Forty kilometers north of Perugia and half the distance from the town of Umbertide, lies a beautiful small fortified medieval village called Montone. The quiet walled town is surrounded by oak and olive trees and a touch of Umbrian greenery. Stepping inside the walls is like a walk in the past as you maneuver your way through the narrow cobblestone roads in between the buildings of another era. The medieval atmosphere is an extraordinary feeling that this little town gives to every visitor who walks in.
24 August 2016
21 August 2016
If there is only one fruit flavor that I can choose, I would say lemon without batting an eye. It's a simple classic flavor that always pleases my taste buds, refreshes my mouth and reminds me wholly how summery it is. True, lemons are considered as summer fruit but actually they grow all-year-round. If not for the big old lemon tree that was outside my bedroom window years ago, I would have thought that lemons only fruit in the warm months. So consider this recipe perfect for any season and the ideal time to make it is when you get the craving for a good cup of lemon sorbet. And the best news is, you can also make it without an ice cream maker.
17 August 2016
After a lingering goodbye and a final long look at the spectacular view of the Umbrian hills and our hotel, I entered the car reluctantly with my kids and husband. It had been one of the best stays we had. My youngest daughter spoke out loud what was going on in our minds, Siamo stati così bene in questo albergo! (We stayed so well in this hotel!). It's so true and I would like to share with you this little gem in a quiet corner in the hills of Umbria.
14 August 2016
A trip to Cantina Todini cannot stop at the wine tasting in the winery because a few hundred meters from it is one of the most beautifully located restaurants in Todi. Up on the hills of Collevalenza in a 13th century manor house lies Relais Todini, a five-star hotel and inside it is L'Altro Relais Ristorante, a restaurant overlooking a magnificent view of the vineyards of Todini and the hotel's swimming pool. The restaurant is being run by Chef John Paterson, a Scottish chef who transferred to Umbria many years ago and planted his roots there.
12 August 2016
Isn't it about time you stop making trips to the neighborhood Asian restaurant for takeout and make your own Asian dinner at home? In less than half an hour, I can assure you, you will have a Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry like this on your table ready for dinner. And that includes the rice too! It's packed with protein from the lean chicken and different kinds of nutrients especially vitamins C and K from the broccoli florets. And when you eat it with rice (like most Asian dishes anyway), you add a good amount of carbs in your diet too. And the most important thing? You can say that you cooked it yourself with the ingredients you chose. Now is the best time to take control of what ends up on your table with really simple food that's good for your health.
11 August 2016
My refusal to cook dishes that require long processes of cooking in summer is met my questioning looks by my small daughter. When I tell her that it's too hot to stay in front of the stove and oven, comprehension registers in her face because she feels the heat herself but the child in her wants to complain anyway. With grilled corn on the cob as one of her favorite food (which she loves getting at the beach), we arrive at a compromise. She can have the corn on the cob at home if she will eat it boiled instead of grilled, then I can face the heat of the stove for her. Fortunately, she likes it boiled too.
10 August 2016
No wall separates Spain and Italy at Marzapane Ristorante that's for sure. Instead, the synergy of both cuisines creates something more enthralling in the hands of their young and talented Spanish chef. Bagging the title of Gambero Rosso's Emerging Chef of 2014, Chef Alba Esteve Ruiz shines her way around the kitchen sprinkling distinctive flavors from her native country to her Italian dishes. She comes up with the most interesting flavors that captivates your taste buds. Spanish and Italian are two of the best cuisines in the world without a doubt, and to be able to utilize them both well in harmonious proportions means Chef Alba really excels in the kitchen where she continues to compel us with her dishes in her own fascinating world at Marzapane Ristorante.
09 August 2016
After coming from the fishmonger and I have four medium (one for each of us) orate or gilt-head sea bream stashed in my thermal bag, this is the first dish that I can think of preparing. I make two versions of this fish dish, both easy and using the same ingredients. One is cooked on the stove in a saucepan while this one is oven-roasted. You can change the kind of fish freely but small to medium whole white fish is the best option over filleted ones for more flavor.
