Lost in New York

Montalcino at night – such a beautiful little town. I never wanted to leave.

Vacation was beautiful and I never wanted it to end… but here I am, back in NYC. Back to work, back to everyday reality in a city I have outgrown. New York is a young person’s city, or a rich man’s city. It’s not a good place for a person like me at this time in my life. I feel empty and lost here. I have a good job, but it’s not what I want to be doing. The few things I liked about this city when I was 26 don’t exist anymore. The nightlife isn’t what it used to be, the parties aren’t what they used to be, the places aren’t what they used to be, and neither are the people. I don’t know why anyone would ever want to raise a kid here, unless of course they were rich… but even then….When I moved here at 24, I thought I needed to be here in order to achieve artistically, whether it was writing or painting or whatever. Clearly, the entire world is now connected through online media, remote work, and no one really needs to be in one place to do what they love or achieve what they want with their career (unless they’re an actor or a musician maybe… but even then…this just ain’t it, kid).

When I walk the streets, there are only remnants and relics of the past that I once enjoyed and for a short time loved. Now, I walk the streets and instead of daydreaming about a future or life in the city, all I daydream about is being somewhere else. I day dream about Europe, a slower lifestyle, a smaller and cleaner city or even a small town in the countryside or mountains. I daydream about a relaxed pace of life, dinners with family and friends, clean air, a house with a view. This city has made me tired and sad.

Tonight I walked past a couple of baby/children’s boutiques with adorable winter sweaters and high-quality stuffed animals on display in the windows. It hit me that I am never going to have a kid. When I was in my 20s, I thought for sure one day I would have a kid, but now that I’m 34, I’ve realized it’s just not happening. I don’t feel sad about it; it’s my decision, after all. It’s just weird to walk around the neighborhood where I spent so many days walking around and hanging out with my then-infant niece and my sister, who was three years younger than I am present-day, back in 2012. My how the times have changed in these past ten years. How the city has changed; the world has changed. Not for the better.

I grow more jaded and cynical each and every day I am forced to live in this city. Maybe I would have had a kid if I’d been married by 30, and before the current state of world took a turn for the worst. Now I realize that to have a kid would be more selfish than NOT to. It just seems unfair that the world made my decision for me. If there wasn’t a war happening, daily threats of nuclear holocaust, and another climate catastrophe every day, perhaps I would have been happy to have a kid.

Happiest when we aren’t in NYC or working

I am engaged now… finally, after 9 years as a couple. I likely won’t be married for another 2 years. I am in no rush – I mean I waited this long, didn’t I?! My family certainly seems to be in a rush; they keep expecting that I will have the wedding next summer (which is only 10 months from now). Not happening, sorry. Although, perhaps I should have it next year, because because who knows how things will be two years from now (given the current political climate, war, nuclear threats, global warming, and advancing age of all of our parents). Maybe this world won’t even exist next year….

Beautiful Venice…my second “home” (I guess I can say that now…). I love this city and would be happy to live here. Maybe some day soon…
My beautiful ring… designed by my boyfriend with artist/jeweler/genius William Llewellyn Griffiths (metalcouture.com); the ring is modeled after the Palazzo Ducale in Venice… I guess it was worth the nine year wait….

I am lucky that I live where I do, as opposed to so many other places where life would be much worse off right now. This world is falling apart … I try to enjoy every day now, for what it is. I try to enjoy every day that I have to work, once I have some free time to myself and the work is done. I try to enjoy every weekend day I spend alone, even though my boyfriend is working – there are pleasures to be found in being alone. You never know what each new day may bring, whether that something is good or bad. So it is best to just enjoy each day as it is, even if it is not ideal. If these last few years have taught me anything, it is to appreciate the little things in life and the (hopefully good) people that you have in your life.

I could go on and on about vacation. I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate that I was able to take such a great vacation. I feel fortunate to have the boyfriend I have, the family and friends I have, and the in-laws I have. I am lucky to have all that I have in this life, even though I bust my ass for most of what I have… I am fortunate that things have somehow come together over the last five or so years to get me to the point that I am at today (not that most days aren’t still a struggle, but at least I’m not contemplating suicide as I do three nights of floor-set at Hollister every month and wonder how I am going to afford a dinner out for someone else’s birthday).

Instead of going into depth writing about my vacation, I’m just going to post a shit ton of photos that sum it up. We started in Venice, traveled to Tuscany with his parents for a week, hit up multiple wineries and medieval towns while we were there (Siena, Montalcino (the town closest to our lodging), Montepulciano, Pienza, etc.). My in-laws went back to Venice when we departed Tuscany, but we made several stops: Modena to see not one but TWO Ferrari museums, a night and a day in Milano (more on that later), and then we spent a night in Lake Como because we just weren’t ready to go back to Venice yet. It was all so fucking amazing, words cannot describe.

San Marco… never gets old
I decided to wear my Aniye By Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen” on the worst-timed day possible. Later that day there was news the queen was ill and family was flying in, by that night she had passed away.
view outside of our suite
The sun setting
View from Capanna wineries: Montalcino is the little village up on the hill
Capanna winery was across the road and up the hill from where Capanna Suites is located. The terrain in this part of Tuscany (only 25 minutes from Siena) is so much drier than the region (Chianti) where we stayed last year, which is about 20 miles from Florence… it’s crazy how much the terrain and scenery changes in Italy!
Montalcino at night: so quiet and peaceful
A winery that was part of a castle – just up the road from Capanna Suites where we were staying.
View from the upstairs of the castle where we did a wine tasting
Piazza del Campo in Siena
View from Agriturismo il Colle (aka Giovanni’s) where the proposal happened 🙂 This is in Chianti region and where we stayed last year – hence Giovanni’s willingness to help stage the perfect proposal. It was a dream…
View from the amazing Enoteca in the medieval village of Montepulciano… I’ve never seen anything like it (the enoteca, that is), although many friends said they had something similar in Chicago, South Beach, even Utah… LOL. Here is the website so you can see what I’m talking about: Enoliteca Consorzio Vino Nobile
Another stunning view from Montepulciano… the views were just!!!!!!
One of my favorite cars in the Modena Enzo Ferarri museum… anyone want to buy for my next Christmas present? Along with lessons to drive stick-shift? :p
Duomo di Milano
Ancient arches in Milano – this area gets wild at night with everyone drinking at local bars and hanging out here

I wasn’t a fan of Milan – even though we were only there for 24 hours. The hotel we stayed in was cool – very modern with lots of fun art pieces and installations. It was also super close to the city center, which came in handy for me, since I spent a day alone wandering around Milan, while Christian got a tattoo by a famous Italian tattoo artist he was able to book last minute (don’t ask – I already had my ring at this point, so if it made him happy… whatever). I did 9 miles by myself that day, and realized that I could never live in Milan. The city is a mix of very old and very modern structures – it is almost similar to NYC in that sense, but obviously much cleaner and prettier. All of the women are emaciated (and I am not lying). Most of the women also seemed to be under the age of 30… I saw mainly students and young people while I walked around that day. But, of all the women I did see, old, young, middle-age… they all had some serious eating disorders. Like, most of them looked like they needed to be in the hospital… and I am NOT exaggerating. I felt like such a cow next to these women…. and I am not a big person. I don’t think I saw a single woman/girl who weighed over 95 lbs. I get that it is the fashion capital of the world, but holy fuck. My ego took quite a blow that day, and I couldn’t really enjoy food for the rest of the trip… I’ve never felt so fat in all my life as I did walking around Milan that day. I was really happy we decided against spending a second night in Milan and decided to drive to Lake Como, since it is only about 1.5 hours from Milan, and Christian had never even been, despite having lived in Milan for several years! It was worth it:

View from the restaurant where we had dinner
The little hotel we found on Lake Como was a fraction of what we would pay even for one night at an Airbnb in the Catskills, and right on the lake! The restaurants were all within walking distance, and the hotel and pool were so pretty… too bad we didn’t have time for a swim

Before we ended up in Milan and then Lake Como, we had briefly entertained the idea of spending the last few days of our vacation in Greece. It just didn’t make sense to waste another day spent traveling or buying plane tickets just to spend 48 hours or less in Greece, when our time with Christian’s parents and friends in Venice is already so limited each time we are there. We decided to just go back to Venice so that we could enjoy the rest of our vacation and see his friends and spend more time with his parents. We made it out to Lido not once, but twice this time… both nights were a lot of fun… maybe too much fun. Thank God Lido now has electronic rental bikes, because when we were ready to leave each night, there were no Ubers to be had and we needed to get back across the Island to catch the ferry back to Venice proper.

Pic taken on the ferry to Lido one night
Pic taken on the ferry to Lido the second time we made the journey out – which happened to be the last night of the annual Venice Film Festival
View of the beach from the back of Hotel Excelsior Venice Lido Resort
On our way back through Venice after Lido one night, I snapped this pic of the moon
I got an official Venetian resident ferry card (that I paid a small fortune for), so I can now take the Gondolas and ferry at reduced, local rates…I feel so cool haha
I love seagulls
Leo di Venezia: the city’s symbol is everywhere
Night time in Piazza di San Marco
I wish I could see this more often

I could post a million more pictures and tell a million more stories. I wish I never had to come home… apart for being reunited with my babies (my cats) and seeing my own family. I hope that some day very soon we can live in Italy or France… or somewhere else close by, where life doesn’t move at the pace of NYC and every moment doesn’t pass by in a blink of the eye the way life does here in New York.

I’ll leave you with the food highlights from the trip (since that is what this blog was/is supposed to be about):

Raw appetizer plate I had the last night of vacation in Venice
Venetian cicheti (cicchetti): there is nothing else quite like it… it’s literally my favorite thing to eat/do in Venice (drink $4 glasses of wine and hit up all the best cicheti spots)
Some awesome oysters we had at Bancogiro
Seppioline (cuttlefish) on baked polenta, a stuffed artichoke heart and various polpette (fried meatballs)… this is cicheti from one of our favorite spots: Sepa
Duck breast from a restaurant in Montalcino where we ate our last night in town… it was divine
Romantic pizza dinner right on the water from our night in Lake Como
I had so much steak tartare while in Tuscany – it’s one of the region’s signature dishes and happens to be one of my very favorites. Yes: I ate all the meat in Tuscany… no restrictions. This particular one wasn’t even my favorite or the best, but it did win prettiest plating haha
One of the dishes I really need to recreate: a tartino. This one was made with spinach and Gorgonzola dolce. It’s basically a mini souffle! So fucking delicious! I’ll be sure to post a recipe, if and when I make this
It took an hour and a half to find a parking spot in the medieval town of Pienza (also in Tuscany region) on the Sunday afternoon that we visited as a family. It was worth it in the end. The town is famous for Pecorino cheese. The cheese was everywhere! Needless to say, we were in heaven
A shop in Pienza where we bought half the inventory (JK). Seriously though, we did mail ourselves several wheels of cheese and dried sausages in addition to two or three cases of wine… hey, we needed something to live for once we arrived back in dismal NYC… can you blame us??

Now that I am back in NYC and inspired by the skeletal women I saw in Milan, I am trying to get back on the straight and narrow (i.e. no meat, save for special occasions, minimal wine consumption (sure, Jan…), and healthier eating in general). Wish me luck! Venice is great since the cuisine is primarily seafood, but boy did I go to town on meat in Tuscany: you have to… it’s the Tuscan way (when in Rome, do as the Romans do, am I right?!). Anyhow. We are still waiting for a case of wine we bought at the castle winery to arrive. This is what motivates me. I’m not sure where we are going to store it in our 1-bedroom apartment, but I’ll find a way.

The beautiful infinity pool at Capanna Suites in Tuscany… we didn’t go in once. WTF is wrong with us? Every time it was mega hot we were away from the hotel, and when we did want to take a dip, it was overcast and started raining… go figure. Glad I worried about how I looked in a bikini and bought two new ones just for the trip…
Naturally, since cats always find me and I always find them, there were two farm cats that hung out on the premises of Capanna Suites… I brought them steak from Siena and doled it out each night, along with water in wine glasses on our patio for them to enjoy

Countdown to Vacation and the Perfect Summer Snack

Country roads, take me home… I love the road that runs parallel to my dad’s land in West Bainbridge. It’s quiet, there are always tons of wild flowers, and the flowers and fields smell heavenly

The world is still on fire (literally and figuratively) and I’m counting down the days until vacation when I can mentally step away from it all for a couple of weeks (yes, I realize I am privileged to be in a position to do so). I don’t think anyone reads this blog anymore, apart from the weird Keto/fitness bots that are always giving me likes. Shout-out to all of the Keto-diet bots and other fitness themed bots out there: cheers guys!

As if war raging on in Ukraine, global warming, climate catastrophes, global inflation, impending recession, wide-spread famine, and general political discord weren’t enough, Roe v. Wade was overturned and now the U.S. government apparently doesn’t “have the power” to phase out coal. We are truly fucked as a planet and a society…. I’d say there are maybe three years left (and that’s a generous estimate) before society collapses and the world implodes. That’s why, I am looking forward to this vacation.

Work was insane the last couple of weeks – a 50 hour work week followed by 55 hours. I barely left my house, got no exercise, no fresh air, and was teetering on the verge of insanity (when am I not though….). Thankfully, I went upstate to my parents’ house for the weekend to celebrate my niece’s 10th birthday with family. I was able to get out for a decent walk each day that I was home, although I negated the exercise with all of the food I consumed.

I felt guilty leaving my cats behind in the city though while I frolicked in nature and breathed fresh air. The cats love being at my parents’ house with more space to galavant around, fresh air and lots of wildlife to watch. It was also hot AF all weekend, and our AC units shut off after about 2 hours of blowing cold air. My boyfriend was also working 13 hour days, so my poor cats didn’t eat dinner until 1:30 AM each night after being alone in the hot apartment all damn day. I feel like a bad cat mom when they’re alone for such a long stretch…. I don’t know how some people leave their cats for days at a time.

I feel like I’ve been upstate every other weekend these last few months – my mom’s birthday, mother’s day, my brother’s 30th, father’s day, my niece’s birthday party… I’m not complaining. Being home beats spending money I shouldn’t spend to stay in this disgusting city and go out drinking. I am trying to be better at saving money, and it’s easier to do when I am not in the city on the weekend.

Peeper enjoying some fresh air over Father’s Day weekend. I can’t believe we are already a week into July now!

