Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Mommy and Daddy Are Here!

And so are my aunt Donna, family friend Toni, and her friend, Janet.

Just a quick side note on Donna: every year for Easter, she gives me, my brother, my sister, and my cousin an Easter Egg from Aunt Charlotte's, the greatest chocolate store in the world.

And guess what! She brought me one all the way from New Jersey!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was beyond excited.

Anyways, for our first meal, we headed to Stallo del Pomodoro for lunch--a restaurant that used to be a horse stable.

We got some salumi and prosciutto to start of course.

I got cheese tortelli with cinghiali ragu--more of that wild boar meat!

The next morning, we headed to one of my favorite cafes for a late breakfast.

Tiny espresso cups!

I LOVE the pastries at this place. This croissant is filled with a lemon cream and topped with fruits of the forrest.

Then I took my parents to Mercato Albinelli. They are in love.

They got to meet my salami guy (who first thought we were from England, and then, when I said we were American, thought we were from Minnesota. Interesting).

We got a bunch of food and had a delicious lunch of cheese, meat, and bread.

That night we went out for aperitivo. The sky was looking pretty cool.

Yesterday, we went to Genova.

Mostly because I wanted pesto.

Alright, we went there for the sole reason of getting me some pesto.

We had a fabulous lunch with prosciutto and melon...

and pasta with PESTO! It was incredible. Definitely worth the four-hour train ride.

However, if you can tell from this picture, it was pouring for a majority of the five hours we were there.

Luckily, we found an Eataly to pass the time in.

I could live in this place and never get bored.

An hour before we had to leave it finally stopped raining.

And now I really want to go back to Genova because it's a really cool town.

I just have to convince someone to go with me...

So I picked out four kinds of pesto while at Eataly. I find it much easier to get things when my parents are paying.

One is traditional Genovese pesto (basil and pine nuts), another is sun-dried tomato, another is pistachio, and the last is fennel.

Of course I got the giant jar of the Genovese and realized this morning that it has to be consumed within three days after opening.

This will be an interesting challenge.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fava Beans and Some Yummy Toast

Fava Beans ("fave" in italian) are abound at this time of year in Italy, or at least this part of Italy. They are at every market stand and every supermarket.

This was my first venture in working with fresh fava beans...

and the rumors are true: these guys are a true labor of love.

First, you peel back the pod to get the beans out, like for peas in a pod. But then you also have to peel the individual beans. If you were smart and decided to follow directions, you would blanch the beans before doing the second peeling to make it easier. I decided to waste the time fiddling with the outer skins while watching The Sopranos.

Turns out there's more than one reason for blanching the beans first. The quick boiling takes away a bit of the bitterness. The first time I cooked them, I just sauteed them and they were still a tad too bitter. Depending on the beans you buy and how long you keep them, they might always have a hint of bitterness, but blanching them quickly tempers it.

So this is how much I had after peeling one kilo of fava beans. I had to keep telling myself the price and time spent were totally worth it for the final product (spoiler: they were).

I decided to use them in pasta. Blanching them first and then cooking the pasta in the fava blanching water.

Then I sauteed the favas in oil, butter, salt, and pepper and added it to the drained pasta. Undercook the pasta slightly so that it can finish it's cooking in the fava bean sauce.

It was delicious!

Side note: I sincerely apologize for my picture-taking (or lack there of) abilities. I promise this food tastes good even though it doesn't look good. Now not only do I have no photo skills, but I eat off of paper plates in a very un-photogenic room.

Anyways, I made this toast after being inspired by this post on Smitten Kitchen.

I've always wanted to make a soft-boiled egg, and these directions were just simple enough. I boiled some water, dropped on egg in it for 6 minutes, and then pulled it out, pealed it, and smashed it over some toasted Pugliese bread. I topped the whole thing with a drizzle of olive oil, excellent aceto balsamico, grated Grana Padana cheese, salt, and pepper.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's Spring Time!

The change of season means a few things.

First, FLOWERS! I really love the wildflowers that are growing around my residence. They seem to be mowing the grass a lot nearer to town but I hope they leave the fields near me alone.

Spring also means gelato is even more enjoyable. Nothing cools you down like a cone of delicious gelato.

