Archive for February, 2009

Patron Saint of Singles: San Faustino

Valentine's Day cookies by Kitchen Wench on FlickrAh, Valentine’s Day. As if you could escape knowledge of *that* little celebration in the middle of February, thankyouverymuch Hallmark et al.

Am I bah humbugging the day of San Valentino?

Well, maybe just a bit.

You *know* I’m all about the love (and, by the way, if you want to know why the heart symbolizes love, go here), but the commercialization of the holiday really irks me. I’m part of a couple now, but except for the past three Valentine’s Days, I wasn’t, and I remember those other 20-some February 14ths very well.

Sure, I always made it a point to celebrate and appreciate *all* kinds of love in my life on Valentine’s Day (and I hope you do too!), but every now and again, some of the commercialism of the holiday would seep into my subconscious, and I’d just want someone to buy me chocolates dammit.

Ahem.

So I’m here to tell you what you singles can do this Valentine’s Day:

First of all, go buy your own chocolates. They really do taste just as good.

San FaustinoThen save up your partying for February 15ththe feast day of San Faustino.

Several years ago, a group of Italian singles decided it was time to celebrate singles–and also to address issues that adversely affect singles from paying higher taxes to difficulties adopting children.

So they chose the day after Saint Valentine’s Day, the feast day of San Faustino, to celebrate single life.

Indeed, if you happen to be in Italy, be sure to check out VitadaSingle.net for what’s happening on February 15th near you; and if you can read Italian, at SanFaustino.info, you can find books, movies, music, recipes, and more–all for singles!

As for P and me this Valentine’s Day?

We’ll be having a quiet evening at home making homemade pizza. Plenty romantic for me even though I know some onions are going to be on those pizzas….

Will you celebrate San Faustino’s Day?


Love Thursday: Lovers’ Island

Thanks to faithful reader, Gil, here is a spectacular photo of what has been dubbed “Lovers’ Island” off the coast of Croatia:

Lovers' Island

Its amazing heart shape was discovered by viewers of Google Earth; even owner Vlado Juresko hadn’t realized before that his uninhabited island was such a perfect heart until people started requesting to stay there.

Speaking of romantic locations, if you’re looking for a nice spot to celebrate Valentine’s Day or any day, do check out two articles I recently published with the BootsnAll Travel Network:

Five Great Valentine’s Day Getaways in the USA

Six Romantic Getaways Around the World

(And feel free to give them thumbs-up, Stumble love, etc.).

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

Do you play around with Google Earth?


What’s Cooking Wednesday: Steak and Porcini Mushrooms

Home of What's Cooking WednesdayI’ve always loved the combination of steak and mushrooms. It’s so hearty and the flavors just marry so well, don’t they?

This week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday is a very simple, delicious dish that can easily be served over rice or even with pasta (we’ll serve pasta with anything here), but we tend to eat it as a main course with fresh bread.

Steak and Porcini Mushrooms

Steak and 'shrooms on Flickr

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 4 thin steaks, cut into strips or bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small package (20 grams) of dried porcini mushrooms
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt to taste

1. Reconstitute mushrooms by placing in water for about a half hour. Drain and save liquid just in case you need it again.

2. Heat olive oil and then add onions and garlic, sauteeing until onions are translucent. Don’t let garlic brown.

3. Add steak and cook until just brown, about 2-3 minutes.

4. Add mushrooms and parsley and cook for another 2 minutes or so. If things look to dry, add just a bit of the mushroom liquid or even white wine, but the mushrooms usually provide enough moisture as they release their juices. Be sure to adjust for salt.

5. Serve hot with fresh bread or over rice or pasta.

Buon appetito!


Hurricanes and Mudslides in Calabria

Quite a few people have asked me how Calabria has been affected by the nasty weather that’s hit southern Italy recently, so I thought I’d write about it here.

