Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fine Whine

Sometimes, when we receive a nice bottle of wine as a gift (thank you, B & G), I find myself admiring the bottle - but not drinking it. I am stuck in a conundrum where the fine wine must be accompanied by a gourmet meal that I don't want to make. The wine tempts me, looking oh-so-enjoyable, yet makes me feel like a lazy, uninspired cook.


Well... I have found that there are times when you just have to give in and purchase yourself a nice, gourmet... delivery pizza.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's not so EGGcellent


This latest round of salmonella infested eggs has me rethinking my choice to eat meat. A recent article in the LA Times detailed (via FDA reports) the disgusting state of the chicken farms from which the ill eggs were derived. I'll let you read the article yourself if you like, but (as maybe the least disturbing detail) I'll share this: There was manure built up as high as 8 feet pushing pit doors open allowing vermon in and chickens out to wander in the crap. It's no wonder the eggs contained salmonella (not to mention the shockingly dirty water used to "clean" the eggs).

I love cured ham. I will never become a vegetarian based on my love for prosciutto. HOWEVER - I do think there is something to be said about being an educated consumer and a humane omnivore. Purchasing eggs from chickens kept in sanitary and healthy living conditionss not only makes you feel good, but it also allows your intestinal tract to function properly. Confused by the varying types of eggs sold in grocery stores? Me too. Definitions follow.

Lesson for the day: 

FREE RANGE or FREE ROAMING:
Producers must demonstrate to the FDA that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside. A vague definition, but none-the-less better than no legal definition at all.

NATURAL:
A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product) may be labeled natural. The label must explain the use of the term natural (e.g., no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed.)

CAGE FREE:
A term that appears to have no legal definition for the USDA or FDA. This means that "Cage Free" is up to seller to define (uh-oh).

ORGANIC:
A term that refers to the regulations and standards of the feed fed to the chickens. For eggs to be labeled "organic," the chickens must be fed organic feed (grown without commercial fertilizers or pesticides), and not given hormones or antibiotics. This has nothing to do with how the animals are kept, however.
 
And just for fun, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED MEAT:
A paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones with attached edible meat under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. Can be found in products such as the Slim Jim.

Interested in this topic? I suggest the following reads:

If you haven't already, Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: The Penguin Press, 2006.

Nestle, Marion. Food Politics. Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press, 2007.

A USDA fact sheet on Meat & Poultry Labeling

The FDA's report on the state of the Iowa egg farms

Don't have the time to read? Watch Food Inc., it's free, relatively quick and on-demand on Netflix.

What makes me an expert? I'm not - by any means. But I am getting my Masters in Public Health and I currently work as a Nutritional Policy Advocate. All I'm saying is take the time to know where your food comes from. It might shock you. It definitely shocked me.

Sick of all the questions I am posing? Okay, I'll stop.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A 2 dollar wine that taste like 4

Maybe you've read the Fortune Magazine article on Traders Joe's, or possibly you were  listening this morning to NPR and heard the story covering the story from Fortune Magazine's article on Trader Joe's. Regardless - the best thing I have gotten from all of this story coverage is the following:


If you are a TJ junkie like me, you must agree that this video is genius.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I love Martha Stewart, but...

... does this sound disgusting to anyone else?


"Chicken breasts stay moist when cooked in the microwave on a bed of onion and apple. Ketchup, curry powder, and yogurt make a sweet, mildly spicy, and creamy sauce."


EW. Anyone out there, besides Martha, have a chicken curry recipe to share?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

flower inspiration

I am starting a new section for this blog: wedding inspirations. I find myself looking at life around me to obtain inspiration for planning our wedding day. Share-worthy? Definitely. I want our wedding to have details that personalize the day and make it our own. I don't have a long list of inspiration yet, but here's where I have started:

FLOWERS.


the girly-girl in me loves peonies. 
plus, ruffled petals...ruffled dress - it all fits in.

Have you come to visit us our new(ish) pad yet? If not - you are missing out on our front garden. It is filled with roses, sage, lavender, paperwhites, lemons, sunflowers, succulents, ferns, and three full garden boxes of fruits, vegetables and herbs. This enjoyable garden inspires me:


eden roses will definitely make the bridal bouquet.

mexican sage. i lust for the deep purple.

Our garden, er... I mean, Vince's garden. Caring for this garden is so instinctual for Vince.  Must find clever ways to incorporate gardening into our day!
color, height, shape. what's not to love about these craspedias?

VINO! but even more fun (maybe): the twisty-curls and full green leaves from the vines. details.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm currently listening to...

     NPR stations vary greatly from city to city. For example, 
(while still respecting and loving my hometown station) San Diego's KPBS is targeted for a much older audience. Classical music starting at 7pm...? Staying too classy, San Diego. Whereas KCRW, a broadcast of Santa Monica College, is an intelligent, hip, and entertaining station - even past 7pm.

    Potentially my favorite part of the morning (besides morning cuddling and my cup of joe - two separate events) is when KCRW broadcasts "Morning Becomes Eclectic." One morning, while listening at work (yes, I have a job!), I enjoyed the sounds of Luísa Maita.



     Luísa Maita, a 20-something Brazilian,  just released Lero-Lero, an album that is relaxed, yet vibrant. "Lero-Lero reflects Luísa’s personal artistic expression and outlook. With obvious allegiances to Brazilian samba and bossa nova, the songs on Lero-Lero also capture the influences of jazz, pop, soul and electronica. Luísa credits the inspiration for the album to her native city, its neighborhoods and its people."


Listen. Enjoy. Repeat.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The truth behind my lack of blogging...