My boyfriend and I just celebrated our 9th anniversary. It is crazy to think we have been together for nine years, even though it also seems like our first date was just last year. I was a fun, wild, 25-year old with a crappy job, creative aspirations, and probably in the best shape of my life (apart from Fall 2018, when I was in the best shape of my life). Now, I am a 34-year old seasoned veteran, with a corporate job that allows me to actually pay my bills and have extra spending money, still creative and a lot less crazy than I was at 25, and my greatest aspirations today are moving out of this fucking city and buying property in Europe (a small farm where we can have a B&B and little restaurant…. that is THE DREAM).

We celebrated 9 years by doing a sunset sail around New York Harbor, just as we did on our first date. It rained a bit around Ellis Island/Governor’s Island, but it wasn’t anything that some wine and cheap ponchos couldn’t fix! The sailboat ride was lovely – if only tickets weren’t so pricey, I would do it every couple of weeks.

After the rain: this is a nice shot of Jersey City
I have a love-hate relationship with NYC these days; mostly hate. But, there is something to be said for that skyline
A couple of weeks ago at Elsie rooftop – I was dragged to a three hour meeting and then we had to stop by Elsie on his “day off”….at least the free drinks and sunset made up for it

My hair is almost back to an acceptable shade of strawberry-blonde, although the ends remain much lighter as a result of the bleach. I’ve also been experiencing on-going breakage due to bleach damage, and everyone keeps asking me if I’ve cut my hair. All I ever wanted was a flowing mane of hair, half-way down my back, and at this rate, that sort of length seems like a fever-dream…

Obligatory hair update: I was having a good hair day and a good skin day – a rare combination

My boyfriend finally cleaned the balcony off this past weekend, while I was at my parents’. It is too late in the season to plant, which saddens me greatly because it was so nice to have fresh tomatoes, peppers, and a spattering of cucumbers and eggplants these last couple of years. My plan now, is to go to a plant nursery this Sunday, and buy herbs and flowers to pretty up the balcony. I am obsessed with lavender at the moment, and want to pot some. The cats loved chilling on the balcony these last two summers, when the plants were in full bloom, and the views of the street were obstructed by the vegetation. Hopefully, they can enjoy the balcony in a couple of weeks after I get some plants potted.

Tuna had an unfortunate incident on the leash when the neighbor’s dog started barking and he ran for his life and almost had a heart attack. Now, he prefers taking in the fresh air from the safety of the window… poor guy.
My goal in life is to have a house/yard/property for not only myself and my boyfriend to enjoy, but also for our cats. Peeper would never come inside if it were up to him….

I know I haven’t included a recipe on here in a while. Unfortunately, when I have a crazy work week or I am upstate for the weekend, I don’t make the elaborate meals I like to do when I have time on my hands. Now that summer is in full swing, there are lots of parties, picnics and celebrations to attend. No one wants to have to turn on the oven or stand over a stove-top for hours at a clip when it’s 90 degrees outside, so the below is the perfect recipe for a Summer get-together!

SMOKED TROUT CICCHETTI:

So easy, and so damn good…. I could eat half a platter

INGREDIENTS (the hardest part of this recipe will be procuring the ingredients if you live in a rural area):

  • 1 lb. of smoked trout
  • 1 container (half pint) of crème fraîche
  • Good quality mustard
  • fresh dill (rinsed and dried)
  • 1-2 fresh baguettes

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Cut the baguette(s) into thin rounds; toast in the oven at 375 degrees for 5 minutes if you prefer toasted
  • Smear mustard over-top of all of the baguette rounds
  • Top with general chunk of smoked trout
  • Top all with a teaspoon size dollop of crème fraîche, and garnish with a frond of fresh dill

ENJOY! These were a party favorite when I brought them to two different BBQs over Memorial Day weekend. I picked up the trout at the Scandinavian cured fish counter at Essex Market. Some large grocery stores carry smoked trout, but not all. I keep meaning to stop by Essex Market next time I plan to go upstate to pick up more smoked trout – my family loved it…. as do I…. and so do my cats.

Thank you, Tuna

Speaking of cats, I haven’t had an uninterrupted night of sleep in years. Tuna’s newest thing is waking me up at 4 AM for food…. it is literally impossible to ignore him. I also can’t shut him out of the bedroom or he will still wake me up by scratching at the door. It’s futile. I just get up and feed him so I can go back to sleep for a few more hours. I’ve tried giving him a snack right before I go to bed, but nothing has worked. One night, I was knocked out after taking NyQuil, and he actually scratched my back for so long that he left marks. He must have been going at it for upwards of two hours while I was basically comatose.

Since the world is inevitably on its way out, I have been shopping and treating myself to new shit far more than I know I should. After all, another recession is coming and I could lose my job at any time as a result…I should really be more careful with my consumption and spending habits. I am just so incredibly excited for Italy and Greece that I am stocking up on clothes to wear on vacation. Vacation is so close I can taste it, and I am savoring these few weeks bin the run-up to the actual travel. I am trying to buy less impractical mini dresses and crop tops in my advanced age, and more sensible sundresses and tops that are family appropriate.

That being said, here is my favorite $12 Forever 21 romper, that is not family-friendly (yes, I know I previously swore off fast fashion, but I couldn’t help myself)
Felt good about myself this day…. haven’t felt good about myself since, and this was now like a month and a half ago.

I need to start prioritizing my health at all costs. I haven’t been feeling very good about my body lately. I always thought it was bullshit when people in their thirties and forties used getting older and a slowed-down metabolism as an excuse for gaining weight, but I am finding out now that it’s real. I used to be able to eat one meal a day for a week and drop 8 lbs. Now, I fast for a day and gain 5 lbs. I honestly need to stop eating late at night, drinking alcohol, and pushing myself to get out for a walk even on a 15-hour work day (yes, I had one of those last week… not OK). I am the youngest I will ever be, and there is a lot of untapped potential in my current body. I want to tap into this potential now, so I can rock the string-bikinis I bought on sale from Calzedonia with confidence on my vacation…. I better get cracking. Time is not on my side and all of these weekends spent upstate recently have not been kind to my thighs.

A Much Needed Vacation, New Beginnings, and Fish Chowder

As per the norm, it has been far too long since I wrote a blog (not that anyone gives a shit or looks forward to these blogs…). My vacation has come and gone, and it was honestly the best vacation I’ve ever had. I wish it had never ended and that I was still in Italy, but here I am – back in Brooklyn and back to work. On the upside, I came home to a new Job lined up, and which I have now been at for almost three weeks – so things are improving for me in that area of life.

It was so nice to be back in Venice and to see my boyfriend’s parents after three very long years, as well as his friends. It was also nice to be able to travel, after not being able to do so for over a year and a half as the result of COVID restrictions. It certainly was a hassle getting multiple COVID tests before flying out and again before flying home, making sure the carrying around our vaccine cards, negative test results, passports, and the additional documentation required (something akin to a “Green Pass”) in my purse at all times, but it was worth it.

Wishing I was still here…
The Grand Canal at night: so beautiful it seems like a fairy tale

While we were in Venice, the highlight (apart from seeing his parents and friends) was the cicheti and affordable wine. We went to town on both… how could you not?! I think the hardest thing since returning to the US, and more specifically returning to NYC, has been the memory of such affordable food and drink when a glass of wine here will set you back $15. We drank good-quality wine for 3 Euros a glass, and filled up our stomachs on delicious food for less than 10 euros a piece. It is a travesty that dining out or drinking in NYC will set you back over $100 on a night out.

