Pavè Milano

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pave 4Ristorante Italiano

I’m looking forward THIS much to my next trip to Milano with Charlotte in May! It’s been a while since we diva city tripped together, so it will be a great opportunity to catch up. It’s hard to not talk every single day about what a beautiful country Italy actually is. Each two weeks, my Italian friend, Chiara, still sends me a text message to ask me how I’m doing. Talkin’ about a great friend!

Today, I came across this nice place in Milano on Pinterest (hey, follow me!) and I instantly cheered up when I saw the bright colours. This makes me want to visit Milano (although it will be my 7th time) even more!!

(:

Music Monday: Bonobo

Everytime I hear this song, it reminds me of my stay in Italy, where I met my amazing colleague Chiara.

This Lunedi Musicali is for her.

In this picture, Chiara stands between my nieces Tine & Anneleen.

A kiss for you

Che cos’è un bacio? 

 Un apostrofo rosa tra le parole “t’amo”.

Miss Blue Sky

The sun is shinin’ in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight.
It’s a beautiful new day.
Runnin’ down the avenue, see how the sun shines
Brightly in the city on the streets

Especially with my blue flower dress as part of my sunny style. Hey, you with the pretty face, take a look at the darling details of this dress, it makes you want to sing a happy song!  It’s stopped rainin’ and everybody’s playin’, so I threw on this dress, took my Diana Mini and went for a day of shopping in the sun in Milano!

I’m also ‘pleased’ to tell you that I booked my ticket back home. As from next saturday, I will be spreading my love and stories about Italy to you. Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Home…
Such a weird word, isn’t it?
I am feeling ‘at home’ right now, here in Italy.
Let’s conclude that home is where the heart is, shall we?

You are what you eat

If you are what you eat…

Then I am a ‘Kremmeke’.

Wanted: a bella notte (or a tramp)

How were your last two weekends?

Mine were great! Really. Great.

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When in Italy, act like the Italians. Part 3: Negroni Sbagliato

Writing about alcohol, something I thought I would never do. (But,…I did.)

As you know, I grew up in Belgium. A.k.a: the Beer Country. The strange thing now is that, here in Italy, I already drunk some Belgian beers, which I hardly or never drink in Belgium itself. This goes from Duvel and Chimay, to Westmalle and Affligem. But, when in Italy, act like the Italians. So, on the advice of a colleague of mine, I tried out a Negroni.

The Negroni

After some research, I found out that the regular Negroni cocktail is made of one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, and one part bitters, like the traditional Campari, which originates in Milano, close to Bergamo. It is considered an apéritivo, a pre-dinner cocktail intended to stimulate the appetite. One of the earliest reports of the drink came from Orson Welles, while working in Rome in 1947, where he described the drink as: “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” I couldn’ agree more!

But… I didn’t drink the regular Negroni. Oh no. I drunk the Negroni Sbagliato.

Cosa?

The Negroni Sbagliato (“wrong” in Italian and pronounced [zbaliato]) uses sparkling wine, like prosecco, instead of gin. Punt e Mes Negroni replaces standard red vermouth with a specific, distinctively more bitter-tasted brand called Carpano. Coincidentally, my grandfather Richard Everaerts formerly raced for the Italian team Punt e Mes – Carpano. The death of  the Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt  in the beginning of this week, during the Giro D’Italia 2011, gave me goosebumps, but also made me indirectly think of my grandfather, aslo a cyclist who deceased too young.

Sometimes, life isn’t fair…

(O, to end with a positive note: I liked the Negroni Sbagliato.)

Diva City Trippin’

Last weekend, one of my very best friends (I don’t like to use that word often, but in this case it is more than true), C. came to visit us, and we headed up to… Milano! I realized again how refreshing it can be to head out with my girl for fun times. The city was ours and the possibilities were endless.

C. likes:

  • Laughing
  • Talking (a lot)
  • Coffee
  • Cooking & Eating
  • Shopping
  • Sporting
  • … 

And so do I! Meeting up with her is always fun and makes my head explode with joy and yumminess. It felt so good to see her again, do the things we both like to do, no responsibilities, with good food and the world sitting at our feet…

Which city is next on our list, C.?

Cervia – Milano Marittima – Ferrara – Bologna

I am sitting on a train.
Waiting.
Ready to 
leave Bergamo behind me for one weekend.
I’m heading south,
to the coast.

When I take a peek outside the window, I see people coming in and out of the train. Their faces look as grey as the sky above us. Without any expression. It’s weird to see how strongly the weather marks people’s moods. I can see the disappointment in their eyes when they notice the rain.

