Posts tagged ‘italy’

August 24, 2010

Zabaione: 1 part egg, 1 part sugar, 1 part vino, a bajillion parts love

When Jon and I were in Rome, we stopped for dinner at an amazing restaurant near the opera. I remember the food being great, but the showstopper was dessert: zabaione mousse.

We had never heard of it before, so we figured, why not try it? And the dessert that showed up at our table was a warm, sweet egg custard that melted in your mouth. YUM. Of all the desserts in the world, zabaione must rank in the top five (which makes me wonder–what do you think are the other four?)

So we decided to make it tonight, as a practice round (it’s the perfect dessert for the holidays). So first, we whipped up some heavy cream to fold into the zabaione after it’s whisked. Easy enough, right? So on to the fun stuff.

Four egg yolks + 1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup Marsala wine = amore italiano. Mix ingredients in a bowl in a double boiler. We also mixed in a dash of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract to add a little depth to the flavor.

Start whisking (you’re going to do this for another 15 minutes, FYI). We cheated–and used a hand mixer.

After 10 minutes, the yolk mixture will triple in size and pale in color. Remove the bowl from the double boiler and place it on a towel–and keep whisking! If you stop for even a second the egg can cook to sides of the warm bowl.

Once the zabaione has cooled down just a bit, start folding in the whipped cream. (It’s almost ready!)

If you’re planning on serving it warm (and could there be a cozier treat?), spoon straight into glasses or cups and enjoy! You can also chill it further, or serve it over fruit or cake. But honestly, there’s nothing better than spooning this gooey, eggy custard up right out of the bowl.

Enjoy! Now what am I going to do with four egg whites?

June 26, 2010

Ciao Venezia!

Heading into Venice by train.

Poor little blog…I’ve neglected you for a week! And I meant to post this last night, but Ms. Anna offered margaritas, and I got a little distracted. So here we are, back with our regularly scheduled blog post, sans wedding photos. (Although I’m sure there will be more of that soon enough.)

Back to Italy! Our last stop: Venice. We were really looking forward to seeing this city. Everyone said it was going to be our favorite stop. An old city built on water with absolutely no roads? Fascinating! But to be honest, Venice must have lost some of its old charm. Someone tried to sell us cheap “Venetian” glass–made in China–or fake Louis Vuitton bags–also made in China–on EVERY corner. And for the city that is known for its risotto, you had to order at least two portions before they would even make it. As someone with celiac disease, who can’t eat pasta, that’s a pretty big deal. Thank goodness we didn’t have that problem in Rome or Florence…I would have starved.

But Venice truly was beautiful. Here’s the proof:

This guy looks a little grumpy.

We happened to be walking by as these guys rolled out this vintage racing gondola out of storage. It was awesome to see how they got this thing into the water.

According to old Venezian tradition, newly married couples put locks on bridges throughout the city, then throw the keys into the canal. Of course, we forgot ours. :( But congrats to D & T, whoever you are!

And I just love this incredible clock in piazza San Marco, even if it chimed a few minutes before the hour. Look at the colors!

And I love this view inside the church of San Marco–an entire church covered in gold mosaics. You aren’t supposed to take photos here…whoops! One of our local guides mentioned that Venice really doesn’t have museums–their churches serve as museums (and you have to pay to go into most). On our last day, we stumbled into Chiesa Santa Lucia: the church of Saint Lucy. Little did we know that the mummified body of Santa Lucia was right up on the altar, in a plexiglass display case, right next to the gift shop. Her face was covered with a gold mask, but what was left of her hands and feet were clearly visible. We didn’t take any shots of that.

But of course, one of our favorite things about Venice (and Italy in general) was the dogs.

That’s enough for now. I’m off to repot my calamondine orange tree (which I was supposed to do ages ago, but due to the lack of modern planters, I’m doing this today), watch a little soccer, and then head off to a cookout. Ciao!

June 14, 2010

Under the Tuscan sun, San Gimignano style

San Gimignano is a little medieval city nestled in the hills of Tuscany. If you’ve ever seen Tea with Mussolini, you’ve seen San Gimignano.