First cicheti stop of the trip. This picture is from the first cicheti bar we went to the afternoon of the day we arrived, and it did not disappoint!
Wenice is another one of our favorite cicheti bars – the ambiance isn’t the greatest since there is limited seating, but the food cannot be beat. The Seppie al nero and seppie in umido (pictured to the left above) are out of this world.
Seppia on polenta squares at another of our favorites: SEPA. I think we must have gone to this bar 5 times over the course of our time in Venice.

I developed a bit of an obsession with seppia (cuttlefish) this time, if I wasn’t already slightly obsessed before, and I don’t just mean eating them. I bought a little cuttlefish (seppia) pin from SEPA, and, as Venice is known for the Murano glass, an adorable little glass seppia. I saw it in the window of a shop and just couldn’t resist!

My new seppie friends

As Venice is on the water, there is no shortage of seafood everywhere you go, which suits me well, since it is what I love to eat. There are cuttlefish dishes galore, mantis shrimp (which are different and more delectable than regular shrimp), prawns, fish, sardines, scallops, octopus, clams, etc. offered on every menu. It is food paradise for a seafood lover like myself.

This plate had a bit of everything and was so good that it cannot be put into words. The owner of this bar ^ is actually the son of the owner of another restaurant on Murano that Christian’s parents love, and which we went to for lunch one day.

The original plan was to spend the last four days of our trip in France: we were going to fly from Venice to Nice, rent a car, and drive to Paris over the course of three days. That was going to be one hell of a hassle, with days that would require 5-6 hours of driving in order to get us to the towns we wanted to visit and eventually put us in Paris the night before we flew home. We decided to nix this plan, and instead spend a couple of days in Tuscany. This made way more sense since we already had plans to visit a friend in Bologna. We changed the plane tickets to fly from Venice to Paris on the last day of our vacation, since we still needed to fly out of Paris.

My boyfriend’s parents were nice enough to let us borrow their car, and we drove to Bologna to visit our friend, before driving to the Chianti region of Tuscany for two nights. It was so good to see our friend in Bologna and catch up, even if it was only for one night. The hotel we had was amazing – a huge suite with a full kitchen and a huge bath tub in the bedroom. It is a shame that we didn’t spend more time in the hotel room, as we were out most of the night! After one night in Bologna, we set out for Chianti.

We are definitely going back to Giovanni’s place in Greve in Chianti – it is hands down the best Airbnb we have ever rented (and for the most affordable price too). This is the charcuterie board he bbrought us upon or arrival, together with the two bottles of Chianti that were produced from his vineyards!

We are now ruined for life after paying only $135 for a night at Giovanni’s agritourismo (farm/vineyard/lodging) in Greve in Chianti. I was expecting we would be staying in a small cottage, but the 300 year old stone house could have easily accommodated 10 more guests. There were four bedrooms, and three full bathrooms – I think my jaw dropped open when I walked in and saw the place…

We were on the upper level of this 300 year old stone building.
The view out of our kitchen window

Not only was the house itself amazing, but the property was situated on a hilltop, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. There were only a handful of other guests, so it was super quiet and peaceful. Giovanni gave us a tour, the history of his vineyard and the property, and was beyond accommodating and gracious. He gave us recommendations for dinner as well as suggestions for how to spend our short stay in Tuscany.

The vineyard towards sunset
The pool, which overlooked the rolling hills and vineyards
Hot tub with a view!

I don’t think that I have ever felt as relaxed and at such peace as I did during my time in Tuscany. The land, the scenery and the local way of life are such that it is impossible not to live in the moment and to appreciate all that surrounds you, in terms of nature, beauty, and good food and wine. I am considering moving to Tuscany in the next couple of years, if I can save enough to buy a property. I have never felt so inspired to GTFO of NYC as I did while in Tuscany.

More sunset views

My only complaint about my time in Tuscany, is that there are no options for vegetarians or really even pescatarians. And if you happen to be a vegan? Fucking forget about it! When in Rome do as the Romans do, right? While in Tuscany, eat as the locals eat. I went TO FUCKING TOWN eating meat while I was in Tuscany. I mean, how could I not? I ate more meat in three days than I had eaten in the past three years while I was Tuscany. Popular dishes were bolognese, ragu, rabbit, wild boar, beef (and tartare… my favorite), pasta, pork, etc. There was nary a vegetable to be found on most menus, apart from ordering as a side dish. I ordered a salad one night as a side, hoping to get some fiber into my system, and the salad consisted of three leaves of lettuce, a pickled slice of pepper, one cherry tomato, and a smoked herring and huge piece of goat cheese. Needless to say, my digestive system was beyond fucked up after a few days of living on meat and carbs and wine. I was severely bloated and uncomfortable for the remainder of our trip.

The trattoria we ate at on our first night in Tuscany. This was located in a tiny, little hillside town. They had outdoor seating across the street, which is where we ate, and the food was incredible. I didn’t want to be the asshole American taking pics of their food, so we have no pictures from most of our dinners.

After our first night in Chianti, we did a short day-trip to Siena. I loved this little city, and the few hours we spent there were not nearly long enough. I definitely need to go back!

The main square where they do the Palio di Siena horse race each year (apart from the last two years, thanks to COVID – way to break 400 years of tradition…).
Sadly, we did such an abbreviated tour that I didn’t go into any of the museums or churches or even read up on them.

Siena is truly a beautiful and small medieval city. I absolutely must return, hopefully sooner than later.

A foodie’s dream… and also a meat-eater’s paradise! Was eating meat and breaking my practice of *mostly* avoiding it worth it? Hell yeah it was… even if I ended up unable to go to the bathroom and looked 10 months pregnant.
I think I had tartare three days in a row. This one from a small restaurant in Siena was by far the best out of all of them. It was so incredibly good…. that just seeing this picture and remembering it makes me want it right now.
Me, in my element on the streets of Siena.
We saw this little yellow Fiat coming and had to snap a picture. The guy driving even slowed down for me to take the pic! ha!

We originally planned to stay just one night in Tuscany, but while we were in Siena, we decided to book another Airbnb and stay a second night, as we were loving it all so much. The second Airbnb, while still cheap compared to American standards, was slightly more than the cost of our first one, and not nearly as nice. It was still beautiful – don’t get me wrong. I guess our standards were set too high by comparison of of Giovanni’s place! The second Airbnb was also an agritourismo (working farm – lodging situation), not too far from the first place. It was much more rustic, and a lot smaller of an apartment, but the views were (once again) breath-taking.

View from the second Airbnb in Chianti. The pool was lovely, but way too cold to actually swim in… not to mention all of the mosquitoes hanging out in the shrubs surrounding it! I got so many mosquito bites on this vacation….
Had to take a self in the bathroom of our first Airbnb… the lighting was too good not to. I also ended up living in this dress for the rest of the vacation after my time in Tuscany (wherein I gained 10 lbs of bloat in my stomach from my all-meat diet).

After our trip to Tuscany, we headed back to Venice for a few more days with my boyfriend’s parents. I finally visited the INSIDE of St. Marco’s cathedral. This was my fourth trip to Venice, and the first time I saw the inside of the cathedral, as opposed to just the outside. Needless to say, my mind was blown by the beauty, the history, and the age of the artifacts.

