Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Cooking Curiosity...

Although not technically a 'food blog', this little site of mine is usually about 75-80% food. Well, what can I say? I live in Italy. The food here is nothing short of DELICIOUS. However, most of my food related posts are of things I have EATEN; not necessarily MADE. Apart from the odd pasta dish or yogurt cake, I do not promote myself as a cook. I have decided that I would like this to change. I'm not sure if it's the cold winter months of staying indoors, or viewing other people's culinary skills that have sparked my curiosity, but what I do know, is that I am determined to get just a little better at cooking stuff.

I have had a go at two simple recipes recently (yes, I'm starting off simple), namely Nutella brownies and funghi al forno. They both turned out very well indeed, thus prompting me to research my next dish. A friend recently gave me the recipe for a pumpkin risotto, so methinks that will be the next step. However it turns out, it will be posted on here. So no pressure or anything....

Nutella Brownies: 240ml of Nutella (yes, it's rather a lot...), 60g flour, 2g slat, 2 eggs, 100g brown sugar, 5ml vanilla essence, 56g melted butter. Mix eggs, Nutella, sugar and vanilla. Then alternate adding the flour/salt and the butter. Spread into a tin and bake for about 25/30 mins (depending on your oven) at around 160/170 °C. The brownies were quite cakey, but very tasty indeed. I added some coconut to mine too. (Recipe taken from the food app)

Funghi al Forni: This is so simple but absolutely delish. Remove the stalks and wipe the mushrooms clean, before laying out on a baking tray and covering with chopped garlic, salt, parsley, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and a scattering of breadcrumbs. Pop in the oven for about 15 minutes or so at 160°C. Event though I got good feedback for these, next time I think I'll add a little more Parmesan and breadcrumbs. (Recipe taken from a lovely colleague of mine)

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Post Office? I think I'll pass....

Good morning from cloudy Puglia. (Yes, that's right, the sun doesn't ALWAYS shine here...)

The thing that I'm going to talk about today is one that I have almost certainly mentioned more than once in the past. The topic in question is the quick, efficient, helpful organisation that is the Italian post office. In case you didn't quite pick up on it, those three preceding adjectives were positively dripping with sarcasm. I'm not what you would call a 'fan' of the Italian post office. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I have a EXTREME dislike of it (I don't like using the word hate. Except when talking about One Direction of course. Anyway.) My reasons are numerous: slow service, lack of efficiency in any shape or form, slow service, largely unhelpful staff (in my local branch anyway), slow service and disrespect for customers. It is the latter that I wish to draw attention to today, as I recently witnessed something really quite surprising, even by Italian post office standards.

The story played out something like this: Bumbling my way into the packed post office, I saw an old guy waiting to speak to someone in the back office- I guess he wanted to discuss his account or something similar. Seeing that another guy, who also wanted to speak to someone, was about to push in front of him, he (rightly) said 'I'm the first one. But the customer service man has gone for a coffee. He'll be back soon I think'. Right. Other guy retreated and seemed fine with this. OUT FOR A COFFEE though? It was heaving in the post office. But, whatever. Italians like coffee. They clearly need it to get through a morning of pushy post office go-ers. I get it. Five minutes later the customer service guy returned, but didn't call in the next customer.  Oh no. He proceeded to stand outside and chat to other colleagues while this poor old guy was just waiting. Then, THEN, the second man in the queue goes out to the customer service man and starts talking to him, clearly about his own post office issue. The cheek! The man obliges and seems to be serving him first. Still with me? Good. By this point, the old man was getting pretty irate. Grumbling (and rightly so) to everyone who would listen. He then went outside to this guy, shouted a bit and made some hand gestures. Ten minutes later, when I left the post office (thank God), he still hadn't been seen. (His  hand gestures may not have helped...)

Sometimes, I just don't get it. I love how laid back southern Italians are, but when it becomes disrespectful? No thanks. All of my correspondence will definitely be in electronic form from now on methinks. And let's hope that the old guy isn't still waiting for his turn.

