What pairs nicely with a glass of Prosecco? Some women might answer, “An Italian man of course!”… No that answer is wrong… although depending on the circumstances, it could be right. In this case, the correct answer is … Parmesan Chips. I posted my step by step recipe a couple of years ago when I was in Vancouver, going through the “pre-cursor” stage of life changing Italy move. But, the very first time I made Parmesan Chips was approximately 11-12 years ago when I was following a low carb-eating plan. There is a bit of a trick to them and I believe it’s in the cooking temperature and the cooling.
Welcome to a new Category in my Blog called “Recipes With Cheek”. It is the influence of Italy in all aspects. Now before I start, an accessory you might require yourself to wear is an apron, I can make some recommendations if you like. The following choices Nos. 1-3 can be found in ample supply in Rome or Florence. But don’t think too long and hard about it. Just remember it’s all about making cooking fun. Right?
I know… what on earth! Apologies, I scaled this photo down but it still seems to be quite large.
If you are in Venice you of course would find the more Gondolier influenced aprons such as:
Andiamo!! Let’s Go!
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
First, pour yourself a glass of Prosecco. If you do not have Prosecco, white wine will suffice but remember you deserve the best!
Using a medium heat put a thin layer of the shredded Parmesan Cheese in the pan. Do not use oil as the cheese has its own oils that are released when heated.
Note: Do not use the fine Parmesan because it does not gel together and it will turn into a bunch of brown crumbles. (I tried it!) Also, slightly layer the shreds of cheese just enough so that when it melts it joins together. It does not have to be a thick layer.
Let the cheese melt in the pan and bubble until it is slightly light to a bit golden. The thing is, if you make it too golden then it will flake apart into bits when trying to lift it out of the pan.
Sip of Prosecco (you have been working hard and need to balance work with pleasure)
When the bubbling cheese looks like it is the right colour, remove the pan from the heat and let sit for a couple of minutes with the cheese still in the pan. I find this works best because you need to let the cheese harden a bit. If you try to take it out of the pan right away, it will be too soft, stick to your spatula and turn into a big glob.
You have “2″ options at this point:
You could have another small pan ready to go while the other is cooling and you can start the procedure from the beginning making the next chip;
Relax! Have a sip of Prosecco while the cheese is cooling in the pan. After all, what is the hurry, it‘s only a couple of minutes.
After letting the cheese harden for a couple of minutes in the pan, slide the spatula under the cheese and it should lift out easily. Put it on a plate so that it can harden a bit more.
Repeat the procedure for the next chip by starting at “Step 2”, although some might want to start over completely with Step 1.
Take all of the chips that you have made and break them into bite-sized pieces. Put them in a small decorative bowl. I put mine in a decorative martini glass!
Sip Prosecco with Parmesan chips! Enjoy!
Here‘s to a job well done!!! Cin Cin!!
Last night there was a 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the coast of British Columbia (B.C.). To be more precise it was off the coast of Haida Gwaii, which is up the coast from Vancouver. The quake was felt as far inland as Prince George, which is central B.C. (500 miles/804 km north off Vancouver) and was the second largest quake since 1949. I kept watching the Internet for updated reports as a Tsunami warning was issued. People that live in the coastal areas effected were asked to evacuate to higher ground. Luckily the warning was eventually lifted. Better to be safe than sorry!
What a crazy month for weather and natural happenings around the world. I have been reading the news from Italy and seeing that the rain is at it again this year. Last year at this very time I remember Rome and other areas were hit with torrential down pours and flooding. The day before I left Venice acqua alta had started. I keep reading the local Venetian newspaper to stay on top of things. The weather will definitely be determining my mode of transportation from Marco Polo airport to the apartment in Dorsoduro on my return.
Counting down the days until I return to Venice… from rainy Vancouver, ciao for now!
Ciao Regazzi!! Smokey Eyes, Black Tango and a Golden Jungle… the highlight of my day. They are also the words that describe my purchases today at Sephora, my favourite place to shop for makeup, perfume and other assorted beautifying products here in Italy. Its inevitable that when I go specifically for one item, I walk out with four. I love their coconut bath products and have recently been given their Mango shower gel to sample. I love that they give ample of samples to try because believe me, I have gone back to buy the full size products.