San Marco’s cathedral in San Marco (St. Mark’s) Square.
Inside the cathedral
These are the original bronze horses that adorned the outside of the cathedral. They were built in the 1st century BC… over 2000 years old. Isn’t that nuts?! Apparently, when they were new, they were so bright when the sun hit them that they blinded people who stared too long. They were scratched up intentionally to prevent the sun’s glare bouncing off of them!

As our last few days in Venice grew close to ending, we became sad at the prospect of returning back to NYC, but determined we needed to make the most of the time we had left. This included nightly walks and wine, more cicheti and dinner with my boyfriend’s parents.

Last cicheti crawl of our time in Venice. I will have to go back to this place – it was so SO good.
Also from our last day in Venice, the canal was a bit smelly, but very picturesque. haha

As always, it was very sad leaving Venice and leaving behind Christian’s parents. I hope we can go back early next year to visit. We flew to Paris the day before our flight back to the U.S., so we still had one night in Paris to look forward to, even though the post-vacation blues were settling in fast and we weren’t even done with our travels yet….

The sun coming up over the Laguna as we booked it in a water taxi to the airport. I think it was like 6:15AM…

When we arrived in Paris, we were exhausted from our early morning flight and general lack of sleep. I was also bloated AF and unable to go to the bathroom, which put me in a rather sour mood. I’m sorry if that is TMI, but my diet of wine, meat and not enough water or fiber truly had me fucked up. The hotel room in Paris was more than our Airbnb costs combined, and so tiny it was a joke. We put our stuff down, refreshed, and headed out for a full day and abbreviated tour of the city.

I had seen the Eiffel Tower the last time I was in Paris (also a 24 hour stay), but I did not go up. This time, we climbed the stairs to the second level! The views were incredible and it was great exercise, to say the least.
View from the second level

Paris is a beautiful city, but it is huge and clearly impossible to thoroughly explore in such a short time frame. Prior to our flight from Venice to Paris, we were on the fence about how to spend our very short time there. We did the Louvre last time (which takes up a full day). Versailles is on my list of things to see, but unfortunately that would have required a FULL day. I also considered the catacombs, and dancing on Jim Morrison’s grave. I think next time I’ll have to dance on Jim Morrison’s grave….

After our second abbreviated tour of Paris, I decided I much prefer Venice, although as my boyfriend kept pointing out, they’re two totally different cities and vibes and therefore cannot really be compared to each other.

Naturally we were both miserable to return to disgusting NYC and our even more disgusting Brooklyn neighborhood. I also returned to a life in which I am still helping the two street cats I rescued back in May. Somehow I am still involved fundraising and bringing them to vet appointments. The end does seem to be in sight, however. Gracie (the more feral cat that went to live with her feeder), is going for her dental extractions next Wednesday. Naturally, I somehow find myself (once again) responsible for catching her from under the bed at her home, taking her to and from the upcoming appointment, and for raising the funds to cover the appointment. All of this after I threw down my own cash and time for the vet appointment I brought her to this past Saturday.

Honestly, I cannot wait until she is done with this appointment. I hope that not only will she feel much better, but maybe she will become friendlier and happier in general. I’m also hoping that this is the last I will ever have to be involved with either cat.

If anyone reading this has it in their heart (and pocket) to kindly donate $10 or $20 to her upcoming appointment, it would be BEYOND appreciated, and you will go on my list of real-life heroes. Below is a link to her GoFundMe:

DONATE TO GRACIE’S DENTAL:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-gracie-get-a-dental

I did have a couple of great things to keep me motivated and to look forward to after returning from my vacation. Apart from my new job, which has been great so far, I went home the first weekend of October to attend my Aunt and Uncle’s annual “family picnic.” It is always so nice to see my family – at the end of the day, I always know my family has my back and wants what is best for me. I am thankful that I am so close with my family…. they are not perfect (who’s family is???), but they are supportive and they love me (I think…), and sometimes in this crazy fucked up world, their love and support is what I need to feel OK when shit hits the fan in other aspects of my life.

Anyhow, I digress. Here are some pics of my aunt and uncle’s cozy cottage on the Susquehanna river, and shots from the BBQ.

Would it be a blog if I didn’t throw in some selfies? It would be, but not my blog. Here you go:

vintage shirt stolen from my boyfriend (ex?)
This was taken before vacation. I was really feeling good about myself. I wish I felt this good every day….but then it would be all over for you bitches (JK)
My dad sent some haddock home with me last time I was home, so I made this awesome chowder.

FISH CHOWDER

I’m too sad to write this recipe right now, so I’ll have to get back you in my next blog. Stay tuned.

Vegetarian Polpette and Vacation Plans (that had Better Not be Cancelled)

I probably start most blogs off by saying this, but HOLY SHIZZLE – can you believe it’s already mid-August?! I can’t… wasn’t it just February?!? I swear, time flies when you spend every day working just to pay rent and bills.

My dad is turning 70 next week, but we will all have to celebrate next month, since my parents leave for their vacation that day. I’m really happy they’re going on a vacation – they deserve one. We all do at this point. I am going to see Korn on Tuesday, so that’s also something to look forward to. I’ve only been waiting for this concert ALL summer. The last band I saw before the pandemic was Korn in August 2019, and they’ll be the first band I see… well – I guess the pandemic is still happening so I can’t say “after the pandemic.”

Speaking of which, we are finally going on a well-deserved and much needed vacation in just three, short weeks. We will finally be able to visit my BF’s parents for the first time in forever, and will be traveling to Venice on September 5th. We are then flying to Nice on the 15th, renting a car, and road-tripping to Paris. I have literally been living, I repeat: LIVING, for this trip. We booked for September thinking that things (the pandemic, COVID, vaccination rates) would only continue to improve over the summer. Now that Delta variant has reared its ugly head, I must admit that I fear the worst – foiled travel plans, another lock-down in Italy, curfews, restrictions, etc.

I swear to God, I will swim the Atlantic if I have to. In the event that our vacation plans are ruined or put on hold YET AGAIN, I will likely want to die anyhow, so I’ll just take my chances of swimming across the ocean and being eaten by sharks or drowning; which ever comes first. Fuck it. What will I have to live for if this trip doesn’t happen next month?! My cats and my family, I guess. But I will be one miserable bitch. And yes, this is my jealous side showing itself, but after everyone else I know took their vacations this summer and was able to travel, if my plans get fucked-over after everyone else had a break, I will be pissed. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to this. I have a lot to be thankful for, I know this. But at the same time, I haven’t been to the beach, a pool, or a weekend away once this summer (*weekends spent at my parents’ house don’t count). I haven’t worn a swimsuit once, and I haven’t been in a hot tub since last Fall. I’ve just been working non-stop and walking 5 miles daily to feed my sister’s cat for the last three weeks; I’ve had only one day a week off with my boyfriend (sometimes not even that…) since last Spring – he probably needs this vacation way more than I do. I’ve been mentally checked out for the last three months… call it ‘burnout’, call it ‘not giving a fuck’ – I just really need to get away.

