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Thursday, April 27, 2006

italian update #8 - tuscan region

one region which i think i will enjoy going back is the Tuscan region -- we visited Pisa and Firenze (otherwise known as Florence in english) this time.

Driving through the countryside and when we were enjoying the view of florence and surrounds (the pictures are of florence from Piazza Michaelangelo), i can imagine the tranquility of the countryside and the homemade delicious tuscan cuisine that one can enjoy as one explores the region.....

o, and Perugia is in the tuscan region -- and it's famous for italian chocolates!!

on a topic other than food, the famous statue of David by Michaelangelo is housed in a museum here in florence -- and i never imagined that i could stand infront of a statue, listening to the explanations of a local guide for almost half an hour and not be bored!!!

he said so many things that i never would hv noticed and he was so passionate about it..... that's one of the reasons why i would recommend a local guide and the advantages of joining a land package by operators such as Globus, Insight etc ....... really gives one the insight and greater appreciation of what one sees. makes a great difference.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

cookbooks and me

i juz realise something -- i wonder why i didn't see it in the past ;p

i have a REAL weakness for cookbooks. for that matter, books related to cooking (e.g. can be a food dictionary, or an ingredient book, or cake decorating techniques etc). even though i don't have any use for them ..... i am very very attracted to them. hehehe

and i like buying the cookbooks. in fact, i have a whole collection that i seldom refer to. **paiseh** (paiseh -- means embarassed -- for the non-singaporeans reading my blog. it's a hokkien term.)

no wonder hubbie sometimes "rolls" his eyes when i say i want to buy another cookbook. hehehe. just last sunday, i bought another 2, one relating to chinese soups (and i think i have 2 other already....) and now when i go travelling, the "souvenir" i buy to remind me of my trip are cookbooks.

i picked up one very nice penang cuisine cookbook when i went to malaysia last year and one in thailand this year and of course an italian cookbook.

and i have been eyeing one - Mrs Lee's cookbook which is a collection of nonya dishes -- for a long time now ...... been doing a good job stopping myself from buying every time i return to singapore. not sure if i can exercise the self-restraint again this coming trip back home (am going back next week u c).

wellz wellz, let's see .........

italian update #7 - sorrento and capri pix

sorrento and capri are indeed very nice places -- the water is crystal blue k!! very very nice. my only complaint was the crowds ..... as u can now tell, i am "crowd-averse" person ..... i like "solitude"....hehehe

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

italian update #6 - sorrento, limoncello and wines

the Naples region is very lovely -- and it's no wonder that italians go to the resorts in sorrento and capri to get away. but precisely this, it's kinda crowded -- especially Capri. not sure if it's a getaway afterall.

i love the lemon trees there -- reminds me of the failed lemon seedling which i tried to grow ;)
and there are sooooooooo many of them growing around and those that seem unattended are all so "fruitful" -- makes me sad that my lemon tree didn't make it ;(

and limoncello -- an interesting drink, although i don't really fancy it -- i don't really fancy the taste ... abit strong for me ;) maybe it will grow on me if i try ......

writing about alcohol, i fell in love with Prosecco -- the Italian sparkling white wine. Maybe it was italy, maybe i was in a happy mood -- i like it much better than champagne ;) heehee.

Even when mixed with orange juice to be sort of a cocktail -- it was a very refreshing drink.

i really really like Prosecco. Bought 3 small bottles with us!

