My photo
Rhode Island, United States

Monday, June 30, 2008

Pasta and Pizza!

Another day in Calabria, wonderful as usual! Yesterday as I was at the Derada center finishing up my blog, I got hungry so I decided to have the clif z-bar I had packed in my bag. A few minutes later, still a little hungry- Professor LaLuna comes in the room, snacks in hand because he knew we were hungry! We tried these yummy Italin buiscuits- they remind me of a mix between a pretzel and an herbed cracker. Along with a tiny cup of aranciata (sparkling orange juice), I was satisfied after this little kind Italian snack.

However, we have been eating dinner VERY late and I hadn’t prepared myself for another 4 hours without eating- we went on a tour of the church in San Demetrio Corone, as well as a beautiful but incredibly tiring through the hills of the old part of town. I’ll try and post some pictures, the view from the top of S.Demetrio is truly breataking!

Needless to say although the walk was a cultural and beautiful experience, I was literally starving by the time we got to dinner. Unfortunately, a few late classmates made dinner even LATER- so we didn’t end up eating until 8:40. Luckily the fantastic food once again made it worth the wait. We started with fresh pasta in a pomodoro sauce, this time with a sprinkle of parmesan and a bit of green hot pepper- definitely spicier than the day before!! I cleared my plate I was so hungry! In between the courses they brought out fresh bread, small slices of asiago and parmesan, and some lettuce- I had ½ a piece of bread, a couple pieces of cheese and a bit of lettuce. My vegetarian course was my favorite of the trip so far! Pepper stuffed with a delicious herbed rice stuffing- it was so creamy it was almost a risotto! I could only finish one pepper, and ½ of the potatoes they served along with it. I wanted to finish all of it, but I was at my stomach’s limit!

Ok, maybe there was room for something else… my first gelato in Italia! A creamy mix of cacao, vanille e amaretto- it was absolutely fabulous, but what else would it be??

After a quick ride around town in a vintage Mini Cooper with our new friend Luigi, we got home and settled into bed to rest before our first night of classes.

I got up early this morning to go for a run, but running on these hills in this heat, on such dangerous roads has proved to be quite the hassle. I ran another 10 minutes, and felt good but not good enough to continue- I almost got hit by speeding Smartcars, and a BUS- so I decided the rest of the day would be spent walking, so I ran up the stairs instead. I feel as though a short run in the morning, plus the intense hill climbing during the days, and the bit of yoga I’ve been doing on my balcony in the mornings should be enough to keep me fit for the month. I don’t want to tire myself out too much, but I do want to stay healthy- and I feel as though I will.

Speaking of healthy, for breakfast I had my own Italian creation of pineapple yogurt (literally, pineapple in yogurt- no yucky additives of hfcs like here in the US!) with some museli (about ½ cup) and an apple, which held me quite well for the morning.

Class was good- long, but good. I think I’ll learn a lot, which is my goal of course! I had a cherry pie larabar halfway through. (Not pictured, sorry!)
After class we had our first “cooking” lab- this time it was just a review of some of the cooking utensils and basic kitchen items, but I had an amazing time nonetheless, with my love of all things cooking! It was great to see the real kinds of ingredients they use in Italian kitchens. The cook was great- she’s beautiful, her name is Rosa and I really hope I can cook with her at some point!

After the lab, we were all hungry so we decided Margherita Pizza sounded perfect for lunch! Four of us stopped by a small pizzeria up the street, and got a HUGE fresh pizza for only 4 euro.The owner was so sweet to us- she gave us more of our favorite biscuits, I had one while waiting for the pizza to cook, and she gave us a baggie to take home! They were even better today, fresh and doughy.

Finally, the pizza arrived. Oh. My. Gosh. This was absolutely the BEST pizza I have ever tasted!!! I had two huge pieces, and you know what? I feel good. Nope, I’m not kidding you. I feel good, and I do not feel that yucky feeling I always feel in the states after eating a couple huge slices of pizza. It must be Italy.

Everything is so fresh, it’s incredible. I am so lucky to be here, truly. I’m off to go study for a while before dinner, Arrivederci!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Calabrese Paradise

I'm back at the Derada center, after another wonderful day and a half here in Calabria! I can't even describe how amazing it is here. I feel more and more at home every day, it's only been three days and I already know a month won't be enough. I won't want to leave!

