The region of Piedmont is well-known for its quality hazelnuts. And so right before we left Turin to come back home to NYC our friend Silvia had a special surprise in store for us from Chivasso: nocciolini (noh-chyo-lee-ni). Dolciaria Fontana is the producer of these scrumptious confections made from a secret recipe of hazelnuts from Piedmont, sugar and egg whites. Giovanni Podio, master confectioner, invented them in 1810. Dolciaria Fontana continues to make them by hand. All I can say is that one bag wasn’t nearly enough for our family! Grazie Silvia ed alla prossima!

Nocciolini di Chivasso

Nocciolini di Chivasso

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Le luci d’artista

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Turin during the holiday season features le luci d’artista, festive and artistic lights that are a tradition for the surrounding areas of the city center. Having lived in Turin for more than three years I always looked forward to this special time … Continue reading

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2012 in review

Better late than never…

Wishing everyone a wonderful and inspirational 2013! Am currently back in my home state of Florida but soon enough we will be off to “The Big Apple!” The highlight of 2012 was giving birth to our son Julian Nicholas, who was born in Turin, Italy last June. He has dual citizenship; what a lucky guy he is! I would like to thank everyone who has been following my blog the past few years. My next adventure, at least for now, will take place in NYC. Buon appetito!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Soul Food Recipe Exchange Vol. 2: Sweet Potato and Pecan Pie

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This post follows in the footsteps of my collaborative series with Enrica of Cervellifuori called Soul Food Recipe Exchange. It’s a way for me to pay homage and to share some of my favorite soul food recipes all the while … Continue reading

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A Day Trip to Lake Orta

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Italy is filled with beautiful landscapes and the region of Piedmont does not disappoint one bit. With my birthday quickly approaching and being that I am in the last trimester of pregnancy, I felt the urge to take a day … Continue reading

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From Turin to Vienna

Just the other day I was reminiscing about the weekend trip I took to Vienna a few years ago to visit my dear Cousin Anna. The roommates in her flat were throwing a house party and it was sure to be an unforgettable experience. I offered to do some prep work for the massive amount of chili (to feed 100 plus) that was to be cooked for the party,  (I still don’t quite get it how chili is popular in Vienna) but this way, I would be free to wander around and take in some good eats the following day.

It couldn’t have worked out any better for me. My cousin lives in the 13th or Heitzing district and it turns out it is the district with the most greenery. My journey began with a stop in a local chocolate shop and then it was on to Schönbrunn (“beautiful spring”) Palace.

Schönbrunn Palace

I must have walked around for hours that afternoon, including a hike up the hill on the southern part of the palace so I could get an overview of the grounds. On my way back down I took the wooded path to relax in the shade a bit. It goes without saying that I worked up a huge appetite, with pictures to prove it!

About a 15-minute walk back toward Anna’s apartment I stumbled upon a biergarten or beer garden called Brandauers Schlossbräu in Heitzinger. Here are some of my favorites of Austrian cuisine. Tafelspitz is a boiled meat dish. Thinly sliced meat is cooked gently in a beef broth with vegetables.

For a perfect pairing I opted for rösti, (crisp, potato pancake) served with apfelkren  (a sauce of apples and horseradish) and some sort of tomato-based mayonnaise.

And to finish my meal, kaiserschmarrn, the ultimate comfort food. In Austrian-German kaiser means “emperor” where as schmarrn has many definitions such as “mishmash, crumbs, rubbish or nonsense.” It’s basically a buttery pancake batter that is fried resulting in tiny, crispy puffs of delight served with powdered sugar and a fruit sauce such as apples and raisins or in this case plums.

Braundauers Schlossbräu

Am Platz 5

Vienna 1130, Austria


To finish my meal I decided to have a Viennese coffee or melange at Café Dommayer. A melange is similar to a cappuccino but the coffee base is milder in comparison. Café Dommayer is famous for its cakes, pastries and it’s where we all had brunch together, literally only a couple of hours after the party ended from the night before. Ciao Vienna, until the next time!






Café Dommayer:

Address: Dommayergasse 1, 1130 Vienna, Austria

Phone:+43 1 87754650

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Recipe from Ragusa: Pasta with Capuliato

For one of our wedding gifts, some friends of ours put together a picnic basket filled with all sorts of Italian goodies that were just waiting to be transformed into culinary delights. But one homemade item stood out from the rest. The recipe comes from the region of Ragusa in the southwestern part of Sicily. In Italian it is called capuliato (cah-pool-yah-to) or tomatoes that are sun-dried with olive oil and then finely diced into tiny nuggets of pure tomato heaven. Capuliato can be made a number of ways: dried with basil or hot red pepper flakes. My friend Rosita made them only with olive oil, as to make them kid-friendly and here is the recipe for them:

The tomatoes are peeled, sliced and seeded. When they are left to dry in the sun, they are dried along with the addition of olive oil. This helps to naturally keep the tomatoes moist. After 3/4 days they are then finely diced or when made in large quantities they are put through a meat grinder.

To understand a part of Turin‘s history and culture, one must know that back in the 50s and 60s there was a huge influx of “immigrants” that arrived in Turin from Sicily, my husband’s family included. In fact, Sicilians arrived in Turin with the hope of finding work and a better way of life. Denis was born in Turin and remembers very well when he invited some of his friends from school over for dinner one night. His mom made pasta alla Norma, a typical Sicilian dish from Catania with fried eggplant, tomato sauce and ricotta salata, or salted ricotta. To his mom’s surprise Denis’ friends who were from Turin had never even heard of the dish!

If you love the flavor of sun-dried tomatoes as much as I do, here’s a recipe for spaghetti col capuliato. If you would like to read the recipe in Italian, click on Rosita’s blog: Questo mondo è una zuppa. 

Serves 2
150 g. Spaghetti, in my case I used linguine
2 tbsp. Capuliato
1 Clove garlic, peeled and minced
Fresh Italian parsley, finely minced, to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil
Bread crumbs, homemade
Pecorino cheese, freshly grated
First, prepare the bread crumbs. I used stale whole-wheat bread along with the crust and placed it into a food processor.  This made approximately 3/4 cup of bread crumbs. Then I gently heated a pan with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and added the bread crumbs along with sea salt, freshly grounded black pepper and dried oregano; all to taste. Stir the crumbs constantly until toasted. Set aside.
Prepare the spaghetti in properly salted water but finish the cooking process 2 minutes before the pasta is done. Let sit in the pasta water and begin preparing the sauce.
In another sauté pan gently cook the garlic and parsley until you can smell the aroma from the garlic but without browning it. This takes only a minute. Turn the burner off and add the capuliato. Add a ladle of the pasta water to finish the sauce and then add the drained spaghetti and bread crumbs. Combine well until most of the liquid of the sauce is absorbed into the pasta. Should the pasta become too dry, add additional olive oil. Optional: Pepperoncini flakes to taste.
Garnish each plate with freshly grated pecorino to taste and serve.
Tip: Resist the urge to add more of the capuliato, otherwise the delicate balance of the dish will be overpowered by them.
I’ve used capuliato to garnish other pasta dishes where I am looking for an extra hint of tomato flavor or to garnish an assortment of fresh cheeses accompanied with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Linguine con capuliato

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