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Showing posts from 2009

Thanksgiving Saturday: the Day After

Well actually 2 days after, because if I had been obligated to post on Sunday, you all might've been treated to another photo of the Krampus. Six hours ago I waved goodbye to the last of our visiting guests, and the big question of course, is how did our Thanksgiving go? It seems like the most commonplace, mundane thing to ask each other and we do so every year, but for us, or at least for me, it is a question where I can happily say that I was able to enjoy it with a whole bunch of people under one roof. The Thanksgivings that I remember in Hawaii were always outdoor affairs; buffet tables and makeshift seating set up in the garage or in the backyard patio; an uncle making pulehu (barbecuing) on the grill; coconut trees swaying in the breeze; CHOKE food (that means lots of food). It was an event where you could savor dishes from nearly every ethnic group in Hawaii as each family has their own "melting pot" of relatives: filipino, chinese, japanese, portuguese, puert…

Thanksgiving Saturday countdown: Laulau with banana leaves

In Obama's words, “yes you can!” But I am going to dispense with all of the detailed steps because there's a good chance that if you've arrived here via google web, the answer to your search has just been resolved. Anybody who's anybody knows that hawaiian laulau - bundles of meat, fish and lu'au or taro leaves - are wrapped and steamed within ti leaves to achieve the real thing. Unfortunately these particular leaves aren't readily available everywhere in the world, and sometimes you need to make do with what you have. In this case, banana leaves from Thailand, shipped in and sold at a filipino food market in Milan. What can I say? Don't carbon footprint me, these laulau are for a special occasion because I'm doing a little bit of both american and hawaiian-style for our Thanksgiving in Italy.Pre-video prepIt goes without saying that if you're lucky enough to have banana trees in your yard, select the young leaves that aren't torn or overl…

I'm feeling like Krampus this morning

We all have our weaknesses. Apparently the indulgence of a couple of small but very potent Mai Tais on an empty stomach was not the wisest idea, followed by two Budweisers. What a party last night! The last thing I remember was MotH saying it was time to go home, but in my mind, it sounded like the most absurd statement ever. Home? Whaddya mean home? Right now we're supposed to be taking a short break, or in true island-style, going moi moi (sleeping), then commence kau kau (eating) turkey and stuffing in another round of helpings. That was always standard procedure where I come from - stuff your face or die trying. Eerily apropos, given the chosen image...Edited update: in case you thought I was hallucinating again...the proof is in da turkey.

The day after Halloween...

I wanted to be the first to get MY pics out before anyone else uploaded theirs. See? Italians love to party down on Halloween too. In complete style of course, with superb Sassella wine and a smorgasbord of absolutely delicious nibbles being constantly replenished at the buffet table. Unfortunately we couldn't stay until the end because my fairy scary godmother warned me to return home before the witching hour. Sound advice, I'm afraid to admit, because I've been known to jump up on tables and dance. There was quite a ghoulish bunch last night but I don't remember the names of Dracula and the sexy Witch.

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.Well Julie girl, I can't explain just why he had to be born a Montague, but I might be able to show where he does hang out when not lurking under your balcony, and let me tell you, it ain't very far. Andar per goti is the veronese version of a pub crawl. Andar (to go) per goti (for glasses of wine) can only mean one thing - a heck of a great time in the old streets where Shakespeare's tragedy took place, and this is what we set out to do in fair Verona...One day in VeronaFrom dimly lit hole-in-the-walls, to osterie, to restaurants, 6 randomly chosen locations from Slow Food's guidebook share the spotlight in our quest to discover who pours the best. Salud!Cin-Cin!Okole Maluna!Kampai!Mabuhay! It was a BLAST, with only one bad apple out of the whole bunch. The wonderful thing about all this is that Verona'…

A Campari moment

So...the lawn is done. The shower (and a double-sized one at that) scrubbed down. The floors mopped. The "kids" bathed, dried, and nails clipped. The monstrous old fennel cut down and ready to cart away. The kumquat fertilized, dinner done (oxtail soup), and the terrace swept for the 10th time because the "kids" think it's perfectly okay to leave the chestnut peels after devouring those that fall in the yard. The best part? Having my lardo d'Arnad photo featured in an italian restaurant and hospitality magazine, Italia A Tavola. I'm pretty stoked, and was sent a pdf copy of which I've snipped a part here.





