Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Learning to Cook, Tuscan Style

GUYS TOMORROW I GO TO SICILY FOR THE WEEKEND! I am ridiculously excited about this. The food! The sea! Mt. Etna! The Mafia!

However, Sicily is not the only cool thing happening to me this week - my program took us on a cooking lesson at a local restaurant on Monday, where we learned how to make lots of delicious Italian food!

The group, in our stylish aprons

Our chef, Pino, started out by teaching to make the dessert, a biscotti type of deal called cantucci, made with lots of almonds and honey and other delicious things. We got to mix it by hand, and had great fun squishing the eggs, like the 5 year olds we are.

hand mixing!

Wonderful cantucci, all baked

Then it was time for pasta making! We once again reveled in hand mixing (aka squishing eggs), and then ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the pasta making machine - you put a bunch of dough in at one end, turn a crank, and lovely long strips of pasta come out that you can then cut and shape into your desired form of pasta.


pasta strip!

First we made gnocchi (YUM, favorite), which did not require the pasta maker, obviously, as it is just little pillow blobs of potato dough. Then we made tortellini and ravioli and something called caramelle, which looked like little pieces of candy, all of which were stuffed with ricotta and either spinach or eggplant.

forming the pasta

We watched Pino cook some of the pasta and learned that when pasta is freshly made, you just wait for it to bob to the surface for it to be cooked - it takes all of 2 minutes. Delicious. When the pasta was done, he cooked up some to-die-for pumpkin cream sauce and plated up a plate for us.

Crazy deliciousness, with Pino!

Did I mention that this entire lesson was in Italian? I was proud of myself for understanding so much.

After the lesson, we retired to the dining room, where we ate a mind-blowing amount of food. We had 7 different types of pasta. That's right. Seven. I had the biggest food baby in existence. But it was so worth it. How often do you get to have a cooking lesson in Tuscany? You guys. My life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Roman Holiday (aka the longest blog post ever)

Now that I've successfully turned in my monster-sized paper for Cinema, I can finally put up Rome pictures/stories! They're only a month late, don't worry about it. :P

Story number 1 for Rome, and probably the most hectic story that I have from SB12, is the story of that time Kyle and I almost missed our flight from Paris to Rome. Our flight left from the Beauvais airport at 9:30, and Beauvais is 1 1/2 hours away from Paris proper by bus, so Kyle and I were supposed to take the bus at 6:30. This meant that we needed to meet at the subway by 5:30, since we only had an elementary knowledge of the metro system, and we wanted ample time for mistakes. That is hella early. I went out the night before, because I'm dumb, so I got an hour of sleep, and got myself to the metro about 15 mins late.

However, there was no Kyle to be found! I waited for her for about 15 mins, in a groggy stupor, looking at all the business people taking the metro that early in the morning, wondering what kind of horrible job you have to have that requires getting up that early. I finally snapped out of it and realized that our bus left in half an hour, so I needed to find out what was up with Kyle. Of course, my phone decided to break as soon as I got to France, so I had no phone. This meant that I had to go back to Sarah's apartment and call Kyle using Sarah's phone. By the time I woke Sarah up enough to let me in and called Kyle, it was 6:30. My phone call woke her up -she had set her phone for PM instead of AM.

We had obviously missed the bus we were supposed to take, but I found another bus at 7:30,and we decided to go for that one. We tried quite valiantly, but alas, we ran from the metro up to the bus stop in time to see our bus drive away. ASLDJFDS. At this point, I refused to miss our flight, even though we were a mere 2 hours away from lift-off, and still 90 mins from the airport. Kyle found a taxi and we hopped in, and told the man that our flight left at 9:30. He sped us to the airport and figured out which terminal we needed to go to, which was very nice of him, except that he then charged us 145 euro. Yes. 145 euro for a cab ride. It was ridiculous.

We arrived at the airport at 9, when the plane started boarding. When we ran up to the checking desk to get our boarding tickets stamped, there was no line for the Rome flight - it was all shut down, because we were supposed to be, you know, boarding the plane. The nice man at the deskgot all concerned about us and took us to the front of the security line, so that we whizzed through and successfully made it to the plane at about 9:20. Exhausted, we collapsed on the first seats we saw and slept our way to Rome.

This beginning did not augur well for the rest of our stay in Rome, but thankfully the rest of our stay was wonderfully tranquil, and I got to dork out over the ruins and the Vatican! :)

Rome's cityscape

View from a park we found

Trevi Fountain! We saw it at night and threw coins, like good tourists.

Spanish Steps

Roman ruins - I think this is Titus' arch?

ohmygoodnesss it's the Colosseum


More ruins!

Roman Forum

A street performer in Piazza Navona

Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II


Raphael's "School Of Athens"

Outside St. Peter's Basilica! :)

Pieta, what alsdfkjlsadkjfadklfjs

Inside St. Peter's - the rays of light were *perfect*

Bernini's Chair of St. Peter

Tiber! So much Roman murder happened here! ...The classics can be gory.