In case you don’t know, we’ve had a truly devastating amount of rain and hurricane-strength winds (in fact, we *did* have an uragano here a few weeks ago). The older villagers tell me that they haven’t seen this much rain since the big flood in the 1950s, which, incidentally, washed a group of houses off the mountain.

Well, although the rain is a pain when it’s time to take the girls for a walk, I, personally, have been rather lucky and haven’t had damage other than a snapped phone line.

The main road up to the village? Not so much:

Storm damage in Calabria on Flickr

This was a few weeks ago. That part was cleaned up rather quickly, but other sections of the road are cordoned off because some of the sides have simply fallen off. But our travel to and from the village hasn’t been stopped at all, so I have to give props to the local government for staying on top of the damage.

Have you been having crazy weather where you are?


World Nutella Day 2009: Round-Up

***Be sure to check out NutellaDay.com for the most up-to-date info!***

Thanks to all of you, we had another truly fabulous turnout for World Nutella Day 2009!

With entries in Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English, this year’s holiday was more international than ever–a *true* World Nutella Day!

World Nutella Day 2009!

Be sure to check out the other half of the round-up at Sara’s Ms Adventures in Italy, and please feel free to bookmark, Stumble, Digg, Delicious, etc., this post for future reference. Remember that you can see Nutella recipes from past World Nutella Days at NutellaDay.com.

But for now, grab a jar of Nutella and a spoon, and dig in:

Every day is Nutella Day!Let’s start off with MsGourmet of the Gourmet Worrier, who lets us know that Nutella Day is Everyday. She makes an excellent point, doesn’t she? And for you parents out there, MsGourmet also tells us about the magical persuasive powers of our favorite chocolatey hazelnut treat.

Two-Nut Butter CookiesFeeling nutty? Feeling, um, buttery? Head over to Sarah’s What Smells So Good? for Two-Nut Butter Cookies. You’ll also get a nice dose of silken tofu and chocolate-flavored hemp protein powder. Healthy Nutella! I love it!

Nutella and ice creamCity Girl at City Girl Lifestyle loves Nutella with ice cream. I certainly can’t blame her, can you? She tells us how she grew up with Nutella in Switzerland and now enjoys it with ice cream (easy on the ice cream, heavy on the Nutella).

Nutella crepesOver at Cappuccino Chit Chat, Eryn has Nutella crepes. Yum! Eryn also bravely shows herself as we’ve all found ourselves at one point or another–with Nutella smeared ever so delicately across our faces. Brava Eryn!

Nutellico AffogatoCheck out this “Nutellico Affogato” from Berthonavaro Gasali: in a martini glass, place 15 – 30 ml of “frangelico” liquor, then a mixture of cream and nutella, more cream on top, a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, and finally a shot of freshly brewed espresso. I’m in!

Banana Nutella TempuraOur friend Beatriz of Suitcase Contents has whipped up Banana Nutella Tempura. Wow, I love anything with banana and Nutella, but this looks especially tasty. Beatriz, how soon can you be in Calabria? I’ll supply the Nutella!

Nutella shoes from ConverseSandra of Sandra, dans tous ses états has what I believe is our only footwear-based entry with these adorable Nutella shoes. Sandra writes in French, but the language of Nutella is clearly universal. Love those kicks, Sandra!

Banana and Nutella pursesFrom shoes to purses, Elaine of The Italian Dish has created Banana and Nutella Purses with pastry dough and walnuts if you like. I’m with Elaine here–banana and Nutella is one of the greatest food combinations ever, so I’m loving these little borsette.

Happy Turtle tributeIrene at The Happy Turtle shares her love for Nutella through photos like this adorable one. Irene calls Nutella the “guiltiest pleasure” of her childhood. Anyone else out there feel the same? I only came into Nutella a few years ago, but I’m making up for lost time….

Nutella at the PantheonNYC/Caribbean Ragazza took her jar of Nutella out for World Nutella Day–on a (hilarious) Tour of Rome, to be exact. Nutella mades stops at the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon (as shown) and further hammed it up in the Eternal City. Oh that Nutella!

