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insights on art, culture, lifestyle, spirituality, travel, music, society and much much more from a jet-setter currently on "furlough"…

Archive for the category “Food”

Panettone: a MUST-HAVE

It would not be Christmas in Italy (or Christmas at all, in my opinion!) without including panettone, the official Italian Christmas cake consisting of a yeasted brioche bread, raisins and candied fruit. This special cake, eaten during the season of Advent, originated from Milan in the north of Italy. These days, if you live in a major metropolis outside of Italy with a large Italian population, it is easy to get panettone at your local Italian grocery store, gourmet food store or bakery. Many American supermarkets, such as Trader Joe’s (aka. Trader Giotto’s) and Whole Foods, also carry their own version of panettone, usually made following an “authentic Italian recipe”. In Italy, it is common to bring panettone to various holiday celebrations to be eaten as a dessert, or given to a friend/loved one as a gift.

These days, one can purchase panettone in many different flavors and varieties. Some of my favorite brands of panettone include Bauli, Albertengo, Loison and Perugina. If the traditional raisin meets candied fruit variety of panettone doesn’t strike your fancy, feel free to indulge on other flavors, such as chocolate chips, chocolate hazelnut, limoncello creme, pistachio creme… even moscato and prosecco! Eat it for breakfast, as a snack or for dessert… it is delightful with tea, coffee or vino!

One year, my friend from Milan sent me a homemade panettone for Christmas, made by the company Loison. We ate that with mascarpone and really, it was the taste of heaven. See how beautiful it is, all wrapped up? It’s the best Christmas gift ever.

Simply put, unlike the North American fruitcake (hard to eat and often re-gifted), panettone is a delicious Italian dessert that you’d want to eat over and over again! Buon Appetito e Buon Natale!

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*homesick* per la Madre terra

“At times it returns, in the motionless calm of the day, that memory of living immersed, absorbed in that stunned light.”     — Cesare Pavese, “The Night”

Tonight, Italy was on my mind. The country where I spent 7 glorious months of my life bombarded my memory so much that I just had to blog about it. Perhaps its because this summer, my poolside reading list includes the book “La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language” by Dianne Hales. In fact, it’s also because several of my friends and acquaintances are visiting Italia this summer and, since I am apparently the “expert” in this case, wanted me to recommend the best places to wine, dine and explore. And it is definitely because I share a kindred spirit with two of the kids in the painting class I am teaching this week, Alessandro and Mariella, whose papà hails from Roma. Whatever the case, I am homesick for the Motherland and desperately wish to return in the near future.

It is hard to imagine that 6 years ago this month, I left what I now nostalgically refer to as the “Motherland” for a foreign country I had left behind 4 months prior. Tears streamed down my face as my flight took off from Roma-Fiumicino Aeroporto, as reality finally hit. I never knew that time away from all I once held dear could change a person so drastically.

My experiences in Italy, both studying abroad + living in a 16th Century convent in Orvieto and interning at a contemporary art gallery in Milano, certainly changed me in more ways than one. In some ways, I like to think I was healed from all the baggage that once weighed me down… feelings of imperfection and fear… no longer prevail in my life. Rather, a deep awareness for the world and people around me, coupled with an adventurous spirit and curiosity, redeemed me completely. Gli italiani are to thank, of course, for they are amongst the kindest of souls and would certainly go out of their way to help and love a stranger in need. Heck, I even tried to relocate there at one point in my life…

I hope to share my next Italian adventures with a close friend who has walked some of life’s rockiest paths with me. Until then, I will daydream until I can see the zigzag cypress trees on the hill below Orvieto, hear la bella lingua spoken at the morning open-air markets, touch the grapes that will eventually be made into wine, taste the creamy goodnesss of many licks of gelato and smell the aroma of fresh foccacia bread in the brick oven.

Non sono italiana, but I wouldn’t mind being one again… for life.

Ahoy, New England!

Lobster Mac N’ Cheese (1/2 portion) @ Amrheins in South Boston.

AND…

the infamous Boston Creme Pie @ Amrheins in South Boston.

[insert name here] is a fabulous American bistro that is famous for its extensive Sunday brunches and what B-town natives name as the BEST Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas in town. The bar area features cushioned leather barstools and long, mahogany tables — perfect for both business and pleasure. The bartenders and servers are extremely friendly and laid-back as well, and will point out their faves on the menu if you are uncertain about what to order. It was my first time trying both lobster mac (seafood and cheese? not so much — but to my surprise it was AH-MAY-ZING) and an authentic Boston creme pie… let’s just say I could have easily fallen into a food coma if I didn’t know any better. Both dishes were creamy and satisfying in their own unique ways. When in doubt, go local: you can hardly go wrong!


tick tock… on the dot… OH WAIT.

If Guy says it’s good, then it must be worth a TRY!

As a fan of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives, I got really excited when I found out that I would be staying within driving distance of one of the places Guy Fieri featured on his show. I’ve always wanted to plan a road-trip based on the places he visits, and up until this trip have only been to one joint: Bop Pizza in the Fell’s Point neighborhood of Baltimore, MD. Sometimes, you just gotta have that comfort food… you know?

After a day of gallavanting in NYC, I took the bus back to NJ and was immediately transfered by K to my first authentic Jersey diner experience: Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, NJ. I’ve heard so many stories of NJ diners that I had to visit one while I was there. This also happens to be the place where K’s parents frequented during their lubby-dubby high school days.

What a treat this place was… clean, great service, friendly waitresses and even equipped with a full-service bar! The menu is diverse, and possibly longer than the New York Stock Exchange! I was in the mood for breakfast (and K was in the mood for a late-ish night snack) so I ordered Belgian waffles with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, creamy butter and syrup. Nam nammmy… we also placed an order of sweet potato fries (which are amazing with both honey and malt vinegar – but NOT together) and had a pretty eclectic but full meal.

Simply put, Tick Tock Diner is the place to go for a glimpse of nostalgia and good, solid diner food in huge portions. Who knows — you might even fall in love with your future spouse there!

spicy curry @ nouveau nyc diner

Thai Coconut Chicken Curry (Veg options available) @ the Lovely Day Cafe in Greenwich Village, NYC

Back to the food bloggin*! This was the perfect meal for a cold and dreary day in the city. We walked in from the rain, wet like drenched rats and consumed delicious and spicy Thai food in a un-conventional setting. Lovely Day is described as “Precisely spiced Thai food in a homey, diner-style space”. The food is prepared by anyone expect Thai nationals, so I was a bit skeptical trying this place out. Turns out my pre-determined conceptions were, once again, wrong and the food made my taste buds dance… plus, it was SO authentic and well-prepared that you could taste both the coconut AND spice flavor in each bite. I would recommend going for lunch, where you can get a main course, edamame and fried dumplings w/ soy sauce for a mere $10 (drinks such as juice, soda, Thai tea & coffee available as an add-on for a couple more bucks). What’s not to love about saving money and eating well in the thriving metropolis of NYC?

Lovely Day

196 Elizabeth St
(between Prince St & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012
Neighborhood: Nolita

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