When in Rome I would wander down to the Sephora on Via del Corso (one of my favourite treat outings). I have quite a few products from their “Benefits” line…two of my favourites: “Hello Flawless” face powder with spf 15 and “They’re Real” mascara. My first introduction to “Benefits” was when a Sephora lady applied my make up … I walked out with an entire goody bag. I have since been back to replenish stock. And lucky me… they have just recently opened a Sephora here in Venice.
Today I thought it would be fun to go and look at some of the new nail polish (“smalto” in Italian) for Fall. I walked into the store and was immediately greeted by smiling faces. Without a doubt the service is always great. Armed with piece of tape on hand, my colour samples began. Four smalto went into my basket… actually 5 but it came as a duo so that doesn’t really count. But I did go to specifically try these colours. I was in the “danger zone” for a few moments as I hovered around the storefront Dior Fall special edition colours that were on display but, I managed to maintain focus. In addition to nail colour, I also wanted to try the “Two Faced Smokey Eye Collection”. They offered to do my makeup and I should have let them but I thought it was too early for smokey eyes… what was I thinking… just because it was 12:00 noon does not mean I can’t have smokey sexy eyes. I walked out with what I had specifically came for and they sent me off with more new samples to try!
Allora… here’s what I purchased. I will start with the nail polish (smalto) by “Make Up For Ever”. It’s called Black Tango. LOVE the name! But, Black Tango comes in 3 shades… dilemma? … no I bought all three…
My samples with 2 coats:
The next nail sample is a duo set by Dior called Golden Jungle, crocodile leather effect nails. I absolutely love it! My sample has 2 coats of the gold and one of the top coat. This is a very versatile duo… you can wear it with many of the fall ensembles or dot dot dot with that sexy black negligee.
The last item on my purchase list was the Smokey Eye Collection by Too Faced.
I tested the colours on my arm and loved the way the product blended. All in all it was another successful trip to Sephora.
The Venezia Sephora is located only a few minutes walk from the Rialto Bridge. Its open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Warning the contents of this post might not be suitable for some readers, but sometimes the truth never is. The last 5 days have included the date from hell, fantastic ESL teacher training tips, and a new experience with Starhotels Tuscany!
Let’s see, where should I start. I arrived in Florence last Thursday afternoon and took a cab from Stazione SMN to the Starhotels Tuscany. The hotel is about 3 km from the center. I was quite excited as I have had good experience with the Starhotels and managed to scoop a great deal at 65 euros per night breakfast included. It was exactly as expected and I had a bathtub… glorious air-conditioning and bubble baths!
I had an out of the blue invite that evening to meet an acquaintance for aperitivo. Everything started out nice. To make a long story short after a few drinks, he became aggressive and was trying to put my hand in his crotch. We were then on our way to dinner when he tried it on again and threw a tantrum because I would not comply to his wishes. I walked with him to the restaurant and thought about exiting stage left but to tell you the truth I didn’t have a clue where I was! I had not been to this neighbourhood of Florence before. In the restaurant, I felt quite uncomfortable and it was a bit of a roller coaster as we sat. He seemed calmed for a bit. Then he started making repeated loud comments putting down the “house wine” the couple next to us were drinking. I tried to detour the conversation by asking him questions about himself, which, prompted Mr. McNasty to become even nastier. I said to myself, “Am I on candid camera because this can not be happening again… ” The waiter came to take our order, he looked at me and the expression in his eyes said, “the guy you are having dinner with is an asshole.” I tried to keep up appearances during the meal but the nasty arrogance was being directed at me. After putting me down with a comment, he turned to me and said harshly, “Let’s fuck!” Oh yes it didn’t end there but enough was enough…. Finally I said, “I think I better go now.” That’s right, I got up and left during the meal. The waiter called me a cab immediately.
The next day this man emailed me and told me that he did not think it was very nice of me to leave him eating his dinner alone. My thoughts, “Awww poor youuuu!… why don’t you dial 1-800-Subservient.” He told me that I needed more confidence and trust in a person. Trust in a nasty drunk? No I don’t think so. Just because you take a woman out for dinner and drinks does not give you the right to be abusive towards her.