Senza Nutella?!Dana of Stresa Sights shares the history of Nutella as well as a fabulous sign that really says it all: What Kind of World Would this Be Without Nutella? We shudder to think of the possibility, Dana….

Nutella castagnaccioLive from Tuscany emerges from a bit of a blogging break just to celebrate World Nutella Day with a Nutella Castagnaccio, a dessert typical of Tuscany but with a Nutella twist. She also shares some rather fun personal news (see also Fatterelli) for those of you who have followed her blog.

Nutella Pizzelle SandwichCiao Chow Linda shares a Nutella Pizzelle Sandwich, combining two of my very favorite things in the world; the recipe comes directy from the kitchen of 94-year-old Aunt Alice, so this is pretty much guaranteed goodness.

Decadent Nutella WafflesLiliana of My Cookbook Addiction offers up these Decadent Nutella Waffles with the added topping suggestion of bananas and pure Maple Syrup. My sweet tooth is calling out to you Liliana, and it’s saying “LOVE!”

Nutella crepeSpeaking of sweet teeth, Lisa at Sofia Vincenza confesses that she has a major sweet tooth. You’re in *excellent* company, Lisa. Here she shares Nutella in a blanket, if you will, Nutella wrapped up in a crepe. So cozy!

Nutella pancakesNithya at Hungry Desi shares Nutella Ricotta Stuffed Pancakes.  Mmmm next time I do a Sunday brunch, I’m thinking these will have to be on the menu. Nithya also whipped up some home fries with these, by the way. Check them out!

Nutella drenched waffleNithya also shared this photo of a Nutella drenched waffle that she got from Wafels & Dinges, a Belgian waffle truck in New York. I like the way those Belgians think! Click on the photo to see it in larger, gooey-er detail.

Nutella substituteJules of Domestic Goddess in Training found herself without Nutella in the house so she whipped up a substitute using what she did have–cashews and rapeseed oil. Sounds molto tasty, Jules!

Nutella toastAlyson of Tasty Business writes: “To Nutella: Nutella, I love you. And I am so happy to celebrate this very special day with you.” To see the rest of her love note, including racy details of how they spent the morning together, be sure to head over to her Ode to Nutella.

Nutella PalmiersHornedfroggy of My Baking Heart confessed that she hadn’t tried Nutella even though she’d been to her homeland of Germany many times–but she’s making up for it now with these adorable Nutella Palmiers. I’m loving all the pink and hearts around them in the photos as well.

Mini-Banana Cakes with NutellaMarla of Bella Baita View sent in these Mini-Banana Cakes with Nutella. She wrote that the dollop of Nutella sunk to the bottom, which made for a lovely surprise when you were just finishing up your mini-cake. Sounds great to me, Marla!

Nutella Cherry Oatmeal SquaresOne of my favorite things my mom makes are oatmeal squares, and Elly of Elly Says Opa! has found a way to incorporate Nutella in her Nutella-Cherry Oatmeal Squares. These wouldn’t last long in my house, Elly. Not at all.

Nutella mousepadLola of Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino contributes a Pseudo-Mousse as she calls it–whipped cream and confectioner’s sugar in with our Nutella. The photo is actually of her old mousepad–how cute!–but do read the rest of her post entitled Confessions of a rampant Nutella junkie. Very entertaining.

Nutella strawberry crepePink Sky shares a Nutella strawberry crepe showing that bananas aren’t the only fruit that loves Nutella. She makes a good point, too, that these would be great for romantic Valentine’s Day treat. Of course I’ll take any excuse to eat Nutella….

Nutella swirl ringKatie of Katiecakes (how cute is that name?!) sent in this gorgeous Nutella swirl ring and writes: “Not only does it look pretty, but it tastes like a continental breakfast while holidaying in Eastern Europe. The smell transported me straight back to Prague.” Mmmm…I want to come too!

