Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oliveto in Mogliano

Its summer, the perfect time to invite friends over for dinner outdoors. What better place to be than in the countryside - in this instance, Oliveto, an olive farm in Mogliano, a small town set in the hills of Marche. Tamsin, the artist/designer who I met through Etsy by chance (or destiny!), runs the place with her husband Aldo.

This is my first summer in the Italian countryside. Last year's was spent mostly in sea-side Sardinia, so I never really had that "Italian" feeling you get from watching movies like Under the Tuscan Sun or Eat, Pray, Love. All the better, I think, as I've developed my own feelings about being in this country, not all of which are movie-worthy. hehe..

Still, it is a sight to see. A nice smell in the air with all the vegetation, so green and lush against the pale brick walls. Everyone a bit more perky, sociable, and finally we can wear less clothes (and flipflops!).

Oliveto gave me that Italian feeling. Its just so rustic and irresistible. Flowers jutting out from nowhere begging to get noticed even when you don't see them, they'll get you by the lungs!

This is a discovery - Elderflower cordial. Its fermented elderflower with sugar and lemon that just makes you want to wear a victorian gown while taking a nice cool sip. Respect the Elders!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dinner Date at the Balcony

Spending the whole day indoors working, cleaning, and whatnot, I thought having dinner at the balcony would be fresh change of atmosphere.

Its a small space but with the use of a yoga mat and some pretty fabric, we made ourselves the guests of our first outdoor restaurant. :)

We had a big lunch so for dinner was a simple salad with heirloom tomatoes, basil, celery, and a mix of greens together with lemon tahini dressing. On the side we had some samosas and veggie balls.

Swallows all over the sky around sunset.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rawventures: Veggie Sushi with Lemon Tahini dressing

More recipes? Did I just do all this in one go? Answer: No. I happen to take pictures of most of my experiments and come back to them looong after (more like a month or so until the camera's memory card goes full). Then I have to get rid of it by releasing it into the World Wild Web (fly free my little ducklings, fly freee).  ok, here it goes.

Veggie Sushi Wushu! What better way to make use of whats left of your vegetables than to roll it up with Nori and dip into something YUM. If its getting really hot where you are, as it is here, this'll cool you down without sacrificing spice and flavor. Also, when was the last time you enjoyed freshly grated carrots? Its surprisingly refreshing, crunchy and sweet. Its easy to make magic with these things, seriously.

- 2 or 3 medium-sized carrrots grated (the amount will have to depend on how much sushi you want to make)
- 2 stalks of celery with leaves, finely chopped
- half cup chopped spring onions
- 2-3 nori/seaweed sheets
*note: obviously you can mix in other vegetables too like grated radish or beets or greens - experiment!

For the Lemon Tahini dressing, mix:
- juice of half a lemon (about 2-3 tbsps of it)
- 2 tbsps tahini (its sesame seed paste/butter. go get a bottle now, you'll love it. :)
- 2 tbsps nama shoyu or soy sauce
- dash of paprika
- dash of chilli powder OR wasabi
- light drizzle of agave syrup or honey (optional)

1. Ready your sushi assembly line. Lay out your nori sheet, long side up. Fill and layer your veggies.

2. Top with your Lemon Tahini dressing and start rolling. I'm no master of this so its normal to have irregular bumps and spaces. Seal with a bit of water or oil on the edges of your nori sheet.

3. Chop, serve, enjoy.

Our dedicated tester finishing his melon quickly before I eat all the sushi 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Easy Herby Mushroom Sandwich

My mental name-generator isn't working so well today. I guess we'll just have to settle with Herby Mushroom sandwich. Hey Herb, how ya doin'?
Anyway, this is a super easy quick veg sandwich that'll make you happy and smiling in a matter of minutes - those precious MINUTES.

