Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Italian TV

I have stated on more than one occasion that I don't watch a lot of TV, we don't have a DVR at home, and I think if we did the stress of knowing that I needed to watch all of those shows would make me nuts.  Here in Italy, I do turn it on because I get to hear the language, plus it's so entertaining.
What's on, you ask?  For one thing a lot of old US shows, like NCIS, Law and Order, CSI, the Dukes of Hazard (you haven't lived till you have heard Boss Hogg in Italian!) and old movies.  So far, I've seen Madame La Farge knitting in front of the guillotine in A Tale of Two Cities mumbling in Italian, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, and several war movies I don't recognize.

Then there are the Italian Shows, lots of game shows which I don't understand at all, and then there are the shows like Paperissima, which is like the worst of American's Home Videos and if you look closely, most of these are Americani.
And then there are the food shows, the usual contests between two chefs, and then Top Chef Italia, in which one of the judges is Joe Bastianich, and American....go figure.

As I have stated before, I love the Italians, and I love the drama and the musicality of their language.  There are variety shows on, and the usual suspects like "The Voice" or some iteration of that contest, as well.  All in all, it's a lot more entertaining than what we have in the US, and I really don't miss the 24 hour news cycle.  Here they deal with what's for dinner, and don't belabor points that have been made or debunked.  Ironically Silvio Berlusconi, their disgraced Prime Minister still owns the TV here, sort of like Rupert Murdoch.  For now, I wish you a buona giornata. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On the Street Where I Live

A friend asked me to take some photos of where I am living, so I'm going to show you the area that I'm in, the apt. isn't ready for photos just yet. Every morning I climb these stairs to my terrace, and have coffee.

This is the view

My apartment is the bell tower of an old convent, and this is the cloister, which I have access to as well

These are the stairs leaving from the front of the house

Turning left out of the house, I head up the hill.  There is a small restaurant across the way from the apartment, but I haven't been there.

A few of the alleyways on my way to the top

This is the piazza in the center of Spello---somehow I flipped a switch and got black and white---very Godfather-like

The piazza is the heart of the town, and people hang out on the benches, and watch the world go by

Spello is medieval, and at night if there were torches in the lights you would believe that the Huns were ready to ride up the hill.  Beautiful in the day time and at night, I love it here anytime.  The internet here is very slow, so uploading photos takes forever...I'm posting more on my Facebook professional page, so check me out over there as well.  Buona notte!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Saturday in Assisi

After several days of soaking rain, yesterday dawned with bright blue skies, dotted with beautiful cloud formations.  I hadn't been to Assisi, and wanted to see my friend Franca, who owns the restaurant, La Fontanella,.  Assisi can seem like Disneyland some days, with hordes of tourists shoved into the town from 40+ passenger diesel spewing buses, but Saturday seemed quite calm, as you can see from the photos. 
Santa Chiara

As I walked the narrow streets approaching Franca's restaurant, I saw this.....

Such a beautiful day for a wedding, and the look on their faces was pure bliss

 there were at least 5 photographers with varying amounts of equipment running down the street trying to catch the one great shot
They turned up the alleyway, and I was on my way to La Fontanella once again.

Franca's Secret Garden
Although the view from here is spectacular, it's the food that is the prize

Franca forages for wild mushrooms in the hills above Assisi and Spello, and turns them into dishes that are superb, you can taste the earthy flavors accented with hints of grassy olive oil; something to be savored. 
Franca calls this dish, pasta al tartufo di povera, or pasta with truffles of the poor.  Truffles are prized here in Umbria, but very expensive.  After picking the mushrooms, she chops them finely, into a duxelle, and sautes with a bit of garlic, rosemary, and olive oil to bring out the flavor.  She preserves the just picked flavor by cooking them as soon as she gets back to the restaurant.  This dish was so delicious, and I used bread to spread the leftover sauce on, it was heaven!

Although any normal person would have stopped there, I of course had to have another course, and I got a bit of delicious Chiannina beef with salad.  I couldn't finish all the beef, but Franca's new dog Argo helped me out. 
It is such a joy to spend time here, Franca's beautiful garden, the food rivals the surroundings, and having a friend here makes my life so much richer. 

Grazie Franca, for the beautiful time in your garden! 
As I drove home to Spello I saw 5 para-gliders that had taken off from Mt. Subasio; just another day in Umbria.  Buona Sera!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Ten days ago, I left New York for Rome.  I've been in my beautiful apartment here in Spello for a week, and love this new place.  I have a beautiful terrace, and can look out onto the valley below --- across the way I can see the hills towards Montefalco, Trevi and the city of Foligno.  Directly behind the apartment is Mt. Subasio, the mountain that St. Francis roamed during his time here.  It is peaceful, and calm here, and I'm enjoying a respite from 24 hours news, internet, and cell phones.

Mt. Subasio from the terrace

Full moon, at dusk
Fortress in the back yard
The building in the foreground is the frantoio where the DOP olive oil is processed


At Enoteca Properzio

Truffle lasagna

The food and the company here are superb;  truffles that was dropped off at Enoteca Properzio it was made into an amazing truffle lasagna for a special dinner served with superb wines.  I have company coming tonight for a few days, so I'll be back after our adventures.  Until then, Ciao!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Excellent Adventure

Dr. C. and I are in Tulsa visiting my brother and his family.  They wanted us to have the true Tulsa experience, and I'm up for BBQ anytime, so we headed to Burn BBQ.  Up until about 6 months ago, this was a tiny place in another part of town, now it's a huge place, with communal tables and some of the best BBQ you will eat on the planet.  The special side today was creamy cheesy corn with bacon, and as we all know everything tastes better with bacon, and corn is a match made in culinary heaven with bacon!
This is the menu; short and sweet, and the "happy plate" is a mix of almost everything. 
Obviously this one is to share; or maybe not! 

There is some amazing food coming out of this small kitchen, and the ribs were dry rubbed, and appropriately smokey. 

Diners line up and order, then they yell your name when your order is ready--trust me, you are so happy to get these plates, it doesn't matter who you are sitting with.  While waiting in line you might be lucky enough to get a free sample--we got a rib each, and that settled my choice of lunch item. 

There is also a meat market here, and the products looked awesome.  I'm not so sure about the "fatty burger"  but  I have to say anything pork that is wrapped in bacon has to a be a star.
Donald was nice enough to let me take photos.  Thanks D!

Dr. C. far right, my niece Megan and SIL Ann
The chicken
Pulled pork and slaw

Ribs and the cheesy corn and slaw

that is a fatty burger in the forefront---through the fuzziness--not really facile with the cell phone for taking photos

At the end of our meal, after we'd tucked the leftovers into foil and paper bags that they provide, I took a few more photos.  Thanks Burn BBQ for a great Tulsa experience.  You all rock!  I told my sister-in-law that I'd have driven 50 miles out of the way just to do this!