Nutella hot chocolateLynn of and then I do the dishes warms us up with some Nutella Hot Chocolate. She adds a little espresso powder for an extra kick, and I don’t know about you, but this would definitely liven up my afternoon. Now who has biscotti I can dip in there?

Nutella Day cupcakeJamieanne of The Cupcake Review made Nutella and peanut butter swirl cookies as well as, you guessed it, Nutella cupcakes with Nutella coffee frosting. Look at that presentation! I think I’d have to triple the recipe to keep me in Nutella cupcakes for a few breakfasts.

Chocolate Hazelnut GelatoCourtney of Cook Like a Champion cools us off with Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato and Gelato Coolers. She promises “If you like Nutella, you will love this gelato.” I believe you, Courtney. Can’t wait until the weather heats up to try this!

Nutella at Paris crepe standFaith of Blog Appetit reminds us of the simple pleasure of Nutella and spoon and also suggests a new motto for World Nutella Day: “Into every life a little Nutella must spread.” Love it! The photo was taken at a crepe stand in Paris. Love that too!

Grilled pineapple with NutellaChristine of Cooking with Christine wanted to try something different than baked Nutella goods, so she went with grilled pineapple topped with Nutella and mascarpone sweetened with brown sugar and a little vanilla. Excellent decision, Christine!

Empty Nutella jarJoan of Soapbox Musings compiled 5 different ways to eat Nutella, including cookies, crepes, on Lebanese bread, with fruit, and, of course, on its own with a spoon. She throws in two other suggestions for good measure, and ended up with this photo of something we’ve all unfortunately experienced–and empty Nutella jar.

Nutella ice creamCarrie of Carrie’s Sweet Life whipped up some Nutella ice cream with a recipe that looks easy enough even for a beginner ice cream maker like me. Carrie thinks she might add some crunch to the mix next time, so I hope she’ll post about how it turns out.

Lovin' spoonful of NocciolataKim of What I Really Think traces her love affair with Nutella right up to when she allowed herself to buy a jar of Nocciolata when she was in Italy. Kim’s favorite way to eat Nocciolata? Spread on cinnamon raisin toast. Love that simplicity (and thanks so much for your kind words about my blog, Kim)!

Baked pear with NutellaElra of Elra’s Baking went a little Nutella nutty–in a most Nutella-icious way! She sent in Baked Bosc Pear Filled with Nutella Fondant and Zabaglione *and* Nutella ice cream. Elra, can I put the Nutella ice cream on the pears? Too much?

Strawberry Banana and Nutella crepesCathy of Cathy’s Kitchen Journey takes us on a trip to Crepe-ville with these pretty Strawbery Banana Crepes with Nutella. Go check out the rest of Cathy’s photos of this creation, step by step. So lovely and inviting–I can’t wait until it’s strawberry season!

Nutella milkshakeAre you feeling shaky? Milkshakey, I mean. I hope so because Kokomama of My Adventures in Food has shared a recipe for a Nutella Milkshake that includes chocolate ice cream, toasted marshmallows, and, of course, Nutella. Oh this just sounds and looks amazing, doesn’t it?

Nutella jarErin-Joi of Erin-Joi’s random thoughts celebrated World Nutella Day with a Nutella sandwich for lunch. Here is her jar of Nutella looking a little less full than full…might be time for a new jar Erin-Joi!

Shortbread cookies with NutellaFor a long time, Joel of Six By Ten Tiny Kitchen mistakenly thought that Nutella was the same as Vegemite, but now he admittedly has seen the light thanks to these darling shortbread cookies topped with Nutella. Joel says his wife has the sweet tooth in the family, so I’m wondering if she’ll be requesting these cookies more often. Hmm….

Nutella Pinwheel CookiesAnd speaking of cookies, look at these Nutella Pinwheels from Shaheen at The Purple Foodie. They look so good and come with a great message too. Shaheen writes “I earnestly believe Nutella can bring world peace. Who wouldn’t be transported to a completely different world with something as little as a spoonful of Nutella?” Indeed, Shaheen. Indeed.