In other post-related news, I had the joy of receiving (albeit a good two weeks late...again, thanks Italian post...) a wonderful card from my friend in Canada. This friend runs an absolutely wonderful bike tour company (see my write up of the tour I went on HERE) and is one of the most positive, inspirational people I've ever met. And doesn't she have great taste in greetings cards?!
 That's all for now folks. Over and out.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


When a new year begins, it's a great time to make some changes. Whether it be something important like your job situation, where you live or even your general outlook on life; when January rolls around, what better time is there to change it up a little.

Now, before you think this is going to be a wonderful, positive thinking, inspirational blog post, you are a little mistaken. Because, dear readers, I'm going to write about my HAIR.

One of my changes this new year, is my hair colour. Now, men, you may not quite understand this, but you ladies out there certainly will; a change of hair colour is a big thing. Last April, I went from brunette to blonde. I liked it, it was fun and interesting, but there was a drawback. Yep, you guessed it: ROOTS. My hair grows like weeds (what a nice image) so even after two weeks, there would be a dark line ruining my barnet. So, this year I have returned to brunette. It's easier to manage and there are no pesky roots to speak of. However, it seems that (Italian) public opinion is somewhat divided. 'You looked better as a blonde!' 'Why have you changed?' 'You've ruined your whole life!' OK, the last one is made up, but you get the gist. Anyway, my point of writing (yes, there is a least I'm sure there is...) is to emphasise the fact that Italians simply have a habit of TELLING THE TRUTH. If they don't like it, they'll say so. See here for a post that I wrote after having turned into a blonde. You will see some similarities. 

Anyway, here are a couple of  photos of me and my deliciously dark hair. You may think that I DID look better as a blonde, but personally? I prefer the dark side ;)


not selfie.

OK, I know, that last one isn't of my hair but I just HAD to include it. Last night's indulgence: chocolate and pistachio cake. Erm, yes please.

Buona domenica!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Buon anno...

To all my readers, fellow bloggers, and those of you who have only just stumbled across by little webspace, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Yes, I know it's a little late what with it already being the 8th and everything, but the year still feels nice and new to me. Stretching out ahead of us, full of promise and countless opportunities to explore, discover and of course, eat delicious things.

Talking of eating (which I almost always do), like many other human beings I have definitely indulged over the Christmas period. My trip to the UK was filled with family time, seeing friends, watching Sherlock and eating my body weight in Celebrations/Heroes/Christmas cake. But during the festive period, I deem it NECESSARY to enjoy yourself when it comes to food. Especially if, like me, you have 'suffered' (ahem) 5 months of pizza, pasta and mozzarella- a chicken curry and big helping of Christmas pudding are essential to break the routine a bit. As usual, I got rather snap happy with my food when I was at home in the UK, so feast your eyes upon these beauties....

I may have eaten most of what you can see here in a very short space of time....

YES, I definitely do eat my vegetables!

Coffee with a friend at Cafè Rouge (oo la la)

More coffee, this time with a nice helping of carrot cake

Best way to enjoy eggs? Benedict style of course.

No words are necessary for this.
 Although believe it or not, it wasn't all calorific indulgence.

A cold walk on Christmas day... dog of course

Well, when in Britain...
It had been a good few months since I'd been back home, and I have to say that I really felt the difference. Obviously the people surrounding me were no longer all chattering in Italian and gesticulating wildly, nor were they taking quick coffee shots before getting into their cars and failing to use their indicators at ANY point during their journey, but I did notice that the Brits just seem to be more controlled. Sometimes unnecessarily so, sometimes rightly so, but definitely more respectful of rules in general. This is something I both miss and have come to dislike at the same time. I have said this a million times, but living down here in the south, people are a little more 'relaxed' in all areas of life. They walk slower, take their time, don't worry about being late, eat later and don't even understand the concept of a queue. One day during the holidays, as I was standing in the queue in Boots, I found myself eyeing everyone up; ready to pounce if someone wanted to steal my spot in the line. Then I remembered that I was in BRITAIN, and we Britons know exactly how to queue. We're experts at it. Anyway, in short, I think it's fair to say that Italians and Brits are just different people. Who'd have known...

And now I'm safely back in the sunny Boot, willing to see what 2014 may bring. I don't exactly have any new year's resolutions, but I do want to continue travelling and explore this wonderful country. The political and economic situation may be troubling to say the least, and they may not have Miniature Heroes, but no-one can deny just how beautiful Italy really is.