Tag Archives: food

2007 in Review

above: another gorgeous winterline sunset, Mussoorie, December 2007 The past year was so busy that, in spite of the many articles, photos, and videos I published here, there are still travels and events that I haven’t even mentioned, video and photos you haven’t yet seen. 2008 is shaping up to be even busier so, in Read More…

above: another gorgeous winterline sunset, Mussoorie, December 2007

The past year was so busy that, in spite of the many articles, photos, and videos I published here, there are still travels and events that I haven’t even mentioned, video and photos you haven’t yet seen. 2008 is shaping up to be even busier so, in case I never get to those, I thought I’d do a quick gallop through 2007 and at least hint at some of the stuff you missed.

The first half of 2007 was mostly awful. But, somewhere around August, things changed drastically for the better, and I began to think of having a T-shirt made saying: “Life doesn’t suck.”

January

6: As a Christmas present from my dad, Ross and I, along with some of the British side of our family, saw Spamalot in London, the very last night that Tim Curry was in the cast. Fantastic! We also had our portraits taken.

14: Enrico and I took a day trip to Sormano and other points on the Lake Como peninsula above Bellagio

19-21: In Rome for my first (but not last) barCamp.

February

Ross and I were busy completing her application to Woodstock School, due March 1st. Much anxiety around this whole process, not least: wondering how I would pay for tuition.

14-19: I visited my dad in the UK again. I don’t remember now if this was because he had been in the hospital again or what.

^ Alpini in Lecco, March 2007

March

7: Attended the Cisco Expo in Milan.

20: Began working for Sun Microsystems, as a part-time contractor. First trip to Broomfield, Colorado, returning on the 28th, just in time for:

30: First Girl Geeks Dinner Italia

31: rItalia Camp

Infant apricots on the young tree in our garden. late March, 2007

April

Worked on my garden, held down two jobs, Ross got accepted to Woodstock (and now I knew that I could pay for it).

hothouse geraniums, Apr 15, 2007

22: Visited Milan Design Week with Ringae Nuek. (No, that’s not her in the picture.)

Milan Design Week 07

this was taken in the courtyard of Castello Sforzesco

28: Enrico and I went to the Castello di Vezio, near home on Lake Como.

May

15: Flew to Colorado for Sun again. Visited my classmate Tin Tin in her fly genetics lab. Returned to Italy just in time for:

26: FemCamp

June

Continued preparations for Ross to go to Woodstock, including getting her student visa for India.

17: Had lunch with Pamela, a Woodstock alumna, and her Swiss-Italian husband Tino at their holiday home on Lake Como.

21-25: Visited England while my dad was having knee surgery again.

Towards the end of the month, a doctor saw something she didn’t like on my mammogram, which began a period of torture and extreme anxiety. Around the same time, my mother was having an ovarian cyst the size of a grapefruit removed. Which, thankfully, turned out to be benign.

at the beach – July 6, 2007

July

5-8: We drove down to Roseto degli Abruzzi for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday, stopping along the way at an excellent restaurant near Modena.

11: Finally got the word on my biopsy: no cancer. The next evening, to celebrate, we had expensive cocktails with friends before we all went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix together (in English) in Milan.

14: Had a visit from Peter and Peggy Jenks, former Woodstock staff.

21: I (and a bunch of other people) won a dinner at one of Italy’s finest restaurants, Symposium, in Le Marche, sponsored by San-Lorenzo.com. Spent the night in the nearby town of Cartoceto, which Susan and I toured the next day in intense heat.

28: Ross and I flew to London with her 46 kilos of luggage, to spend a few days with my dad and Ruth, and pre-celebrate Ross’ 18th birthday:
Ross birthday champagne

August

1: Ross flew out from Heathrow. Her departure did not go smoothly. But she got there safely and was happily launched on her great India adventure.

3: I flew to Colorado to spend my vacation (from TVBLOB) working for Sun, staying with Tin Tin again.

when geeks do urban planning – Broomfield, CO – Aug 2007

11: Ross turned 18 at Woodstock. By this time we were getting regular phone calls from her and knew that she was doing well and very happy. This was worth all the upheavals it had taken to get her there.

12: Tin Tin and I went hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Forest.

17: Flew to New Mexico to visit Woodstock friends Steve and Sharon.

18: Sharon and I visited Santa Fe, including the Crafts Museum.

31: College friend Steph came to visit from Tulsa; we drove down to Taos by way of the Garden of the Gods.

September

2: Back to Broomfield.

5: Flew to San Francisco and saw many old Bay Area friends, and a few Woodstockers, before going down to San Jose, where I filmed many Sun speakers at the Storage Networking Industry Association’s Software Developer Conference (SNIA SDC).

15: Participated in a fun fundraiser in San Francisco.

17: Flew back to the UK and spent a couple of days with Dad and Ruth.

20: Flew back to Milan. By this time, I had parted ways with TVBLOB, and only had one job to do, to my considerable relief.

We had house guests as soon as I arrived: my Woodstock classmate Sara Ahmed, and long-time family friends Leslie and Nathan. While they were all with us, we visited the beautiful old abbey at Piona, towards the northern end of Lake Como.

28: Enrico and I began to enjoy the advantages of the empty nest. On a sudden invitation, we took off and spent a weekend inVenice:

October

6: Wine-tasting in Valtellina.

19-21: Hosted Web Women Weekend at our home in Lecco.

27: Enrico and I took another day trip on the lake, eating at Beccaccino (justly famous for its fish) in Sorico.

November

3: Enrico and I went to Lugano for eTourCamp, on the way taking the ferry across the lake:

Lake Como, Nov 2007

10: My travel arrangements for India all set, we had our traditional fall dinner party a bit early.

14: Left Milan for Delhi. Arrived the same night, slept in a hotel for a few hours.

15: Took the Shatabdi Express to Dehra Dun and a taxi to Mussoorie. Wandered around the school looking for my kid til I finally met up with her on the ramp. She hugged me tight and whispered: “We’re so weird.”

16: Filmed Ross et al in a Bollywood version of “The Taming of the Shrew” – she played Bianca.

shrew

19: Pondered my past as a technical writer and my future as… what?

^ Ross and cat, Mussoorie

28: I turned 45.

Wrote, photographed, and filmed lots more stuff about Woodstock, spent intense times with many old and new friends, all the while working remotely for Sun.

December

14: Ross and I, alongside a school party of 200 kids plus chaperones, went down to Delhi at the start of our winter vacation.

16-18: In Delhi: shopping, eating, running around, seeing friends.

^Â I have not tried dragan (dragon?) fruit yet – never heard of it before. Note the strawberries, cherries, and plums – none of these were available in India a few years ago.

19: We flew to Mumbai, where we spent another intense period shopping for a sari, seeing many old friends (mine), and meeting movie stars. And I bought art:

Rashmi Dogra tin trunk

^ a piece by artist Rashmi Dogra – a tin valise, with a Kathakali dancer’s face – this was my Christmas present for me!

29: Ross flew to Goa, I flew to Delhi.

30: More shopping in Delhi.

31: Arrived in Milan, Enrico picked me up at the airport. After a few hours at home to rest and unpack, we drove up to a place in the mountains where friends were staying, to celebrate New Year’s with them. I made it through dinner, but slept through the traditional midnight feast of lentils – and slept through 25 people partying in the room next door, and fireworks going off in the street outsidehttp://www.beginningwithi.com.

And I think that’s about enough for one year!

Favorite Restaurants, in Italy and Elsewhere

Note: All prices may be severely out of date. Quality not likely to have changed. Lake Como Area Belvedere Il Capriolo Crotasc Lanterna Verde L’Osteria del Viaggiatore These are full reviews – also see brief listings below for some more restaurants. Elsewhere Ristorante Tortella, Castelli, Abruzzo various in Austin, Texas American chain restaurants Vegetarian Restaurants Read More…

Note: All prices may be severely out of date. Quality not likely to have changed.