07 August 2016
|Ombrina Marinata al Forno con Purè di Patata Viola, Germogli di Verdure del Baldo, Croccante di Riso e Gocce di Campari (Baked Marinated Shi Drum with Mashed Violet Potatoes, Shoots of Vegetables from Mount Baldo, Crispy Rice and Campari Drops)|
If you like small ancient towns by the lake like Malcesine, then let me just tell you that you are not alone because apart from the throngs of tourists I walked along the streets with, there are also hundreds of foreign couples who programmed their weddings in the same place this summer. In fact, just for a few hours that I was there, two weddings were taking place one after the other. Indeed, Malcesine is one of the most enchanting towns in Lake Garda (Lago di Garda in Italian).
04 August 2016
While the summer heat pervades the whole house, the kitchen doesn't look as inviting as it was when the weather was a bit cooler. August is usually the month when I would leave my oven to rest until September again. Salads take a major part of our summer diet with lots of water or ice cold drinks. Fresh light plates with seasonal vegetables are easier to digest and much better this hot season. And I guess like you, we are all in constant search for a delicious salad mixture to keep the flavors diverse for the whole hot season.
03 August 2016
In every visit to Italy, there is always the desire to taste the food and the wine between sightseeing but with limited time, any traveler would just have to give up a few of the things in his bucket list. That usually means, you go back home with a void in your gastronomic experience of this incredible country. It takes a lot of time to discover Italy from top to bottom because every region, even towns just kilometers apart have something uniquely theirs that has to be appreciated. If you cannot physically hop from place to place then Bolla su Bolla has the perfect solution for you because the best of Italy are housed in one place.
30 July 2016
Italian restaurants often give you visual access to the kitchen through a window from the dining area. It breaks the barrier that confines the kitchen staff and the diners to two separate spheres. It breathes more friendliness to the atmosphere and direct connection between guests and chefs. Upon entry to Ristorante Livello 1, the first thing that you will notice is the complete visibility of the kitchen from the dining area. With a minimally designed glass wall, you can witness all the movements that go on in the kitchen and if you position yourself right next to the glass wall, you can even learn a thing or two about cooking. It's a unique kind of view that you can't get everywhere.
26 July 2016
The sun was succeeding in boiling me while I was walking around the premises of EXPO last summer. When I finally found a shaded area devoid of crowds with casually placed chairs and tables on the side of a pavilion, I almost made a lunge towards it. I had about a quarter of an hour to relax my tired feet and to gain back some energy. When I finally gained enough consciousness to look around, there were smiling faces looking at me and they were speaking in an odd language to me. When they understood that I was clueless about what they were saying, they switched to English. They wanted to know if I was a journalist, pointing towards the colossal ID that was hanging around my neck. It said Media. I told them that I was a food - travel writer and I also create recipes and I was there to visit a couple of pavilions that were hosting a group of us to get to know their cuisines. That got the excitement going. They wanted me to know more about the food in their country. Indonesia.
24 July 2016
Four pairs of well-worn dusty hiking boots, backpacks with the essentials and the grandest enthusiasm to explore the Dolomite mountains were all packed in our car along with the other luggage we had been lugging around for our 2-week holiday. Our 15-day summer trip was coming to a conclusion and we decided that a week in the Dolomites would have to be the grand finale before we headed back to Rome. The Alto Adige (or Südtirol in German and South Tyrol in English) side of the Dolomite mountains has always been our summer destination for so many years but for this year, we took a different turn in the Italian alps and headed to a part that we never set our boots on. Our destination was the town of Madonna di Campiglio in the Trentino side of the Dolomites.
22 July 2016
In Italy, landscapes can mesmerize anyone passing through the boot-shaped country from north until the southern tip. Different regions have different charming sceneries. Driving through the less trodden roads of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, you are rewarded with a scenic view of the countryside and as you reach the DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli area , it becomes more picturesque. It is like going through a travel picture you happen to see in a travel guide. Being an important wine area, the view is a patchwork of different shades of green draped softly on hills. Straight rows of vines and manicured grass on soft hills with a light gray road curving its way in the middle of the patchworks. While the sky remains bright blue, I can't convey in stronger words how beautiful the view is. At a certain point, almost close to the border of Slovenia, I had to ask my husband to stop the car on the side of the road and enjoy the panorama 360 degrees around us. That is Colli Orientali del Friuli.
