Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beer In Italy?

I liked this because not everyone is a wine drinker!

Savoring Italy, One Beer at a Time
Published: November 2, 2008
In the regions of Lombardy and Piedmont, a nascent craft beer scene has begun to emerge, bringing well-made brews into the dining rooms of some of the country’s best restaurants.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ricotta Cookies

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Ready in: 35 mins
1 cup butter softened
2 cups sugar
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Red and green sprinkles

Cooking Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease large cookie sheets.
In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add ricotta vanilla and eggs and beat until combined. Add flour baking powder and salt and beat until dough forms.
Using two tablespoons drop dough onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until cookies begin to turn golden. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.In small bowl stir confectioners sugar milk and lemon juice until smooth. With a small metal spatula or knife spread icing on cookies and top with sprinkles. Set aside to allow icing to dry and harden.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Okay so everybody asks why Frascati? It is simple actually, I love Frascati wine. So what better place to sample the local wine, than Frascati. We arrived in town after a easy drive from Fumacino Airport although the official exit was closed on the highway, we managed to find our way. The maps provided online by the hotel Colonna were great, although they don't mention that the center of town is closed from Friday night to Sunday night and you have to drive around the police barricade to get to the hotel.

So like any good tourist we found a lovely spot to eat, parked the car and asked a local waiter where is our hotel? Turns out it was on the other side of the barricade and all we had to do was drive around the police to get to the hotel. Ah that's all.

This turned out to be a lovely spot for a view of Rome, from what the locals call the Panorama. The restaurant was perfect and the view even better for two tired travelers who had just arrived from JFK. We were lucky enough to stumble across the Belvedere 1933 Restuarant. The website is
We sampled the local grilled meat plate and some fresh grilled vegetables as we enjoyed the perfect weather that followed us for our week in Italy. In some ways it felt like Ground Hog Day, slightly cool and foggy in the morning, followed by the sun peaking out about noon. Just in time for a lunch outdoors on the patio, as evening approached the temp would drop into the 50's. Not to cool and not to warm. Perfect sleeping weather. Only to start over again the next day in the same perfect sequence.

New Patterns Coming Soon

Three new patterns will be available on our website soon. A Springtime, Lemon and a Pumpkin Plate. Code QZN = pumpkin black LA ZUCCA NERA Code Qpg = Spring PRIMAVERA Please email me at if you are interested in these new patterns.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Airfares & Autos

Auto Europe
Auto Europe for airfares, rental cars, cell phone rentals and pre and post hotel reservations. We have found that Auto Europe consistently provides competitive rates with excellent service. Click on the links below for more information on Auto Europe's services. Insurance for damages and theft is included in the price of your rental in Italy.

If you pick up your car at the Fumicino Airport, the rental cars are on the fourth floor of the parking garage. The service on our last trip was good. They actually went over the damage on the car when we picked it up and when we returned the car. Staff was friendly, spoke enough english to be helpful but not too pushy. Be prepared for some crazy turns when getting in and out of the parking garage and remember: the clutch you are driving, won't like it when the van in front of you stops to back up. When returning your car, to get back into the garage get in the far left lane to make your life easier when entering the parking deck.

Euro Fly USA
Flights and Trips not directly from DC but add a Cheap flight to JFK and the cost of Airfare goes down $400.00 a person for most Departures. Allow at least 3 hours between flights from DC to JFK and JFK to Rome as flight into JFK are always late arriving. But a family of four saves $1,600.00 by using this trick.

We got one of the specials the Euro fly was offering for a few days in Oct for special flights only. NO fuel surcharge.. so for $399.00 + tax round trip we were off to Italy to enjoy La Dolce Vita for a week. Flights were limited so we left on a Friday night from JFK and returned on the following Friday night.

The trip over was a code share with Swiss air, the plane was in rough shape. Several of the seats were missing the controls for the audio and visual and the stewardess were not real interested in doing anything about it. The staff was otherwise helpful, the snack and breakfast was passable but not great. For airplane food average.

