It's hard to say you're Italian when you don't look Italian. I guess it's the same when you get questioning looks because you look like you just stepped off Scandinavia when you proclaim that you are Asian. But I am used to it. I know that pause perfectly well when I say that I am from Italy. I take it as my cue to explain why I am Italian when I look like I just landed from Asia. I have been here for 17 years (God, has it been that long?), took my oath of allegiance to the Italian flag long before my kids were born and well, started my new roots here. New roots, new country, new life. That was half a lifetime ago. Depending on my mood, I see it as a plus or a minus as to how I should approach myself. My husband reminds me that having two cultures inside me gives me a wider stance on different aspects of life.
07 February 2016
04 February 2016
There were times when I could spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking elaborate meals but it's becoming past tense. I don't have that luxury of dawdling over a single dish anymore. Instead, I approach the kitchen like a flash most of the time. I have two growing kids and I cannot permit myself to do that all the time. My solution is to go for quicker and simpler dishes that don't sacrifice in nutrients nor flavors because if I make something healthy that doesn't attract them, my effort will just go down the drain. So I spend time concocting one-pot meals. The kind of dish that just needs to be put together in one pot at the beginning, maybe a little bit of sautèing to take out the flavors of the ingredients then left alone to cook without so much attention. Just like how slow cookers would cook, only faster and tastier because in regular pots, the liquids can evaporate and the flavors intensify as the ingredients combine with each other with the heat.
02 February 2016
For the past couple of days, Rome has been sunny and almost spring-like. Almost. At least when the sun is at its peak in the middle of the day before the temperature drops again late in the afternoon. I actually see some white wild daisies coming out in the garden and I think nature is as confused as I am because it is way too early for them to be out. But that's how it goes nowadays - erratic weather patterns, climate changes and strange temperatures. For now that it is strangely warm, I will use my imagination through a cocktail I love with all the delicious tropical flavors. With one sip, I can be easily transport me to a faraway island where blue waters sparkle, coconut trees swaying with the sea breeze and white sand covering my toes.
01 February 2016
I can have this all the time. Browned potato wedges that are crispy outside and tender inside, toasted garlic croutons, eggs and sautèed chorizo giving off its spectacular paprika flavor to the whole skillet. Dang! I wish I can have it again. And again. Saying that I love chorizo is an understatement because I am crazy about it. When I went to Spain a couple of weeks ago, guess what I had in my luggage? I brought home enough chorizo to supply me well for a long time.
Most of the time, a name has a meaning or story attached to it and it is interesting to know how it came about. Orbelia, meaning beautiful White Mountain, has a lyrical side to it, for the young winery rests at the foot of the Belasitsa Mountain with the snow peaks showing its beauty to anyone gazing from under and to boot, there were clumps of crocuses growing in the area when we arrived. The vines growing in perfectly-lined rows with the mountain range surrounding them is picture perfect.
31 January 2016
After enjoying Nutella liqueur (Nutellino) on the rocks and in shot glasses, you won't settle on getting limited to them. There is a whole world of other cocktails that you can easily create with your bottle of Homemade Nutella Liqueur (Nutellino) chilling in the refrigerator. By using what you probably already have in your cupboards, you can make different kinds of luscious Nutella cocktails without taking as much effort and time. With Irish whiskey, you can create that pleasant oak flavor, a little bit of Amaretto liqueur creates a lovely almond hint plus some espresso, Oreo cookies, marshmallows, cinnamon and yes, whipped cream to top them with. Get ready for a blast with Nutella cocktails!
29 January 2016
There's no other hamburguesa or hamburger place like El Filete Ruso (and La Burg, another hamburguesa owned by the same owners) where you can get food with high quality standard because when you think of burgers, you just think of a quick meal with meat, some vegetables and condiments sandwiched in between the buns. You eat and go. At El Filete Ruso you can get gourmet burgers (and then some) that uses quality ingredients that embrace the philosophy of the Slow Food Movement and Kilometer Zero.
