Monday, September 19, 2011

Geilsi de Antonio

Local winery in San Quirino, Italy.
Family owned and operated.

53% of their wines are contracted for export to the United States and 
its territories (Guam and Puerto Rico) and can be found
at most military installations. 

If you ask me that's a very impressive clientele. 
Needless to say the owner and his family 
are very grateful (and gracious) to Americans.


Husband and I are so lucky to have had the opportunity to
visit this local business. 

We're all about supporting small local business if it hasn't become apparent in my
previous posts (about olive oilswines, or honey).

So needless to say we walked out of this place with 10L of wine
which only costed about 30 euro (or about $40).
A HUGE  steal for fantastic wine.

It is a small operation but what they put out is amazing.

When we requested our wines the Lady of the winery 
went to these boxes and pulled them out for us. 
(seriously, the owner's wife came over and started opening 
boxes and loading our wines onto a palette.)

I just thought that was really neat. 

I want to know if you've tried this wine back in the states
and what your thoughts are of them.

Post a comment below!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ciasa di Gahja

So I'm sure you've heard of the traditional Italian lunch
and how it is course after course of
incredible food that can span 
over hours of non stop eating
and drinking.

I kid you not- it's real!

Husband and I got to experience a traditional Italian lunch at
Ciasa de Gahja in Bodoia, Italy.

It is a quaint dinning room with enough to seat 60 guests
just off to the side of a beautiful in ground swimming pool
shaded by trees and flanked by another
dinning area and a fully stocked pool side bar.

The staff is comprised of students who 
either just graduated from
or are still attending 
IAL Scuola Alberghiera di Aviano.
Which if you didn't know, 
is a culinary school perfectly situated on the
hill top overlooking the entire city of Aviano. 

I think it's awesome that this local restaurant chooses to hire
people from their local culinary school. 

Personally, I think because you hire "in-house" customers are more likely
to receive better customer service because 
the staff want to represent their hometown in a way 
that entices us visitors to return with our friends and family.

Anyway, enough with the technical mumbo jumbo. 
Let's talk about FOOD!

It was a set meal so we didn't have to fuss with figuring out what we wanted to order. 
Usually it starts with an antipasti that consists of cured meats and cheeses
but we skipped that and went right into the Primi.

First course:

It may look simple and that is the point. Italians are simple cooks- they take the BEST 
of whatever the ingredient may be and prepare it just enough
to highlight what is incredible about the ingredient in the first place. 

On the left is a simple risotto with peas and carrots. But it was the most
delicious risotto I've ever had in my life. The penne on the right 
was just tossed with fresh tomatoes and fresh cracked pepper. Boom- INCREDIBLE.

Secondi, the meat course:

Husband and I both chose the sea bass. It was grilled to perfection 
then braised in tomato sauce. Along with the sea bass we had
grilled zucchini and carrots. I thought it was weird
that they rounded out the course with a heaping mound
of good ole American mashed potatoes. 
(I think it was their way of 'comforting' us.)

I wasn't a huge fan of the mashed potatoes (but not because it wasn't good, just
because I don't like it in general) so that went untouched.

 Scroppino or Grappa:

So it's believed that drinking spirits after your meal aids in digestion.
Here in Italy your choices are either
Scroppino or Grappa. 
Scroppino is a delicious drink made with lemon gelato and vodka.
It's blended together and served in a champagne glass.
If you venture right around Aviano you'll find other restaurants that
experiment with their scroppino flavors such as 
mango, pineapple, or green apple. 

Grappa on the other hand is not for the faint of heart.
It's around 70-120 proof.
It is made by distilling all the left overs (the skins, seeds, stems, etc.) of the grape 
after being pressed for wine.
I will not be trying grappa anytime soon.


Here is a sampling of their desserts. 
Starting on the top right is semifreddo. 
Semifreddo is a half frozen ice cream cake. This flavor happened to be strawberry.
Then a slice of pineapple for the health conscious. 
(I think it was a humorous stab at my husband)
To the left of the pineapple is a simple yet scrumptious
apple tart that I could have eaten the entire pie of.
And lastly on the top left is panna cotta with mixed berries. 

