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Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Lookie lookie at what I found at the supermarket opposite my house.

Yes, they’re rambutan !! The pack said that they’re from Vietnam though. I wonder why they don’t come from Malaysia. I usually giggle silently when I see rambutans in the supermarkets here because they’re ALWAYS brown, almost black; basically rambutan we would throw away without batting an eye back home. I remember how I laughed my head off when I was staying with my aunt in London and I saw a basket of BLACK rambutans at the grocers opposite her house. Well these that I saw today weren’t too bad. Dark red, turning brown, but still they’re not wholly brown.

These “ramboutan” comes nicely packaged in packets of about 5, and cost EUR3.99 per pack, or if you look closely at the price tag, EUR19.95 per kg!!

And next to the rambutan, were these:



Carambola! Or more popularly known in Malaysia as Starfruit or belimbing, in Malay. And these babies are from Malaysia! It’s spelt as Malesia in Italian. I forgot to take a picture of the price tag, but I remember it was around 10EUR per kg. And each packet contains 3 starfruit, thus costing about 4EUR per pack.

Oh how my heart swelled with pride 😉

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The city is looking quite pretty at night. Christmas decorations are up everywhere. There are buskers all around playing Christmas music. Window displays are extravagant and keeping up with the holiday theme, all glittery and eye-catching. I caught myself walking with a whimsical smile plastered on my face, and that sometimes elusive feeling of “Wow, I’m actually living in Italy” resurfaced for a brief moment.

I’ve seen this “Sphinx” before, and his poor little Cocker Spaniel. That poor little dog only has a little sweater on in freezing temperatures, and still, it sits perfectly still, only blinking almost piteously at passers-by. I really wanted to drop a coin for the guy, but seeing him use that poor little dog made me feel kinda pissed. Maybe I should just buy a chew toy for the dog and drop it for the dog instead. Hmmmph.

*Sighs dreamily about going to a ball in a beautiful Max Mara dress*

Winter wedding, anyone?

White baby, check. Black baby, check. Asian baby, check. Even the baby dolls are all Christmassy.

The inside of a bar. In Italy, a bar is where you order coffee and other hot drinks. Not the bar/disco/nightclub that you would normally imagine. After about an hour walking in the cold, I went to the bar and ordered a hot chocolate. If you look carefully, you can spot me in the picture 😉 As I sipped on the hot chocolate, and the delicious, thick concoction warmed me up, I thought, perhaps this is what they mean by La Dolce Vita.

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Only in Italy do you find things like these at your local supermarket, in the children’s stationery section no less!

"Campione Sex Appeal" (Sex Appeal Champion)

 

Italy, oh Italy!

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Hello Winter

It is 1st December. First day of the last month of the year. Can you all say WHOAAA?

It has been snowing in Modena, and I am as pleased as punch. Granted, the whole of Italy comes to a standstill when it snows, I like the calm clean feeling that snow gives. I just hope that it doesn’t become one of those freak winters with blizzards that happened in Europe last year. Also, I read that it has been made mandatory for all cars on the road in Modena to be fitted with snow tyres or chains when there is snow or ice on the ground. Coming from a tropical country, I do not know whether similar rules apply to other towns/states. But I find it really amusing that the notice should come right smack at the beginning of winter and not during summer or even autumn, when people would have been more prepared and informed, and tyre shops (gommistas) would have had plenty of notice to stock up. I read that most tyre shops have run out of stock, and people who place orders now would have to wait for weeks for stocks to arrive! Being in Italy, weeks actually means months. As such, I wouldn’t dare drive as our car isn’t fitted with snow tyres. The hubs has never gotten snow tyres as he usually escapes winter and goes home to Malaysia for his annual holiday, and doesn’t see the need to get them changed.

The picture above was taken from my room when it had just started snowing.

Not shown in the picture is me craning my neck out of the window and trying to catch some snowflakes on my tongue. 😛 Did you know that all snowflakes are hexagonal in shape and no two snowflakes are ever identical? 😉

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I have never intended for this humble little blog of mine to be a food blog, but it seems to be veering towards being a food blog, simply because I love tinkering about in my kitchen. I do have a social life too, believe me 😉

A few weeks back, the hubs and I joined a few other friends for a day trip to nearby Parma. It’s not exactly the place one goes to for sightseeing, but the original plan had been to visit a ham factory and the ham museum followed by a barbeque. We only managed to go to the ham museum which was quite a letdown really. They had some ancient tools on display, a video presentation and not much else. I was actually looking forward to sampling some ham, which I was told could be done. But they didn’t have any of that when we were there. There wasn’t even a rudimentary step-by-step process to show how ham is made. One would think that something as basic as that would be available at a ham museum. It was quite blah so I didn’t bother taking pictures.

We drove to a ham factory next but woe is me, the queue was incredibly long, and there were loads of tourists buses too, and we were in the queue for about 10 minutes before we left, because the queue was moving so slowly we figured it would take at least an hour (if not more) for us to get in. I would definitely want to visit it if another opportunity arises. One cannot be living in Emilia Romagna without knowing/seeing how Parma ham, Parmigiano (Parmesan) cheese and balsamic vinegar is made 😉

We drove quite a bit before arriving at this secluded but  beautiful spot for our barbeque.

The water was incredibly clear and though it looked really calm, as they say, still waters run deep, and quite deep it was indeed. The hubs and the friends tried to swim in it, but were quite overwhelmed by the current.

