Monday, November 30, 2009

Our First Trip To Venezia

On our way back to Siena from Trieste we decided to stop for a few days in Venice, the first time for both of us. I am so glad we didnt decide to leave it until this week as the 'Aqua Alta' high water hit today,131cm of it, flooding most of the city.
We found a park for the car in Mestre and took the
train over to Venice, it was a wonderful sight walking out of the station and seeing the canals and the city before us despite the low cloud that had followed us from Trieste and lingered for the next few days.
We hadn't booked any accomodation but found a fantastic place
La Locanda Art Deco
after browsing through and phoning the hotel direct. We had enquired about a double room at 60 euro a night but for 10 euro more we were offered their boutique apartment at the Residenza Art Deco which was just perfect as there was more space for Milly and with the added touch of breakfast delivered each morning.

The next few days were spent exploring the city on foot, it was like a maze and we got lost several times. Milly posed at just about every bridge and drew quite a bit of attention to herself as tourists wanted to take photos of her!
Wandering the streets the first evening
St Marks Square
'Look every body..its the Grand Canal'
Exquisite Carnival MasksAnother day, more walking and more photos

The Rialto Markets near the famous Rialto BridgeCannaregio...Local area away from the touristy parts.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Dogs Dinner !!!!

For a few weeks now Milly has been attending obedience classes at the dog training school in Siena...she is a fantastic dog, but needed fine tuning to stop her pulling when we are out and about. She tends to be a real 'sticky beak' wanting to see everything that is going on and wanting to greet and play with every dog she sees...much to the fear of other owners.
I find the corrections a bit extreme as I have been advised to use a choker chain on her which I have never done previously and the look on her face when I give her a jerk is a look of 'what the hell did you do that for!!' We are slowly making progress, but I think it is more beneficial for me as I'm learning how to train her and what I can and cant let her get away with.

Anyway this post isn't so much about Milly's training but the Christmas dinner we were invited to hosted by the dog training school. It was an evening of food that in my opinion was only fit for a dog, very disappointing.

The three long tables were set up with plastic plates, plastic cutlery and plastic cups....this is a very common occurence in Italy especially at Sagras which I can understand due to the quantity of people and lack of facilities, but it is also becoming more common also in homes.It is one of my pet hates and would only ever use them for kids parties or picnics...used at any other occasion food just doesn't taste the same.

Back to dinner...the first saucer sized plastic plate had on it 3 crostini. One of the spreads was mayonnaise out of a jar, the other, a fishy paste out of a tube and lastly a strange tasting dry fegato paste (couldnt even call it a pate!).

To the primi... again served on the saucer sized plate, a gluggy pasta with bechamel (commercial) then followed by Fusilli with a sparse sauce of ground sausage and least this pasta dish was al dente.

For the secondi we were served another saucer sized plastic plate of 3 meatballs, so hard my plastic fork kept bending and a side order of soggy beans in a tomato sauce that tasted a bit fizzyish!!
The highlight of the evening was a raffle which we won a dog lead ...whoopeee!! and a bottle of Bubbly.

The dessert then came out, a chocolate slab sponge which smelled like it was made from a packet, so we passed and decided to make a quick exit............but not before the organiser put a tin in front of us...'what was this for' asked Domenico. The meal was 25 euro per head!!

I couldnt believe it, when ever we had been to a christmas 'do' the price was always stated at the start unless it was something organised as a thank you to customers for supporting them, which we thought this was. Domenico and I just looked at each other without saying a word...lesson learnt!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Weekend visiting Trieste & Slovenia

Last weekend we made a impromptu decision to drive to Trieste, DJ still had some of his stuff at our place so we thought we would load up the car and drop it to him as he now lived in Trieste. Any excuse to see a new city.
We arrived early evening after a five hour drive from Siena and took the opportunity to explore the city at night. I was quite taken aback with the beautiful buildings and
the various pedestrian shopping areas.

The city had a lively vibe to it with alot of young people spilling out of the bars and cafes into the heated precints drinking their Aperitivi. It certainly had a very international feel to it and was suprised to see so many Ethnic restaurants, especially Japanese.

With Trieste being on the border of Slovenia, we decided the next day to take a road trip to the capital Lubjiana. The low cloud that had lingered over Trieste finally lifted as we reached the border and within an hour we were at Lubjiana. On arriving it seemed like a ghost town but once we parked it didnt take long to find the beautiful old town running along the sides of the canal.

It turned out to be a stunning day and the cafes and restaurants along the canal were packed with people lazing away their Saturday afternoon. Again Lubjiana like Trieste felt very international with all types of cuisine available and had a very friendly laid back atmosphere.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Funghi Galore

As the last of the dry golden leaves cling to the trees and the air a definite chill to, it is a sure sign than winter is on its way. The smell of wild mint has now been replaced with a woody mushroomy smell as the woods surrounding us play host to an amazing array of different varieties of funghi, flourishing in the moist conditions.

It has been a great season for the mushroom pickers whos cars over the past few weeks have lined the road leading to our house. The rainy days followed by sunshine has made the conditions perfect for the mushrooms to thrive in ...and what a variety there are.

The Porcini season Se
ptember /October in these parts has finished and instead a different variety can be seen collected. I had to stop a few mushrooms pickers with baskets laden with funghi on a few occasions just to see what type were safe to pick and so last weekend we trooped into the woods to collect our own. The kind everyone was picking had a pink tinge to them and I was excited to get them home to start cooking.

Unfortunately I was very disappointed that they didnt have much taste at all. I tried roasting them in the oven with fresh thyme and olive oil, and again in a risotto, but I couldnt draw any mushroom flavour out of them unlike Porcini. So my desire to collect mushrooms has now diminshed and will now wait until the Porcini season next year.
Little did I know until lately that you need a licence to go mushroom picking, not expensive, but necessary. I suppose due to the fact that there are so many poisonous varieties out there it makes sense to know which are safe to pick.