Entries from November 2008 ↓

Modular home interiors

When the cold season approaches I usually give more attention to home interiors.
I buy magazines, I visit websites and start fantasizing about a different home interior, more specifically dedicated to the cosy days at home during winter months. I’m not talking about Christmas, because, although I love this time of the year, I prefer very sober decoration, as our apartment is not too big and I don’t like to overload it. So in that period I will decorate a big nut-tree branch with some white and silver. I’ll post a picture within few weeks.
On the other side, for the winter period I would like to transform our apartment into a more Nordic style, with different lightening and colours. The main colour in our home is ivory white, with some notes of colour, like for example bright pink pillows on the coach, a coloured Persian carpet with notes of blue, pink, yellow: the main impression is bright and sunny, also because of our big windows.

Now that the sun is pale and the days are shorter (and sometimes misty or rainy…) I would rather prefer beige or cream colour accessories, in a burgundy style, like for example the home interiors proposed by Flamant.
I know it seems quite strange, but I would really love to have a kind of modular home interiors.
For example, let’s leave the main furniture like it is: our ivory white coach, wooden table and chairs, etc.
But then replacing the white silk curtains with others in a more golden beige colour, or why not, a dramatically different purple colour! Our carpet could be replaced by a more modern one with neutral colour patterns. Also changing shade colour to the lamps can make a big difference.
My idea would be to have a kind of wardrobe for our house, with a range of interchangeable accessories that can be easily stored and replaced from time to time.
In this way, I could change our home decoration following my mood and depending on the season!

Pizzoccheri della Valtellina

Today I will talk about a typical recipe of our mountains and that we sometimes cook during the cold season.
Pizzoccheri is a pasta that looks like short tagliatelle, but they are made of buckwheat, so they are brown.
Valtellina is a region in the mountains of Lombardy, north of Brescia, to give you a rough idea.
Manu’s parents went to Valtellina last summer and they brought some handmade Pizzoccheri for us. Usually we can find them also in the supermarket, but in a more “industrial” version…
It’s very easy to make Pizzoccheri.
Take a small savoy cabbage, wash and cut in small pieces its leaves.
Peel two medium potatoes and cut them in small cubes.
Fill half of a high pot with water and cook till it starts boiling. Add a spoon of salt, then add savoy cabbage and potatoes.
Let it cook for about 45 minutes till the vegetables get soft, then add pizzoccheri and cook for another 10 minutes.
In the mean time you will cut in small pieces a melting cheese, here we use Stelvio, or Fontina, or Valtellina, anyway the important thing is that it has to be a cheese that can easily melt.
In a small pan on small fire, melt about 40gr of butter with a couple of chopped sage leaves. This operation must be done at the very end, because the butter must not get brown.
When the Pizzoccheri are ready, drain the water away and put this mix of vegetables and pasta in a pot, adding the cheese cubes, some grated Parmigiano cheese, pepper and the melted butter with sage.
Mix everything together till you see that the cheese is all melted and serve immediately, accompanying with red wine.
In a cold winter day, if you close your eyes, you will have the feeling you are eating somewhere in the mountains, in a wooden cottage, closed to a warm stove…

Shopping in Italy

Something funny to do when you are in Italy is surely shopping.
I think, when you are travelling around, visiting sites and monuments, it can be a relaxing break to dedicate half a day (or more, depending on the length of your stay and on your budget…) to shopping.
Italy has a good reputation around the world regarding fashion, style and trends and it’s worth a look around, maybe just for the pleasure to bring home a souvenir.
In my hometown Verona there is a lot of choice for shopping, but this is also in any other Italian city or touristic place.
In the old city center there are plenty of shops and boutiques, famous brands, but also non-branded shops with good quality Italian products at affordable prices. The nice thing about shopping in Verona is that it’s not such a big city, so if you walk around during an afternoon you can see so many different shops and products!
I’m not talking only about clothes, shoes and leather goods, but also antiques, design tableware and home accessories, sunglasses (a real must for any Italian, as you will notice…), food specialties, wine, books… The list can be very long, but I really suggest to make a big walk and just to be curious!
In the surroundings it’s easier to find shopping malls, which can be easy if you don’t have much time, but on the other hand there is less originality, as the products offered are usually internationally distributed chains or brands.
Another suggestion is to have a relaxing shopping day around Lake Garda. Being our beautiful lake a nice touristic place, there is a lot of choice of trendy and fancy shops in every village, like Lazise, Garda, Sirmione, Desenzano and so on.
If your travel partner is not really keen about shopping around with you and helping carrying bags, no problem. He can sit on a nice terrace and drink a cappuccino or taste one of our regional wines in total relax! What else to desire from a holiday in Italy?

Our pet during house cleaning

Day by day I’m impressed by our Carthusian cat. Every day we discover new features of its character and its attitudes. In this short thought about Matisse, I want to show you its position during Illy’s house cleaning (I help Illy too, I swear it). The cat searches a safe place to stay during this chaotic moment and it often hides in strange places. For examples this:

matisse during house cleaning