Monday, March 29, 2010

Springtime in Brixia

Brixia is the Latin name of the modern city of Brescia, in the North of Italy. This is not a 'famous' city from a tourist's point of view. In fact I didn't see any foreign tourists at all! But what often happens in Italy is that if you walk around any city you are bound to find some historical surprises. And being a lovely and warm spring day we did walk around a lot!

The most important archaeological findings of Roman times are the Capitolium temple complex (above) and the two domus (Roman houses), which we visited in the Museum of Santa Giulia. These domus, which are among the best preserved in Northern Italy, were fantastic, with mosaic floors and painted walls like the ones that can be seen in Pompei or Ercolano. If you happen to visit Brescia I strongly recommend the museum, as a bonus at present there is also an amazing exhibition about the Inca, which is very well done (until June 27 2010). For the rest, here are some images of the Castle, and the streets of Brixia. Now I just hope that the sunny weather comes back, so that I can visit more cities!!!!

Il Duomo Nuovo


In the Castle

Putti ok... ...but dolphins???

Below, paintings on houses and fountains

Torre del Broletto

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Vegan Pizzoccheri

Pizzoccheri is a traditional pasta from Valtellina, in the North of Italy, made with a percentage of buckwheat flour. The taste is similar to the Japanese buckwheat noodles (soba).

The traditional recipe for pizzoccheri, born in the village of Teglio, is to boil them together with pieces of potatoes and green cabbage (put the potatoes in the biling water first, then the cabbage and the pizzoccheri (which take about 15 minutes to cook). Pick up everything with a slotted spoon and mix with casera cheese and butter melted with garlic. Very filling! A vegan could stop at the cheese and butter steps, adding a little tamari sauce instead, and the stock from the pizzoccheri can also be recycled in real Zen style as it is full of proteins. But I didn’t feel like going for Asian flavours.

So I made mine with onion, potatoes, spinach and walnuts.


500 g pizzoccheri

1 small white onion

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 big boiled potato, peeled

1 bunch spinach leaves, washed

1 handful freshly shelled walnut kernels

salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pizzoccheri in plenty of salted boiling water according to packet instructions. Finely chop a white onion and sauté with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the boiled potato, cubed, and after a few minutes the spinach leaves and the walnut kernels. Add a couple of ladles of the water from the pizzoccheri and cook until the potato pieces start to mush. Add salt and pepper to taste. By this time your pizzoccheri should also be ready, drain them (keep the water if you like for later use as a stock), and place in the pot with the potatoes. Add two more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, stir and serve.

Serve 4 as a complete meal, very filling!!!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bormio, the mountains and more food

No photos of me skiing (you really don't want to see those!) just some views...

And now the last photos of the food at the Hotel San Lorenzo. While the other family members ate cereals and eggs for breakfast, I had cake! Truly, Italian style, in the mountains, I could eat fruit and jam tarts with my caffelatte! Yes!!! My daughter tried too, and she prefers it to a Kiwi breakfast!

This is a traditional starter in Valtellina: Sciatt, local cheese dipped in a buckwheat batter, and fried.


Bread gnocchi with herbs
Parmesan pudding (savoury, a starter)
Spinach roulade with polenta tarragna, fennel and cheese sauce
Ah, the cheese tray...I mean, trolley!!!
Taneda semifreddo (Taneda is a local herb liqueur)
Grilled Tomino Cheese
Local wine, this Chiavennasca was very nice!
Pumpkin and maltagliati pasta soup
Herbs and ricotta ravioli
The local buckwheat pasta: Pizzoccheri. Traditionally these are served with a sauce made with potatoes, savoy cabbage and local cheese (and they are delicious!) but tonight I will try to make a vegan version. I will let you know!


Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Smoked paprika tofu and eggplants with saffron rice

Another recipe taken from Only Recipes to fill the traveling time...

The tofu is made in New Zealand, not far from my house actually...cut it into cubes and fry it with olive oil and garlic until golden. Set aside. Cut the eggplants (I used the thin Asian type) into halves and sweat with salt for 30 minutes or so. Rinse. Heat the oil again in the pan, add more garlic, and sauté the eggplants for a few minutes, then cover with a lid and and cook them in their own steam. When they are nearly done add the tofu, 1 tsp of smoked paprika and smoked slat (I used Maldon). Add a glass of white wine and stir. Cover and turn the heat off.

Wash the rice and cook by absorption, when it is ready add the saffron and stir. No need to make a risotto here, or to add salt: the rice will taste of saffron and nothing else, and will go well with the salty, spicy and smoky flavour of the tofu and eggplants.

Now, this last photo has nothing to do with the recipe, but while I was cooking my little boy was picking tomatoes from the garden for his lunch box. This year the yellow cherry tomatoes are real winners!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First book of the year by Libro International

The first release of 2010 from Libro International is about to go to the printer. The Castle in Our Backyard comes from the talented group of young people behind Sharing Our Stories, a concept to teach younger readers about the history and geography of the landscapes they inhabit, showing that their immediate environment has as much drama and excitement as video games or TV. Written by Sharing Our Stories member Malcolm Paterson and illustrated by Leah Mulgrew, this engaging story for primary and intermediate age readers will be released in English and Maori editions in mid-June, at the time of the Matariki festival.
For more details go to Libro International.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sweet Treats from Bormio

My new quote of the day:

"When you are skiing you can eat more cakes!"

These are some (and only some) of the sweet things
I have been eating in Bormio
at the Albergo San Lorenzo

White chocolate mini-cake with apple coulis

The best apple fritters ever!

Sacher Torte


Some fresh fruit too :-)

Puddings, panna cotta, creme caramel

Prickly pears (fichi d'india)

Apple tart

Strawberry and Yogurt cake

Lemon mousse

Pears cooked in red wine and spices (so yummy!!!!)

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini©

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bormio, il paese

The village is this one

In Italy Easter eggs always have a surprise inside!

I cannot show you all the things that we are eating in the hotel, but here are just a few:

Perle di mais ai funghi porcini
Maize gnocchi with porcini mushrooms

Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée

Terrina allo yogurt con coulis di fragole

Yogurt terrine with strawberry coulis

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini©


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