Spaghetti alla chitarra

If you have never tried them, you are really missing out!
I found them in my local Co-operative here in London and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I never thought I would have found them in a supermarket here and I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw them laying on the shelf in front of me. It really made my day! ๐Ÿ™‚

Spaghetti alla chitarra

Spaghetti alla chitarra

“It’s just spaghetti!” you may say…but you are wrong! ๐Ÿ™‚
“Spaghetti alla chitarra” are a particular square shaped spaghetti called after the tool that is used to make them: the chitarra (the Italian word for guitar). They have a stronger texture than the normal ones and they usually contains eggs as well.

They are perfect with a “cacio e pepe” sauce (parmesan, pecorino cheese, olive oil and black peppers) or with a fresh tomato and rocket sauce…and of course they have to be al dente!

Something you should not miss: the Fringe Festival!

I just came back from an amazing trip to Edinburgh…I had never been there before and I am glad we picked this part of the year to visit it. I really loved the city (and the way Scottish people pronounce Edinburgh!), but what was even better was the great atmosphere created by the Fringe Festival. It was amazing to see the Royal Mile full of all kind of artists: I enjoyed the biggest part of the performances and I was amazed to see so many talented young people at the same time and in the same place.

If you have never been there, I strongly suggest you to go and to spend at least 3-4 days in the city. You should certainly spend sometime visiting the hot spots of the city, but what you really need to do is going for a walk in the Royal Mile, enjoying the street performances, talk to the artists and get as many fliers as possible and then choose the performances you want to watch.

Trust me, there is something for every taste! Just be open minded and ready to fully jump in the festival extravaganza.

Here there are a few videos to give you an idea of what you should expect:

This guy is one of the very best performers of the whole festival. He’s Adam Kadabra, you can also find him on Facebook:

If you are a fan of Britain Got Talent you will certainly recognize them ๐Ÿ™‚

Still not convinced? Check this out then! ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you to all the athletes and some inspirational pictures

I want to dedicate one post to all the wonderful athletes that in these days are making us dreaming with their spectacular performances.
You represent years and years of hard and constant work and training…you are all an excellent model to follow!

Thank you for those breath taking dives, jumps, runs and much more…I wish the Olympic Games would last longer just to keep watching you.

PS: all the picture in this post have been taken from the web.

Olympic Torch relay and some other interesting facts

Two of the London 2012 Torch Bearers

Two of the London 2012 Torch Bearers

The flame is a symbol of the Olympic Games, whose origins lie in ancient Greece, where a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics.

The flame was reintroduced in the modern Olympics during the 1928 edition held in Amsterdam, and became part of the Olympic traditional symbol ever since. The torch relay was instead introduced in 1936, during the Berlin edition.

According to the tradition, the Torch is ignited several months before the start of the Games in Olympia, the hometown of the ancient Olympics, with a very precise ritual. It is then handled to the hosting city during a ceremony at the Panathinaiko Stadium and then transferred to the hosting country after a short relay in Greece. Once it arrives in the hosting country, it starts the relay which ends the day of the opening ceremony, when it is used to flame the Cauldron. For more information regarding the 2012 route, click here.

The design of the torch changes for each Games (my bad, I have only realized this when the torch bearer walked in front of me and I saw the London 2012 logo!) .

London 2012 Olympic Torch

London 2012 Torch was designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgery, who won the competition organised by the London 2012 Organising Committee and the Design Council.

The triangular shape was inspired by a series of ‘threes’ that are found in the history of the Olympic Games:

  • The three Olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship;
  • The three words that make the Olympic motto โ€“ faster, higher, stronger;
  • The fact that the UK has hosted the Olympic Games in 1908, 1948 and will host them for the third time in 2012; and
  • The vision for the London 2012 Olympic Games to combine three bodies of work โ€“ sport, education and culture.

The torch is then extinguished on the final day of the Games, at the end of the closing ceremony.

Torch Bearer: I was very surprised to learn that in English is called with such an “easy” (and logical, how often happens with English words!) name. In Italian we like to show off and use “difficult” words, so we call it “tedoforo”ย ย taken directly from the Latin/Greek words teda=torch and phero/fero=to carry. T-e-d-o-f-o-r-o: I honestly really like the sound of this word though!

This year I had the chance to assist to the Torch relay and I must admit that was one of the most touching moments ever. It was a strange feeling to finally being able to see with my own eyes something that for all my life I had only seen on TV.
It was just a perfect timing, I came out of the tube and saw the torch bearer holding his torch, and I have immediately realized that he was actually waiting for the other bearer to light the torch and leave for the next part of the relay route.

This is a short video I managed to record with my phone…unfortunately the quality is not the best and it is a bit shaky! It was very hard to record a video among all those people and most of all, standing on my tip toes! I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!


Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland

The Olympics are without any doubt the hot topic of these days…but did you know that there is an Olympic Museum in Lausanne? I personally didn’t until I moved to Switzerland.

If you happen to be around, I strongly suggest you to visit the museum, it is really worth it. Even better if you go there on a Sunday morning as you will also be able to enjoy a tasty brunch in the museum’s restaurant.

The location is really nice and you will fall in love with the great view over the lake and the surrounding mountains.

The museum was founded in 1993 and was an immediate success. Only two years later was in fact named the “European Museum of the Year”. Its success kept growing in the years and still today is one of the main attractions in Lausanne.

It is also extremely important because it is actually the place where the Olympic flame stays alight between editions of the Olympic Games.

The visit will be a beautiful journey in the history of the Olympic Games and you will learn a lot about the most famous athletes and many other secrets about this famous event.

I found it really interesting visiting the exhibition of all the previous Olympic torches (and thinking that the torch I have seen this year during the torch relay is going to be added to that collection is really cool!), but also seeing all those pieces of equipments belonged to former golden medal athletes made me really emotional.

The museum is also surrounded by a beautiful park decorated with lot of sculptures, representing athletes and the different sports.

Ah, the museum is currently being renovated and it will be closed till the end of 2013…bear in mind this date to avoid disappointments!

The Olympic flame

The Olympic flame

One of the sculptures in the garden

One of the sculptures in the garden

A typical Italian lunch!

My intention was to post something about the Olympics, but I am still editing a few videos and pictures, so I decided to use an old picture to let you discover some typical Italian products.

I know…from the Olympics to food…you might have guessed I am not the most sporty person! Although I am really loving the atmosphere in the city! ๐Ÿ™‚

Typical Italian products!

Typical Italian products!

Apologies for the not so stylish table cloth and presentation, but I guess that when I set the table and took the picture, I was not planning to write a blog post about it!

Anyway…let’s talk business!

All these products were bought at the Ferney Voltaire market, a lovely food market at the gates of Geneva, open every Saturday morning until around lunch time.
If you have just moved to Geneva (Switzerland) and you are looking for some nice places to go food shopping, this is definitely the place to go. It is easily reachable by bus from the city centre and it is right across the border with France.
You will be amazed by the huge quantity of fresh vegetables, fruit, fishes, cheese! (Not to mention that it is actually cheaper shopping in near by France rather than in Geneva!).

What’s on the table then?

Mozzarella di bufala (Buffalo Mozzarella): this is typical from the Campania region. It is generally softwer and with a stronger and more intense flavour than the normal mozzarella. It is one of the Italian cheeses, together with Parmigiano and Gorgonzola, the European Union granted the Protected Geographical Status to.

Burrata: is a fresh cheese typical from Puglia region. The main characteristic is a solid mozzarella outer shell, and a creamy mix of mozzarella and cream inside.

Porchetta:ย is a savory pork roast typical from Ariccia, a small town in the province of Rome. It is flavoured with garlic, rosemary, fennel and it is traditionally rosted over wood.

A tip:ย both Mozzarella di bufala and burrata are best if served at room temperature. Porchetta is delicious in a warm panini!

ย 

Sunny Sunday: Brighton!

Having lived in the darkness and rain for about two months, as soon as we read the unbelievable news, we looked at each other and we said: “let’s go to Brighton on the beach!”.
Sun! Eventually the sun was shining!!! Since it is not something that happens often we had to make most of it…and spend the whole day out.

We have immediately booked a train ticket on First Capital Connectย and thanks to a good deal and to the Network Railcard we got a return ticket for about ยฃ6.30 each. Needless to say that this was already an extremely good start! ๐Ÿ™‚

We left from London Bridge on a super crowded train full of people with flip flops, sun glasses and a good smell of sunscreen. In a bit more than a hour we were walking by the sea side looking for a nice spot to sit down and relax.

We first sat right next to the Pier but we had to move pretty soon because of those killers seagulls! ๐Ÿ™‚ A girl sitting next to us was eating her sandwich, when a seagull came and literally stole it from her hands! That’s was scary and I was really loving my lunch to have it stolen by one of those huge birds!

Talking about lunch…I know, it’s not the most appropriate meal to have on the beach, but I was really craving a fish and chips, and I still remembered how good it was the one I had the first time I went to Brighton…so I had to have one! ๐Ÿ™‚
There is a small fish&chips shop right at the beginning of the Pier, on the right side and it sells the best battered cod I have ever had! It’s huge, thick and super crunchy…impossible to resist!

We stayed on the beach till around 4pm, then we went for a nice walk in the city centre and once again I loved every single bit. Those nice narrow streets full of nice shops are so nice, and the sun and all that light made everything even more beautiful.

At around 7.30 we jumped on the train to go back to London and I have fallen asleep as soon as I sat down on the train (as usual!).

Eventually I got some sun tan…I think this is the first time in my life I am so pale in July!

SUN, we love you!

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier

"Brighton Eye"

“Brighton Eye”

my lunch

my lunch

A summer thought: Gelato!

While sitting on the sofa on a rainy (for a change!) summer day, sipping a boiling coffee and craving for a huge ice-cream possibly by the sea, with lot of sun and some light fresh marine breeze…I thought that since I can’t actually have neither of those things, I could at least share a few thoughts with you! ๐Ÿ™‚

First of all…since I have been living abroad, it happened a lot of time listening to people saying: “I prefer gelato over ice-cream”. Mmmh…I don’t want to sound like the typical Italian that turns super picky when it comes to food, but let me clarify one little thing: gelato and ice-cream are the same thing! Ice-cream is the English translation for gelato, not more not less.
I had some people telling me that gelato is more creamy, while ice-cream is more…ice-y? Mmmh, not sure where this misconception comes from, but I assure you that it’s 100% wrong! ๐Ÿ™‚ Gelato and ice-cream have the same texture..because they are the same thing! The less creamy version is called sorbet, and it generally has fruit flavours and contains no diary products.

The history of ice-cream goes back in the centuries: apparently an ice-cream like food was eaten in China back in 618-97AD, and also Roman emperors used to eat something similar made out of snow brought to the cities by slaves and then mixed with fruit.

Well, I think we can all easily understand why it became more and more popular over the centuries: it’s delicious! I have never met anyone who don’t like it…and what about those huge ice-creams eaten for lunch during the hottest summer days?! Yum, I’d better stop day dreaming.

I have eaten a lot (and I mean A LOT) of lovely ice-cream in my life, but I have recently discovered a new shop who makes proper artisanal ice-cream and that immediately became one of my favourite: Grom.

A friend of mine introduced me to the Grom’s world when I visited her a few months ago in Milan, however I found out that it is originally from Turin and there are a few other shops in other cities as well.

The shops have this old fashioned look and as soon as you get in you really expect to get a fantastic ice-cream. What I extremely like is that they only use high quality and seasonal products: in fact beyond the typical and most common flavours you can find a few others that change depending on the season or even month.

…I would be so eager to taste the July’s flavour: Peach sorbet with Colombian chocolate and Amaretti biscuits! YUM!

Anyway, this is how Grom’s ice-cream looks like…I really love the way it is shaped on the cone! ๐Ÿ™‚

Mango, Pistacho and Chocolate ice-cream!

Grom…any plan to open a shop in London?! ๐Ÿ™‚

Android app for graffiti lovers!

So far I have shared with you my passion for food and cooking…today I introduce you my geeky side! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am not a real geek, but I still love technology and partly due to my job I also love mobile phone apps!
I am both an Android and iOS user, I love my HTC (most of this blog’s pics are taken with it) but at the same time I also enjoy exploring the web with my iPad.

Anyway…today I would like to talk to you about a cool Android app I have just recently found: AirPainter.
It’s not a new app, but I still think it’s worth to dedicate a post to it.

Air Painter

An example of air painting!

It’s an Augmented Reality app (if you want to know more about this, you can click here) which allows you to literally paint a message in the air and then let other users read it.

You can have a look at this video to get a better idea of how it works:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBjmtXuorjA&feature=relatedย (unfortunately it’s not in English, but it will still be useful!)

I have already written a few messages around the city…can you find them?

How cool would be to organise a scavenger hunt using this app?

๐Ÿ™‚

Focaccia: mediterranean flavours

What’s the best way to end a busy and super funny weekend?
Easy: bake something tasty and possibly that reminds you of your home country. Olives, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and rosemarine…mmh I love them!

Yesterday evening when I came back home after having watched the Wimbledon final in a local pub, I opened my cupboard and luckily I had all the ingredients I needed…well, almost. I didn’t have any yeast, but hey, one of the things I love about London is that you can find anything anywhere, at any time.

For the dough I used around 600 grams of flour, one sachet of dried yeast, one glass of milk (I found out it makes the dough softer) and a pinch of salt.
First you have to melt the yeast in a glass of warm water (please note that the water should not be too hot or it will destroy the yeast’s effect), when ready pour it over the flour and start mixing. When all the water has been absorbed, pour the milk (better if slightly warm) and keep mixing till you get a smooth and soft dough.

Place it on a baking tray (the same one you are going to use to bake it) and let it rise for about one hour.
Advice: warm up the oven for a few seconds, turn it off and put the dough…this will make the rising process faster!

Once the dough has doubled its size you can start dressing it. I normally put olives, cherry tomatoes, a hint of rosemarine and pepper, and I finish everything with some olive oil.

Bake for about 40 minutes in the oven at 180ยฐC and enjoy it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Mediterranean focaccia!

Mediterranean focaccia!