Yesterday after we left the Derada center, we went back to the apartment to relax for a bit, I read some, and had a snack- I had a luna bar, and Danielle was eating some bread and nutella, so I decided to put a bit of nutella on my luna bar for a little italian treat! I also had a small cup of real blood orange juice- I told you I can't get enough!

After our siesta, we went back to the center for orientation, and to take a tour of the town. On our tour, we stopped at the Fruttivendolo, and picked up some fruit- here's a pic of my friend Carolyn outside, we shared this banana on the walk!

Dinner was indescribable. One of the best meals of my life. I ate SO much, I was incredibly stuffed afterwards, but honestly I did not care- it was absolutely worth it in every way. We started with some of the best spaghetti in a pomodoro sauce with basil, and we each put a few little pieces of hot pepper on it for a little kick! It definately made the dish even better!

The secondo piatto for me was a big plate of the most delicious potatoes I have ever eaten. They were soft, but slightly crispy around the edges- I'm guessing boiled, and then lightly sauteed in olive oil. I tasted oregano, thyme and pepper- delicioso! I shared this portion with my friend, I probably ate half. There was also some caprese salad (mozzarella and tomato in olive oil) on the table, that I had a bit of as well.

The third course was a special the chef prepared for me because I'm a vegetarian (everyone else had vitello- veal), a panino with arugula and fontina cheese. Incredible, again- but I was so stuffed at this point I only ate 1/3 of it.

Dessert was a special surprise- peaches (I ate 1/2 of one), and pineapple- with sparkling champagne, as a welcome gift! The champagne was IN the shell of the pineapple, and there were sparklers on it when it came to the table! I had a few pieces of pineapple as well.

Just when I thought I couldn't fit another bite in my mouth, they brought out the cake! They made us a special welcome cake, and I had decided to have just a bite... but after taking that one bite, there was no going back. I've never tasted a cake like that before. Spongey cake, hazelnut chocolate mousse, a lime creme top. Nothing better.

We were stuffed to the brim, so we sat around and talked for a bit before deciding to head home and pop open our bottle of wine to celebrate our first Saturday night in Italy!
Just as we popped open the wine, we had a knock on our door- it was Luigi, our neighbor Nella's son- welcoming us to Italia, with a BOTTLE OF WHITE WINE! And some fresh figs! I had 2, they were so sweet and delicious! We had already poured our other glasses, so we each ended up having a glass of both red and white wine to celebrate! I'm lucky alcohol doesn't have a strong effect on me, but I definately fell asleep easy! We hung around for hours and hours with Luigi and his friend Orlando, talking and laughing in Italian and English, sharing tastes in music and talking about beautiful Italia. It was truly wonderful!

This morning I got up to go for a run with Carolyn, but it proved to be a little hard in the very hilly area we were in. We ran for just about 10 minutes, before hiking back up three floors into our apartment, where I did some strength training before sitting down and having a peach while waiting for everyone else to awaken. The peach was the BEST peach I have ever eaten in my entire life, hands down. Juicy, succulent and pure- the taste was sweet in every way, I now truly believe you have never tasted a peach until you have one fresh from a tree in Calabria!

A couple hours later everyone was ready for breakfast, so we headed to the other breakfast option, hoping for something more filing for breakfast- but we found out pastries were basically the only option here for breakfast. So I ended up drinking 3/4 of another cappuccino, and having a berry filled croissant. As delicious as croissants are, honestly I'd rather have them for dessert. I'd definately prefer a more hearty, healthy breakfast!

So, after breakfast we took another trip to the fruittivendolo for some produce- romaine, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, bananas, apricots, white plums and apples. Then we hit the Supermercato, where we picked up some yogurt to go with the muesli, some fresh talleggio cheese and some other items for the apartment.

We headed back to the apartment to hang out again, It's sunday so we don't have anything specific going on during the day- I had a white plum when I got back to the apartment, and wrote a little in my journal, and had a good converasation with the girls downstairs. After they left we made some lunch- big salads with our fresh produce, drizzled with olive oil we had baasil soaking in, and fresh bread with taleggio! I also had one more small pieces of bread (not pictured) drizzled in olive oil. Danielle, Carolyn and I sat around and talked for a couple hours, laughing and loving the moment. We had bananas before we headed up to the center, and here I am- happily blogging before our next big Calabrian adventure!