Lake Como Area

These are full reviews – also see brief listings below for some more restaurants.

Elsewhere

Vegetarian Restaurants

Some tips for eating in restaurants in Italy.

Don’t want to eat out all the time? It’s also possible to eat cheaply in Italy.

Opinions

Some More of Our Favorite Restaurants

NB: My data on prices may not be entirely reliable; costs refer to a full meal (antipasto, primo, secondo, dessert) with wine, per person. You can of course save money by eating less! (By 2010, these prices are likely out of date! I have not eaten at any of these places in at least two years.)

But you don’t always have to go to restaurants; it’s also possible to eat cheaply in Italy.

Milan

Lo Scugnizzo

via Cassala 59

near the Romolo metro stop

tel 02 5811 1957

Fresh mozzarella from Naples daily, amazing seafood of all kinds. Pizza is also good. ~ euro 20-30

Vecchia Napoli pizzeria

via Chavez 4

tel 02 2619056

Fantastic pizza. Closed Mondays. Pizzas cost euro 7-12.

Osteria Grand Hotel

via Ascanio Sforza 75 (naviglio Pavese)

tel 02 89511586

Fabrizio, the owner, is head of one of Milan’s Slow Food groups. Excellent food, great wine list. euro 30-40

La Veneta

via G. Giusti 14

tel 02 342881

Antique recipes from the Veneto. Don’t miss the pasta e fagioli with radicchio, but everything else is wonderful as well. The owner is idiosyncratic and sometimes perceived as rude, but really he just has strong opinions on what should be eaten (and drunk) with what, and he’s probably right. Leave room for amazing desserts. euro 30-50

Ristorante da Bruno

via Gonzaga 6 (Duomo metro stop)

tel 02 804364

An old family favorite. Everything’s good. ~ euro 25-40

Gatto’

via Castel Morrone 10

tel 02 70006870

Mon 17:30-23:30, Tue-Sat 12:00-23:30

A brief but excellent Neapolitan-influenced menu, with an emphasis on top-quality ingredients. Possibly the best tuna steak I’ve ever eaten, lightly seared with a Japanese-style dipping sauce. Don’t miss the desserts.

near Menaggio

Locanda San Martino

Santa Maria Rezzonico and then way up the hill

tel 0344 50167 – reservations recommended

Excellent regional specialties including boar and polenta uncia (with cheese, garlic, butter, and sage), very cheap. euro 15-20

Lecco

Osteria del Viaggiatore

Corso Promessi Sposi

see my review

Taverna ai Poggi

via ai Poggi 14

phone: 0341 497126

Large selection of salumi and wines. Especially try the lake fish carpaccio and of course the local specialty, pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta cooked with vegetables, cheese, garlic, butter, and sage). euro 25-35 at night, much cheaper at lunchtime (weekdays).

l’Azzeccagarbugli

Piazza XX Settembre

tel 0341 288063

A little pricey, but the servings are large by Italian standards. Particularly good meat, and an excellent selection of wines.

Morbegno

Ristorante Vecchio Fiume

Contrada di Cima alle Case

Nouveau twist on regional specialties. euro 30-40

Chiavenna

La Lanterna Verde

Fraz. SAN BARNABA, 7

VILLA DI CHIAVENNA 23029 SO (on the road going to St. Moritz)

Our absolute favorite, well worth the trip. During the day, eat outside and enjoy the amazing view of forests and waterfalls. euro 40-50 (cheap at the price!). See my review liked above.

Crotasc

via D.P. Lucchinetti 67

23020 Mese (SO)

map | my detailed review

Restaurant associated with the Mamete Prevostini winery.Specializes in salumi and insaccati (dried meats) and wild game. Five-course menus euro 25 and 30.

Il Capriolo

Subiale, Tel. 0341 875.017 – Cell. 328 749500

See my review; closed Thursdays.