Hi-Yo, Silver, away!

Slowly, but surely, Miss Maddie the alpine westie is gaining back her strength and stamina on these brief walks that we take around the mountainside. The hot summer temps are fading away, maybe too fast for my liking, but in the coolness of digits less than 70°F, the dogs handle it much better outdoors. We came across an old hotel over the weekend, its exterior still in good shape even if the property was no longer in operation. Along the outside wall, iron rings were firmly attached for way back in the days when people traveled by horse. An iron boot remover/puller was firmly embedded right next to the entrance. I've never taken riding lessons, but now I'm thinking, wouldn't it be fun to go on a vacation through the italian countryside only on horseback? I believe there are already these types of eco-tourism here, and I've read about one where you travel by donkey instead. The dogs would probably prefer to walk it themselves, as long as the pace was kept to a t…

Hiking a little piece of the Via Francigena

Fur-kid #1. Alpha female. The senior dog. You can't imagine how excited she gets whenever the word "hike" is mentioned. Maddie lives for outings such as these, and there is no place that she won't go without that fearless westie bravado. I think it turned out to be the highlight of her trip, being that for Maddie aka the alpine westie, a vacation isn't a vacation unless you muck about in a forest.
The Via Francigena of today is probably a lot more hospitable than it was centuries ago, and it is truly incredible to think that this route was once used by pilgrims on their way to Rome. The segment that we did is more of an easy [T - touristic] route, much of it gently winding through shady forest, hugging the course of a waterway. The trail is left of Hotel La Clusaz (midway between Etroubles and Gignod) and leads to the town of Gignod. It's a piece of cake for persons/dogs of all hiking levels, and popular with runners and mountain bikers. Just remember…

Monte Bianco and the Giant's Tooth

Panoramic view as seen from the charming town of Pre-St-Didier in Valle d'Aosta.
Monte Bianco on the left, the Giant's Tooth on the right, signaled by an arrow.3rd day, Courmayeur — The big alpine blue. It just takes your breath away. The sun is mercilessly harsh at this altitude, and the mighty Monte Bianco has to be one of the most impressive of natural wonders in Italy. We were nearing the region's northern border again, avoiding the Mont Blanc tunnel leading into Chamonix, France, and getting close enough to gaze in wonder at what is known as the 11th highest peak in the world. She is majestic at 15,781 feet above sea level, and therefore demanding the sort of climbing skills way beyond our experience.We'll probably never visit during the busy ski season but there's one unique feature that nature buffs would appreciate - il Dente del Gigante - the Giant's Tooth. Second in popularity to Monte Bianco, this "tooth" is surrounded by myth for wh…

Medieval castles but not a knight in sight

Counting castles...what we need now is a lively jousting event and fair maidens. Valle d'Aosta is the land of castelli (castles), and spotting them is almost like engaging in a game of punch bug. I felt that it wouldn't be right to leave out such historical detail, but the sharp contrasts...you'll see what I mean in the photos.

Now I don't know if it's due to Walt setting the standard on what a castle should look like, but through the dozen or so times that I've been here, not once did I make any real effort to appreciate these medieval landmarks that have withstood the test of time - save one. That would be the Castle of Sarre (3rd image), where we had our wedding photos taken. I believe that most castles are open to the public, and further info can be found here at Valle d'Aosta Castles. The Disneyish-looking one is Castle Saint Pierre (at right). It's a small world after all.
Parking sign [P] and picnic tables (not shown) in front of Castle Sar…

La Thuile (home of the best little cheese shop in Valle d'Aosta)

Goat cheese coated in a tempting assortment of spicy and nut flavorings
I must've looked like a crazed, dangerous woman entering into La Maison du Fromage. With nostrils instinctively twitching, flaring, and breathing - no, inhaling - the bold pungency that exuded from within, it took everyounceofwillpower to stick to "the plan". The plan? That's right, a plan to buy only what we could reasonably finish and not burn a hole in MotH's wallet. I had been waiting for months to finally make it to this place...such is our lust for cheese. Run by a mother, daughter and granddaughter team, they entice the cheese gourmet with the best the region has to offer - local prosciutto, sausages, breads... A plethora of pasta and local products beckon seductively from racks and shelves, ensuring that you simply can not leave without making a few purchases to bring home. The dumbstruck gaze on my face with Canon in hand said enough. "Signora, plain or with nuts?"