I hope everyone is having as wonderful a summer as I have been having! Ciao for now!

**The rest of the pics will be posted soon, the laptop is being slow!**

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blogging from the DeRada Center!

I'm sitting in Calabria right now, in a gorgeous, cool room in the DeRada Center- the insitute where I'll be studying for the month.

The plane ride went quite smoothly from New York to JFK, I was hungry when I got on the plane so I had the other half of my clif bar, and a couple hours later they served us dinner- I had a funny little mixture for dinner because they didn't have any veggie options- I ended up just eating the wheat roll and two tiny wheat crackers with some monterey jack cheese and a small cup of cantaloupe and grapes. Not the most nutritious dinner, but it held me over! I also had some of my FAVORITE blood orange juice, which I had been excited about coming to Italy and having!

In the morning (a few hours later, after reading and napping) we were served breakfast- which I happily ate, as bad as it may have been- because I was so hungry. It was quite delicious, however- a pastry with cheese and tomato, and an apple croissant.
My eating as the day went on wasn't much better- some peanut butter crackers and cookies on the plane from Rome to Calabria. We had a mini scare getting to Calabria- we almost missed our plane because they changed our gate number! Luckily we got there just in time, and off we were to Calabria!

The ride to Calabria was one of the best and worst of my life. I was exhausted, tired, starving and HOT... and almost fell asleep on our driver, Mario's shoulder. BUT it was incredibly beautiful- from the lemon groves to the olive and fig trees, the rosemary bushes and smell of the rich terra cotta colored soil... this is when I knew I was in Calabria. Truly bellissimo!

I was VERY hungry by the time we arrived at our apartments- I quickly snacked on some nuts and dried mango to hold me until dinner a couple hours later.

Our apartment is just as incredible as the land. It's at the bottom of a hill, so we'll surely get some good exercise walking up and down the hill each day for class. There are 6 of us in the apartment- Danielle and I are sharing a room with the most breathtaking view of the city, the mountains and the ocean- from our BALCONY! We're also living with Carolyn (of course!) who's rooming with Erika, and Jordan and Kevin- twins from Rhode Island as well. We get along great, so I think it should be a good month.

We headed into town after unpacking, and met up with a couple other students from the DeRada center. After a failed attempt at ordering red wine, we decided to go for something European to celebrate our first night- Heinekin! I sipped one with dinner, and tried a couple of the little snacks they brought out, just out of curiosity- the lightest, non-greasy potato chips I have ever tasted, and a couple little puffs.

Dinner was fantastic- I didn't have too much of a problem with my vegetarian diet; they served me an incredible salad, along with some insalata caprese- tomatoes with basil, fresh mozzarella and olive oil. The salad had romaine, raddicchio, fennel, black olives, corn, a bit of mozarella, and a little tuna I picked out (but a small bit of fish, I decided won't kill me- it's hard to avoid in small amount, and since I've been a pescetarian for so long I might deal with tiny bits) drizzled in olive oil. Absolutely fantastic. They also served me some little herbed potato balls, which were definately fried- so I just had one to try, along with a piece of fresh bread. For dessert, they served us big apples- I snagged one to bring home with me as well. I wasn't too hunrgy at this point, so I just shared a few pieces with Carolyn and we called it a night.

We made the tired walk back home and crashed, soon after taking pictures of the tiny lizard we found on our ceiling, and slept a good 9 hours, waking up rested and happy!
As soon as I woke up, I was hungry so I ate my "stolen" apple, took my vitamins and marveled at the amazing sight of the sunrise out of our apartment - trying to convince myself this was real, I am really in Calabria!!

We went to breakfast a while later- definately not my usual healthy fare, I settled on a cappucinno- which was hands down the best I have EVER had, with a marmalade croissant. This filled me for the time being, but a few hours later and I am STARVING and ready for some lunch!

We mde a stop at the supermarket on our way home from breakfast, grabbing some red wine, fresh bread, nutella, waters and plates for the apartment! We don't have a full kitchen- just a table and a mini fridge, but it should do us for lunch!

We chatted a bit with the nice lady who owns the apartment building, Nella- it was great to converse with someone in Italian, even though my responses are very basic, I understood pretty much all of what she was saying!