Chianti

I Tre Castelli
Loc. Cintoia Bassa

Strada in Chianti

tel 055 8572227

Open for lunch and dinner, except Wednesdays.

Rita and Lino took us here. Excellent and unusual dishes such as a very spicy boar goulash.

Rome

Osteria Le Mani in Pasta

via dei Genovesi 37, Trastevere

Antica Taverna

via Monte Giordano, 12

da Alfredo e Ada

via Banchi Nuovi 14

An old-fashioned Roman osteria. Get there while you can – places like this won’t last much longer. euro 15-20Also go here

Mantova

Outside Italy

London

(locations in Brussels, Copenhagen, Paris, Delhi, Dubai, and Beirut
as well)

La Porte des Indes

Indian-French cuisine based on recipes from the old French colony of Pondicherry. I have had a lot of Indian food (lived there 5 years), but never anything like this. Amazing. Expensive.

Virginia/Suburban DC

Busara

Some of the best Thai food I’ve eaten outside of Thailand.

France

Le Ménestrel, Nimes

Barcelona

La Provenza, Barcelona

 

Thanksgiving 2007: Martha Stewart, Move Over!

I’m leaving for India Wednesday, so we had to have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner early. The first step, which started two days in advance, was to roast and peel the chestnuts for the stuffing – unlike Martha Stewart, I cannot buy them pre-cooked and frozen or canned. Above you see them ready to go into Read More…

I’m leaving for India Wednesday, so we had to have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner early. The first step, which started two days in advance, was to roast and peel the chestnuts for the stuffing – unlike Martha Stewart, I cannot buy them pre-cooked and frozen or canned.

Above you see them ready to go into the oven (I had two oven pans, both almost full), with an x scored across the flat side of each with a knife, as per instructions in the Silver Palate cookbook. They didn’t all have an identifiable flat side, and I was scared of slipping with that sharp little knife and cutting my fingers.

This is how they looked partway through the roasting; it took over an hour to get the last ones done enough to peel relatively easily. Per Italian tradition I should have roasted them over an open flame in a pan with holes in the bottom (which would have been faster), but I don’t own one of those pans. Hmm. Something to get for next year.

Peeling them all took hours. Depending on degree of doneness and other mysterious factors, any given chestnut can be more or less difficult to coax out of its woody outer shell and then the papery inner one. Like walnuts, they have wrinkles and crevices from which any woody bits must be removed so that guests don’t break their teeth – you don’t always get a perfect whole chestnut as shown above.

I no longer have an oven large enough to roast a whole turkey, so in the last few years I’ve had to find another solution. An American recipe for herb-roasted turkey breast expects me to have a turkey breast with the skin still on, something you don’t find in Italy. You can order a whole turkey breast from the butcher, but it arrives skinless.

My solution was to replace the skin with thin-sliced pancetta (Italian bacon). Instead of working the herb mixture under the skin, I just slather it onto the turkey, then lay on the pancetta slices to completely cover the surface. This retains moisture in the meat, adds lots of flavor, and becomes a nice, crispy addition to the dish.

Italian poultry takes longer to cook than the estimates given in American cookbooks. The Joy of Cooking says 10-12 minutes per pound for turkey. By this calculation, this 3.8 kg (8.4 lb) turkey breast should have cooked in less than two hours. But I knew from previous experience that this was not going to happen. The turkey was perfect at three hours – cooked through, but still moist. (I used a meat thermometer, let it reach the “poultry” marking and stay there 10-15 minutes.)

I had so many chestnuts this year that I saved some whole ones out from the stuffing and put them in the roasting pan with the turkey, adding more at the end when the turkey had shrunk and there was more room. They soaked up the gravy deliciously.

Italians don’t make the flour-thickened gravy traditional in America – it’s a lot easier to just use the pan juices as-is (had I thought about it, I should have tried adding Calvados and simmering as the recipe called for – but then there wouldn’t have been enough to go around). I simply poured the juices and chestnuts into a bowl, and people spooned it onto their slices of meat.