GBGB of the Italian Notebook takes us on a stroll through noccioleti, filbert groves in Italy. What does this have to do with World Nutella Day? A lot since those groves are where we get the hazelnuts that go into our beloved Nutella.

Bobute and NutellaTo celebrate World Nutella Day, Ramune of EVERY.SEVEN generously shared a brand new jar with Bobute, faithful travel companion through Europe who normally enjoys black raspberry ice cream. This is beyond adorable!

Nutella SemifreddoMichele of Our Italian Table contribues a Toasted Coconut and Nutella Semifreddo and shares memories of late night study sessions with jars and jars of Nutella. Mmm I just love toasted coconut with anything, but I’ve never had it with Nutella. Sounds great!

Torta di NutellaFor those of you who are gluten-free, Laura a.k.a. The Happy Housewife contributes a Gluten-Free Torta di Nutella–Nutella cake for everyone! The recipe is also in English so there’s no excuse not to get over there and check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

World Nutella Day Posts Only in Italian

Rotolo alla NutellaMarta of Lodici has submitted a lovely Nutella creation: Rotolo alla Nutella…all aboard for a Nutella roll! This got me thinking of a nice espresso after lunch, and look! The next entry tells me I’m not alone….

Maddelene al cuore di NutellaAiuolik & Uncle Pigor of Trattoria MuVarA shares Maddalene al cuore di Nutella, which I would’ve loved even without the addition of the shot of espresso in the photo. Come on, Nutella and hearts? You know I’m all over that.

Rotolo marmellata e NutellaNow that we’re on a roll (hah!), Claudia at Knitting, Cooking, and Other Stories shares this gorgeous Rotolo Marmellata e Nutella–a Nutella and cherry jam roll. The colors are amazing, and I imagine the flavors are even better.  I love fruit with chocolate; this would be fun to play around with different marmalade flavors.

Coconut Cream with NutellaJajo of Viaggi, cucina e . . . io celebrates World Nutella Day with this gorgeous dessert of Coconut Cream and Nutella and also an expression of love for one of the simplest ways of enjoying Nutella–on fresh bread. I’m *so* with you Jajo!

BRIOCHE ARROTOLATE ALLA NUTELLAGiusy of gliamorididida shares two different Nutella treats: Brioche arrotolate alla Nutella and Plum-Cake Simil Mulino Bianco alla Nutella. Secondo me these should both be in every bar and available for colazione with my cappuccino. Who’s with me?

Tortine alla NutellaSimona of Pensieri e Pasticci (love that name!) made some Tortine alla nutella per la prima colazione. Those are little Nutella cakes for breakfast in case  you didn’t know. They are almost too cute to eat, aren’t they? Almost.

Pane e pane...vino al vinoAntonella of Pane al pane…vino al vino shares two amazing creations: Frutta Nutella e cocco and Sfogliatine panna e Nutella. Both are quickly assembled and probably even more quickly enjoyed. Great snacks!

Bicchierini di LennyLenny of Una finestra di fronte incorporates one of my favorite Italian flavors, bergamot, into his Bicchierini di ricotta al bergamotto, Nutella e pistacchi.

Hey, did you bergamot is only grown naturally in a small stretch of land in Calabria? Stay tuned for a post about it!

Photoless But Just as Appreciated:

  • Max of Kochen nach Rezept sent in his contribution to World Nutella Day–the tale of a Nutella Milkshake from what I can understand. I took a year of German in college, Max, but you’re making me work here! Max also links to a great recipe for Nutella Rolls as well.

Thanks *so* much to everyone for taking the time to spread a little Nutella love throughout the blogosphere. World Nutella Day 2009 was definitely the best yet!

Be sure to check out the other half of the roundup at Sara’s Ms Adventures in Italy–but please be sure you have Nutella in the house first. Trust me.

And if you did a World Nutella Day post but don’t see your entry here or at Sara’s place, please let me know in the comments so we can get you in the round-up!


Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time.

 
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Recipes

 

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Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake