Archive for February, 2008
My good friend from college….Samantha is coming today for my bridal shower my cousins are throwing for me on Saturday. Sam will leave on Sunday. I’m thrilled because it’s almost never that we get out-of-town visitors and it’s always fun to show people around.
Tomorrow Alex and I both have the day off…..I think we’ll start off with brunch at South Congress Cafe and then just go from there! I wish the weather were a smidge warmer so we could do something involving water and bathing suits. But summer will be here soon enough in which case I’ll be wishing the triple digits away!
Alex and I both took this past Friday off so we (including my mom and dad) could make a trip to Houston to pick up the last piece of paperwork needed here in the U.S. for our marriage in Italy. We drove the 3 hours down to Houston Thursday evening, forcing us to DVR Lost and the Democratic Debate which was in Austin. (we’ve been back for three hours and still have to watch both……ahhhh I need to catch up)!!!
…with the whole blog thing lately! A good deal is happening and I feel like I have a lot to talk about but I’m just not putting in the time. I’ve actually had a mental list going for a good while, of things I need to “blog” down.
For the past two years Alex and I have been celebrating the big VDay on February 13th…basically it allows us to get reservations at whichever restaurant we want and we get to avoid some of the crowds.
This year I chose Vespaio, an Italian (of course) eatery on South Congress. We’d heard great tales of this magical place for so long :-) and had to give it a try for ourselves. The reservation was for 6:30…we left at 6 and didn’t take into account that “Yes, there will be lots and lots of traffice!” Ugh, it goes without being said that we were late…….half an hour late and they had just crossed our names off the list as we walked through the doors and acted as if it couldn’t be undone. I mean, c’mon….what’s the difference……..”Would you please UN-cross it off the list.”
Whatever, we had to wait an extra hour because of this and were finally seated around 7:45 (hmph)! In the meantime we strolled around shops on SoCo. We started our meal off with an appetizer plate of salami, house cured olives, mozzarella, arugula salad, and foccaccia. The plate was great and the flavors (esp. those of the salami) brought us both RIGHT BACK!
For the main course I ordered ricotta/spinach ravioli while Alex had the Bolognese Lasagna. Since this place is known for being super-authentic we were both a little surprised by the mountain of mozzarella melted over each plate. I practically had to break out the excavating tools to find my ravioli. Both dishes were good……we just expected a teensy bit better!
And for dolci I ordered the chocolate creme brulee which was reminiscent of really thick chocolate pudding. We both had leftovers boxed up and we left for home. However, halfway home I realized we left our boxed leftovers on the table……argh, so frustrating!
We’re glad we tried it…….now on to the next :-)
For the “real” Vday we played it low key at the casa and made “Love Tacos” and watched Lost, which by the way blew my socks off………I now have 5,395 new questions and 22 answers. Gah, it’s just soooo good!
To all of you out there experiencing the normal frigid temps winter brings along……I’m sorry! Austin, Texas really delivered today and made me remember all over again why I love living here. We always experience broad temperature spreads here……it’s how we do it :-) This morning I started off the day in the sunshine (per usual) but with a long sleeved tee, sweat pants, and a jacket when I took Saci out for her morning “business” run. Fast forward to 12:15ish (my lunch break) and it was no cooler than 82…..I was near sweating in my jean jacket. But that was fine by me. Once we got home I slipped on shorts and a tank top and lounged by the pool (even though it was freezing) and then went on a long job with Alex and the dog.
Love it! This weekend is supposed to be just as lovely *sigh
And on the wedding front Alex and I have all the paperwork in order for us to retrieve our Atto Nottorio from the Italian Consulate in Houston. Basically it’s a document allowing us to get married in Florence in a timely manner! I called Daniele Ansaldo at the consulate the other day and set up our appointment for February 22nd! I love how they answer the phone in Italian and it gives me the opportunity to say, “Buongiorno! Parla Inglese?”
Anyway, this past Friday evening Alex and I did our usual date night and tried out Bess Bistro. The owner is none other than Sandra Bullock, one of Austin’s more famous inhabitants. If you don’t know where the restaurant is exactly off of Sixth Street you’ll miss it for sure. It has an unassuming awning and steps that lead eaters and other local “foodies” down into the basement of the above building. The lighting is very low and sets a very relaxing, low key mood.
The cuisine could best be described as Classic American Comfort Food meets French Bistro. We tried their Macaroni and Cheese Gratin which was insanely rich and delicious for the first 4-5 bites but then became a little overwhelming. Alex ordered the Friday special which was the Fish and Chips while I went a wee bit more sophisticated and ordered the Porcini encrusted Halibut which couldn’t have been more disappointing. I chose that item on the menu because it seemed exciting and interesting. It turned out to be boring and bland…ugh hate when that happens!
We decided to forego dessert and paid the bill (which was a bit more than we’d prefer to have paid for the food quality we received.)
Maybe we didn’t order the right things, unfortunately, we probably won’t be back to find out :-(
On a more positive note, Alex’s coworker was taking pictures of honeycomb for a project they’re working on and Alex was able to bring it home with him for me to try. Has anyone out there ever tried real, fresh honeycomb? I hadn’t until today and it was amazing, it was instantly satisfying and I love the texture. It’s strange to eat the “comb” but they melt in your mouth! Unfortunately I caught a peek at the price tag of about $9 for a very small amount. I better enjoy what’s left while it lasts!
Two weeks before the Giants played GreenBay in that frostbite, nail biter of a game I had my doubts. Tonight before the Giants played the undefeated, untouchable Patriots….I again had my doubts. I just didn’t think they’d play a smart, clean game again! Thank bajeebus I was wrong. The game rocked, I heard so many announcers as well as people I watched the game with state how it was “the best SuperBowl they’d ever watched!”
Mostly I’m grinning ear-to-ear happy for my dad! The biggest Giants fan I’ll ever know. Despite Eli Manning’s sloppiness last season and for 3/4 of this past season he stuck with them (despite the Sailor-like cursing) and stuck it out in the end. We had 8 people in all at our house……just the fam and two friends. My dad had Giants gear set out for a lot of us to wear. He owns an unGodly amount of Giants apparel! He was boisterous and passionate the entire game…..I had to grin sometimes when the other team made a great play in that he really handles the bad like a child sometimes, it’s endearing in a way!
The commercials were average, only a few that I really enjoyed. The halftime show was forgettable. But DAMN that game was freakin’ amazing! Go Giants Go :-)
Because I’m weirdly superstitious when I want certain sporting events to go my way I had a lucky napkin and lucky sitting position. I know…a little half-past crazy but whatever! When the Giants finally had the game safely tucked away the familia went NUTS! There was lots of screaming, high fives, and “Yes’s” to go around! During the Post-game show the neighbor (a die hard Cowboys fan who always taunts my dad’s Giants) came over to congratulate my dad on the win with a bottle of champagne! We all toasted and ate Nutella Trifle! Of course, it’s the dessert of champions!
So last year I was astounded to see that there was actually a day set aside to celebrate one of my most favorite things…NUTELLA! Those who know me even a little bit know that I have a problem when it comes to Nutella. It’s my version of crack and I yearn for it. When purchased it has a shelf life no longer than 48 hours and is consumed on nothing more usually than a spoon…with an ice cold glass of milk waiting by! When I have the will power to actually cook with it Trifles are usually made in the trifle dish my Nannie sent me :-)
Now for my own creation with NUTELLA! I’ve made a Nutella Trifle….it is divine! Try out the recipe and see how you like!
a box mix of Yellow Cake (I used Betty Crocker)
2 tsp of vanilla
1/4 C sugar
Instant vanilla pudding
3 C milk
fresh fruit (I used raspberries….also try bananas, blueberries, or strawberries…….even blackberries)
Now time to get cooking.
1) start out by baking your Yellow Cake in a 350 degree oven (also prepare for the cake ingredients: usually eggs and vegetable oil, whatever the box calls for)
2) Prep your Trifle layers, beat whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl with whisk until cream forms peaks
3) prepare your vanilla pudding (be prepared for the ingredients the pudding calls for, usually 2-3 C of milk) beat your pudding for 2-3 minutes with whisk and refrigerate until Trifle is ready to be assembled
4) once cake is done cut into small slices
5) take your trifle dish and line the bottom with the cake slices
6) top cake slices with the vanilla pudding (just enough to cover it)
7) top vanilla pudding with whipped cream
8) microwave/heat up jar of NUTELLA slightly and drizzle over the whipped cream
9) sprinkle a handful of rinsed raspberries over the NUTELLA
10) repeat steps until the Trifle dish is filled to the top!!!!
…super organized, trip planning mode. Alex and I have finally booked all of our living accommodations on our three week adventure in the bel paese. See this post to see where we’ll be staying in both Naples and Rome. All we have to do now is find a cheap hotel close the Florence airport where we can stay on our last night in Italia before waking up at an unGodly hour to catch our 6:50am flight.
Needless to say, I’m super excited, I think Alec reminded me today that we’ll be there in 80 some days! EEEEE! We’ve known that we were going to do this for over a year now….and I’ve been so patient, and I continue to be. Knock on wood everything will go according to plan!
So for the past few weeks I’ve been reading reviews online and in travel books of all sorts of the best places to eat, drink, go, and go and be seen. Florence is pretty much all set. I know what I want to do there….basically things I never got to the first 4 months we were there (several churches, a few restaurants, and exploring new parts of the city). Rome and Naples both have lists of particular sights i want to spend more time at, bars where I’d like to sip “un caffe perfavore,” and eateries that I’ve come across. The Amalfi Coast however needs some work…..It’ll for sure be the most expensive part of our trip, for which we have nothing planned yet!
I know I run the risk of over planning. I definitely don’t want to have a planned itinerary for every minute of the trip…..maybe a simple to do list will do the trick and we’ll pick and choose what we HAVE to do off that list. Besides, part of the fun of trips are the spontaneous excursions that pop up…..those usually prove to be the most authentic and worthwhile!