Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cantina Nino Negri

This year we decided to visit the Nino Negri winery during the Cantine Aperte or 'open cellar' event that falls on the last Sunday of May every year.

Nino Negri makes one of our favorite wines from Valtellina - the Le Tense.

The winery is housed in a 15th century castle and we were able to visit the cellars which are up to 13 meters underground.

It was a nice way to spend Sunday morning before lunch. Most wineries in Italy do not cater for visitors so this event is a good opportunity to visit one of the many excellent winemakers in the country. We'll definitely mark it on our calendar for next year.

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Perfect Party Cake

by Dorie Greenspan

Decided to try out this recipe last weekend. The layers are a lemon flavored white cake, with a raspberry jam filling and iced with a meringue lemon buttercream. The final touch - a dusting of shredded coconut all over, perfect for covering any imperfections on the icing job. Dorie's recipes may seem a little involved but so far I have yet to be disappointed.

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Birthday weekend

We celebrated the occasion with a fun weekend full of good food and wine. The highlight was definitely lunch at our favorite restaurant in Piemonte followed by a lazy afternoon enjoying the views of rolling vineyards and medieval hilltop towns.

The birthday boy was happy.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011


This was my pizza at dinner with friends last night.

It was at Tarantella, our new favorite pizzeria for Napoletano-style pizza. Have I mentioned that Italians don't share pizzas? Everyone orders a pie and it's all yours baby! In the early days, finishing one on my own was a near impossible feat. These days, with lots of practice, it's still a struggle but most of the time I can clean my plate (ok, I cheat a little by leaving some of the crusty edges behind).

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

At the Tailors

Followed the guys to the tailors on a Saturday afternoon. D was getting a couple old suits refitted while S was getting new shirts made to measure. The tailor, Tuglio, and his wife were real characters - friendly and of great humor. Almost made me wish I was getting something tailored as well. This was definitely a business that ran by word-of-mouth. The storefront has no windows, no indication of the type of business, just the name: Arcadia.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Breath of Fresh Air

What's the best part of the winter for you (if any!)? For me all that cold is only good for one thing - the snow. And let's keep the snow on the mountain for scenic and recreational purposes only. Otherwise snow just means cancelled travel plans and horrendous traffic snarls.

Today we were lucky enough to get some respite from the city smog and escape to the snow for some cross country skiing.

It was so peaceful and quiet. There was hardly anyone around while just on the other side of the mountain were the busy ski lifts and downhill slopes. It makes me question why I should go downhill skiing instead.

The view of the lake with the surrounding mountains was just beautiful. And It felt deliciously warm under the sun.

What a change from my week sitting in the office all day.

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No, we don't bake all the time. Our friend gifted us with huge bags of almonds fresh from his family's trees, so this was the least we could do in return.

The almonds, by the way, were delicious. We had to crack the shell to get to the nut. I've never tasted them this fresh before.

This is of course the recipe from Stefano's sardinian grandma. Stefo and his mom did most of the work. I just showed up in time to help with the white sugar glaze and the multicolor fun.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kiwi Tart

So I'm not the only baker in the house. Every once in a while, inspiration (or more likely, a craving) hits and my other half will disappear into the kitchen for a little bit. And then voilĂ ...

A crostata topped with a homemade kiwi jam from our friends Leo and Nadia.

The sweet guy even attempted to form a heart shaped piece in there. Awww...

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Attack of the Cupcakes

We are going over to a friend's baby's full moon party later so I baked some cupcakes for the occasion.

These chocolate espresso cupcakes have been making regular appearances since I first made them for a potluck last September. They are fairly easy to whip up, and are super moist and chocolatey (you don't taste the coffee at all). The recipe is from Make these if you want to wow your friends.

My chief taster got a couple of his own too.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gong Hei Fatt Choy

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Our little dinner was lots of fun. The baked spring rolls were a hit. We tossed the homemade yeesang to ensure a good flow of luck for the new year. The steamboat worked out well, using the fondue set we got for Christmas (thanks, Valeria & family!).

Our guests were thrilled when we pulled out and handed them their angpow red packets. The first ever, for R.

In a blink of an eye, it was already almost midnight. Time flies when you're having good laughs!

We then slurped down the water chestnut and coconut dessert our guests brought - perfect for ending the night.

May the new year bring you good luck, happiness and good health!

Xin nin fai lok!

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

In the Kitchen

The Chinese New Year is just a few short days away, but being in Italy you cannot even tell. Instead of throwing myself the usual pity party, this year I decided to take matters in my own hand and invite some friends over to celebrate.

They were more than excited to come. Now to plan the menu.

Now I have a very embarrassing confession to make: I don't really know how to cook Chinese food.

How did this happen? Well, back home, mom always did the cooking. Then in California, there was never a need to cook Chinese when anything and everything was available just around the corner.

So I had this one weekend for a quick crash course so our guests don't go hungry. Fried glass noodles, check. Shrimp fried rice, check!

Oh, I should mention that I had to, uh, look up how to cook jasmine rice over the stove. No we don't have a rice cooker and I haven't cooked white rice once in my 2+ years here. I know, embarrassing!

And I made wontons! I was forced to. I tried to find some but there was nothing decent looking at the store in Chinatown. I did pick up the wonton skins from the tiny frozen section.

And it was surprisingly easy with the help of our mini chopper. I did a trial run boiling some up and it was tasty too.

I don't think I'll ever buy them ready-made again.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Casa del Latte

Italy is still one of those countries where most stores remain closed on Sunday, the rest day, and many close by 7:30pm on other evenings. So it takes some planning to make sure you don't run out of eggs on a Sunday, for example.

But luckily, one thing you won't run out of is milk. Today we finally visited our neighborhood 'house of milk', which dispenses fresh raw milk from a local farm.

You can bring your own bottles or buy a one-time use plastic bottle there for 20 cents. Then put in 1 euro and out pours 1L of creamy frothy milk.

The milk is raw so needs to be boiled before drinking and consumed within 3 days. Some research show that raw milk retains its natural enzymes and some people who are lactose intolerant find that they are able to digest raw milk. Also supposedly some nutrients are destroyed during the pasteurization process so drinking raw can be better for you.

Got milk?

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Friday, January 21, 2011


Grabbed a quick Friday night dinner in Milan tonight, after visiting our friend V at the hospital.

Thick doughy slices fresh from the oven. The menu is short, only margherita slices, 'normale' or 'abbondante'.

You can't go wrong here.

Various locations, Milano

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Thursday, January 20, 2011


What was supposed to be something homemade to thank a coworker...

turned into this huge cupcake project that quickly got out of hand. More cupcakes than I could handle, on a weeknight no less.

A special thanks to S for fashioning out those awesome 'carrots'.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011


Hello world!

Does this work?

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