Thursday, 31 January 2013

Cough! Splutter!

I don't like smoking.

Here in the south of Italy, a LOT of people smoke. Really, a lot. So, after having lived here for over 2 years now, I've had to get used to it. If you want to go anywhere, you have to be prepared to meet a whole load of smokers. If the smoke gets on my nerves too much, I just move away.

But this becomes somewhat problematic when people smoke inside. During the winter months, I'll be damned if I'm the one who has to go outside to get away from it! Now, this is not to say that all bars and restaurants have one of these special smoking rooms (smoking is technically banned inside, but there are ways around it...hence said smoking rooms), and even if they do, there's also another area where you can stay warm and smoke free. OK, so far so good. Ish.

It gets worse though. A good few shop owners actually smoke inside their shops. Now, I know the property is theirs, but it's technically a public place isn't it, so why are on earth are they sitting there greeting customers (I say greeting...I mean grunting at), surrounded by a cloud of smoke?? All I can say is YUCK. And how RUDE. I went into a coffee shop the other day and, after enjoying my espressino, went up to the cash resister to pay. I realised that there was a really strong whiff of smoke and... what do you know, the man behind the desk was puffing away without a care i the world. How is this ALLOWED?! 

Here's hoping that this sort of thing will be stamped out in the future, because it's just plain horrible. Like a lot of things in southern Italy though, it may take a while... ;)

Monday, 28 January 2013

Life is beautiful...

Yesterday evening, I did something that was long overdue:

I finally watched La vita é bella.

I'd wanted to see the film for ages, but had never got round to it. So, when it was broadcast on TV last night I turned on the subtitles (in Italian though, just for a bit of extra help!) and got ready to see what all the fuss was about. I'd heard so many great things about this film so I was really keen to find out if all the praise was justified.

I was well and truly lost for words when the end credits came on.

I had had my first bout of tears about halfway through, and they made a couple more appearances as the film went on. I didn't think it was possible, but this story is truly heartwarming and utterly heartbreaking all at the same time. By the end of it, I didn't know what emotion I should be feeling! I can say two things for sure though: the first, is that Benigni is simply wonderful. And the second? Everyone should watch this film. It deserved all its Oscars and more besides.

Have you seen any great (Italian?) films lately?

Friday, 25 January 2013

A wonderful weekend...?

Ever had one of those weeks where everything seems to happen at once, you feel completely rushed off your feet and barely have a moment to yourself?

Well, my week has been a bit like that.

So, methinks that a bit of a relaxing, indulgent weekend is needed. And what does that involve?

Scoffing English biccies that I have managed to save until now. Not sure how I managed that to be honest.

Reading English mags that I have also managed to save until now. Ahh..effortless.

Possibly drinking some of this.

Definitely drinking lots of this.

And certainly eating some of these.
What do you have in store for the weekend? Hope you all have a good one! :D

Monday, 21 January 2013

Perfect pesto

There's one thing that really makes cooking quick and easy (no, not another person to actually do the cooking for you...), and that's pesto. It goes with loads of different things, you don't need to spend hours making it, and all you need to do is keep it in the fridge. Oh, and it tastes amazing too.

I love experimenting with sauces and trying out all different kinds of things in the kitchen (some are successful, some not so much...) but I must say, I've yet to make pesto from scratch. I don't have a food processor unfortunately, which is a fundamental requirement for making a decent pesto. So, I will admit to buying it ready made in a jar. Recently, I came across this:

Pesto with almonds? What a brilliant idea. I don't even know if I can go back to regular pesto now. The additional crunchy bits are just too delicious, and the flavours work so well together.

Here are a couple of pesto themed dishes I have been enjoying recently:

Pesto bruschetta

Simple spaghetti with pesto, cream cheese and fresh tomatoes
 For those of you who are keen on making your own pesto (I will be following this recipe soon!), here's how BBC Food goes about doing it:

Put 50g of basil, 30g of toasted pine nuts, 1 garlic clove and 30g of Parmesan in a food processor and season well. Slowly pour in 85ml of olive oil bit by bit as you whiz it all together, until the mixture thickens. And there you have it! It's really too simple to be true.

What do you like to do with pesto? :)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Rain rain go away...

This morning I have been hearing all about the snow in the UK.

From my mum, from friends on Facebook and from the news online. And I've got to say, that I'm a teeny bit jealous. I know I know, it causes problems on the roads and then it all turns into yucky grey slush...but before all that, it's quite lovely.

Here, we have no snow. It's chucking it down with rain, and every so often it turns into a slushy type of rain, but nothing more. That's not to say it's not possible here in the south- we had a bucket load of snow last February- but at the moment we aren't getting anything. I'd quite like to sit at my window watching the snow come down, before putting 3 coats on (yes, I feel the cold far too easily) and going outside to make a snowman. Then of course, comes the obligatory hot chocolate. Sigh. Here's hoping there's still time yet for a smattering of the stuff!

Until then, I shall cope with this yucky rain by sticking on a pair of wellies and going out for that hot chocolate anyway. Oh yes, and it's also Friday. Woohoo! :D

Have a great weekend everyone, whether you have rain, sun, snow, or a bit of all three!

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Hello folks!

I hope you're all having a smashing week. I've just got a little bit of news for you today. Firstly, if you haven't yet seen my new Facebook page, have a look here a give me a little like or perhaps even little comment! I'd love to hear from you.

Aaaaaaand, not to blow my own trumpet too much, I've also done an interview for the fantastic You can find the interview here, and don't forget to check out the rest of the website while you're there.

I think that's it for now folks. Time for a nice coffee methinks! Buona giornata!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Green is great!