28 January 2016
Also known as tisane, herbal tea is a beverage made from the infusion of spices, herbs or non-toxic plants (leaves, rind, etc.) in hot water. Going back to the ancient times in Greece and China, it has a medicinal value but it is enjoyed nowadays for its flavors. It can be served hot or cold and it usually doesn't contain caffeine. Do not confuse it with tea because tea uses cured leaves of tea plant Camellia Sinensis. There is a wide variety of plants that can be used for herbal teas but one thing that we have to watch out for is that some can have different effects from one person to another. Pregnant women are not advised to drink any. Also, a relatively safe plant can give harmful effects if taken in large doses. So do check first before you start infusing anything. Wikipedia has valuable information about this topic.
27 January 2016
Involtini, roll-ups, pinwheels - they come in different names but there's only one thing that makes us love them. They are delicious! If you have any thinly-sliced flat ingredients like aubergines, zucchini, ham, fish or any kind of meat, spread anything on it then roll. Fry, bake or sautè them then smother them with sauce. Flavors depend on the ingredients that you choose of course and when you choose well, you will hit the jackpot.
26 January 2016
I didn't choose to be a food photographer. It chose me. I just remember getting my beginner DSLR five years ago and take pictures of the artsy dishes I was preparing for my picky eating 5-year old son then my photography progressed to the dishes that I was preparing for my whole family. My friends asked for more pictures and with what zero knowledge I had about food photography, I embarked on an adventure to the blogosphere with just one thing on my back. Passion.
25 January 2016
Bulgaria is in the southeast of Europe, sandwiched between Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Romania and Serbia with a good portion of it facing the Black Sea. They've got everything, from the mountains to the seas. It's an amazing country that's rich in history and culture. It goes all the way back from the Neolithic period to the Thracians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and the Soviet Union. And from the 20th-century, it has been free and taking out its wings. It's one of the newest members of the EU and it is rapidly developing into another European destination to get acquainted to.
23 January 2016
Zlaten Rozhen, a winery, hotel and restaurant built in 2012, is tucked in the small village of Rozhen Village. It is our Press Group's fifth winery in Bulgaria (fourth in the Struma River Valley viticultural region). After a visit to Villa Melnik Winery and Orbelus Winery, we arrived at Zlaten Rozhen for wine tasting, dinner and a night's accommodation at their typical Bulgarian rooms.
21 January 2016
Just a few minutes away from Villa Melnik Winery, in the village of Kromidovo is Orbelus Winery. We made our way to Orbelus in the darkening sky with a beautiful yellow full moon guiding us. As soon as we approached the winery, we were all mesmerized by its peculiar shape. Right in the middle of a stretch of green hills popped out the winery shaped like a colossal barrel half-buried in the soil. It was an unexpected but aptly shaped architecture. Orbelus Winery will easily strike your memory because there is no other winery shaped like it.
20 January 2016
Nutella is the magic word for the lovers of this sweet hazelnut spread. Popularity wise, it beats so many kinds of food. People just can't deny themselves the happiness of licking the spoon after dipping it in the jar and that also includes my daughter who considers the spoon dipping the grand finalè (and the best part) of her Nutella breakfasts and snacks. Like most kitchens, I also have a jar in the kitchen cupboard waiting for the Nutella lovers in the house to dig in.
13 January 2016
When you are looking for the crunch of french fries but you don't want to deal with the load of unwanted calories, worry not because I have the perfect solution for that craving. Do you like asparagus? If you do, then we are on the right track. These asparagus fries are incredibly addictive just like their potato cousin but the good news is that you can have as much as you want (without looking at the price tag so much) and stay healthy. I am not kidding, there are healthy fries after all.
09 January 2016
Right on cue, the rain poured down in torrents as my husband and I parked the car in Testaccio. We were not prepared for it as the morning had been sunny and beautiful. Looking up, there was a big mass of an angry black cloud looming on top of us. This will take a while so I settled comfortably in the car and prepared to speak about the rione or district of Testaccio known as the old slaughterhouse of Rome. Interestingly, the Testaccio Hill is also known as Monte dei Cocci because it is artificially made with a mountainous pile of broken clay vessels or amphorae because during the Roman times, it was an important venue of trading in the Tiber River. Whereas in modern age, it was a working class neighborhood that gave in to gentrification and became the hip and dynamic area for mushrooming chic restaurants and bars. In summer, you live it outdoors and enjoy the vibrant music scene while sipping on drinks.