Two hours later, I find myself in Verona train station. This is the city of Juliette and her balcony. And Romeo, of course. Oh Romeo… Jasmina and I wanted to go for a cappuccino in the city, near the famous balcony, but the rain kept us inside the station, waiting for our next train. I like the feeling when I’m checking people around me in a train station. It makes me feel invisible and relaxed in a place with a lot of stress and hurry.

Back on the train, I open my book and put on some music. Within a blink of the eye, I’m submerged in a total different place. It’s as if I’m swimming in my own little perfect world for about 4 hours, passing by a lot of cities. My lips are playing mechanically with the gum in my mouth. I smile at the man sitting beside me as he is humming a song while looking out of the window. I feel like asking him what he is thinking about. Which song he is humming. Out of the blue, a voice above me breaks all the magic. We reached Cesena, a city not far from the Adriatic coast.

Suddenly I feel as excited as a kid on Christmas, glowing like a Christmas tree light bulb as the weather is better when I get off the train. Then I see M., and a feeling of instant happiness hits me in the face. (M. is an Italian friend of mine who I met last year, during my internship at Vlerick Leuven Gent Managementschool. When we said goodbye last year, I knew I was going to meet him again someday in my life.) It feels so great to see him back after almost one year. He takes us to our cosy hotel in Cervia, a hidden pearl at the Adriatic coast. I notice that the light in the sky changes into brighter colours as we are approaching the ocean by car. My eyes shine, just like the sky, although it is still a little grey.

Then I see the sea. Two friends meeting each other again…

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Buona Pasqua!

Happy Easter!

And beware of the big brown bunny with the chocolate eggs.

You can give them to me instead.

I wouldn’t mind.

La Colomba di Pasqua

Holidays bring out the best in people from all over the world when it comes to baking traditions.

Also in Italy! Did you for example know that chocolate eggs were invented in Torino in the 1800’s as a substitute of the traditional exchanging of chicken eggs? Chicken eggs represented the end of fasting. But not only (chocolate) eggs are present in the Italian Home at Easter. Also vegetables, lamb and cakes in the form of a colomba are indispensable at this time of the year.

Euh, scusi,…Colomba??

Si! La Colomba di Pasqua is one of the key symbols of the Italian Easter. In the early 1900s the Milanese company “Motta” decided to make a dessert cake with a similar composition to panettone (the dessert cake of the Italian Christmas), but with an aspect directly connected to Easter. This dessert cake is baked in the shape of a pigeon, the symbol of peace, as “colomba” literally means “pigeon”.

Tradition has it that Colomba’s are made in several steps. They must be soft and aromatic on the outside and moist on the inside. The most important ingredients are butter, sugar, almonds and dried fruits (like orange or mango) enriched with the flavor of amaretto. The dough has to rise for one entire night before baking it in the pigeon-shaped paper molds.

I looked with a lot of amusement at the colorful pre-packaged “pigeon” breads available in the Italian supermarkets these days, but to be honest, I fail to see the bird shape, as to my eye they more resemble a cross. I tasted some Colomba at work (and during the Italian lesson, loved it) and I must say that they taste more than OK for industrial bread. But as everyone readily knows, I’m fonder of home-baked stuff so I definitely want to try to make one myself when I get home!

But first, I’ve got to find those pigeon-shaped paper molds. Help!

When in Italy, act like the Italians. Part 2: making coffee

The days when coffee was just “coffee” are fortunately long long gone. Today, a cup of coffee deserves as much appreciation as a glass of wine or a fine meal. It would also be hard to think of Italy without thinking of coffee. After all it is the national breakfast and the home to coffee drinks.

No, coffee was not invented in Italy, but coffee culture as we know did originate there. Legend has it that a young shepherd in Abyssinia (the former Ethiopia), named Kaldi, noticed that his goats grazed near shrubs that produced bright red berries. The goats loved to eat them, but straight away, they would become livelier and friskier than usual. Intrigued, the shepherd decided to chew the berries himself and he immediately felt full of strength and forgot his fatigue. A passing monk from a nearby monastery asked the shepherd about his exceptional state and got a handful of berries in response. The monk tried them and felt so alert that he used them to stay awake until dawn the next day, perfectly concentrated during his night prayers. The magic beans would spread across all of Arabia since that day…

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Un giorno a Milano

Milano: An overdose of pretty boys, designer shops, gelaterias and sunshine.

That’s how you can describe in one sentence how our day trip to Milano was. Jasmina and I decided to go there, 1st: because it rained cats and dogs the last time we went there 4 years ago. 2nd: it’s only 48 minutes away by train from Bergamo. 3th: why not?!