I’ve been busy trying to figure out how I will get the required PCR test with results back in the 48 hours before I board the Alitalia plane for Venice. In addition to requiring vaccination to travel to Italy, we need to present negative PCR test results. I also have to drop off my cats at Misty Ridge Cat Lodge upstate. I think I’m going to get tested early Friday morning, and then I’ll drive my cats to my parents’ house and drop them off on Saturday and then take public transit back to NYC. Everyone is worried about me driving home – I relinquished my car back in 2012 when I moved to NYC and my boyfriend has only owned stick-shift vehicles up until this year, so I am very out of practice. I’m basically like Mr. Magoo behind the wheel. I think it’s my vision, honestly…. I mean I’m not the worst driver, but I do suck. Driving isn’t my strength. It’s going to be stressful and exhausting to swing it all, doing all of that rushing around and traveling before our flight on Sunday, but I will reward myself with copious amounts of vino and cicchetti upon arrival in Venice.

I’ve been daydreaming of drinking wine in a vineyard in Provence, doing a cicchetti/wine crawl in Venice, visiting a friend in Bologna, and seeing the south of France. Naturally this daydreaming involves fantasies of all the outfits I will wear. I hope I actually wear all of the dresses I’ve purchased specifically for this trip… I feel like I over-pack and then end up in the same pair of jeans every time I go away. Let’s face it – it’s more practical to wear jeans when you’re being a tourist and walking 6 miles a day.

My sister has this dress in grey, and it looked so good on her that I had to buy one of myself! It was like $30 on Amazon.. I hate that I supported Amazon with this purchase, but I truly love this dress. It will be perfect for dinners out. I still can’t decide if it gives off fairytale princess vibes, or Manson family recruit.
Not sure if this will get worn on vacation… but surely to a party (IF I ever party again…). If anything comes in the way of our travel plans/vacation, I’m going to treat myself and go on a week-long bender.
It’s a romper, which I LOVE – I feel like it just allows more freedom and less worry about the wind blowing it up and exposing my cheeks. I think that’s part of the reason I rarely wear dresses – I love them, but hate feeling like I need to constantly be aware that nothing is getting exposed when I bend over, etc. I also love that it’s a halter and backless – super flattering!

Now I’m just waiting on a new pair of Superga platform sneakers to arrive for my trip. I have been averaging about 37 miles a week (walking) these past two months, and I burn through sneakers like crazy. I hate it – it makes me feel very wasteful, but I literally run them into the ground. Having a go in the washer isn’t going to save them when they have holes burned through the rubber soles, you know what I mean? I got a nice discount on Superga’s website since I signed up for emails though… so I don’t fee terrible about what I spent.

I think our balcony garden peaked earlier this month – we harvested the large eggplants, the Japanese eggplants, four peppers, and the cherry tomato plant was producing about 8-10 ripe tomatoes a day. It’s just been so ungodly hot, that now the plans are kind of fried, despite watering them. There are still a lot of green Roma tomatoes though that should be ripe in another couple of weeks, and the basil is still growing like crazy. Last year we were lucky enough to still have cherry tomatoes ripening into late October! Global warming, am I right? (don’t even get me started on global warming…. it’s been one of my biggest sources of anxiety lately).

The cherry tomato plant is a winner again this year… if I ever have a yard/proper garden, I’ll definitely plant a lot of these.
Our lone pepper plant produced about 4 bell peppers!
We got two, medium-sized eggplants off of this plant. There are a couple more little ones – let’s see if they keep growing though. This heat has been devastating…
So many cherry tomatoes! We did manage to grow a few very tasty San Marzano’s, however, a lot of them had a weird brown/rotted tip and were inedible… such a disappointment

It’s been extremely hot here in NYC, so I’ve mostly been sticking to meals that do not involve the oven or multiple burners going at once. I did make some awesome polpette a couple of weeks ago (I dare say, the best batch I’ve ever made), using Field Roast vegetarian sausage. If you’re curious as to exactly what polpette are, and how they differ from regular meatballs, you can read all about it in this post from 2019. The recipe in the past post also uses real meat, if that is your jam.

These were literally so good I couldn’t stop eating them…. and it shows. I wanted to upload a cross-section of the polpette, but I’m not very technology savvy and therefore cannot figure it out… sorry.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 Idaho potatoes (these will be cut up, boiled, mashed and seasoned)
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 4 Field Roast brand “sausages” (I prefer the Italian Garlic and Fennel ones)
  • 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano
  • 1/2 cup finely diced white or yellow onion
  • 3 brown eggs from free range chickens (1 egg goes into the Polpette mixture and otthe other two eggs are whisked and use for breading purposes)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped parsely
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil (for frying)
  • 1 jar quality marinara sauce for dipping (Rao’s marinara is perfect)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Use the potatoes to make mashed potatoes (cut into large chunks, and boil in salted water until penetrable with the tines of a fork… usually 15-20 min)
  • Drain the potatoes, reserving 1/3 cup of the potato water to be mashed with the potatoes
  • Go ahead and season the potatoes as you normally would – I prefer a generous amount of vegan butter, salt, granulated garlic and pepper. Mash away! Once mashed, set aside.
  • Finely dice 1/2 of a yellow or white onion
  • In a medium saucepan, heat 3 Tbs. of olive oil on low heat and add in the onions
  • Chop the sausages into a rough/crumble consistency and add the crubmles into the saucepan with the onions. Cook over low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes and spoon mixture into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add in about 1/2 of the mashed potatoes (the other half can be eaten as is, or used in another recipe)
  • Add in 1 egg, the seasonings (granulated garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper, the chopped parsley and fresh basil), 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • Thoroughly mix everything together using your hands, and roll into meaball-sized balls (*you may need to add more breadcrumbs depending on the consistency)
  • Set the balls aside and prep your breading station:
  • Whisk 2 eggs together in a bowl
  • In another bowl, add in the remaining breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, 1 tsp. of granulated garlic, and some dried oregano and mix together
  • In a large saucepan, heat 1/3 cup olive oil over low-medium heat
  • Take each ball, dip into the egg mixture and then gently roll/coat in the breadcrumb mixture and add into frying pan
  • You’ll want to gently turn the balls every 1-2 minutes so all sides achieve the same, even golden-brown color
  • Each ball will probably need a fry time of around 6 minutes or so, just remember to keep track of which balls have just gone into the pan, and which ones are finishing up and need to come out of the pan (assuming that your pan will not be big enough to fry all the balls at once)
  • Heat up the marinara sauce in a separate saucepan and serve on the side of the polpette once warm. Garnish the polpette with fresh basil or parsley and a sprinkle of grated Parm! Enjoy 🙂

Now I want to make polpette… perhaps that will be my Friday night excitement. Here are a couple of pics from a walk I took last week – the sunset was beautiful. I kind of wish I had made it to my boyfriend’s venue prior to sunset, since I would have had an even better view from a skyscraper!

Lower east side, Rivington Street. I wish the to-go-drinks were still legal, because I really wanted to stop by Verlaine for a cheap lychee martini….
crossing Houston

Rat Meatloaf and Gross Negligence

It’s been over a week since I last wrote… I am living in a state of perpetual exhaustion. I average about 5 hours of sleep a night, and I don’t even have anything to show for my lack of sleep – that’s the saddest part.  You’d think I was up writing a novel or like, a cook book or something.  Or that I was painting the next greatest masterpiece. No.  Honestly, I don’t even know how I end up staying up as late as I do every night (usually until 12:30 – 1 a.m.). I’m not doing anything fun or worth while.  I am actually up that late scooping cat litter, brushing cats, and/or cooking dinner for a boyfriend I see about 20 minutes of each day, and yeah… that’s about it…. by the time all my chores are done, it’s time for bed.