Yours truly is not a fan of cold water, and thus I sat at the edge of river with only my feet in the water 😉 I also must confess that I can’t swim to save my life. How embarassing 😛

L setting the table, P and A in an embrace, PJ tending to the barbeque and the hubs lazing as usual taking in the sun.

 

The hubs (in yellow) ever ready to tuck in.  His hands say it all.

After a hearty meal, we lounged for a bit, the rest went for a swim while I sat in the beach chair and napped under the sun with the cool breeze on my face. Pure bliss I tell you. Pure bliss.

We made our way to Bardi Castle, about 15 minutes from our Secret Spot By The River. After the disappointing ham musuem, the castle was much better.

Beautiful view from the top of the castle. From the top of the castle, I could see the village and I saw a farmer walking a huge dog. I was quite amazed by it’s sheer size. After I squinted a little, turns out he was walking a black horse >___<

This was quite ingenious I thought. This was the primitive version of a refrigerator. The room was called the Ice Room. It was where the folks living in the castle would store their foodstuff. There was something about the positioning of the castle and the room which led to low pressure, and snow that would fall into this room would remain as ice for the rest of the year, preserving the foodstuff throughout the year. If I remember correctly that is. 😛

The pictures below were taken in the torture rooms.

 

 

With contraptions like those, I would be the most loyal, law abiding citizen ever 😛

After the castle, we had coffee/hot chocolate/beer before leaving for home. I may be quite an introvert, but sometimes, these trips are best done with friends. I wonder where we should go next. I’ve been bugging the hubs to go see how balsamic vinegar is made. I should start digging up more info but instead, I’ve been quite obssesed googling for cooking/baking classes for when I go back to Malaysia for my long awaited holiday 😛

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Ever seen onions THIS huge??? I haven’t! They’re almost as big as a head of broccoli! Had to sneak in a picture 😛

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Happy Easter, Buona Pasqua to one and all 🙂

I attended mass today at the Duomo(cathedral) of Modena. It is  it is one of the most important Romanesque buildings in Europe and a World Heritage Site. Read more about it here. It’s quite a magnificent cathedral really. The funeral of the late tenor, Luciano Pavarotti was held here; Modena being his hometown and all.

Duomo of Modena

Duomo of Modena

 

There are a few other churches closer to my house, but a 25 minute walk to the Duomo is nothing really, especially in this beautiful weather.

Duomo of Modena

Duomo of Modena

 

I had wanted to attend the 12.15 pm mass, and being the kiasu ol’ me, I figured I should leave home early to get myself a nice seat. When I arrived at about 11.40am, I was surprised to see the cathedral already full to the brim. Turns out there was another mass going on, one which started at 11am. So I thought it would be interesting to sit (more like stand) through this mass too. And I’m glad I did. The choir gave me goosebumps. It’s exactly like what one would see on tv. The sound of the pipe organ (or harpsichord?) permeated every corner of the cathedral and coupled with the well-trained choir, they gave me goosebumps from head to toe.

After the first mass ended and when people started leaving, I quickly secured myself a seat. I saw many tourists (presumably) taking pictures, and I hurriedly snapped a few pictures too. I have been to the Duomo for masses before, but this is the first time I have seen Mass celebrated in the Duomo’s full splendour, lights on etc.

Intricate details - Duomo of Modena

Intricate details - Duomo of Modena

 

Intricate details - Duomo of Modena

Intricate details - Duomo of Modena

 

The first mass had a choir consisting of adults singing, and the second mass had a choir consisting of children. These children had definitely been trained well. It wasn’t the type of choir where everyone just sings to their hearts content. I could differentiate between the Sopranos and Altos.

Duomo of Modena

Duomo of Modena

 

While the congregation sits “downstairs”, the choir is seated on the upper level as can be seen from the photo above.

I made a short clip of the choir singing using my camera, but being the noob I am, I think I’ve just realized that I need to convert the format of the video before I am able to post it up here on WordPress. Ugh. What a pain. I’ll just wait for the hubs to meddle with that for me. 😛

Over here, kids get Easter eggs in a nice package. When I first saw it at the supermarkets I had no clue what they were.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs

 

Had to scrutinize the tags to see what they were. And judging from the ads I’ve watched on tv, the package contains a surprise gift meant for kids and some chocolates.

Winnie The Pooh Easter Egg

Winnie The Pooh Easter Egg

 

The amusing thing, to me anyway, is that they have differently themed eggs. I reckon the gift in the Winnie the Pooh egg as shown above would have some Pooh related gift inside.

Swarovski Easter Eggs!

Swarovski Easter Eggs!

 

And WHOA! Original Swarovski Easter Eggs? Hmm, gotta wonder if they’re meant for kids or adults.

They’re quite strict with picture taking and privacy here in Italy, so I had to slyly whip out my cellphone and quickly snap these pictures at the supermarket. Oh the things I do for you 50 5 blog readers of mine 😛 😉

While walking home from Mass, I chanced upon this Cioccolateria (Chocolate Shop) with such a pretty window display of all things Easter related.

Pardon the reflection from the mirror though, it was the best I could do.

Italian Easter Egg

Italian Easter Egg

 

Cutesy Easter thingies

Cutesy Easter thingies

 

Easter eggs to signify new life

Easter eggs to signify new life

 

Easter eggs, bunnies, hens and chocolates

Easter eggs, bunnies, hens and chocolates

 

I dared to take these window display pictures only coz the shop was closed. And there weren’t any people around. Heh. 😛

So there you go, a little something about Italy and Easter.

The hubs comes back tomorrow and we will go to Milan on Tuesday. Am taking orders for Gucci, Prada, Armani etc. Anyone? 😉

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