Fresh fava beans are alive and well. I will soon post a recipe. I can tell you part one right now though: dedicate at least 2 hours to peeling (adjust accordingly to the amount of favas you have) and expect to pay an exorbitant amount for a kilo (or pound) of favas and find yourself left with a handful of edible beans.

But boy are they delicious!

Spring also meant that Amelia and Sarah were on Spring Break!

I convinced them to make a day trip to Bologna while they were staying in Florence for a few days.

We also got to enjoy the glory that is gelato.

Sarah got hers made into a frappé (milkshake).

Classic cone for Amelia.

I got Nutella and Bananita. I was a little disappointed with the flavors, but happy to eat something cold.

And you can't tell from this picture, but there's all outside seating now! This morning I got pancakes with banana and chocolate. I enjoyed my dish from an "American Menu" while sitting outside of Juta Café.

Yay Spring!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Congratulations Sistah!

They're getting married!

Look at that ring. Well done, new brother-in-law.

Congratulations Melissa and Brad! I love you!

And I'm already planning your wedding cake.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Edinburgh Part 4: The Airport

Well. My flight was supposed to leave Edinburgh Airport at 11:25 am on Wednesday, April 3rd. In fact, it departed at 6:45 pm.

It was a sad day.

When I first got to the terminal at 10 am, after going through check-in and security, I saw that the flight was delayed until 1:30. So I got a lovely pot of tea.

Then, it was delayed until 2:30 pm. And then 4:30 pm. So I decided to get food. I must say, this was a delicious airport meal.

This salad was quite delicious--broccolini, shredded carrots, shredded beets, goat cheese, edamame, and mixed lettuce.

However, the meal didn't change the fact that I had been sitting in the airport for six hours with no end in sight. So I got some chocolate.

At some point (the whole day has blended together), the flight was said to be taking off at 6:30.

As you can see by the next photo, my deterioration was complete by dinner time. Yes, I had Werther's candies and jelly beans for dinner.

Thanks Ryanair.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Edinburgh Part 3: Arthur's Seat

Yes. We look very happy there at the top of the hill. But first, we had to climb it.

I knew from the moment I heard about Arthur's Seat that I wanted to climb it. I've loved hiking since my parents took me and my brother and sister to Arizona. We would hike up the same mountain every year. I will now take any opportunity to climb something.

This is me at the top of a tiny hill, to the side of Arthur's seat. I was still pretty proud of getting to the top.

That zig-zaggy thing is the path we took up the mountain. It was a bunch of stones formed into steps for the most part.

Nope. This is not the view from the top. There's still a little more to go.

That's Amelia and her parents milling around, thinking about our next plan of action. Thanks Amelia's parents for letting me tag along for the day!

And that other bump in the background is the actual top of Arthur's Seat.

There we go! At the top!

Of course, the pictures are nothing like the actual thing.

My face would look less pained if it wasn't so cold and windy at the top.

We were working up a sweat on the way up, but once you hit the top, it is all wind and frigid temperatures.

After our big climb, we decided to go to a whiskey distillery. On the way, I saw a guy in a kilt playing a bagpipe. Certainly picture-worthy in my opinion.

During the tour, you could try a whiskey of your choice, based on a scratch and sniff card. There were four sections on the card, each giving the aroma of whiskey from each region of Scotland. I went with the blue one (Speyside) and Amelia went with the green one (Lowland).

We were so excited at first.

And then we tried the stuff.

We promptly made faces of disgust and decided not to drink any more.

I dumped the rest of my glass ASAP.

The last part of the tour was seeing some guy's whiskey collection.

Imagine this, but covering the walls of an entire room. It was massive.

Then, it was time to eat. I neglected to photograph the fudge I ate because it went to my tummy too quickly. I got triple dark chocolate, chai, italian nougat, and a toffee almond.

I had the mushroom, spinach, and paprika soup. Very delightful on a chilly day.

Despite the soup coming with a side of ciabatta, I asked for a side of brown bread. Because I like brown bread. The waiter tried to convince me otherwise. I don't think she knew who she was dealing with.

Hey, I climbed a mountain that day. I could carbo-load all I wanted.

Next time on POTS and Pans, I sit in an airport for nine hours.