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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Love Thursday: L'espresso

Dear Espresso,


Thank you for always standing by me and giving me my well needed kick in the rear whenever I feel tired. Without you, functioning in this world would not be possible. If it was possible, I would probably inject you directly into my veins.


Sincerely,
Your faithful drinker,


Catherine

PS On second thought, I probably would not inject myself. I am a wimp and could not bare the thought of sticking a needle in my body.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's Cooking Wednesday: Chipotle-Cherry BBQ Sauce



A couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday, it was one of the few days during which one could spend the entire day outdoors. The day began with me being woken up by my mom, albeit it was late. It was not until the early morning that I finally had been able to sleep soundly after hacking my brains out during the night. I had been suffering from a cold/allergies for two days.

We decided to spend part of our day at the beach. It seemed like a good idea - fresh air and lots of sunshine, instead of staying cooped up inside with the diseased air in my room. After stopping for to-go coffee, we brought out our love-seat styled beach chair and basked in the warm sun, breathing in the salt water. Since it was low tide, seashells were fair game! Look at the treasure we found:



Did you notice the tiny shells on and within the large shell in the first picture? What's so special about these shells? Well, usually these are not found here on the shores of New Jersey. These are usually found in warmer water. My guess is that with Hurricane Earl that just passed by,  it dropped them off here to be discovered.

Fast-forwarding through the day, we come to dinner time. My mom and I decided to experiment by making an awesome barbecue sauce, chipotle-cherry sauce on baby back ribs. We found the recipe in the magazine, bon appetit.  The recipe has some sweetness but the chipotle chiles give it a twist and a kick.

Chipotle-Cherry Barbeque Sauce

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cherry preserves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I put in 1/4 of a cup)
2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
2 tablespoons golden brown sugar (we used dark brown since it was all we had)
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce (we did not use this since many soy sauces have wheat, which I can't eat)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel (since we used more lemon juice we didn't use the peel)
1-2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced, plus 1 tbsp adobo sauce from can
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa power

Instructions:

Bring ketchup, cherry preserves, lemon juice, molasses, brown sugar, Worchestershire sauce, (soy sauce), (lemon peel), chiles, adobo sauce, liquid smoke, onion powder, and cocoa powder to simmer in medium saucepan, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper..

The sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead. Cover tightly and refigerate.


Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Italy v. America: Etiquette within the Restaurant

Italy v. America


Etiquette within the Restaurant



I have yet to experience what I am about to discuss in Italy, so forgive me if this discussion seems at all one-sided. Perhaps some of my readers can contribute with their own horror stories?


Have you ever gone to a restaurant, are enjoying your meal with family and/or friends, only to be interrupted by the roar of a vacuum or broom being frantically swept right next to you?

A few weeks ago, while my mom and I were having dinner spending quality time together, this is just what happened. We were escorted to our table, ordered our drinks, and were then interrupted by a vacuum directly next to our table. After eying the waiter several times, he finally got the hint of the annoyance he was creating. However, what he and a fellow waitress began to do right after, was just as bad, if not worse. The waiter crawled underneath the table at the booth across the aisle, and began frantically sweeping debris from under the table, causing it to fly into the middle of the aisle. Behind us, the waitress was doing exactly the same. Appalled by what they were doing, and upon the delivery of our food, we asked our waitress kindly if they could stop cleaning while we ate. Annoyed by our request, the waiter stomped away.

The poor service continued with our waitress passing by literally every five minutes, obnoxiously asking if everything was alright. Halfway through our dinner, we were approached by the manager. Contrary to what we thought was about to happen (scolding), he apologized for the waiter, and offered a complimentary dessert. Apparently, someone had complained about not being able to finish his duties.

Although it is perfectly understandable that everyone has tasks that need to be completed before they leave or other customers arrive, I cannot fathom how poorly the current customers are treated. Cleaning in such a manner is really unsanitary. It is always about rushing the customers to finish eating so that more can sit at the table next. This is not the first time this has happened. It has happened on numerous occasions at numerous locations. Why is it so hard to adopt a relaxing ambiance so as to enjoy the meal? Won't that ensure the return of customers if they are worried about profit?

In Italy, it is quite the opposite. Waiters do not come to your table unless called upon. They see it as being rude if the diner is interrupted from his/her meal. Furthermore, I have never seen cleaning being done while people eat. This is not to say everything is better in Italy. On the contrary, they make up for it with the infamous Posta Italiana and transit strikes. But is it really hard to ask for common courtesy here?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Consulate Appointment

Thank you for everyone who offered their kind words after hearing about my plans being canceled. It was truly devastating for me, as a lot of time and preparation had been put into making the eventual move. As they say, "everything happens for a reason."