08 January 2016
When you want a winning bowl of salad full of nutrients, then this is the one. Put together butternut squash, cranberries, quinoa, walnuts, basil and extra virgin olive oil, the vitamins and minerals you are getting are sky-high. Between the quinoa, butternut squash and the cranberries, the trio make a potent combination of an extremely nutrient-rich salad. Quinoa fills up the salad with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acid, manganese, copper and a lot more nutrients while the butternut squash provides vitamin C, fibers, potassium and the cranberries contain proanthocyanidins that help prevent urinary tract infections.
07 January 2016
It's been gray, wet and cold since the day after New Year. Once or twice the sun showed itself but for just a mere fraction of time. Like everyone, the weather affects my moods. I can't help feeling low after looking out the window and gaze at the somber sky. How I look forward for that beautiful blue sky to come out again and feel its heat when I walk outside. Knock on my window when it's time to draw the curtains again and enjoy the view. For the meantime, I am hibernating indoors in the warmth of the house with my two antsy kids and dog waiting for the sun to shine again.
04 January 2016
Relax, looking at it won't make you fat. It doesn't have the power to transfer unwanted calories through the screen. But hey, guess what? It's not as fattening as you think because even if it looks so good and the name is Blueberry Cheesecake Oatmeal, I used the ingredients that are actually good and healthy as possible. There are fresh blueberries, shaved almonds, oatmeal, mint (for garnish and for additional taste), cream cheese (you can use low-fat), graham cookies and blueberry jam (use sugar-free or better yet, make your own like what I do).
It's officially 2016, exactly 4 days after the eve we all celebrated with an unimaginable amount of food and sparkling wines. And I am thinking that it is not only that because prior to Christmas, we have all been eating much more than we should have. Right? I know that I am guilty of overeating the past days and one of my resolutions was that as soon as I wake up on the first day of 2016, I would make that weighing scale lose a few kilos.
03 January 2016
Mediterranean, that's what got me going in this amazing tofu recipe. When going meatless on Mondays at She Knows, it is always a pleasure to be able to put together something for vegetarians and vegans.Vegetarian dishes are always healthy and fat-free (or low-fat) that make our bodies grateful for the natural nutrients that we get from the vegetables. Tofu is low in calories and high in protein making it a very important part of a vegetarian and vegan's diet in replacing meat.
Villa Melnik is not just a winery that makes good Bulgarian wines. It is not just another wine bottle that you open, pour in a glass and enjoy. It has something unique that makes every single drop special because behind that bottle is sheer dedication by the winemakers Nikola Zikatanov, his wife Lyubka and daughter Militza in making that wine an excellent expression of the Bulgarian terroir, in the Struma River Valley (Southwest Bulgaria).
21 December 2015
What strikes me most about this cocktail is the aroma that emanates from the combination of ingredients. It smells beautiful, fresh and healthy. With vanilla, pears, clementines and fresh thyme (if you are able to get a few sprigs), you are in for a festive cocktail that's almost as fresh as summer with winter ingredients. Adjust the amount of rum according to the strength you want. The quantity I put in the recipe is not too strong because this kind of cocktail is great during the day, maybe while waiting for lunch to be ready, something that is enjoyable that does not give a strong kick.
19 December 2015
It's that period again when everyone is stuck in traffic jams, the commercial centers are crawling with Christmas shoppers, there are the kids' recitals to attend, parties here and there, haircuts to be done, food shopping to accomplish and just about anything that has to be done that's squeezed in one single period. Christmas period is festive but behind the festivities is a lot of work (and stress) to deal with. Until now, my family and I are running around meeting appointments and trying to accomplish things we need done. I am also guilty of still not having put up the Christmas tree. I know, we are just seven days shy from the big day. We will have to put it up this weekend. I promise.