On this topic of wine, i prefer Italian white wine. During the 15 days that we were in italy, i think i only had red wine on 2 occasions. they were ok -- but the whites! they were simply delicious! i had it with almost every meal every day. i am not much of a wine connoisseur -- so i don't really remember the vintage or vineyard or types -- simply ordering the house white was good enough most times!

and since i am reminded about my prosecco -- hmmm, maybe i should go hv a drink now.

messed up postings

hmmm . . . . i wanted the posting on toilets and wash basins to be after the food postings, but somehow due to the time i created the drafts, it's now in the middle of the 2 food postings . . . . . ;p feels strange .... but cannot correct it for now ...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

italian update #5 - more italian eats!!

honestly, one of the greatest pleasures during our trip is the very very excellent local cuisine that we got to enjoy. so here's more pictures related to the food, or us in action, or the lovely surroundings that totally enhanced our eating experience!! i lurrrrrve italian cuisine :)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

italian update #4 - toilets and the many ways to flush !!

something i found amusing during my 15 days in italy -- is the variety of ways one can flush the toilet ...... heehee ..... not a very "elegant" topic i suppose -- but i can't help it.

some u pull the rope handle, some u press the button on top of the cistern, some it's a button at the side, some at the bottom of the cistern (when the cistern is mounted quite high), some is a pedal on the floor which u need to step on, some it's mounted on the wall ..... the variations is amazing.

u know, this time we joined a local tour package so we travel in big groups on tour buses and when the drive is long, we take toilet/coffee breaks along the way. and with all the aunties travelling with me, the queue is always long and there's bound to be someone in the queue after one goes to the toilet.

and the ways to flush the toilet occasionally emerge as a conversation topic while we are all in the toilet. hahahaha .....

imagine after a big business, one can't find where to flush and one knows there are many waiting for the cubicle to use......hahahaha .... but of course, we all managed to find it after a while :)

oh -- and the wash basin -- this is something i must write about -- never really happened to me -- but juz in case anyone experiences it. so far, in my whole life, i've seen 2 types of wash basin, one where it is automatic, place one's hands there and the water flows. the other, whereby we need to turn the tap and the tap handles are always prominently infront of us.

anywayz, in italian toilets -- i've seen people placed their hangs under the water tap thinking that the water will flow and it doesn't. and the person sees the next basin functionally perfectly. she goes to the next basin after the first user, places her hands under the tap again and again the water doesn't flow.

and someone says "you'll have to step on it!"

yep, for water to flow, one has to step on a pedal located on the floor! well, not that it doesn't make sense -- i find such a way very handy and convenient. just that it's not what we are used to back home! :) and when one is in the toilet, i supposed one doesn't expect to be "mentally" challenged.

anywayz -- enough of toilets and wash basins ...... i wish i have taken some pictures to share ;)

Friday, April 21, 2006

italian update #3 -- food

u know, one of my greatest pleasures is enjoying the local cuisine whenever i go overseas and this trip to italy has really "opened" my eyes in terms of the types of italian cuisine!

there are just so many choices -- not only abt pasta, pizza, foccacia bread!! and the best part is when we go into the different regions, they have different specialties ...... it's really a great time for me, sample all the local cuisines.
unfortunately, being regional cuisine, it does mean that once i leave the region, it's unlikely that i will find the dish -- unlike the common pasta dishes.

hubbie took a liking to the risotto -- risotto i've tried in the past were sometimes too creamy, not that tasty and i hardly eat risotto. but italy has shown me that the italianos are the risotto experts!! surely u must taste it to understand my excitement. the one i found special was risotto cooked in fig leaves -- the risotto was just full of the fragrance of the leaves and it wasn't a creamy risotto .... we found this risotto in sorrento and honestly, didn't see it any where else.

a dish that surprised was beef steak in balsamic vinegar sauce which we ate in florence. when it came, one look at it and i wondered if i was too adventurous! (it was recommended by the waiter who said it was good, so we decided to try!) it was just a piece of steak smothered in a BLACK sauce and the vinegar smell was quite strong. nothing else. and it's really BLACK sauce.

but one mouth of the beef and boy were we won over!! the looks and taste just didn't go. if i can find it on the menu elsewhere, i would have ordered. but alas, it was a florentine dish i suppose!

anywayz, enough of this raving about the food -- it makes me hungry. but also, i think, as you read it, u may not be able to "catch" excitement -- until and unless you have tasted them yourself.