I know, I know.
I just suck at blogging! I'm sorry friends.


But here, enjoy some photos from Sicilia:



L'Aspra
The classic boats where old men gather to untangle their nets, drink espresso, and play Sicilian cards.

The first wedding we attended in Sicily was for Vince's cousin Salvatore Vitale and his wife-to-be Suvi. We learned that at a traditional Sicilian wedding you pray that the couple will bore lots of male children and you eat.

What was different / weird about this trip to Sicily was having so much American family there. Here is a picture of Vince and all his siblings. Quite a special event!

Palermo
Vince's parents (holding a cucuzza lunga at the vucciria (read: a way better farmers market than an American could ever imagine)), Nonna, Zia Rosa, & Zia Anna.

Back in Aspra with the iconic boats.

My friend Milla cruised down from the Netherlands to visit for the special occasion. This is a photo of Vince's sister (Lisa), Milla, and myself going down the funicular in Toarmina. Toarmina is on the other side of the island from Palermo and is much more touristy - feels more like the rest of Italy, whereas everywhere else in Sicily feels like... Sicilia.

Isola Bella in Toarmina
Che Bella!

warning: put on your sunglasses.
Enjoying the serenity of Isola Bella.

The view of Taormina.

Side trip to Mt. Etna. Worry not - we made it out okay!

Termini (a small town on the way home from Taormina) where we had drinks and felt a little silly.

Santa Flavia
Back near Aspra, Dave and Shannon (Vince's brother & wife) rented a villa. The ruff life.

Romance at its best; a mountain overlooking Aspra.


Aspra's boats in the day time. This photo never gets old!





And.... (drum roll please)
The reason we spent our savings on a trip to Europe in the middle of June


The wedding!

Enzo looking ever so handsome while drooling on his Mama's gown.

Cinderella personally lent us (bridesmaid & bride) her carriage for a ride to the ball, er... I mean wedding.

Arriving at the villa!

Prepping the gorgeous bride.

"I do..."

Villa where Anthony (Vince's brother) and Gina were married.

The happy couple.

The Sicilian entertainment.


And for the finale...


 
The food.
I totally failed as a foodie - I'm sorry. This is all I got. Nonetheless, this was the most impressive plate: pulpo to die for, two types of smoked fish, and shrimp with caviar. What you don't see from the menu is: vino, spumante, prosecco, fried zuchinni, oysters, ravioli, fish, roasted vegetables, cheese (galore), gelato, espresso, cake, and more more more!



Good times were had by all and memories (for a lifetime) were definitely made.



Now... time to save for our own wedding!



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bienvenidos a Barcelona!


At 7:30am, local time, Aeropuerto de Barcelona welcomed us to the Catalunya region. We toughed it out for our first several hours in the city by consuming a caffe and baguette con jamón. But later, after an hour of wandering through the labyrinthine streets in the Barri Gòtic with all our luggage to find our short-stay apartment (more on this later), we found ourselves fast asleep within 30 minutes of arrival.


...fast forward 5 hours...



We leave our apartment, which is situated on the edge of sketchy town. Or as Rick Steve's would say, "These characters don't need the palm trees to be shady." But not to worry Mom, we feel very safe and are enjoying the diversity (and keeping our own hands in our pockets).

We are staying in the heart of the "Old City". The architecture here is medieval and the sites are nearby. Above we are posing in front of the Christopher Columbus monument.

Just beyond Las Ramblas (the main drag in town, Champs Élysées-esque) is the harbor, which was apparently beautified for the 1992 Olympics. Beautiful it was. Imaging we were 45 years in the past, we drank sangria and ate tapas on the harbor - just as my father did when he was last here.


Later, we did what every other person in Barcelona was likely doing: drank sangria, ate tapas, and watched world cup. Thank goodness Italia at least tied - otherwise I would have had a very angry Italian-American on my hands. Tomorrow we plan to watch España play Switzerland. I have high expectations of over-the-top enthusiasm from Spanish fans.





Sunday, June 13, 2010

Half way to becoming a master



In the summertime...

It is official - school's out for summer and I am half way done with my master degree. This school year has flown by and all the changes that came along with it seem like stability now. There were lengthy  papers and endless articles; big achievements and frustrating errors; friendships made and beaches walked. Goodbye first year. Hello summer!

As I previously mentioned, I have quite the summer ahead of me. First things first - board an airplane headed to Barcelona in 5 hours. Next post will be one with sangria in hand. SALUD!

PS: I mistakenly deleted comments made on the last post. I had weird settings and several drinks and it was confusing. Comment again! They make my day.

Friday, June 4, 2010

(crickets chirping) Anyone still there?


Seven months ago I told you about my fascination with the breakfast burrito and then.. I left, without explanation.

Well, today - a day or two after a massive six-month project on homeless youth suicide was turned in, and a day or two before my last finals for this school year - I have returned to the blogosphere. For better or for worse. Graduate school has been shockingly time consuming!

Brief update on what I have been doing since we last talked:

1. Grad school.



Things I plan to do this summer:

1. Go back to Italy, with a quick stop in Barcelona (and Montreal, don't ask). Vince's brother is getting married in Sicily. Tapas & Vino anyone?

2. Summer internship. More updates on this when it is an officially sealed and finalized position.

3. Bike to the beach. HELLO, Santa Monica!

4. Train for a 5k. I am getting my Masters degree in Public Health. Time to healthify.

5. Read something other than academic articles on suicide & homeless youth.

6. Find a location for our wedding.


I'll be back in a couple days with more deets on Italy.
Until, then. Glad to be back.