Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cafe Torino

  The 5 oldest cafes in Torino are all located in the city center. 2 in Piazza Castello and 3 in Piazza San Carlo. I love love love these cafes. The waiters wear tuxedos. The inside decor is centuries years old. The smell of coffee is intoxicating and the history is stimulating. Cafe Torino is one of these cafes and I finally went in with my camera to snap a shot or 2.
After a traditional cappuccino at the bar and a significant amount of people watching, I snap a shot of the elegant staircase. It was closed off to the public so I'm still not sure what's upstairs. I asked the cashier how old is this cafe and she answered, "oh about a hundred years, give or take a few." Is that all?, I said.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Seen Around Town

  My new favorite Italian street sign. This is the "Be aware that there is a theatre on this street" sign.
A classic Vespa parked in front of a pizzeria...just in case you forgot you were in Italy.
We don't have this tomato in the states. It's in season now and it's called a 'cuore buio pomodoro', cow's heart tomato, because of it's funny shape. This weekend I made a calabrese salad with one and it was delicious.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Recipe for Bicerin from AFAR Magazine

  Travel magazine AFAR wrote up a lovely history of Torino's most famous beverage and even though the orgional recipe is a guarded secret, writer Marie Doezema does her best to break it down.

A Sweet Sip of Italy

  When you step through the doorway of Caffè Al Bicerin in Turin, Italy, you enter a sanctuary of sweets. The light from candles on marble-topped tables bounces off mirrors around the dark-paneled room. Shelves behind the counter hold dozens of glass jars full of rainbow-colored candies. Heavy, sugary scents fill the air. This wondrous space is best known for its version of the city’s beloved bicerin (BEE-chay-REEN), a heady beverage made from chocolate, cream, and espresso.
  A café opened on these premises in 1763, but Al Bicerin took its current name a half century or so later, when the drink was invented. While there is some debate among Turinese about which café first created bicerin, all agree that it is descended from the warm 17th-century brew called bavareisa, a blend of coffee, chocolate, and milk served in generous portions. In contrast, the revised concoction was carefully composed of discrete layers—its ingredients poured separately into a small clear glass called a bicerin.
  During the 1800s, cafés were primarily the province of men, but that changed when women took over the operation of Al Bicerin and made it one of the few places in town deemed civilized enough for unaccompanied females. This was no bawdy bar where men drank and smoked. It was demure and classy: a place to sip chocolate, nibble on spoonfuls of zabaione (a cloudlike dessert made from whipped eggs and sugar), or, most daringly, enjoy a glass of vermouth.
From 1910 to 1977, the café was operated by the women of the Cavalli family, including matriarch Ida and her daughter Olga. In 1983, Maritè Costa, raised in a village outside of Turin, bought Al Bicerin. Today, Costa and her husband, Turin native Alberto Landi, maintain the old recipes and traditions. One custom arose from the café’s location, across a small piazza from the Santuario della Consolata, a baroque and neoclassic church that houses an ancient statue of the Madonna. Worshippers popularized Al Bicerin as a place to break their fasts—with bicerin—after communion. “It was the perfect food for that,” says Landi. “You have the chocolate, the coffee to wake you up, and the cream—a lot of calories.”
  As a boy, Landi experienced the café as an integral part of daily life. His mother brought him to Al Bicerin after trips to get vaccinated at the hospital down the block. A hot chocolate was the sugar after the medicine, the perfect thing to placate a 5-year-old with a sore arm.
Over the centuries, the café has also lured a long line of artists and intellectuals, including the Count of Cavour, Alexandre Dumas, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Giacomo Puccini. In more recent decades, author Italo Calvino was known to stop in for a glass. “It has been sort of a protected island,” Landi says of the café. “If you are a very famous person, you can take your table and sit there and read, and nobody will disturb you.”
Al Bicerin (Piazza della Consolata 5, 39/011-436-9325) is but one of many Turin cafés that offer the legendary drink. Other elegant landmarks include Caffè Fiorio (Via Po 8, 39/011-817-3225), founded in 1780, and Baratti & Milano (Piazza Castello 29, Galleria Subalpina, 39/011-440-7138), dating from 1858. Still, the rendition served at Al Bicerin may stir the most curiosity. “A lot of people ask for the recipe, but ours is a secret,” Landi says. “The hot chocolate is prepared with an original formula. It’s cooked for many hours and is very distinctive.” He will confirm one thing about the magic of bicerin. “It’s addictive,” he says. “Chocolate gives happiness.” A

Bicerin(serves 2)
Caffé Al Bicerin’s exact recipe is closely guarded. Writer Marie Doezema adapted this one from several that she tested.
1 cup whole milk
3 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, chopped
4 shots espresso
1⁄2 cup freshly whipped cream, sweetened to taste
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk and the chocolate together until boiling. Whisk vigorously for a couple of minutes until foamy. Remove from heat.
2. Slowly pour the warm chocolate mixture into two clear glasses, preferably small goblets with stems.
3. Being careful not to disturb the bottom layer of hot chocolate, trickle two shots of espresso into each glass.
4. Top the drinks with whipped cream. Serve immediately; provide spoons.
Photos by Andrea Wyner.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Terrific TED Talk on Travel

  I am officially inspired!

     "Award-winning food and travel writer Lavinia Spalding encourages listeners to become travel writers, and speaks about how sharing travel stories can contribute to global understanding and change." Ted Talks

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Bees Have Taken Over!

  A swarm of bees have made a home just outside our apartment in Rapallo in the garage building. There are millions of them and the sound of a million bees is loud! They don't scare me...that much but it is intimidating to see so many togather. It's hard to imagine so I took some video to show you.I hope they make some honey...

Monday, May 14, 2012

This is How Italians Celebrate...

...when their team (in this case Torino's own Juventus), wins the Serie A Crown Title. That's the team on the parade bus as it crawls through the piazza.
 Yes this was in front of our house. Yes it went all night long.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Before and After Restoration of the Gazebo in Rapallo

  One of my very favorite spots in Rapallo is the city gazebo with a stunning 19th century mural inside representing the allegory of music. One day, to my horror, they decided it needed a low cost restoration, you can see in this before picture where the paint is fading.
After restoration, you can see where they just half-ass plastered over the artwork.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Only One of These Windows is Real

The rest are painted decor. Typical of Liguria and I always think that it's done with a sense of humor.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

If You Are Planning a Trip to Itay This Summer...

Watch this video first, for some good advice on the safety of your belongings!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Love Letter To Torino From Torino

  Watch this video postcard of Torino. A commercial or love letter, if you will, to Torino from Torino. If this doesn't convince you to visit this beautiful city...nothing will!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


  In my attempt to learn Italian I am always on the look out for new and fun ways to learn. I have discovered a plethera of classic films online that help me study. Staring Sophia Loren and Marchello Mastroianni, Matrimonio all' Italiana is a comedy showing just how far a woman will go to get the man she wants to marry her. Sophia plays an escort that falls for mamma's boy but handsome Marchello. No matter what she tries he resists marriage but it's what finally catches him that is surprising and so cleaver. The temperous Italian passion, cleaver trickery, and 60's fashion really make the film fun Italian practice.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Song of the Day

How were the 70's in Italy? They were like this:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Scenes from the Holiday Weekend in Rapallo

  It was Labor Day weekend in Italy and everyone and their grandma were at the seaside for their first chance to sun bath of the season.