21 July 2016
Baby squid is not often present in the fishmongers' display of seafood. When I chance upon them, I always get some to sautè. Sometimes, I serve it with steamed rice when I cook it the Filipino way (adobong pusit) or sometimes with a vegetable side dish or even better, as topping of the bruschetta. Whatever way I go for, it is always a great dish, an accomplishment to the taste buds What I am sharing with you here is a very simple way to enjoy the baby squid - sautèeing them in extra virgin olive oil then tossing them with tomatoes, olives and capers. The flavors point towards the Italian palate and I can assure you, every bite is a challenge not to eat more and more.
20 July 2016
One of the things that makes summers great is that I am more driven to cook more seafood dishes than ever. It just seems so natural with the beach just five minutes away from the house and the heat asks for white wine that pairs perfectly with seafood. They don't need so much time to cook plus it's possible to put different kinds in one pot. There's nothing wrong with mixing the clams, mussels, shrimp, langoustines, fish, squid, and so much more in one cooking. In fact, the more varieties there are, then the better the flavors are.
18 July 2016
Rome is the eternal city with ancient history and culture painted on every road you walk on and every stone that you see. It's traversing through one of the greatest civilizations that ever existed. But experiencing the city can also be extended outside the confines of the city walls where clear waters ripple and fine sand can make any Roman holiday more special. Head to one of the beach towns where modern Romans go to on beautiful sunny days. Lido di Ostia is in the district of Rome on the Tyrrhenian Sea where you can find nice beaches and good seafood.
15 July 2016
For a kid with a distant relationship with vegetables, I always made an exception with talbos ng camote or sweet potato leaves (also called camote tops). That salad plate you see above gives me such fond memories of my childhood that by just looking at it, I get so nostalgic. How fun it had been for me gathering the leaves myself in our neighbor's big garden while searching for ladybugs to play with. Sometimes, I would also be handed a piece of sugarcane to munch on before crossing the road back home. It was a playground and a candy shop in the middle of nature. Maybe that was the main reason why I loved this salad in the first place - because I used to gather the salad myself and it was my first independence of "food shopping" that my mom entrusted me with.
12 July 2016
The beach calls when summer hits the calendar. It's that moment when we finish all the necessary things, call it quits for a few days, pack up and go. Well, realistically, it's not really that fast and easy because endless hours of browsing and planning our itinerary was the main part of the "behind the scenes" plus looking for the right hotels - which is another long process. You see, I like them perfectly clean, beautiful, small and have characteristics that stand out.
10 July 2016
With fifty years of solid culinary backbone, Ristorante Mildas of Mirko Pizzini and family has become a gourmet icon in the area of Madonna di Campiglio. Initially situated in Pinzolo, then to its neighboring town Madonna di Campiglio and finally, to the edge of Pinzolo, in a small village called Giustino, Mildas found a beautiful location in a monastery that dates back from 1300. The restaurant has three dining areas, with the old crypt functioning as the main hall. It is a room with four circular columns and Gothic ceiling. The wooden tables are lined against the walls where seating arrangements can mean sharing of tables (which is a common practice in the mountains anyway).
07 July 2016
When I think of Ravenna, I think of the eight amazing monuments inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List. The monuments are a selection of early Christian baptistries, basilicas and mausoleums that are scattered about in the ancient city. With a good map from the tourist office and comfortable shoes, going around the city and seeing them for yourself is an incredible experience. But what the city offers does not end there because Ravenna also has a number of good restaurants. So after a day of historical and cultural discovery, book a table at one of the city's best, Osteria del Tempo Perso, and discover another side of Ravenna.
