Friday, February 26, 2010

Gratitude Friday & Why I Love to Cook

There’s been this tweet going around regarding why one cooks, so I am joining the answer bandwagon too.

Why I love to cook:

It relaxes me. It’s my quiet time and quality time away from the computer (which we can all use sometimes).

It’s another creative avenue. I like to learn from other cooks (especially my mom and mother in law) and then take part of their idea and add a Megan twist.

My husband is a bottomless pit and the more his stomach can be satisfied, the sweeter he gets (yes, he can be a beast when the “pancia” starts growling!).

With our work schedules, dinner is really our only “family time”, so I enjoy making the extra effort to create something special.

I am a foodie. I love food. I love eating. I love drinking. I love the whole concept behind the "marriage between food and wine". In fact, I thoroughly believe I am even a better cook with a glass of good wine in hand while preparing.

As it is Friday, my gratitude goes to my mother and MIL who got me started and recharged on my cooking kick.

They are excellent cooks, and I am lucky enough to have inherited a smidgen of their talent.

Buon weekend!

Monday, February 22, 2010


What to Do on a Sunny Sunday: Drive a Ferrari!

I wrote this a year ago, but Luigi and I were chatting away about how much fun this was and I think everyone should have their own Ferrari...if not for just 15 minutes! BUON WEEKEND...

So you may all remember my blog just a few weeks ago (the last sunny Sunday we had), we headed down to Forte dei Marmi, where Luigi had a chance to “drive” a Ferrari. That is a toy one! I, of course, made fun of him, stating it would be probably be the only Ferrari he would ever get to drive. Well, I stand corrected.

What started out as a weekend of work conventions (BIT in Milano and then the Salon of Taste in Rimini) turned out to be a bit of a surprise and a very pleasant one at that! Since we would be traveling quite a bit, I chose somewhere half-way between the two cities for us to stay overnight. That half-way point turned out to be Modena, actually Maranello to be precise. Maranello is the hometown of the Ferrari with a great museum and yes, the chance to drive that fantastic little red machine.

We decided to visit the museum before our drive down to Rimini and were greeted in the parking lot by a nice girl asking if we wanted to test drive a Ferrari. Lui’s ears popped up just like Lucy’s when you saying “wanna go for a walk”? I said yes for him, before he could!

The Calfornia (my personal favorite!)

750 Monza 1954

2008 Racer

The legend himself, Enzo Ferrari

The first racer

The museum is a great stop for anyone staying in Bologna, Parma or are passing through (say from Le Cinque Terre area to Venice). You need about an hour’s time to soak it all up. Even for a girl not that interested in cars, I was impressed and intrigued.

Then came time for the big event!

10 minutes and 60 Euros later, I have never seen my husband so much like a over-joyous kid. Absolute satisfaction for the Guerrera family!

Galleria Ferrari

Via Dino Ferrari 43

I-41053 Maranello

tel: +39 0536 943204

Open daily from 9:30am-6pm (7pm in May 1-Sept. 30)

Maranello Rent Car or

Push Start

(Note: representatives for either place will greet you in the museum parking lot. Prices are the same at either. Not cheap, but if you are into this kind of thing, it’s priceless! You can also have a video made for an extra 10 euro.

Good place to stay nearby:

Locanda del Mulino

Via Nuovo Estense 3430

Inexpensive yet charming rooms with a nice restaurant serving traditional Emilia-Romagna food (think prosciutto, tagliata, puffed fried gnoochi, balsamic vinegar, hearty meals).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gratitude Friday: Work?!

The "laboratory"

That’s right, the double edge sword is my savior!

With the “tempesta” outside, it’s almost impossible to get things done around the house. The poor garden is worse for wear, and I am not sure how much damage can be repaired. We’ve got peeling paint and humidity mold building up in the corners of the bathroom (gross). There is a constant stream of water coming in the downstairs kitchen every time it rains. But none of these can be tended to until Mother Nature is done having a fit.

Will our lemon trees survive?

Poor, poor lake, I mean garden!