I don’t know where the time goes, but clearly it hasn’t been spent writing or finding a better job.  I haven’t even cooked anything note worthy lately.  I’ve been too fucking tired to cook and too busy tending to cats and cleaning the house, since it now gets dirty even faster (double the cat hair, double the spilled litter and food messes, etc.).

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Can someone please come brush my teeth and wash my face for me?  It’s 9:20 p.m. on a Friday and I’m too tired to even get off the couch and get ready for bed.  That’s how tired I am.  I can’t even imagine having an actual human kid to take care of at this point in my life.  I’d literally fucking die, and if I didn’t die from sleep deprivation, I would surely die from a psychotic break down as a direct result of stress and sleep deprivation.

 

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Can someone also fix my mangled feet?  I think they need totally replaced at this point, given that they’re covered in popped blisters from my ill-fitting H&M sneakers and beyond the repairs a basic pedicure would offer.

Anyhow.  Another day, another dollar -am I right?

I am really proud of myself because I didn’t order delivery even once this week.  Not that I order in often – usually once a week and only when I’m drained.  But I’m impressed I didn’t order at all – since at some point in the week, I usually cave and use Seamless to order Chinese or Mexican food.  I cooked a lot of random shit this week though, that is for sure.  One of the many random things I cooked was this rat meatloaf:

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Rat (“mouse”) meatloaf… don’t ask. I couldn’t stop laughing as I prepared it, waiting to present it to my boyfriend like it was a goddamn lobster with a side of filet mignon

I made this really delicious dish that I absolutely LOVED, and my boyfriend hated (he hates small pastas for some strange reason (orzo, italini, orrechiette)… I, on the other hand, LOVE small pastas). Anyhow, I found this sick recipe for “Orzotto” (orzo cooked like risotto) on one of my favorite food sites, “Taste Cooking.” It was really easy to make (much less time than cooking actual risotto with rice), and warranted a trip to my favorite cheese shop.

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This was heaven.  I liked it better than actual risotto, because the orzo is lighter and fluffier. I cooked the orzo in chicken stock, and used Gorgonzola dolce to finish it.

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It was a beautiful Spring night in NYC, so I brought Mr. Peeper for a walk… Not sure the hipster trash dudes working in the Cheese shop appreciated, but whatever.  It’s my life.

Anyhow, Campbell (aka “Lorimer”) Cheese shop is my absolute favorite.  It’s basically what Bedford Cheese Shop was before they sold their soul to the devil and moved up the street into a gargantuan retail space with white everything and waitstaff that is unfriendly and probably doesn’t even eat cheese.

I digress…

Campbell (Lorimer) Cheese shop is the best – they always have Gorgonzola dolce and a variety of truffle cheeses, which means I leave happy every time.  The staff is friendly, and you can find all manner of jams, olives, specialty sausages, etc..

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The mortadella wasn’t the same as usual… it had no peppercorns or pistachios in it… they totally downgraded and I’m not sure what’s up with that.  I did pick up these awesome anchovies, which I used in the pasta dish I just made.  I also picked up the creamy, blue cheese I used to make my Orzotto.

I’m too fucking lazy to write out any recipes tonight.  But I made this pasta using the anchovies pictured above, and San Marzano tomatoes from a can:

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The anchovies add this delightful umami flavor …. so good

Anyhow.  It’s Memorial Day Weekend and I can’t fucking wait to be home (my parents house upstate).  I am so over this shit hole, rat-infested, fake fuck infested city.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone.  I hope the cats let me sleep in past 7:30 a.m. tomorrow.  I look haggard.

 

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Bolognese and Home

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Rigatoni Bolognese 

Currently stress eating Bugles and dreading going back to NYC tomorrow after a lovely three days at home (lovely, minus my work inbox blowing up all day…the beauty of work email on your personal phone 🙂 LOVES IT).

I feel creatively repressed and personally stifled just thinking about going back to the office on Wednesday.  Hence, the Bugle binge.  It was so nice to be out of NYC for a few days, away from the crazies on the subway, the scents of the sewers and trash-strewn sidewalks, dealing with the MTA’s bullshit, the commute into and out of work, and of course, work itself.  It’s so nice to wake up and be able to drink my coffee at a leisurely pace while watching daytime TV as opposed to swigging it down while simultaneously applying mascara.  The pleasure to be had in taking a long walk while the sun is still up in the sky, or to be able cook or bake at 2pm is insurmountable.  It’s so nice to have control over my own daytime schedule and not spend 10 hours a day split between commuting and sitting at a desk.  I guess it’s time to become a stay-at-home cat mom, or a SAHCM.  I must find a way to make this happen… even if means selling my soul to the devil (oh wait, I already did… JK).

I was able to spend some quality time with my brother and his girlfriend on Saturday, as well as with my parents.  I also had a chance to hang out with my cousin at the Super Bowl party he hosted, and took a long walk with my other cousin (his mom) earlier that day.  And then of course, there was the quality time spent with the family pets, which is the reason I came home in the first place – to watch them while my parents were away.   I got in a couple of long walks with and without the dog, and ate a lot of deliciously unhealthy food – some of which I graciously shared with Ceely (the dog), as she came with me to the Super Bowl party with me.

Saturday night, after grocery shopping with my mom, I decided to make rigatoni Bolognese for my parents – they loved it!!! Such a great dish for the winter (even though the last couple of days were unseasonably warm).

Here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. of high-quality beef ( you can substitute in cooked brown lentils if you’re a vegetarian, or ground turkey if you prefer a healthier meat)
  • 1/2 cup pancetta (OPTIONAL – I did not add this time, but I have in the past and it elevates to another level)
  • 1 box pasta of your choice (rigatoni, spaghetti, penne, linguini all work great)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of a large sauce-pan)
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 of a white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry, white wine (Pinot Grigio works well!)
  • 1 cup freshly shaved Parmesan (plus more to sprinkle over finished pasta)
  • 1 large can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  •  1 Tbs. dried basil
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • Salt and pepper (add to desired taste)

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DIRECTIONS:

  • Start by heating the olive oil in a large sauce pan over a low-medium heat
  • Add in onions and cook until a yellow-y translucent color (about 6 minutes), stirring occasionally
  • Add in carrots and celery and continue to cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally for another 5 min.
  • Add in garlic and continue to cook and stir, being careful not to burn garlic
  • Add in the meat (or cooked lentils) and cook for a couple of minutes over low-medium heat.  If you’re cooking ground meat, break it up using the spoon or spatula (should not be left in large chunks)

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  • Add in the white wine and simmer for about 3 minutes
  • Add in the can of crushed tomatoes along with the granulated garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, dried basil and oregano, and crushed red pepper; stir together and reduce to low heat
  • Add in the small can of tomato paste and stir in thoroughly; continue to stir and cook over a low heat.
  • After cooking over low heat for another 10 minutes or so, add in the heavy cream and stir
  • Add in the Parmesan cheese and continue to stir and cook, making sure cheese is incorporated into the sauce

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  • Add in the fresh chopped parsley and stir
  • I advise taste-testing as you go along (make sure meat is cooked through before taste testing!), to ensure the sauce has a good balance – feel free to add more salt, pepper, pepper flakes, oregano/basil, or sugar if needed
  • Let the sauce continue to simmer over minimum heat and boil a large pot of heavily salted water for the pasta
  • Cook pasta according to cook time advised on packaging; once pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and either add to sauce pan, if large enough, or back to pot and then add the Bolognese sauce into the pot of pasta – stir well
  • Serve in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan over-top and a garnish of fresh parsley or fresh basil!