The ESL teacher training I participated in was full of information. It was an intensive 2.5 days and our teacher gave so much it was fantastic. Her energy and wealth of information was endless. I was also fortunate enough to be sitting amongst other teachers so I got to hear their stories and experiences of teaching English in Italy as well as meeting other women from different parts of the world. By Sunday 6 pm I was tired but a really good tired. I had gotten so much out of this course and I am ready to teach now.
My stay at Starhotels Tuscany did not let me down. Air conditioning and bubble baths in the evenings. I knew when leaving Vancouver that I would miss having a bathtub… love my bubble baths. I had an amazing dinner 2 nights in a row at the hotel. The staff were friendly and professional and I would totally stay there again. They have a free shuttle that runs to and from the train station. It runs on a schedule so you could time your visits to the center to make it work. I don’t think it runs Sunday afternoon as I had to take a taxi back but, there is also a bus that picks up right in front of the hotel.
When I woke up Monday morning I was wishing that I had booked an extra day just to play in Florence. But you know what that would have meant… I would have gone to look at those blue leather boots again… I would have then probably justified to myself how much I needed said boots because who leaves Florence without some sort of leather purchase? Oh my god and matching blue leather gloves because I would surely need those when the weather gets cold! This would have tied in nicely with a black sheath dress and mini blue and black Dolce & Gabbana leopard print purse … I just let myself think freely and dream for the moment .
I checked out and caught my train down to Rome. I did some final cleaning at the old flat and had to meet the landlord to hand over the key Tuesday at 6:30 pm. I did not get my damage deposit back and instead owed him a total of 738 euros. When I had originally booked the mini flat I was told that heat and gas would be extra… and was also told by the agency that it would be about 75 euros every three months or so. On the very first day, the landlord told me that he did not care about the electricity but was more concerned about the gas. So I guess I thought he wasn’t going to be charging me for the electricity and that it would be included in the cost of the rent? He presented me with a typed out list of all of the fees. I had already told him that I required a copy of the original receipts for tax purposes. He had what seemed to be the receipts right there and started asking me why his typed out list of figures wasn’t enough, all the while giving me the Italian hand gesture that means “What is your problem?” Well I will tell you what my problem is… you know full well that everyone in Italy is supposed to receive a receipt for everything. He said he would scan and email them to me but I think I might have just funded his weekend get-a-way to Capri. I handed over the key and left. That chapter now closed.
I returned to Venice today. So happy to be back to the water. I waited for my Vaporetto and this beautiful butterfly fluttered around in front of me. Out on the water and heading home, another butterfly was fluttering right beside the window where I was sitting and my favourite water bird that likes to shreak as though someone is throttling its neck was also flying beside the Vaporetto… oh yes big sighs…When I got off at my stop a third butterfly was flying in front of me … it was almost as if I was being welcomed home.
They say when one door closes another one opens… well I have gotten myself this far, Winged Lion of Venice I am in your hands!
Thick sticky air, shit
looking out my window, sigh
I dream of air con
Yes I am in Venice. Today the weather network predicted 29 celsius temps with a feels like factor of 41 celsius and 81% humidity. I think another heat wave is coming through as the temps are going to be high in Italy this week.
There is lots still happening, ESL Teacher Training this coming weekend in Florence. I already have my TEFL Certificate but this will help me with the practicum. Then back to Rome to hand over the apartment key as my contract is up. Then, back to Venice and shortly after that back to Vancouver for a visit and then back over here with, possibly a stopover in London for a visit. Who knows, I might even go back and forth between London and Venice… lots of decisions to make still. I have sought out legal advice etc. and discovered that this year in Italy one can not apply for a visa under “self employment”… something to do with the crisis and a form of legislation not being passed. But, in order to apply for another Visa I have to return to Vancouver to do more paperwork, and one of the requirements is to have a contract for accommodation which, I have spent the last couple of months doing. It’s a bit of a “catch 22″ situation because I had to put a couple of month’s rent deposit down (which is the norm) plus pay agencies fees etc etc and I might not even get the Visa but I decided to just go for it. If it doesn’t work out and if I have to wait 3 months and return to my rental as a tourist, then so be it but, I will be back and I will be here for Carnival… I am hoping that I can design my own costume! Once the dust settles of course…
The rental reminds me of the 1920′s… I love it! It has it’s own foyer, 5 windows facing the canal and it even has it’s own San Marco Lion on the front of the building. It has a full kitchen, a washing machine and a separate bedroom. The owner’s nephew who lives in the building came to my door one night with his girlfriend to introduce themselves.
As I reflect on this year, I think “what a whirlwind!”…there are not enough swearwords in my vocabulary to describe my experience with the language school that I attended. After asking to repeat some levels over and over, I finally started to get the language. It’s official all traces of Spanish words have been replaced by Italian words. I can sit in a hair salon and read an Italian gossip magazine and understand what it says. It’s easier to read than to speak but it will come. I have met some super people from around the world, I have the experience as a foreign student which I can take with me when I start teaching English and… I discovered Venice. I am wondering if some of the not so nice events I experienced, was the push to get me here. It forced me to believe in this gut feeling.
The Regata Storica is coming up on September 2. There will be a huge parade of boats and costume on the Grand Canal. I am trying to plan a viewing point so that I can get photos. I have some new favourite hangouts and I am getting to know some of the neighbourhood locals. The sounds in the morning are the boats on the canal and people shouting “Ciao” to each other. There is a water taxi tour that goes by a couple of times a week and this man sings opera… I really like the sounds of my neighbourhood. There is a seagull that swims up and down the canal and one night when I spotted him, I ran to grab my camera. I was at the apartment window about to take a photo and this local man saw me and spoke to me from across the canal in Italian. He told me that this seagull swims up and down eating along the way…
Two more days of research and prep before I head down to Florence. Nervous and excited at the same time. Still trying to fix the Blog and a bit behind on a few things actually as I continue to juggle everything…. and how did it get to be 11:18 p.m. already!
From the treasure island… Venezia… Ciao for now!
The heat wave continues over here. I did not think that it was possible to sweat this much. Some tourists were up at the crack of dawn walking the streets with their cameras. Air-conditioned bars, restaurants and stores are other good options for staying cool…. and cold showers.
On one evening I listened to the sounds of my neighbourhood. I could hear people talking below and the chatter was happy. I looked and thought I saw a man in dance shoes… possibly Tango? Then as the evening went on I could hear just faintly what I thought was Tango music… it was awesome. Dance is such an elixir for the soul.
I think the heat and peak tourist season is starting to take its toll on people. With the lack of sleep due to the heat I found myself not thinking clearly. Before Sunday morning’s departure from Venice back to Rome, I found myself not setting my cell phone alarm properly, I then threw shampoo into my eye because I somehow missed my head… and when riding the Vaporetto, I was on the receiving end of a few hand gestures, mutterings and dirty looks from 2 local women. I gave up my seat to one of the women … both were neither, seniors, pregnant or disabled… I did it out of courtesy but I don’t think my extending of olive branch really mattered. I was a foreigner with suitcase. I stood with 2 Japanese girls as they stared at the local women in awe or possibly fear over what had just happened. With the heat, masses of tourists and crowded crowded vaporetto’s tempers are likely to flare. I did observe, to see how long the women held their anger. One simply sat reading her newspaper whilst the other was still throwing daggers with her eyes. Thought bubble, “She needs a Spritz!” I have to say though out of my many visits to Venice this is the first time I have experienced any sort of aggressive behaviour from local women usually people are nice.
Venice has been busy so if you are visiting and lets say possibly walking through the San Marco area or trying to board a Vaporetto don’t be surprised if someone comes up behind you and yell’s a blood curdling “PERMISOOOOOO!” It happens.
I attempted running errands during the afternoon not so smart but fairly successful. I went to buy the IMOB.Venezia card. It costs $40 euro and is good for 5 years. You buy a virtual booklet of passes or a single pass. It cost me just over 11 euros for a 10 pack. The actual cost for a one-way trip on a Vaporetto is 7.50 euros so this will be a significant savings for me. It’s basically a bus pass. My second successful errand was visiting a local bank. Then I decided to go run a 3rd errand. I went to a local hardware/home store. On this visit I had to buy an iron and wanted to price their rubber boots. When I asked where I could find the boots, one female store clerk who was clearly not happy pointed to the back of the store… I couldn’t find them so I found someone else to ask. (Utilizing my Italian language skills the entire time). This male clerk said that his colleague at the back of the store would help me. I approached this man at the back and asked him in Italian about the boots. All conversation was in Italian. He looked at me and asked me if I wanted them for the rain. Without really thinking, I said “Aqua Alta” (high water). Apparently I just said the wrong answer. He blurted something out to me that I could not understand. He proceeded to take me to the calendar and went through each of the 12 months jabbing at each page and saying in Italian No or Yes to which month might possibly have high water. I should have just told him that I wanted to wear them to bed; the drama would have been significantly less I am sure. So what! I like to be prepared but the other reason was for design purposes… not that I needed to justify why I was buying a pair of rubber boots. He continued on and I couldn’t understand him. He was purposely being difficult. Finally he asked me what size I wanted. He seemed to be getting angrier as he made it clear that I was wasting his time. I gave him my size and he left to go to the back. After awhile he returned and I heard a loud crash as he let the boxes of these boots go flying everywhere. He pointed out the colours and then kicked one of the boxes. I ignored his seriously aggressive behaviour…The theatrics were almost over but he told me that I should have socks on to try the boots and I was in flip-flops. That was my cue to leave. I told him I would come back. Will I?
Back in town late last night, and waiting for my Vaporetto, I heard a French man chatting with a group of American women. He said to the ladies, “They hate tourists here”. I thought to myself, “OMG, I can’t listen to this right now… I don’t want to hear it, please shut up and go away.” My Vaporetto came and as I boarded and headed to go inside the Vaporetto, the employee told me to go and stand in a different area. Usually they tell you to move inside. The rules seems to change with who ever is working because at the next stop that employee jumped off and another one jumped on followed by a slew of people with suitcases in tow heading inside the Vaporetto. LOL..I was too tired and stayed put.
Alas, on this visit , in particular on this very day, I am avoiding all high traffic areas. The to do list this weekend is to recharge my battery and check out the FESTA DEL REDENTORE… I am hoping to get some photos of the huge fireworks display Saturday night… wish me luck!
One of the appetizers that I sampled at Ristorante Sangallo ai Coronari in Bella Roma
Buffalo Mozzarella, Buffalo Ricotta, Eggplant, Sundried Tomatoes and Olives
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent getting last minute “Made in Italy” purchases for my brother. We managed to find everything that he wanted. At this moment he is back in Canada and I am sure he is sharing his Italy stories. Florence was his favourite and he hopes to bring a group of Canadian artist friends back over to rent a villa in Tuscany… either way I am sure he will be back.
His hotel choices all turned out to be successful but his last 3 nights spent at a new hotel in Rome, turned out to be a bit of a comedy. The hotel has only been open for a couple of months so they are still working out the glitches, which happens. Handles pulled off the doors… and on his first day the air conditioning did not work. They moved him to a smaller room where the air con worked. The walls were paper-thin as he could hear the neighbour’s conversation some of which went like this:
Guest #1: “Is that a fart? Are you having a good fart? That’s good that you are having a fart.”…
Guest #1: ”I didn’t sleep much last night. I only had 3 hours sleep.”
Guest #2: “Ya I didn’t either and at 5 a.m. I had to pee really bad but I didn’t because I thought I would sleep in until 8:00. I guess that’s why it’s taking me so long to pee because I really have to pee.”
He regaled me with more of the conversations that seeped through the walls but they are too racist for me to mention.
Family farewell dinner was at Ristorante Sangallo in Rome. The evenings festivities started off with a spritz and the biggest chip bowl ever… followed by complimentary plate of assorted cheeses, olives and sundried tomatoes… dinner was home made pastas and a lovely pistachio crusted sea bass. To round off the evening we had gelato at Teatro Gelateria.