So, in the meantime, I am “double computer” which for me means LOTS of work. But at the moment, I am so grateful to have it and to be productive (and not feel like Jack Nicholson in The Shining - ha ha!). It fills the days, and some nights, while we wait for spring to arrive.

Lulu desperate for a walk while it rains sideways.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Puglia on my Mind...

After our visit to Puglia last September, we returned home knowing we had seen a lot but only scratched the surface. But here are my first 10 reasons to go to Puglia:

1) I Trulli - Be it Alberobello or the surrounding countryside dotted with these with these circular dwellings, they are beautiful and unique to look at.

2) The Beaches - You’ll never get the SoCal girl out of me, so beaches are very important. Here you will find endless miles of white sand beaches and turquoise water. Simply heaven to me!

3) Pesce Crudo - Ok, maybe not everyone is a fan, but I am crazy about fish. Puglia has its own twist on sushi and frankly it’s better! Note, there are several “beach huts” where you can enjoy this delicacy with feet in sand at the same time.

4) Ostuni - This whitewash hill town stands out like a cupcake against the Pugliese countryside. Roam its cobblestone streets, enjoy its cute shops and some very fine restaurants.

5) Bari - Is beautiful and sophisticated, who knew?! Love its somewhat gritty “centro storico”, its tree-lined shopping district and pretty seaside promenade. Locals say “the closer you are to Bari, the better the food gets”. Who needs more than that?

6) I Taralli - Piemonte has the grissini and Puglia has the taralli, delightful, one is never enough bread munchies served with just about every meal.

7) Burrata - Soft, rich, and gives mozzarella di bufala an run for its money!

8) The Landscape - I couldn’t get over the crisp contrast between the red “terra”, the white rocks, verdant olives trees with trunks as big as a truck and the blue, blue sky. Just gorgeous.

9) Lecce - They call it the “Florence of the South” but I found the architecture even more interesting and “allegra” (sorry Florence!). The old city is (mostly) blocked off to traffic, making it easier and more fun to stroll and explore.

10) The History - Puglia was (is) the point where East meets West in Italy. Dating back to the Paleolithic Age and having been conquered by no less than 8 civilizations (Greek, Roman, Norman, Spanish, etc.), there is an incredible mix of cultures, gastronomy, traditions. Maybe only rivaled by Sicily in its diversity.

Remember, this is just a start. I welcome any and all other points to add to the list. For more stories and information on Puglia, I suggest the following sites and blogs:

Molfetta Daily Blog

Jeff in Puglia

Puglia Connection

Amid the Olive Trees

Viaggiare in Puglia

Puglia Uncovered

Monday, February 08, 2010

What To Do on a Sunny Sunday...

The only Ferrari my husband may ever have...

What a wonderful feeling to wake up Sunday morning to almost blinding sunlight in our bedroom. (It’s been a long time, Mr. Sun.) And then to be able to go outside and have tea on the terrace holding my face up to the golden rays. Oh what a way to start the day!

It was definitely too gorgeous a day to waste with errands and chores around the house as planned. Lui and I decide to play hooky and brought our little friend, Simona, along with us for the ride...

First stop: pizza, really really good pizza.

La Siciliana..yummmmm...

Then we headed 30 minutes south to the bustling beach town of Forte dei Marmi for an afternoon passagiata and some window shopping. I happen to like “Forte”. It’s not the usual stop on the “americans trip to Italy”, because it’s not the typically envisioned walled hill town or tiny seaside fishing village. But it is a a quite charming resort area with lots of good restaurants, outdoor cafes, mid to high end shopping (yes, there is a Gucci, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana).

Downtown Forte

It also has a great wide open beach dotted with colorful umbrellas in the summer time and is one of Italy’s top nightlife destinations. It is also located on the main rail line that running north/south from France to Sicily, so not a bad base for exploring NW Tuscany (Pisa, Florence, Lucca) or Liguria (Lerici, Portovenere, Cinque Terre), and the Carrara marble mountains are its eastern backdrop.

So, if you are somewhere in NW Tuscany on a Sunday with nothing to do (ha ha), this is a nice and somewhat “off the beaten path” destination to explore.

On the pier (and the Apuane Alps in the background)...

Surfing the Med, bbbrrrhhhhh!