I could not go to the Borghese to see most of Bernini's works, but at least I saw St. Theresa :)

I know that I just put everyone's brain in picture overload, and I apologize for that. There was just so much to see in Rome! As an art lover and a classicist, I almost died of happiness in Rome. It was pure bliss.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I would love to post Rome pictures, but as you can see, this lion is extremely disappointed in me for even thinking about further procrastinating on the mountains of homework that are waiting for me, so Rome will just have to wait for another day or two, my chickens!

I leave for Sicily on Thursday (SO EXCITED), so never fear, I will have Rome pictures up before then.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cosimo, Il Mio Amore

Does everyone see the cuteness that is this child? This is Cosimo, Stella's 20 month old grandson, and he is possibly the most adorable child in existence. Stella watches him almost every day, so Rachel and I get to play with him all the time, much to our happiness.

He calls us "chiche" (kee-kay), since the last girl that stayed here was named Christina, and he called her Chica. Now he thinks that all the girls that stay in our room are chiche (plural of chica).

Cosimo is quite the boisterous little fellow, and has his own dialect of Italian - Stella calls it Cosimese. For example, "cavallo" (horse) is calacalaca, while "biberon" (bottle) is bimbombom. Moreover, he's very imperious, and orders me around like no one's business. He will come up to me and shout, "Mano!" while holding out his hand, then lead me to the couch, pat it, and say, "Siede." Then we read a book (he's got My First 1000 Words book which has been quite handy for helping me learn my Italian animals, etc.), or cuddle and watch TV. It's the cutest. I think I will take him home with me, ok?

Because seriously, who could resist that?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finally, a Paris Post

Are y'all ready for this jelly? Probably not. Welcome to a post where I throw a ton of Paris pictures at you and also tell you the most memorable stories from my 2ish days in Paris.

First up, the pastries at McCaffe are surprisingly delicious. And cheap! Kyle and I went there for our first breakfast in Paris (duh), and in the midst of our happiness over pain au chocolat, we realized that we were sitting next to a man that I had originally taken as your typical studious Frenchman, but soon revealed himself to be a straight up crazy person. He started talking to himself, and at first we gave him the benefit of the doubt; you know, maybe he was talking on a bluetooth, maybe he was practicing a monologue. NOPE, he was having a long, very intense conversation with himself, in German. Moreover, he soon started laughing to himself. You guys. I am incapable of not laughing when something funny happens, so I started cracking up less than subtly. In fact, I was laughing so hard I cried. When Kyle and I stood up to leave, this man turns and gives us the creepiest leer I have ever seen... he should audition for a horror movie or something. It was an experience.

Moving on, we went to Versailles! Except, oh wait, we went on Monday and the Chateau is CLOSED on Mondays! :( But the gardens were open, and really, the gardens take a full day in and of themselves.

Cheesing at the gardens

Are you sure we can't come in?

Pretty canals!

Too pretty for words.

Then it was Louvre time! We had been planning to go on Tuesday, not Monday, but since Versailles was closed we headed over on Monday. Once we got to the Louvre, we learned that it is closed on Tuesdays, so how handy that we just happened to go on a Monday! Paris pro tip: Versailles is closed on Mondays, the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.

The Louvre, being the Louvre.

Can I just say that the Louvre is ridiculously enormous? Kyle and I spent a whole afternoon going through one third of the museum. One third. In 3 hours. What. Moreover, by the end we were so exhausted from art overload that we were just wandering mindlessly down hallways, glancing right and left at priceless pieces of art, too overwhelmed to take anymore in. I think the Louvre needs about 3 separate days.

After the Louvre...

Sparkly Tour Eiffel!

Arc de Triomphe! (I was too tired to get a decent picture.. whoops.)

The next day, Kyle and I headed back to Versailles for real.

Gold everywhere!

Hall of mirrors!

The Tuileries!

Oh France

It's highly possible that I fell in love with the Seine

Booksellers along the Seine. I barely restrained myself from buying everything.

The lock bridge - lovers come to lock a lock onto the bridge, then throw the key into the river.

Notre Dame

Truly awe-inspiring

And that, my lovelies, was Paris in 2 days. My feet cried out for mercy, but I fell absolutely in love with the city.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

An Italian Easter

Buona Pasqua, everyone! Seeing as I'm in Italy for Easter this year, I got myself out of bed this morning and went to Easter Mass in the Duomo with Kyle and Alli (because guess what, Alli is here this weekend, eeeee!). Obviously I only understood about half of what was said, seeing as it was in Italian, but I really enjoyed it! I've never really been to mass before, so I found it all quite interesting.

Sorry for stealing your pictures, Kyle!

Proof we were there!

Unfortunately, it's a cold, rainy day (what happened to that gorgeous weather we've been having, Siena?!), so we can't really venture outside today, but we do have plans to make french toast for Easter brunch! Hooray!

I know I've been a terrible blogger recently, but I keep getting intimidated by the idea of posting about Paris and Rome... so many stories, and so many pictures! This week I will actually attempt to post some pictures from Paris and Rome, because we saw some fantastical stuff while we were there. Until then, may everyone have a wonderful Easter!