As usual, it was really hard to sleep with the heat in my piccolo Rome apartment. Awake at 3:35 a.m., I started to hear this sound… an intruder of some sort… I heard fluttering and thought maybe it was a large moth…and then I saw it… one of my fears became a reality! A bat had somehow gotten in the window!! It was so close to me that I could see its beady little eyes and bat wings. I started squealing (stifled scream for fear I would wake the neighbours) and ran to throw the bedroom window open… I have a very tiny room and so there was nowhere to run. I stood in the centre of the room with half of the comforter over my head with the other half continually thrown in air as I tried to shoo it out, each time muffling a scream. I gave up and ran to the door. After 4 long turns of the sticky lock I finally heaved the door open and ran outside. I waited praying that it would find the front door and finally it flew out of the room and I darted back in and shut the door. Shaking and with adrenaline rush, I immediately shut both windows hoping that there was not another bat downstairs. They may be small but don’t they have fangs?? I am still trying to figure out how it got in. Did it squeeze its way through the closed shutters?… maybe it got in earlier when the window was open.
With 2 hours sleep I was up early and on my way back up to Venice. When I wasn’t being lulled to sleep by the train, I found myself quite entertained by this little boy who was sitting with his young parents. I’m guessing he was 2 (not sure). There was something really special about him… his voice; his face and his mannerism… it made the 4-hour train ride really nice.
With peak tourist season, the train is often full of suitcases. People start piling them up in the areas between the cars when the suitcase racks are full. Tempers flare as people try to find their seats and if they can’t find a place to store their luggage they are wheeling them down the narrow aisles to find another spot or just simply leaving them in the aisle. Some tourists walk on wearing their backpacks and with other bags slung over their shoulders. I had an aisle seat and got belted in the arm a few times by careless passers by. Now I know why I prefer 1st class. After frequent train travel, I start to strategize where I am going to sit, where I am going to store my luggage, and how early I get myself to the train station.
After getting myself settled in Venice, I went for a walk in my neighbourhood. My 24 hours of bizarreness continued as a man with a camera walked towards me. At first I thought he was taking a photo of the canal and or the gondola that was passing by and when I turned to look he had the camera pointed right at me and I said, “WHAT are you doing??!!!!” I noticed a slight German or Scandinavian accent, as he said, “No, its you ma-lady.” He kept clicking the camera and I threw my hand in the air, which meant “back off”… That clearly did not work… and he started to chase me saying, “Wait! Look!” Creeped out I fast walked and finally he stopped following me. My conclusions were: a) someone is having me followed?; b) full moon?; c) just a weirdo who probably likes taking photos of women’s breasts…
I have been out and about on the Vaporetto and noticed that there were at least 5-6 massive cruise ships here. This prompted me to do some reading. I found a very interesting article called The Venice Problem: Tourism, Friend or Foe found at: http://wherehopetakesroot.blogspot.it/2012/03/venice-problem-tourism-friend-or-foe.html
In the article the writer has quoted this text from the UK Telegraph…
“…With high demands for tourism, aquatic transport has soared in the city, causing the gradual destruction of the lagoon ecosystem, with its mix of sea and fresh water and its relatively shallow bed which is home to plants which can oxygenate water.
Sea level rises and more frequent storms are expected to increase the level of the Venetian lagoon by 20 inches by the end of the century, threatening to undermine the foundations of centuries-old palaces and churches and swamp some parts of the city altogether.
High tides, particularly during the winter, already flood much of the city, including St Mark’s Square, the focus for millions of tourists. The situation was exacerbated by the increasing number of giant cruise ships which visit Venice – their wake erodes the delicate mud banks and wooden piles on which the city is built. (cited directly from: The UK Telegraph)
The late afternoon Spritz continues to be a ritual. Prices for spritz vary depending on the area and who I know. 2 euros for this refreshing cocktail has been the best price at two places I visit.
Well its just past noon and I must get moving as I have lots of errands to run during this transition period. I also have a date later this afternoon with… my Yoga mat!
From Bella Italia… ciao for now!