I'm starving, as I mentioned so I think I'm going to sign off and go have some lunch! Ciao!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blogging from JFK!

So... I'm a bit internet obsessed, I guess you could call it- I'm sitting here at JFK, on my Macbook and realized they have wireless! $4.95 on my debit later, and I'm blogging from the airport!

The ride went well- we picked up Danielle and stopped at Starbucks on the way. I was in the mood for a cool drink because the humidity was already getting to me- so I had them blend my grande soy latte with ice, frappuccino-style!

Then were off on the road, and even though we made a couple stops along the way, we made great time! Danielle and I ate our packed lunches around noon- I had my edamame corn salad with bulgar and a nectarine, and had some soy crisps a bit later.

Finally, we met up with Carolyn and her Mom in Chappaqua, NY! After some debating, we decided on going to a local italian deli for an early dinner, and then going for dessert at the famous Jean Jacques in Pleasantville!
The owner of the deli made me his vegetarian italian special- a wrap with eggplant, mozzarella and roasted red peppers. It was absolutely delicous!

Jean Jacques was adorable! We were all stuffed from our huge wraps, but couldn't resist their gorgeous pastries and little scrumptious cakes... after much deciding, we chose a chocolate caramel mousse cake to share! It was to die for. I definately ate a third of the miniature cake, if not more!

After another stop at Starbucks before we left (I didn't get anything this time), we set off for JFK!
We got through security amazingly fast, and we're actually a couple hours early! Our flight leaves at 9:20, and we're all settled at our Gate, ready to set off for Italia!
I stopped for some fruit and water at Panini express, and had a big green apple along with 1/2 a carrot cake clif bar for a snack to hold me unti we're on the plane.

I'm satisfied for now, and just starting to get really excited- less than two hours and we're in the air!!

Away I go!

To think, this is my last breakfast here in America, and that tomorrow, at breakfast time here, I will be eating lunch in Italy, is an incredible thought! Pretty much unbelievable until I get to experiance it! I've had a great month of cooking, baking and summer fun up until my departure, and now I have to get ready for a month full of learning, discovering and eating!! Being such a worrywort, of COURSE I'm nervous about the flight, but hopefully everything goes well and my next post will be coming from San Demetrio Corone!

To fuel my big day of traveling I had one of my favorite all-american wafflewiches- same way as always, 2 flaxplus waffles, 2 tbsp PB, a big banana, maple syrup and some grapes on the side. Once again, the grapes were a bit too much. I'm slightly overstuffed now, but if it holds me the morning I'm good!

For lunch today I packed Danielle (my best friend and travel companion # 1) and myself individual portions of sesame edamame corn salad from Veganomicon over bulgar wheat, along with some nectarines and soy chips as sides/snacks.
We're going to an early dinner up in Pleasantville, NY- right next to our friend Carolyn's hometown of Chappaqua, after we pick her and her mom up.
I'm glad we're going to dinner early, because with such a late flight I'm sure there won't be any full meals on board. I brought a carrot cake clif bar in case I get meal-hungry by the time we get on the plane, and some peanut butter crackers for the three of us to snack on later. I wish I could bring fruit, but they usually don't let produce on international flights. I'll just have to stock up as soon as I get to Italia!

So off I go, leaving the country for more wonderful adventures! I'll be back as soon as possible =)

Ciao, blogosphere!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Food filled last day

"I ate vegetables".

This is my friend Eric's response to how I should start my blog entry of my last day of eating in America!
He's sitting here, helping me with last minute packing (and blogging!) and trying to calm me down as I'm nervously running around my house, hoping I'm not forgetting anything!

Today was a fun-filled day with the fam! I had a nectarine after my nice 4 mile run in the neighborhood before we left, and the drive to providence was suprisingly easy!

When we got to the restaurant, (my fave Indian restaurant on Thayer Street, Kabob and Curry) I immediately knew what I wanted to order- the vegan Portabello and Chickpea Wrap, with mint suace! A spinach wrap stuffed with seasoned vegetables, chickpeas and savory portabella mushrooms, spicy but not too spicy, with a delicious vegan mint sauce I was in HEAVEN! This is definately one of my alltime favorite meals, I love this restaurant!

After doing some shopping (at one of my favorite stores, Urban Outfitters- I got a new tank top!), we decided to stop for some bubble tea at sushi express! I loveeee this bubble tea- I had a frozen passion fruit mango soy bubble tea, and it was sooo sweet- but definately worth it! I love cool treats on a hot day.