The flight boarded and left on time and we arrived in Rome at Noon on Saturday. All the luggage arrived in one piece. Although we packed light for the trip over so, one bag was inside the other to allow for the goodies we purchased to make the return trip. Euro fly allows two bags per person but the JetBlue flight we took to get to New York only allowed one.

The flight back was on a airplane owned by Eurofly and the plane was in much better shape. The line to check in, in Rome was horribly slow. A full flight of students killed the check in process, but they were quiet travelers once boarded. Keep your passport out and your seat stub as they check it as you get on the flight and again at the door of the airplane. No stub no seat.

The return flight arrived in NY an hour behind schedule, the new terminal at JFK had just opened for JetBlue and the airport staff didn't even know it. The elevator to the new terminal has the wrong numbers on the panel so you think you are on the wrong floor the whole time you are in the elevator. So take the elevator to the top, ignore the numbers.

It took the better part of a hour and a half to get off the plane, get our luggage and clear customs and the airport wasn't even busy at 8pm on a Friday night. So beware when scheduling your connecting flight. Even with the trouble of rechecking our luggage everything arrived in one piece. I would do this again for the combined savings of $1,200.00.

Festivals of Umbria


When: May

Where: Assissi

The ancient rivalry between the two medieval wards, the “Parte di Sopra” and the “Parte di Sotto” continues. In a spectacular recreation of days past, medieval and Renaissance costumes bring the town to life. The challenge takes place in the form of theatre shows, songs and choruses, dances, processions, archery, crossbow and flag-waving displays. The districts compete in a singing contest among the incredible floral decorations, torches and candles.

Where: Gubbio

When: May 15th

Ceri Race Festival
It’s one of the most unusual religious events in Italy. The “Ceri” are three gigantic wooden structures weighing about 400 kilos ( about 800 pounds) each, topped by statues of St. Ubaldo, St. Giorgio and St. Antonio. The young men of the town carry them on their shoulders from the historic part of the town to the top of Mount Ingino, where the basilica of the patron stands.

Where: Narni

When: May 2-3 and two weeks preceding with festival

Corsa all'Anello
The main feast in medieval Narni was dedicated to the Patron Saint Giovenale, taking place each year on the 3rd of May. During this festival the whole town of Narni contributes to recreate the atmosphere of 1371, year of the first written city laws. Flags and torches adorn squares and streets, taverns and pizza ovens emanate into the streets typical fragrances of Umbrian meals and very good wines. The whole town hosts medieval sounds and colours.
Historical processions, art exhibitions, folk shows, concerts, competitions among the terzieri all combine to transform the town into a medieval picture.The town is divided into 3 parts or terzieri, named Mezule, Fraporta and Santa Maria and each has different colours to be recognized by everyone. The town crier reads the traditional ban and the taverns are open: this is the beginning of the feast, which dates back to the first half of the 14th century.
This festival comes to its highest point on the 3rd of May, when all the people in the town celebrate the Saint Patron of Narni -St.Giovenale. Following the rules and regulations prescribed by the medieval town laws, dating back to the year 1371, the riders participate in the historical “Race to the ring” - wearing their medieval costumes- riding their horses, trying to drive their lances through a silver ring. The riders come to the main square of the town, the present Piazza dei Priori, which once was called “Platea Maior”. Among the main events during the festival, we cannot forget the Offer of the Candles in the Cathedral, taking place on the 2nd of May. This evocative display reminds us of the city's authorities offer of candles (brought also by the representatives of castles and guilds) to the tomb of the Patron Saint Giovenale on the occasion of his feast.
During the two weeks preceding the race, the whole town turns to be the stage for religious and civic plays, and several medieval shows are organised by each “Terziere” (i.e. the part the town is divided into): from the blessing of the riders to the flag throwers’ shows, ending up with the historical procession on the last Saturday, just before the racing day.


When: End of June- Mid July

Where: Spoleto

Spoleto Festival
Established by Gian Carlo Menotti in 1958 with the aim of creating an opportunity for Italian, American and European cultures to meet and exchange ideas. Today is one of the most prestigious international artistic events and offers performances of theathre, dance, prose and lyrics performed in very unusual spaces such as the Cathedral Square, where the final concerts of the Festival take place.