We will need:
- handful of fresh mushrooms sliced not too thinly
- half cup of sliced eggplant cut to fit your sandwich
- handful of fresh basil leaves
- slices of fresh tomato
- whole wheat bread slices
- Balsamic vinaigrette (simply mix 2tbsps of olive oil with 2tbsps of Balsamic vinegar, add a bit of agave syrup or honey - whatevers available, and mix. set aside)

1. in a non-stick pan or grill, lightly toast your sliced mushrooms and eggplant until they sweat a bit.

2. dip your toasty mushrooms and eggplant into your Balsamic vinaigrette. have them sit there for a little bit, absorb those juices, then assemble on to your slice of bread.

3. layer in some tomato slices and top with some fresh basil leaves. Enjoy.

Rawventures: Brasil nut paté

Heres something for anyone with a need for something nutty, sour, and spicy. Goes perfectly well with celery and carrot sticks or as a filler for veg sushi (or bread and breadsticks, whatever you fancy). The key is to soak the nuts overnight for a creamier texture. oh, and pickled sundried tomatoes. :)

- half cup of Brasil nuts (soaked overnight)
- 1/4 cup mix of cashew nuts and/or sunflower seeds (soaked overnight)
- 1/4 cup pickled sundried tomatoes (if not available, soak 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes with the juice of half a lemon, mix in a bit of chopped parsely and oregano and drizzle with olive oil. let sit overnight)
- 3-4 tbsps of olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small sized red bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- dash of paprika
- dash of chilli powder (or more if your HOT)

1. Mix everything in your food processor or mortar then pulse or grind to a paste.
2. Serve in a bowl. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wedding in Alassio

From Wedding in Alassio

About a month ago we witnessed a lovely wedding in Alassio, a sweet little town by the sea in the northern region of Leguria where roads take you to Italy's neighbor, France. Francesca, the bride, looked amazing with her dress, a simple yet elegant gown colored with light blue stripes reflecting the color of the sea and sky in spring. Edward, the groom, blushed and smiling under the sun and us happy, enjoying the weather and the wonderful company - it was a pleasure indeed.

Corrado, a friend greets the bride
Oh, and I designed the wedding invite too! It was their idea to have a retro postcard with an image of old Alassio and its shoreline.

Old black and white photo of Alassio reframed, sepiafied and redistressed
The next morning, Alassio still looking like it did in the postcard

Friday, June 10, 2011

Waiting Game

Isn't it in everyones highschool memory - a classroom of bored kids, not one raising their hand when the teacher raises a question? Ok, so maybe one or two achievers will take the chance and give it a go -but only when their absolutely certain they got the right answer. The rest, even those who know the answer, just wont.

But what about situations with no exit, situations that require you to choose, to pass the exam, to cross the bridge? Most people still prefer to take the last turn, skirting the edges like they could avoid it, pretending its not happening until it does and when it really does, it happens. and then its over. it wasn't so bad afterall.

I call it the waiting game. The futile passing of time, the avoidance of truth, the resistance to accept what is there, and the dark cloud of nostalgia playing repeat scenes of things that just aren't happening anymore - now. One such case is a close acquaintance that just really annoys me with looong extended discussions over the past and wishes without taking any real action in making them happen. It ticks me off more than normal, like an inactive volcano suddenly billowing dark smoke.

Perhaps the pregnancy is making me less and less tolerant. Knowing well that the impending birth of my baby is inevitable and unavoidable, I find it appaling to have someone complain about the slightest discomfort (or non-discomfort). If after a while it starts to sound like whining, I'll really have to contain myself or I'll have to bluntly have them shape up soon or I'll be forced to inflict physical harm.

I've always been a peace-loving, tree-hugging, spiritual junkie type but these days I'm sharpening my wits, getting ready for the last phase of this creation story in my belly. I've never been more honest and frank before and it actually feels good to just get it out there, have the world take it as it is - its big and strong enough to handle it anyway.

So thats it. Dissapointment is part of not getting what you want, but thats normal, it happens and it ought to happen. How boring to have everything going perfectly well all the time - you'll thank life for that later, I'm sure.