The above photo is by Duke, a young fashion photographer trying to make a career in a tough city (Milan). I figure, if I’m going to have my picture taken at all, I should leave it to the most competent person in the room. (He also plays a mean blues guitar.)

I was too busy cooking, serving, eating, and talking to take any pictures of the actual guests – there were about 35 people present, and during the first part of the evening we managed to get them into the taverna (instead of clustering in the dining room and kitchen as people tend to do) by putting all the wine and antipasti down there!

I wasn’t the only cook. Ivo brought his justly-famous cheeseball, plus veggies and dip. Darlene’s American/Asian style cabbage salad was a great accompaniment to the main course. There were many great desserts: Maryellen’s pumpkin pie, Fabrizio and Irene’s ricotta torte, Marianna and Zeno’s apple cake, plus various yummy store-bought sweets. Andrea and Nives also brought us some authentic Genovese pesto which we will have to eat before I leave.

And somehow we always end up with more wine than we started with at these things: I didn’t even buy any, and we have 6-8 bottles left over! We finished off the Franciacorta that San Lorenzo had donated to Web Women Weekend, and I liked very much the 2007 Novello “Falò” that Andrea and Nives brought.

It was our usual mixed crowd: mathematicians, IT geeks/bloggers, neighbors, and various other friends. I was happy they all came and enjoyed themselves and the company, though I didn’t get as much time to talk to most as I would have liked. That’s what happens when you’re the hostess. But it was worth it. Happy Thanksgiving!

High Water (Not Hell) in Venice, part 6

Venice’s Bad Karma On Saturday morning, I learned what a macchiatone (“big spotted one”) is: it’s basically a caffé macchiato (coffee “spotted” with steamed milk), with a bit more milk – so, somewhere between a macchiato and a cappuccino, served in a cappuccino cup. I had it with a delicious little torta di riso (rice Read More…

Venice’s Bad Karma

On Saturday morning, I learned what a macchiatone (“big spotted one”) is: it’s basically a caffé macchiato (coffee “spotted” with steamed milk), with a bit more milk – so, somewhere between a macchiato and a cappuccino, served in a cappuccino cup. I had it with a delicious little torta di riso (rice cake).

Then Enrico and I explored some more.

^ “In this antique home of the Dario family, Henri de Regnier, poet of France, Venetianly lived and wrote in 1988 and 1901.” Venetianly?

^ This was a mystery. Was the pigeon already dead when someone gored it with an umbrella?

The apartment we were staying in was owned by a Jewish family. On the wall near the kitchen was a framed edict of 1777, issued by a prince of Venice on the orders of an “Inquisitor of the Arts”, detailing horrifying restrictions on Venice’s Jewish community. Sobering reading. The Venetians invented the concept of ghetto, apparently.

Venice is indeed a beautiful city, but it has many centuries of bad karma to pay off.

Venice 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

restaurant

High Water (Not Hell) in Venice, part 5

When in Venice, Eat… Curry In St. Mark’s Square, Jeet bought some necessary props (above). We returned to the apartment to greet Andrew and Victoria, arrived from Paris. Jeet and Andrew set to work making a fantastic Indian meal. Which they served in appropriate national costumes: (Hey, I just live my life, in all its Read More…

When in Venice, Eat… Curry

In St. Mark’s Square, Jeet bought some necessary props (above).

We returned to the apartment to greet Andrew and Victoria, arrived from Paris. Jeet and Andrew set to work making a fantastic Indian meal.

Which they served in appropriate national costumes:

(Hey, I just live my life, in all its glorious weirdness – don’t ask me to explain it!)

Jeet learned his Indian cooking from Tsering and Tenzing, old friends from Woodstock. While we were enjoying the results of their lessons in Venice, our daughter, on quarter break from school, was staying with them at their home in Mussoorie. Yes, we’re all just one big happy family!

Venice 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 , restaurant