Anyway, as I am not one to easily give up once I have my mind set on something, I am continuing my citizenship process state-side. After giving myself a couple of days to recuperate, a new mission has already begun - making an appointment with the Italian consulate. Before I was scheduled to leave, I had been trying for weeks to get in touch with someone, anyone, at the consulate. It should have been obvious that speaking to someone in the weeks before ferragosto, the time in August in which Italians have summer vacation, that this was an impossible feat. E-mailing them resulted in responses such as,

"Signora, siamo sommersi in richieste,"

Ma'am we are inundated with requests,

and was then directed to a phone number. In case you did not know, the consulate has taken down all department extension numbers, so now you must call the general switchboard, which no one answers. You must then leave a message, but they will not get back to you for a week or so. Fortunately after ferragosto, they have been a bit more responsive. Plus, a fellow applicant gave me the name of someone I could direct an e-mail to. In addition to that, I've also found that the consulate will answer your e-mail much quicker if you write in Italian.

After calling several times, and sending e-mails, I finally got a response. They asked for my information and said they would get back to me with a date. A couple of days after that e-mail, I received a phone call about the message I had left. The woman had asked about the message I left, which had been a week or so prior, and I said it was in regards to making an appointment. She said, "I sent you the appointment information to your e-mail this morning." Since I was out and about with my mom searching for closet organizing systems (a project I've taken up), I had not checked my e-mail.



So the conclusion of this long, winded story is that I have an appointment for August 2011! Since Italy had not required death certificates, I did not worry about gathering them, also because they were a hassle. However, since the Newark consulate requires them ( why?! why?! why?!), I will now have to go through court orders. Thank you, thank you again to my ex, who has not only caused me to throw money out the window for my plane ticket, but now I must spend even more money to get all this done. Grrr!




Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bad News.....

As most of my faithful readers know, which are about like 5 people, I have been in the works of preparing for my move to Italy. Sadly, however, that will not be happening. My flight was to leave next Wednesday, and arrive in Bologna, Italy on Thursday. My ex decided rather suddenly that it was best that I not come. So with my bags half packed and my ticket already purchased a month ago, you can imagine just how upset and mad I am.


In spite of the negativity ensuing from this unfortunate event, there is something positive about it. It is better that the heartless pig told me now before I left, rather than arrive and then be told. I would have been stuck in hell for three months, which was when my round trip was scheduled for, just in case something happened with my papers... or in something like this.

Even though I no longer have the opportunity to apply in Italy for citizenship, I will however be applying in the US at the Newark consulate. Let's hope the experience with them is not as traumatic. haha


I promise tomorrow's post will be less depressing than this one.....

Friday, September 3, 2010

Down South, Part III

Click here and here for parts I and II, if you are just joining my travels.


The next day we prepared for the Festa di San Nazario. San Nazario is the patron saint of the small town of Perdifumo. The day began with us arriving in town from our hostel. My friend's family and our little group made our way down to the town's church early in the morning. The church had recently been renovated, we were told, and it was amazing to see the inside of the church. The church was too small to fit the entire town inside, however, so we were only able to stand at the entrance to the church, which was filled with people. More people had filled in behind us. At 9am, the sun was already beating down strongly upon our heads, but to our relief, there was a slight breeze as we stood there in the entrance.

The mass, of course, was held in Italian. At the time, my Italian was not as good as it is now. In fact, it was nowhere near as good, and I would love to sit in on a mass now just to see how much I would be able to understand. The mass followed the order to which I am accustomed to here at home. The only difference however with churches in Italy is that usually you must have your shoulders covered, and your legs relatively covered. There are some churches that will not even allow you to enter unless you have the appropriate attire.

Upon the end of the mass, we made way for the procession to begin. San Nazario was hoisted up onto the shoulders of the town's men, and carried out of the church. Priests in candy apple red, yellow and white garments exited before the statue. Large, heavy red banners lightly fluttered in the now nearly non-existent breeze. The band waited on the side, socializing with friends, until everyone was prepared for the ascend up the first hill from the church. It was a mixture of the informal and the formal; tradition and the modernity of the townspeople.

Since this was our very first festa (well at least for me), we all happily followed the procession making our way slowly up the hill. We soon gave up as the walk would be long, and it was just too hot. Along the road, there is a passageway that is the entrance to the town. Here many of the townspeople gather as this is also the local watering hole. Further up in the mountain is a fresh spring, and the water is clean enough to drink right out of the faucet. We were then taken to my friend's family's home where the feast began. Pasta, eggplant, tomatoes, cakes - all sorts of foods that were, "grown on their land", they
explained happily. I had the pleasure of sitting next to my friend's eldest uncle, who only spoke dialect. Many attempts were made by him to speak to me, but I could not understand him sadly. He excitedly thought through his memories about the time he had visited the United States. He never learned English, but remembered learning the word, whorehouse.

Our meal came to an immediate halt when a baby bat flew through the open windows. However, it was day time! It flew around, scared to death probably, until it hung itself upside down under the table. One of my friend's uncles picked it up and threw it back out the window. The eldest of the uncles explained that it had probably fallen out of a tree while sleeping, and was merely startled. It seemed like a reasonable explanation, but it was sure odd that a little bat was flying around during the day. (No, it was not foaming at the mouth, and no, no one was bitten.)

After having our fill and bidding everyone farewell, we piled into two cars, and two of the uncles (he has a very big family and many uncles!), drove us to a nearby castello with amazing views of the sea.


To be continued....

Caked in Fango

Flipping through the pages of the latest Vogue edition, I came across an interesting advertisement for Borghese fango (mud) products. They must be the Italian version of AHAVA.