Dessert is always my favorite course so I was sad when my plate came up empty.

And finally the cafe:

Or in my case, "Uno cappuccino"
The best cappuccinos on the planet are found in Italy.

The little boost of energy at the end of the meal is meant to 
give you enough strength to pull yourself
off the table and into your car, bicycle, 
or on your feet to take you home just in time for
RIPOSO or nap time!

Yes, Italians stop their work, close up shop for 3-4 hours every afternoon
to eat their 3 course meal and take a nap.

Personally, I see no problem with this. =)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Basilica di San Marco

The Cathedral of Saint Mark in Pordenone is the first cathedral we got to visit since moving to Italy. I've never quite appreciated the environment of a church because all my life I thought the statues and paintings inside most Catholic churches were a bit... ah... creepy.

But there is something absolutely incredible about this church and from what I hear many others in this country. My pictures do not do it justice in the least. I almost think that my pictures take away from the actual beauty that this church possesses.


We also climbed the steps of the bell tower directly outside the church, not quite sure how many steps there are but chatter seems to think somewhere around 280 but they were tiny steep steps- a serious leg workout for sure. 

Here are a couple pictures of the view from the top of the bell tower. 
We are overlooking downtown Pordenone.

The picture directly above is of the church we were just inside. 

Well that was our little adventure to the cathedral. I hope you enjoyed looking at the pictures and if you've been to this cathedral, I'd like to hear about it. Post a comment below! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Porcia Market

Italian street markets are super neat!
During the first week that we were in Italy 
we got to experience the market in Porcia. 

The entire town center was closed off to cars
because the streets were lined with all sorts
of stores ranging from locally 
grown produce, locally caught seafood,
locally manufactured textiles like clothes,
shoes, rugs, etc.

Husband and I were less interested in trinkets 
and textiles although it was so impressive
to browse through.

Of course, the food grabbed our attention at first sight. 
A colorful array of marinated olives,
incredibly crumbly cheeses,
stinky cheeses, and creamy cheeses,
not to mention all sorts of beautifully cured meats
waiting for me to take home! 

Here are a few snap shots of the vendors we shopped from. 

On Tuesdays the Aviano town center is closed down for 
the market. I'm hoping I get to check
that one out since it is closer to where
we're currently staying. 

I'm sure I'll post pics from that market so check back in a week or so!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gorgazzo Springs

I wish I had more information about the Springs in Gorgazzo.
Unfortunately, I only know that it is a beautiful and peaceful place.

From what I understand (gathered from various websites online) and without regurgitation, the spring is quite unique. It's basically the deepest siphon in Europe. I think that's really neat. You can read more about this spring by clicking here.

Below are a few pictures that I took a couple weeks back. Just as a disclosure, I'm NOT a professional photographer, I'm not even really good at the "point and shoot" technique but these pictures turned out INCREDIBLE simply because of how gorgeous this place really is.

One thing I am looking forward to is during the Christmas Eve mass that is celebrated at this spring
apparently a couple of diver's jump in with flash lights and swim down to crown the Christ of the Abyss which is located at the cave's entrance 10 meters underwater.

When I attend this mass I'll be sure to post those pictures. I'm sure it's a dreamy sight to see!

If you've been to the Springs in Gorgazzo, I'd like to hear about it.
Post a comment below sharing your experience.

Honey Honey Honey

In the nearby town of Gorgazzo, we stopped by a little shop that made honey.

I like honey.

Husband and I were not as excited about it because come on, it's just honey.

But let me tell you- this is not JUST honey.

It is like liquid gold from the heavens put upon this Earth to make life exponentially sweeter.

Words cannot even describe the taste of this honey, even the texture is smoother and more enjoyable than any other honey I've ever put in my mouth.

I suppose bees in Italy are just happier or something because boy oh boy their honey is phenomenal!

There are three different types of honey that this small local business produces. They are very distinct in color, texture, flavor and scent. I was able to try all three and I had the hardest time settling on just one. The honey is available for sale in two sizes, large and larger. I took one jar of large, it cost me 2 euro and 60 cents.

