all. Here goes:

Un elephante chiede ad una cammella: 
'Perche hai le tette sulla schiena?'
'Senti chi parla uno che ha il pisello in faccia...'

And my (rough) English translation (and do excuse the slightly rude nature of the expressions):

An elephant asks a camel:
'Why do you have tits on your back?'
'You're one to talk, you've got a penis on your face...'

So there you are. A spot of humour to brighten up your (rainy) day!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Love it or hate it?

I'm going to start this post with a sentence that some may find controversial:

I love IKEA. 

There. Words that are sometimes met with delight and squeals of 'ooo me too!!!', and sometimes cause people to just, well, walk away from you.

I love the design, I love the choice on offer and perhaps most of all, I love the prices. So when my boyfriend suggested a trip to IKEA, I may have squealed. A lot. Partly because I love IKEA (have I successfully managed to convey that yet?) and partly because I've never been to an IKEA in Italy.

It was everything I wanted it to be, with extra little Christmassy touches that made it that extra bit more magical. (Yes, I know it's still November and Christmassy stuff this early does get on my nerves somewhat, but at IKEA anything goes.) I picked up some great bits and pieces, including some much needed wine glasses (ahem), a cheap and cheerful bookcase, jars for sugar and salt, some storage boxes, some cute postcards and a great desk chair.

 Here are a few other things I had my eye on though. Maybe next time...

Yes, EVERYTHING from this bathroom.

 What do you think? Are you an IKEA lover or hater?

Monday, 19 November 2012

The annoyed jellyfish

Hello folks!

I hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was made up of drinking coffee, sleeping, eating and going to IKEA. (More on that soon. Yes, IKEA is blog post worthy.)

Recently I have had a bit of an issue with fake blog traffic. Everyone gets some at some point, but recently I have had hundreds of extra hits. I'm pretty sure that these people aren't interested in sunshine and/or tomatoes. And I'm very sure that actually, they aren't people at all. Just silly spammers who want to cause havoc. Upon seeing all this nasty fake traffic, I felt a bit like this:

 Don't even ask what part a jellyfish plays in all of this, but his expression portrays exactly how I felt.

Anyway, then after realising that actually, apart from giving me 'fake' stats, nothing else changes, and I can still carry on blogging about all things sunshiny, tomato-y, and southern Italian-y. So I shall. A big shout out to all you real life people who are actually reading this. You are GREAT.

I shall leave you with a bit of Hugh Laurie (aka Dr House), who sums up exactly what I'm now thinking:

Happy Monday!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Friday: Fabulous Florence

So here it is folks, a post on fabulous Florence. Myself and my man had a fantastic time wandering around this incredible city. It really is as beautiful as everyone says it is. All of the main sights are located in the centro storico (historic centre) so you can reach them easily on foot. That's exactly what we did. Luckily there's a nice coffee bar in almost every street, so if you get tired it's easy to refuel again!

The incredible Galleria degli Uffizi. Be careful you don't succumb to a bout of Stendhal Syndrome..
The Ponte Vecchio- the only surviving medieval bridge in Florence. Bustling with people, this bridge is packed full of shops selling gold and silver jewellery.

Would you fancy living in one of these houses?!
The gorgeous view from the bridge itself

The fountain in the famous Piazza della Signora, where you can also see the copy of the David statue and the Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall). There is so much to see here, but luckily you can also find a host of good restaurants in the square.

There are loads of leather goods available in Florence. I was swooning over some of the bags....(sigh)
Street artists
The Duomo- or Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore. This is a major icon of Florence and a symbol of renaissance architecture. Absolutely stunning.

Yes, we had more than one of these coffee breaks...

I only spent a day in this wonderful city, which definitely wasn't long enough. I didn't see nearly enough. Oh well, it means I'll have to return at some point!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

(Almost) perfect pastries!

It's official. I've branched out into pastry land. Well, almost. I mean, I haven't yet made any pastry myself, but I have begun to use it in cooking. Take a look at these rustici that I made recently:

 They were incredibly easy to make, but tasted so good. I used ready made pastry (just to reiterate, I will make my own in the future..honestly..), rolled it out and filled it with these two yummy fillings:

The first is a mixture of aubergine, almonds and Parmesan. And the second? Tomato and mozzarella of course, with a dash of olive oil. Behold, the simple process:

Ta- da! Tasty rustici for everyone! (Actually, it was just me...but they are perfect as a snack or wine accompaniment when entertaining!)
Hope you're all having a smashing week so far!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Vino Novello

During this period (more or less the month of November), the whole of Italy celebrates the 'new' wine. This wine is locally produced and then meant for consumption straight away.

So, naturally I thought it best to join in with this wine appreciation, and get consuming. Well, it would have been rude not to, wouldn't it? I'm not a massive fan of red, but this one wasn't too heavy and was actually pretty damn tasty...

Can't have wine without nibbles.
And cheese and cured meat...

And you definitely can't have wine without friends!
This was the perfect finish to a very relaxing weekend. Hope you all had a great weekend too!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Buona domenica!!

What do you like doing on Sundays?

For me, Sunday is always, always a day for doing as little as possible. Eat, sleep, be lazy. However, here in southern Italy, I do enjoy the odd passaggiata (leisurely walk) on a Sunday morning. This morning in particular, we went and had a tasty cappuccino and croissant. We bumped into friends, waved at others we know, and popped in too see my boyfriend's aunt for a while. Everyone is out and about on a Sunday morning, before the great big Sunday lunch happens.

The main reason for being in giro (out and about) on a Sunday morning is not only to enjoy the fresh air and make small talk though. Oh no. Italians have other things in mind, namely buying their dolce for said great big Sunday lunch.

As I drank my cappuccino, I marvelled not only at the gorgeous cakes on offer, but also at the amount of people who came in to buy them. Italians definitely have their priorities right. 

 So, I hope you all have a glorious, lazy Sunday, preferably full of dolce. Buona domenica a tutti!