so whatever is written here is just to whet appetite. the next time u visit italy, enjoy the gastronomic affair and don't think too much about putting on weight ;)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

italian update #2 -rome

much as i enjoyed my trip to italy-- i must say that rome did not turn up quite like wat i was expecting ;p it was kind of dirty, graffiti everywhere, the people a lil' gruffy, not that "friendly" .... hehehe .... doesn't sound like i enjoyed rome much huh?

on the contrary -- the city is wonderful, the basilica, sistine chapel and vatican awesome. just can't help feeling that it could have been better :)

and the crowds!! it was really crowded as i think there were lots of student visitors as the schools were having spring breaks. feels like we were jostling with the crowd most of the time. and that's the reason, our tour director tells us that we need to hv our wake-up call @ 630am so that we depart before 8am for our scheduled tours. it was really torturous the first few days -- i don't even wake up this early whilst i was working! plus, i am now not working!! it seems such an unearthly hour to be woken up and whilst we are holiday!! *sigh* but guess we got used to it after a few days and energised ourselves with siestas daily!

much as i think rome can be "cleaner", going to the country side and stuff, it's kinda of different ... and i think it's all a matter of expectations as well -- so sometimes it's really good that we don't set expectations ;p

the funnie part is, the "city" which i really liked (we visited soooooo many places during our 13 day tour) and enjoyed much is Lugano -- a Swiss city !!! -- it was part of our itinerary on our way to lake Maggiore as it's @ the swiss/italian border. when we got off at lugano -- i really could see that the place was clean, and neat and heehee -- much like singapore!! and i liked it immediately ;) guess i have my singaporean DNA deeply ingrained ....... hahahaha.

i am having some problems posting the pics -- but here's one of the nite scene in rome and hubbie did a great job i think! i particularly like the "ominous" looking sky :)

till the next time, Ciao!

hong kong 7s 2006

before i write more abt our italian trip .... an entry about the hongkong rugby 7s -- our 3rd and no less fun!! this year, it was like the "prelude" to our italian holiday, cos it was fri to sun, and we flew off on sunday nite after the 7s. :)

and maybe God knew we will be very tired, so blessed us with an upgrade to business class on the flite the Roma and we will well-rested and ready to go when we touched down!! hehehe

anywayz, just some pictures to share . . . .

hubbie and fren -- this is their annual "pilgrimage"

hubbie bought these headgear specially for te event!

the sexy gals again .....

like i said before, u don't hv to understand rugby or enjoy watching it to enjoy the 7s. seriously. i mean, i was there the full 2.5 days! and i think we'll be back next yr if we can get tickets. ;)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

italian update #1 - back from Italy and the royal white peacock!!

Got back yesterday from Italy -- a fantastic 2 weeks we had in the land of olives, lemons and clear blue skies!!! :)

after 2+ years in hong kong, i think i have forgotten what clear blue sky looks like!! :( no kidding. on the day that we returned, the first thing i noticed when the airport express train took off was that i couldn't see the sky at all in Hong Kong! it was depressing ..... but we rationalise, it was probably a foggy day..... hehehe.

and the second depressing thing is of course the weight that i've gained from 2 weeks of over-eating!! but i can't help it -- the food was excellento! like i tell hubbie, there's one sickness he knows that i can't possibly suffer from (not now, not in future) -- anorexia ! i shall post some food pictures later on -- as i don't hv the pictures, they are with hubbie who's in shanghai now.

anywayz, have you seen a white peacock before? i haven't until this trip to italy.

this beauty we saw in Lake Maggiore (near lake como) and it was living on Borromeo Island
(which houses the very very impressive Borromeo palace which has 100+ rooms! and the impressive thing is , the Borromeo's still use it today as their summer getaway or something. i think it was built in the 1800s ....... and today i think they have less than 10 in the entire borromeo clan ... i shall not go on, the "envy" is building up again!!!)

will write more about the places we visit later on ...... now time for siesta! (i can't help it, after 2 weeks of daily siesta, i think i have gotten used to the idea :P)