Our trip began in the train station of Bergamo. It was the first time we took the train in Italy, so it was a real challenge to explain the lady in the ticket office which tickets we exactly wanted. Thanks to my little book “Italian for Dummies” it was no problemo. Well, to be honest, it was almost no problemo… In Italy, train tickets are valid for 1 month and as we didn’t know that, we also didn’t know that we had to validate our tickets before stepping on the train, which caused a weird conversation with the train conductor when he explained us we had to pay a fine for not validating the ticket. (I can proudly announce that my sweat glands still work perfectly!) Thanks to our pout, our puppy eyes and our “but, sir, it’s the first time we take the train in Italy. No one explained us!”, we luckily came away with a warning and an evil grin from the conductor. Whew!

When we arrived in the train station, I was amazed by the huge old walls. You could almost smell history. On our way to Piazza Del Duomo, we went to Bianco Latte (as recommended by a boy with a very good taste). There, my excitement grew even bigger. Little was wanting or I had asked the owner if I could just stay there for the rest of my life. For real! I wich I could save the smell of the mix between coffee and ice-cream that was blissfully floating around in the air of the store and smell it every time I’m sad.

Instant happiness, I assure you!

After that, we went to the Lomography shop because I was out of rolls of film for my Diana Mini. Then we just strolled around the city, looking at people, buildings, shops, the sky…till we suddenly saw a bright white spot, bathing in the sunlight. With every step we took, our eyes were getting bigger, just like the Duomo, which was rising in front of us. Thanks to the perfect sky and light, this beautiful building looked that day like it does on an expensive postcard. It was almost like Duomo was getting her tan on.

One word: Belissimo!

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A pigeon with megalomania

I’m sitting on a terrace in the centre of Bergamo. It’s a sunny Saturday, people are wearing sunglasses, short shorts and the wind is playing hide and seek with the women’s dresses. Then I notice a pigeon…

A touch of nostalgic feelings suddenly bubbles up in my body, just like the sparkling San Pellegrino water in front of me. I remember the time when I was watching a couple of pigeons which were sitting in a tree at Coupure in Gent. It’s funny to see how their heads are moving up and down with every step they take. It always makes me smile…

Now I’m also smiling when I’m looking at this picture again. The pigeon is in a rather funny position, as if it wants to be bigger. I think he or she is a little megalomania, don’t you think?

You know. I like details. Things almost no one notices. Small things. Beautiful things. Funny things. Such as people I don’t know, but fit perfectly in a picture. Or a nice old floor, or building.  A shadow, or the colours of the sun when it sets. Last Saturday, when I took this picture, somebody else was watching my sister and me. We also noticed him and his red camera. My sister wanted to take a picture of him, because he was also noticing the small things and taking pictures of it, but before we could, he had already taken a picture of us…

It’s great how quick you learn to know new people over here. We had a long talk with L. the photographer with the red camera, laughed with a Chihuahua-puppy as I almost killed it because I hadn’t noticed it,  had some more sparkling water and finally went home to make diner. Later this week, Jasmina and I went to an All You Can Eat place at Porte Nuova, in the middle of the city. Three portuguese guys we learned to know Saturday evening accompanied us. Great food, great view and great company. What do you want more? Our two neighbours A. & M. cooked for us later this week. The real Penne All’Arrabiata! (If you now have the impression I was only at home to sleep, it’s the right one). It’s a pity they are moving to another part of the town on Tuesday. 

P. also invited us over to her place this week and taught us how to make caffè. The real Italian way that is! One of her friends even told us the “special trick” to make coffee as they do at Italian coffee bars. (If you’re lucky, I’ll make one for you when I get home in my brand new Moka) They are such nice people. P. took us for two subsequent Fridays to La Caballo Loco (a latin bar) together with her friend I. to dance some salsa. Or should I say, try to dance some salsa. Two great nights!! Imagine this: a large dance floor, mojitto’s and dancing couples switching of partner after each song. The lovely thing about this all is, they do not change at once. Oh no. The men have to ask the women if they want to dance with them on the next song. Just like the old days. Speaking of old,… my first dance partner was a man who could have been my grandfather, and his hips were still moving and shaking shocking perfectly!

What I also learned this week (besides some salsa moves and some Italian words during the lesson, which isn’t going as well as I thought it would as our teacher is an Italian who only speaks Italian. That’s right, only Italian. But how can one learn a new language without translating it to another language??) is that Italians have a very different idea on the concept of personal space. The “bubble of security” that marks someone’s personal zone is either very limited, or just non-existent.  I often catch myself backing up slowly from a person, grabbing my purse closer to my body (horror film style), as he or she continues to move closer and closer to me. But why do Italians do this? I’m not sure, but maybe it’s because they don’t think twice about personal space, or perhaps they just enjoy being surrounded by people?

I could write so much more about last week. It’s like there just aren’t enough hours in the week, or even in a day, to explain you how things are here. I feel like I still have to see so many places, try out so many food, learn to know so many new people.

And I’m loving it.

Baci,

-D

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