I’ve already posted this photo, but it’s one of my favorites of us. We had just hiked to the top of the lookout in San Gimignano, the clouds finally parted and we got a little sunshine. It was a great way to start our day trip.

Everywhere you turned was another breathtaking view. Case in point #1 (And Maria, will this work as your photo of an olive tree–see that one there on the right?):

Case in point #2 (can you imagine having this in your backyard?):

Love this view of the Tuscan hills. I feel like we’re looking out from a castle.

Much of the city looks the way it did 800 years ago. Just more tourists. ;)

And I feel like this next one could be a still frame from the movie Amelie.

And our trip to San Gimignano ended with this little guy, who was lounging on a patio when we walked by. Does anyone know what kind of dog this is? He was so sweet we’ve decided we have to get one!

June 12, 2010

Just being silly in Florence.

Florence might be my favorite Italian city. There’s a definite change in the atmosphere than Rome. It’s calmer, smaller (you can walk just about anywhere), and more artsy–people in Florence dressed so much better than they did in Rome! Although I might be biased about that city anyway: My favorite E.M. Forster book is A Room with a View, and Florence is a huge part of that love story.

Couldn’t you just stare at THAT view of the Arno all day? Benvenuto a Firenze!

We got a good landscape shot of part of the city too. See that belltower?

It’s Florence’s city hall. It looks like this close up:

We also have a million photos of Jon’s favorite dome. (Really, who has a favorite dome?) Apparently he studied it in an art class in college and hasn’t gotten over it yet. I mean, it’s huge and breathtaking, but it’s still just a dome. Here’s a view of il duomo from the belltower–to get there we had to WALK up all 418  wobbly steps, with bad lighting and no handrails as the corridors got smaller and smaller. Yes, they have warnings in the entryway for people with heart conditions.

Any Puccini fan would get a kick out of this–across the Arno in the photo below is the Ponte Vecchio (o mio babbino caro, anyone?). We took this shot the night we walked across the bridge to see La Boheme. You just can’t come to Florence and not see an opera.

Florence is also where we noticed we didn’t have very many photos of us. We tried to remedy that by making faces in elevators.

We took two half-day trips while in Florence. The first to Pisa (which, let’s be honest, isn’t all that interesting unless you’re taking photos of people trying to hold up the tower), and the second to San Gimignano. San Gimignano was beyond beautiful, so I have a whole set of photos to share with you from there. That’s coming up next!

June 11, 2010

Rome part deux

I realize that I posted only photos in my last post about Rome, so this time around I want to give you a little more.

The happy couple in the coliseum.

Rome is like no other city. It’s layer upon layer of history, with a modern city on top. Our tour guide, Lidia, told us that they’ve been trying to expand their metro system, but every time they dig they hit some great archeological find and have to stop. (On a side note, if you ever find yourself in Rome, take a taxi! They drive like maniacs…it’s like a roller coaster.)

I fell in love with olive trees in Rome.

The mansion at Tivoli is a perfect example of that layered history. It’s this magnificent Renaissance house, but under the basement, you can see remnants of the mosaic floor of an ancient house that stood in the same place during Caesar’s reign.

Up the steps from the Tivoli gardens to the house. The gardens might have been my favorite part of our whole trip!

Even parts of the old city walls still stand. The Aurelian walls, built in the 3rd century A.D., are remarkably preserved. Part of them was converted into a church. Guess who designed the interior.

Italy kept Michelangelo pretty busy. He died before finishing this church in 1564. (And yes, I know this shot isn't that aesthetically pleasing. It's an old wall, after all.)

And parts of the Servian wall, constructed in the 4th century B.C., are still standing as well. We grabbed this quick shot at the Termini train station before heading off to Florence.

Italians on their way to work just walked right past this, like it wasn't older than Christianity. I guess if you see it everyday it's no big deal.

This is where we take off for our next stop! Check back for our adventures in Florence later.