We walked around a little more, and eventually it was time to head to dinner! It was a great dinner- at one of my favorite restaurants, the vegetarian Garden Grille a few streets away in providence. I couldn't choose what I wanted, everything looked so good! We decided on a few appetizers to start, some tempeh spring rolls, raw veggie/fruit rolls and a mixed green salad. I had a bit of everything!

For my entree, I chose the special of the day- Kelp Noodle Stir Fry, with broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage and seitan in a miso soy sauce! It was a humongous bowl, and I devoured almost half of it! Soo much food, but absolutely delectable!

I was so stuffed after all that delicious vegan food, I wasn't even hungry for dessert- but I had to have a bite of the chocolate buttercream vegan cake my sister and mom shared, complete with a bit of berry sauce and a blueberry!

Back at home with my friends Eric and Katrina, we shared a few of the last fudgey brownies before saying goodbyes!

Now I'm off to get some shut eye before my big day of traveling! I'll be back in the morning for my last breakfast in the US!

Early night, bright morning

Last night I snacked on 1/2 a big Alternative Baking Company cookies- one of my favorites, Mac the Chip- along with 1/2 a grapefruit while doing some travel research last night.

After that I was sooo tired, I decided to just go to bed early and get a good night's sleep. Aside from waking up a couple of times, I definately slept better last night than I have recently, so I'm very happy for this!
This morning I woke up to the bright sun shining in my window, hopefully indicating it will be a great day for me to go for my last run in the states!
I started my last day in America with my favorite standard granola bowl- 1 cup flaxplus granola with a container of soy yogurt (plain, not vanilla) and a cup of blueberries.

Perfect trio, as always! I'm going to pack up some snacks for Danielle and I to have for lunch tomorrow now, then go for a run and head off to providence for lunch, shopping, and my going away dinner!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Restaurant Cravings for free

After planning on going to two of my favorite restaurants two nights in a row, and plans falling through BOTH nights, I was stuck here with HUGE cravings for a big vegan burger! I still had a fabulous dinner last night, and tonight's dinner ended up being just as good- for free!

I snacked on some grapes while printing out my travel itineraries this afternoon:

When it came time for dinner I made myself my absolute favorite quick meal- a veggie burger! Tonight I used an Amy's California veggie burger topped with a big hunk of FYH vegan cheddar, some frozen grilled onions and mushrooms I heated in a pan on the stove, with some organic ketchup, all squished together on an ezekiel english muffin. Of course nothin' like the burger I would have gotten at crazy burger, but definately pretty damn good- especially for not having to use gas or money to get it!

On the side of my scrumptious burger I had a mixed greens salad topped with some sliced radish, shredded carrots and cut cucumber drizzled with a tbsp of Annie's Goddess dressing. Filling and definately satisfied my burger cravings!
Yum, yum, yum!

I'm off to bring my sister to dance in a bit and hang around the house, finishing travel details and relaxing. Tonight will most definately be an early night- I haven't been sleeping too well lately, and boy do I need some rest!

Rain date

I had originally planned on going to the beach with my sister and her friend today; no suck luck because of the yucky, rainy weather! So, we decided to make a rain date for the beach and head to the movies instead.

This morning I was still feeling kind of crappy, so I settled on walking inside for 30 minutes and doing a few strength exercises instead of running. I was glad I took it easy; my body definately needed a break.

My sister's friend Meghan got dropped off at our house, and the girls wanted pizza so we headed to one of our local pizzerias/bakeries, Colvittos. They got their pizza strips and I had one of my favorites- a big spinach pie! Spinach sauteed with olive oil, garlic and a few black olives stuffed in really yummy fluffy dough. Granted the dough was ALL white flour, it was quite tasty, full of veggies (and vegan!) so I enjoyed every bite.

We saw "The Love Guru", which I was not impressed with... not my kind of funny movie. But the girls laughed, so I guess it was a hit with the 14-year old crowd! Afterwards, my sister wanted to introduce Meghan to the wonders of Italian sweets... so of course, we went to gelato! I got peanut butter cup and coconut banana sorbetto. Mmm mmm good! Only a couple more days and I'll be eating real Italian Gelato! Yum!