Schnitzel is Austria's pan fried thinly pounded slice of breaded meat. The original meat used is veal and it is called wiener schnitzel. It may not seem so exciting but you will love it immediately after one bite because it is so tender and tasty. Kids love it and it is very easy to make so it is a great idea for weeknight dinners. You can tenderize the meat and coat it with the breadcrumbs ahead if you want to save time then just fry it when it's time for dinner.
06 July 2016
I just need four main ingredients, one pot and about 40 minutes to make this breakfast for dinner meal. It's a very easy recipe and everyone loves it. No buts from the kids, not even from the adults. It's not really the healthiest dinner that can land on your table but once in a while, it's good to take that plunge into the delicious world of simple food. I do use the chicken sausages instead of pork for leaner meat and extra virgin olive oil for sautèing so those should make things a bit better.
05 July 2016
My stop in Ljubljana had been short but enough for me to gather some great first impressions. I didn't expect it to be so charming and so busy on a weekday. The old town was a lovely walk where outdoor cafès, restaurants and shops housed in colorful Baroque and Vienna Secession style buildings line up the squares. Being just a short transit from Bled to Rabac, Croatia by car, I only had the time to see the Ljubljana Castle overlooking the city and through the city center before my family and I settled into another Slovene highlight at the JB Restaurant of Chef Janez Bratovž.
02 July 2016
Slovenia, such a small country yet so extensive in natural beauty. Starting with its lakes, towns, mountains, caves, vineyards then traversing on to another corner which is an equally enticing aspect of this amazing country - gastronomy. I am a beginner with Slovene cuisine and after a little bit of research, I found out that it has Alpine, Pannonian, and Mediterranean influences and because of its position that is bordered by Italy, Croatia, Austria, and Hungary, the flavors that it has adopted can take you to a colorful aromatic trip to a beautiful cuisine.
30 June 2016
Gone are the days when Italian beer ranks a comfortable low spot in the drink scene over wine. Italian commercial beers are good but they're not likely to pull so much interest on the dining table. In my house, cold bottles of commercial beer only come out when there are round pizzas on the table. Moving forward, things shifted in the beer world. Italian craft beer is becoming big and is still growing. With nearly 600 breweries brewing different blends, beer received a new acclamation from both beer enthusiasts and curious drinkers. Stray away from your usual drinks, pull a chair and let's discover 32 Via dei Birrai's eight different kinds of beer together.
21 June 2016
I'm sill here! It's been a couple of weeks since I've last written a blog post. It's for a very good reason because I am on a holiday with my family. I have been going around Slovenia, Croatia and some northern parts of Italy for the past days and I am currently on my last leg at the Dolomite mountains until next week. After working endlessly in my blog for five years, I decided to dedicate a little bit of time for my family and that means to lessen my blogging time for a few days. However, with this trip, I have collected a lot of topics to write about. New places to speak about and new experiences. If you have been following me in my social network accounts, especially Facebook, you will see what I had been seeing. But for now, I chose this simple fruity cocktail to share with you because the right season calls for it.
06 June 2016
I'm going to Rome. For a first timer, it gives the exulting emotion that only that phrase can give to an excited traveler. Rome, being the capital of Italy, epitomizes an ancient city with preserved monuments dating back thousands of years ago, important history, art, fashion, Vatican City, excellent gastronomy that's incredibly popular globally and so many things more. In spite of all the great things that Rome has, there is one simple thing that is foremost in every visitor's Roman bucket list. Gelato. After all, a tired tourist has to eat too and in the warm months, a big cone of gelato is the best thing anyone can have in the Eternal City.
A long weekend with the kids just went by. With a national holiday falling on a Thursday, Friday was also declared a no-school day. The second of June was Italy's Festa della Repubblica (Republic day), a national holiday that commemorates the day the country voted for a republic that made the Italian monarchy fall. It's a big event in Rome where a grand military parade is held along Via dei Fori Imperiali (the road between the Colosseo and Piazza Venezia). It's an event that I have always wanted to see in person but with the big crowds and two kids to take around, just watching it in the television is the smartest thing to do. It's the best seat in the house anyway especially when you have something chocolatey to munch on.