Happy 2013! (While you were away….)

Ciao Readers!  Happy New Year and Welcome Back!!!  I missed you!

I hope everyone had happy, warm and safe holidays.  How were our holidays?  Well, thanks for asking…

Over the past couple of weeks Steve and I took time to relax (yay!), tour Italy a bit, and eat (too much, as required this time of year).  We started off on Steve’s first weekend off by finally having our “Thanksgiving” meal (hey, it was only about 3+ weeks late).  Since I already made a pumpkin pie in a test-run, I decided to go for my s’mores pie instead.  I made the crust from Filipino graham crackers I got at Vivi Market (also where I got the [Swiss] marshmallows).  It wasn’t 100% spot-on, but delicious nonetheless:

smores pie

We did the usual “Thanksgiving” ritual – eating while we watched holiday movies (less traditionally, on a lap-top).  Here’s one of the cats enjoying Pee Wee’s Christmas Special:

holiday movie

In addition to celebrating “Thanksgiving,”  we tried out (or re-tried-out) some local ethnic dives (Rosticceria), which are so yummy they get their own post.  We also went on a “road trip” to Venice (and are planning one to Lucca this week), and those will also get their own posts in the near future.  We took time to revisit and newly visit museums covered by our cool Uffizi card as it expired Dec. 31st.  (And, of course, we did less exciting things (read books, cleaned house)).

Finally…for the first time in about 20 years (O-M-G, I am O-L-D!) we left the house on New Year’s Eve.  As I’ve mentioned before, it feels entirely safe here walking around just about any time of night (well, any time we’re still awake).  At about 9:00 p.m. we ventured out to walk the various piazzas and take in the live music that was scheduled.  Little did we realize that 9:00 p.m. was way too early for the festivities to begin.  As you can see from the empty band stand behind me, not much was happening at that time (not sure what I was thinking, 9:00 p.m. is barely dinner time here!).

hope new years

So, after strolling a rather quiet city, we returned home.  We did discover that there are fireworks all over town at midnight (though from what I understand, not sanctioned) and from our roof terrace we got to watch the city alight:

fireworks

All in all, putting aside a few days of my being under the weather and the fact that it was cold and still raining much of the time (seriously, enough with the rain already!), we had a lovely few weeks off.  Here’s to the new year!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING (Italy Style) !!!

Ciao Readers!  And HAPPY TURKEY DAY!!!

Okay, I know I said I was working past my culture shock and the need to replicate state-side foods, but now it’s Thanksgiving!  I’m not a big traditionalist, but Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday and filled with many personal traditions.  Except for the few years where folks have come to share the day with us, Thanksgiving usually goes something very close to this: we wake up early and get the turkey in the oven before Steve takes me to run some Thanksgiving-day-themed 5k (usually the “Turkey Trek” or “Hobbler Gobbler”); we get back and finish all the cooking (enough to feed way more than the 2 of us); we then get in our p.j.’s and watch a day-long marathon of holiday movies while we stuff ourselves (favorites include “Pee Wee’s Christmas Special” and “Scrooged”).  Now the question has been, how will we celebrate in Italy?

First off, clearly Thanksgiving is not a holiday here – Steve has to work and I’ll be going to school (not sure I mentioned, but I started back) – so Thursday is not going to cut it (though I do plan on setting my ipod/nike gadget for a 5K on Thursday and running my own Turkey Trek).  Mostly, though, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving a little late (which is okay – one year our families came for “fake” Thanksgiving a week late because it was easier for everyone to travel then).   However, while the date may be off, the food will be pretty darn close.  I started sourcing ingredients a couple of weeks ago.  And, since I wasn’t certain I was going to be able to get it all right, we had to have some “test runs.”   I made a test-run pumpkin pie with condensed milk from Vivi Market, using store-bought Butoni “pasta sfoglia” (puff pastry) for the crust and making my own pumpkin puree from a big chunk of a green pumpkin-like thing I got at the grocery (they actually sell Libby’s canned pumpkin at Vivi, but it is stupid expensive and the fresh stuff worked great!).  Steve beat the fresh cream by hand, and voila!  Not too shabby (photo of the pieces we shared with the Rosticerria guys):

I didn’t think we were ever going to find yams as I’d been keeping an eye out for awhile, but whatd’ya know, at Mercato Centrale there is a small Central American food vendor tucked away in the back and they have them (also baked a couple of those for a test-run).  Turkey (parts) and potatoes and green beans are no problem (and they have great, fancy mushroom creams here to use with the green beans).  I planned very far ahead for the stuffing and brought a box mix for cornbread, to which we will add stale bread (adding day-old baguettes became a new tradition in 2008 when we were in Paris at Thanksgiving and that’s how I made stuffing) (alas, though, no green chiles – another personal traditional twist on stuffing).  The final piece of the puzzle was the cranberry sauce…. I tried and tried to source some fresh cranberries, but to no avail.  So, I broke down and bought one of these very tiny (very expensive) jars of ocean spray sauce at Vivi Market:

As for the holiday movie marathon, I actually brought those DVD’s, and while they don’t play on the Italian tv system, they do play on my laptop – so we will be spending “Thanksgiving” with Bill Murray, as always!

Whatever your own traditions, please have a warm and wonderful holiday! Cheers!

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