What's your favourite colour? Contrary to the title of this post, green isn't actually my favourite colour. That would have to be yellow. But when it comes to food, I've got to say that green is definitely up there. No, I'm not a health nut (you'd be shocked if you saw my secret chocolate stash...seriously...), but I do favour the gorgeously green food on offer here in the south of Italy. Take, for example, the amazing 'new' oil:

I can't even begin to describe how delicious it is. Drizzled over some fresh bread or sliced tomatoes and mozzarella....(Are you drooling yet? I might be...ahem..)

And just to emphasize how gorgeously green it actually is, here's a photo of the new oil verus the older oil:

Bit of a difference isn't there?!

And moving on to another green favourite of mine: the passato. Who would have ever thought that blended green veggies could taste SO GOOD?? (And yes, that is a drizzle of oil on top. Literally can't get enough of the stuff.) Perfect for winter, especially when, like me, you're fighting a yucky cold.

And finally, there's broccoli. Have a look here for my recent broccoli and pancetta pasta dish. Simple, easy and absolutely delish. One of my favourite people on twitter recently told me that she and her hubby tried it a little while ago and they both loved it. Well there you go! This Brit does get it right sometimes! ;D

Does anyone else have any green favourites?

Buona giornata!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

And then the sun came out...

So, this morning started off pretty dull. Horrid grey skies, cold and damp. Oh yes, the weather can get pretty grotty here in winter too.

However, slowly but surely, the sun made an appearance. As it started to shine in through my window, I decided that a great song was necessary, to top off my transition into a much better mood! And what did I choose? An absolutely amazing, spine-tingling, full on powerful song. Enjoy...

Friday, 11 January 2013

The perfect accessory

I have a new love. OK OK, a second love (boyfriend appeased).

Instead of first describing how I got it, when I got it or where I got it, I'm just going to show you the photos. And you'll understand:

This may just be the most perfect satchel bag EVER. And my books and folders fit into it perfectly, so I can use it for my job AND every other moment of the day! :D

Here are the vital stats: New Look, £15. That's right, it's totally British, and I'm loving it.

Have you purchased anything beautifully British lately?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Pasta with Broccoli and Pancetta

What's your favourite vegetable? I love pretty much all of them. I've even stopped turning my nose up at Brussels sprouts. That's not to say I like them... they just don't repulse me like they used to. My personal favourites have to be parsnips, peas and broccoli.

One of our local pizza places does an amazing broccoli pizza. Honestly, it's to die for. Not long ago, when I walked in and spotted it, I literally squeaked with joy. It isn't one of the regular pizza toppings on offer, so I was really rather excited. The guy in front of me took all but one piece of it, and I may or may not have muttered a few choice words under my breath, as I saw that my beloved broccoli pizza was under threat. Luckily, that next piece found its way to my stomach, so I was one happy girl.

The boyfriend then mentioned that he could 'throw together' a nice broccoli pasta for me, it would be 'no trouble at all'. He kept his promise, and a few days later, he wowed me with this tasty creation:

Now, some of you may not find this pasta dish very aesthetically pleasing. I, on the other hand, think it looks delish. And it's oh so simple to make.

Cook some broccoli in boiling water until it's about three quarters done. Meanwhile, fry some olive oil, pancetta and garlic in a pan. Add your broccoli to the pan too, and cook it until it resembles a kind of puree, like you can see in the photos above. Mix in a sprinkling of Parmesan, don't forget to add some salt, and then serve!

It really is very tasty indeed. Give it a go!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Back Puglia!

Well, the festive period is now well and truly over. Boo! Only another 360 days or so to go before I can once again gorge on mince pies and chocolate log. Until then though, I will have to 'make do' with smooth Italian espresso, creamy buffalo mozzarella and delicious pizza. How on earth will I cope? ;)

As I touched down in Rome yesterday, I realised that, piano piano, Italy is really starting to feel like a home to me. The UK will always be my country of origin, the place where I grew up, the place where most of my friends and family are. But it's dawning on me that, after just over 2 years here in Puglia, I'm beginning to feel like I'm coming home when I arrive at an Italian airport, not just at a British one. What about all you other expats out there? Are you going through or have you already been through the same process as me? Or will your country of origin be the only place you'll ever truly call home?

On another note, I'm already thinking about a whole load of lovely blog posts for you, to brighten up your January. Because let's face it, January really is a rubbish month. Yummy pasta and broccoli recipe anyone? Watch this space! :)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year!

A big happy new year to you all! I hope you had a great end to the year, and 2013 is already going well for you. I was treated to a pub lunch today, so my year has definitely got off to a great start! Here are a couple of snaps from the past few days here in the UK:

A quick coffee break before the boyfriend cooked a tasty lasagne for my parents and our friends
Delightful dinner party on the 30th
Tequila before midnight on the 31st with some friends
Two wonderful people with whom I had the pleasure of seeing in the new year
Me and my man  (possibly nursing headaches...ahem...) on the 1st of January. Start as you mean to  go on... :)
It's at this time that the inevitable New Year's resolutions come about. Personally, I try not to make them. Mainly because I know full well that, even though I may start well, I hardly ever follow through. Yes, I could say that I want to go to the gym a bit more, but I hate the gym, so that's just not going to happen. And eat less chocolate? Well, then I'd be plain miserable. And nobody wants to read miserable blog posts now do they? In fact, maybe I should be eating more of the stuff....

Saying that though, I do have a few hopes for 2013. Here are just a few of them:
  • Continue learning Italian. I need to figure out how to use conditionals at some point...
  • Perfect my lasagne. I'm learning, but it's not quite up to Italian standards (ie it's not as good as my boyfriend's version, and that just won't do)
  • Get a few more lovely blog followers (that one's down to you dear reader... :D)
  • Keep writing. And writing and writing. And just see what happens... ;)
  • Keep exploring beautiful Italy. 
What are some of your hopes for 2013? :)