Saturday, November 24, 2007

Anti-Black Friday

Jess and I had an 'anti-Black Friday'. We avoided shopping altogether! Maybe the fiasco she experienced year scarred her indefinitely. It involved something along the lines sitting in parking lot traffic on Hwy 101, miles from the Gilroy outlet exit, long lines out the door in freezing temperatures... all at 1a.m. in the morning. All that misery to maybe save a few bucks? No thanks!

Instead, we went to see Angie and her team compete in the regional cheer competition at the Santa Clara University stadium nearby. The whole cheer thing was new to me and it was very interesting to watch the girls perform their moves. You could tell that these teams had really spent lots of time and effort into perfecting their routines. There were jumps and flips and pyramids. The amazing thing was there was even a category for girls as young as five years old. It was non-competition, but they were really adorable doing their little routines.

And her team succeeded to making it to the nationals held in Florida in two weeks. Go Angie!!!

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm back in the Bay Area for what's looking to be like a couple months. I'm waiting for my Italian work permit to come through . While I'm sad that we're back to the LDR (long distance relationship) thing and having to be apart for the holidays, I'm also making the best of it and relishing my last days in beautiful California.

And I have lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. My family and friends who are dear to my heart, and their good health. My good health. Having found a man who adds lots of joy, love and laughter in my life. These are the things that are important to me.

To celebrate, we got together and cooked up a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. (But first we started the day with a good hike at Rancho San Antonio... fight the calories first, hehe!) Here's Long's masterpiece - roast turkey flavored with lots of his favorite ingredient: bacon.

Our dinner took 1/2 a day to prepare, but it was fun working in the kitchen together. And we were definitely hungry by the time we could finally dig in.

Long and Jess try their luck with the wishbone.

Guess who ends up with the larger piece? Hope your wish comes true, Jess!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's for Dinner

For starters, scampi cooked in the oven, lightly seasoned with salt and some olive oil, sprinkled with some fresh Italian parsley.

These were huge about 7 inches long (and pricey). There were only three because the person in line before us snapped up the rest. The taste is sweet and yummy, but still not as good as the gamberi rosso (red prawns) from Sicily. Now those were really amazing.

The main dish was branzino (European sea bass) cooked in a salt shell. First spread a layer of coarse salt in the pan. Place fish and drizzle with some olive oil. Cover with more coarse salt. End of recipe!

This simple and healthful way of cooking results in a surprisingly tasty dish. The fish is moist and tender, almost like it has been steamed. The taste is perfect, just enough salty, but not overly.

Best of all was the cute chef who prepared the meal. He even expertly deboned the fish before serving it. ;o)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Federico Gets Baptized

It was my last weekend in Milan, I was fortunate enough to attend Stef's nephew Federico's baby baptism. The event started off at a church in downtown Sondrio, where a Sunday afternoon church service dedicated to baby baptisms was held. There were about 6 couples with new babies to be baptized in a Catholic ceremony. The pews were packed friends and family supporters. I didn't really know what was going on (it was all in Italian) but I did manage to admire the pretty sculptures in the church.

Here is the proud family and the little guest of honor in his mummy's arms.

After the ceremony, we headed over to a restaurant about 15 minutes drive away. We were a party of about 30, and a nice room with a warm fire had been reserved for us. There was of course lots of yummy things to eat...

We stuffed ourselves with appetizers of cheese, meats, octopus salad, smoked salmon, grilled vegetables, and even the Valtellinese specialty, sciat. These are actually bite-sized fried balls of cheese and they're good eaten fresh when the insides are warm and gooey. Then we were served huge slices of this delicious cake. I'm not sure what it's called, but it was a white cake drenched with some type of liquor syrup and topped with fresh whipped cream and profiteroles (cream puffs). It was not overly sweet and just really good.

After all that eating, it was time to do some vocal exercises. A friend pulled out his guitar and led the kids and adults in a fun sing-a-long. I didn't know the words to most of the songs so I was able to get away with just listening. Overall, it was just a nice warm gathering, perfect for celebrating little Federico's milestone.
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