The first one I tried was light gold, think Goldilocks. Or the brightest yellow on the picture above. The texture was light almost like a watered down sugar free syrup or even perhaps liquid sugar or simple syrup. The flavor was very faint in sweetness as well but pronounced corn flavor. Definitely a great honey for your morning cup of tea, if you do green tea or herbal teas. A darker tea would completely mask the flavor of this particular honey.

The second one was their most popular honey. It was your classic jar of honey in the sense of color, and texture. I was thinking that when I taste it nothing spectacular was going to come of it. I could not have been more wrong!!! The flavor of this honey is indescribable. All I think of when I taste is 'perfection.' It is called millefiori or "a thousand flowers" and you can taste the complexity of the flowers in the honey in such a way that you can eat a spoonful of honey just to enjoy its unique flavor.

Finally, the last honey I tried was made from bees that collected from chestnut flowers. It was a deep caramel color and thick to dispense. It was aromatic and strong and it brought on a sense of winter. Think, chestnuts roasting on an open fire... I enjoyed the flavor very much but the only thing I could think to use it for was as the sweetener in brownies. I'm not a huge fan of unitaskers so I opted against it.

Overall it was a great store. I was happy to help out a local business and I left there with a huge smile on my face and with enough sugar energy to run a marathon!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On the road to Awesometown.

Let me set the scene.

It's 11pm and we just got home from dinner with our friends on our last night in Phoenix. 
We have to wash all our clothes and fit all the
randoms around the house (that we forgot to ship) into two bags. 
The house is a wreck which we have to clean up for the new home owners as best as we can
before our mandatory 6am international check in at the airport.

When all is said and done and Husband and I get to climb into bed and
when we checked the clock it said 3am. FML.

"It's no big deal" I tell myself. "We're on our way to Italy!"

After what seemed like a 5 minute nap the alarms scream for us to wake up.
We throw our luggage into the trunk of our tiny
rental car and drive like zombies to the airport.

Finally after four hours on the packed plane we arrive in Philly.

Already things are looking up. It's not 103 degrees outside and it was actually raining!
Immediately my mood improved. 
The 9 hour flight to Italy will be a breeze!

Turns out it was more like a 7 hour and 45 minute flight and it really was a breeze.
Husband and I woke up just in time as we flew over 
what we believe to be Mont Blanc in France. 

This hasn't been confirmed but by the process of elimination and
just common sense, we're willing to put money on the 
fact that this was in fact Mont Blanc.

Anyway, finally we arrive at the Marco Polo International airport in Venice
and I can't stop smiling. I must have looked
like a crazy person because of my crazy hair, lack of makeup, and the
biggest creeper smile on the planet!

Husband has pictures on his phone of us flying over Venice.
When we actually get around to downloading
all his photos I'll be sure to post them here.

I want to know what your thoughts are on this mountain. 
Is it really Mont Blanc or were we way off??

Post a comment below if you know what mountain this is!

And stay tuned for more posts from Italy!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Packing up

Finally! The house is all packed up and ready for the big move!!! 

After six years in Phoenix it's finally time to call it quits in the Valley of the Sun.
It's on to bigger and better things in beautiful Italy!

Don't get me wrong, we had a blast while living in Phoenix. We came here with an open mind and an appetite for adventure and luckily we're able to leave with a sense of closure and satisfaction.

A few things I think I'll come to miss is the array of awesome fast and healthy food. Chipotle, I will miss you the most. But along with the food I'll of course miss my wonderful family of friends that we've made over the years. I can't wait for everyone to come out and visit!

I know many people who have to go through a big change like a trans-Atlantic move fear that their lives will never return to "normal." But for me, I welcome the fact that everything will be different and challenging! I really like being a foreigner!

Here are a few pics of the house all wrapped up and on its way to Europe. I can't wait to show you how it looks when we get to unwrap everything again!! Stay tuned!!

 I want to hear about you big move. Feel free to share any tips on making the transition easier and less stressful by commenting below.