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    Voila! A hit every single time

    I cannot wait to be reunited with my cat tomorrow – I am going to take him out in his stroller since it is going to be about 60 degrees. I hope that the rest of this week goes smoothly and work isn’t too insane, like it was last week.  It will be nice to get back to the city tomorrow and be able to organize myself, clean the apartment, and make a nice meal before going back to work on Wednesday… I’m already thinking about what I can cook. That’s how much I love cooking – I dream of what I will make in advance :p

Polpette

What are polpette you ask? They’re basically a croquette – a fried meatball, wherein the meat is mixed with mashed potatoes, bread crumbs, and a bunch of seasonings and/or cheese. Oftentimes, they are stuffed with cheese, so that when you bit into it warm, it oozes out of the center. In a word, they are delicious. 

Polpette are the authentic, Italian version of the bastardized Italian-American meatball. The ‘meatball’ as we know it here in the U.S., is the result of Italian immigrants making use of the abundance of meat that was readily available in every butcher shop or grocery when they moved from the homeland to New York/Brooklyn, etc.. If anyone enjoys food documentaries or cooking shows as much as I do, I highly recommend “Food on the Go.” It’s a documentary that is currently available on Netflix and is all about the evolution of Italian food into American-Italian food as we know it today! It was really informative and made me hungry for pasta, calamari, and meatballs.

The finished product: I used turkey and mashed potatoes to make these polpette, which I stuffed with mozzarella (recipe is below) – they can be served with a side of marinara or not… they’re equally delicious either way

Polpette, since they are prepared like a croquette, can be comprised of a variety of ingredients – anything from fish, veal, mortadella, or even squid. What really distinguished this ball, is the fact that it combines mashed potatoes with the protein and is fried. They originated in ancient Roman times, and today they are served as appetizers, snacks or bar food all over Italy, however, they are especially popular in Venice where you might take them as cicchetti, with a glass of afternoon wine. My favorite activity in Venice is probably sampling the variety of cicchetti each bar has to offer while drinking far too much red wine… and it’s so cheap compared to the U.S…. you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank.

Venice – I snapped this pic crossing a bridge on the way to one of my (three) favorite cicchetti bars
View from a little cicchetti bar we randomly stumbled upon while shopping… it was a Monday or Tuesday afternoon so the street was empty… nothing better than a leisurely glass of vino at 2pm when everyone else is working

To make the best possible polpette or meatballs, you should hypothetically use a combination of ground beef, ground pork, and/or veal. I don’t support the veal industry because it’s totally fucked up, and I also don’t like buying ground pork anymore because it’s impossible to find organic and ethical pig meat (unless it comes from a super small farming operation, industrial pig farms are not OK). I used turkey instead (I’m sure it was still abused, but at least it claimed itself to be cage-free, hormone free, antibiotic free, etc…). It’s pretty tasty and stays moist when combined with the milk-soaked bread crumbs and eggs.

All of the ingredients waiting to be mixed

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Idaho potatoes (these will be peeled, cut, boiled, and mashed)
  • 1-1.5 lbs. meat of your choice (turkey, or any combination of beef, pork, or veal if you’re a real sadist)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 slices of white bread, or baguette, or any white-ish bread you have
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 2 Tbs. freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • Salt (add to desired taste)
  • Pepper (add to desired taste)
  • Granulated garlic ( ” ” )
  • Dried Basil ( ” ” )
  • Onion Powder ( ” ” )
  • Dried oregano ( ” ” )
  • Olive oil or canola oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

  • Use the potatoes to make mashed potatoes (peel, cut into large chunks, and boil in salted water until penetrable with the tines of a fork… usually 15-20 min)
  • You can go ahead and season the potatoes as you normally would with mashed potatoes – a generous cube of butter, salt, granulated garlic and pepper
The key to really good mashed potatoes, is leaving some of the potato water you boiled them in in the pot… not enough to make them watery though
  • Set potatoes aside in a large bowl – the bowl needs to be big enough for the meat to be mixed in, along with all of the other seasonings.
  • While the potatoes cool, chop up the parsley, which you will be adding into the mix.
  • Chop up the mozzarella into small cubes and set aside – you will use this to stuff the polpette when the time comes:
MMMMmmmm … Mozzarella 😉
  • Next, in a separate bowl, crumble/rip up the two pieces of white bread and pour the milk over them – there should be enough liquid that it is all absorbed and all the crumbs are saturated
White bread breadcrumbs soaking in milk ^^^ this helps keep the ballz extra moist 😉
  • Now it’s time to combine all of the ingredients – add the meat, eggs, seasonings, milk-soaked bread crumbs, grated cheese, and fresh parsley to the big bowl holding the mashed potatoes
  • Set aside 1 cup of bread crumbs – you will roll the balls in this reserve before frying
  • Add 1 cup of the breadcrumbs to the mixture and dig in! You have to use your hands – it’s impossible to do it right with a spoon. Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed – especially the eggs and breadcrumbs.
  • Heat up the oil in a large sauce pan/frying pan over low-medium heat – you should use enough oil that bottom of the pan is covered.
  • Now for the really fun part – making the ballz! Grab a small handful of the meat mixture and form it into a thick patty on your palm
The “patty” with the mozzarella in the center – next you’ll shape the meat over the mozzarella as if you’re making something with playdough
  • Before rolling the patty into a ball, place a cube of mozzarella in the center.
  • Form the meat around the cheese center, and roll into a ball
  • Roll the polpette in a light layer of breadcrumbs before placing in the frying pan
  • You can make all of the balls and set on a plate so that they’re ready to go at the same time into the frying pan, although it is unlikely that they will all fit at the same time, so you’ll probably have to do two or three batches.
  • Heat the over to 350 degrees and get a large baking sheet or casserole dish ready to place the fried balls in (I finish them in the oven to ensure they’re thoroughly cooked and not overly browned)
  • Fry the polpette over low-medium heat in the saucepan, turning with a spoon or fork to ensure all sides are evenly browned.
  • As they are browned on each side, remove from saucepan and place on baking sheet/casserole dish
Before going into the oven to finish cooking – notice how they’re browned on all sides… I like to sprinkle a little more chopped parsley on them for extra flavor and aesthetics
  • The polpette will only need about 15 minutes in the oven before they’re fully cooked through and ready to serve! These are great to re-heat the next day as well (or the next or the next… they can also be frozen)!

What a week it’s been… I can’t wait to be home-home (aka my parent’s house) for some quality R&R. Work was insane this week, and the cold made it impossible to get any walking done. I will miss my cat immensely while I’m gone – I’m riding home dirty on the Greyhound bus instead of the train, so he unfortunately has to stay here all weekend (they only allow pets on MetroNorth and NJTransit). He loves being at my parent’s house 😦 … poor thing 😦

Peep’s new cat tree – this is basically the face I made every time my phone rang at work today…

I am also looking forward to my hair appointment tomorrow to get some red low-lights added in. My hair has been going white, probably from stress. I’m not old enough for white hair yet… fuck that shit. I’ll just enhance my natural color and tell the hairdresser to concentrate the color near the front of my face where the whites are coming in hot and heavy.