When: June 27-July 13, 2008 & Jan 2-4 2009

Where: Perugia

Umbria Jazz
Launched in 1973, Umbria Jazz is one of the most important jazz music festivals in the world. The event lasts ten days during which, from morning to night, in the historic center of Perugia , concerts of all types of jazz take place. During the festival Perugia becomes a meeting point for tens of thousands of music lovers from all over the world. Tickets are available online.

When: August

Where: Montefalco

August in Montefalco Festival
Groups of strings and wind instruments fill the charming streets and squares of the hsitoric center with melodies, shows for kids and pleasant evenings in the the Taverns of the Town. All ending with a procession, the crossbow contests, the flag-wavers and the choreographic: "Flight of the Ox”. The ox - race takes place every year in Montefalco. It is a bloodless recalling of a folk manifestation quoted in the ancient city chronicles. In that period the game was a violent fight between some men and one furious ox, which, which exhausted by the cruel fight, inevitably was overwhelmed. On Christmas Day its meat divided up among all the families. Now the procession takes place with the absolute respect for the animals. The bull of each quarter, properly trained during the year, competes against the men. Check out the website listed above for lots of places to stay and other festivals. There is a small English flag at the top of the page for the English version of the website.

Where: Foligno

Italian First Courses Festival

A Festival promoting quality first courses in Italian cuisine: pasta, rice and soups. It is divided into various sections, such as the tasting of first courses at taverns in the historic center, guided by chefs, and the cooking school of the Great Masters. Shows with comedians and artists in the 15th Century setting of the Auditorium San Domenico, with the tasting of the first course dishes.

When: September 29 – October 5th 2008

Where: Orvieto

Orvieto with Taste
“Orvieto con Gusto” is a prestigious enogastronomic event that celebrates this fall its 11th edition. “Palazzo del Gusto” (The Palace of Taste), an ancient monastery, will be the center of several gastronomic and cultural meetings. It will offer you the opportunity to taste special dinners with 4/5 course local menus starting Saturday September 29th through Sunday October 7th.Friday October 5th “Palazzo del Gusto” will host a special ethnic evening. You will taste and enjoy Serbian cuisine, Balkan culture, music and entertainment.
Among the cultural events please don’t miss “Pomona ottocentesca”. It is an exhibition of a prestigious collection of wax fruit made by 19th century craftsmen. The exhibition will be inaugurated Saturday September 29th and will be open to the public until Sunday October 7th. The fruits of the season will be celebrated in a special “fruit dinner”. Together with the International Slow Food movement, Good, clean and fair food, the Orvieto event will offer at “Palazzo dei Sette” an exhibition of Slow Food books and magazines along with wine tasting and happy conversation around Umbrian food and wine.
Saturday October 6th and Sunday October 7th are the most fun days to taste, to meet new friends and enjoy Orvieto life style. “Orvieto con Gusto” promenade will offer food and wine lovers the discovery of 5 major sites of our ancient town, in a very special enogastronomic walking tour around the city tasting a 5-course menu specially prepared in each single location. In those same days, the Claudio Faina Etruscan Museum will host a magic moment: discovering the Etruscan world toasting with a glass of the “Muffe Nobili” sweet wines. A special visit to the ancient Etruscan caves along with a tasting of traditional appetizers and wines will be available in “Pozzo della Cava” and “Pasticceria Adriano”. And through all the “Orvieto con Gusto” period, local restaurants will be offering typical Orvieto menus.

When: October 18-26 2008

Where: Perugia

Eurochocolate a great event dedicated to the lovers of the “ Food of the Gods”, which every year transforms the squares and the historic center of Perugia into a lively open-air chocolate shop. Amateur and semi-professional workshops, tastings, exhibitions and other events are held in the historic town center. This is a unique, varied festival, which features the biggest names in Italian and international confectionary making.