Monday, March 24, 2014

Enjoys living my AsiaLIFE!

(November magazine cover of AsiaLIFE)

Hello Blogger!

I often fluctuate in terms of writing something on this blog, but definitely I do not forget about it. I maybe lazy writing here recently but I'm quite busy writing about my life above the rainbow sky. Today, it is fairly different as I sit on a sturdy chair with a bit of sun shining upon me against this frosted  glass window in my office. I am simply happy to say that I am back in advertising as a Creative Director in a Digital Ad agency :)

(Chefs from different restaurants in Saigon from  4 countries)

The last quarter of 2013 has its good and not so good ways to end it,  and it has been a roller coaster ride since I came back from Italy. But I must say, that was one helluva ride! It's a once in a lifetime chance that not everyone on this planet can have - I am one of those lucky ones.  To start with the not so good ones -- after an era of running a quaint cafe in Saigon, things must come to an end. I fully believe that I put my heart and soul with that business and I have used all my talents and personal resources just to make it rise, but it has been very challenging to put patches on the given holes. I did try to put all my concepts in terms of menu, events, design, public relations and how I managed the people -- but it was tiring at some point. My frustrations rose to the maximum level and it took its toll on me that made me realize I don't want to have a business like this at this point of my life. When this cafe decided to be sold, it was a sigh of relief and a call for me to move on to another phase. It was a remarkable experience to give a good legacy to a meek cafe and put it in the landscape of Saigon's bar and cafe scene through the nicely design advertisments and conceptual music and food events that I did. It became a buzz to mostly expats which is the cafe's target. I'm glad that most of friends  gave me a tap on the back with all my efforts. I am also forever grateful to those who supported me in many ways. 

(Poulet marinated in Ginger & Cumin with fettucine with the marinade 
as a sauce plus the Raspberry & Strawberry campote dip for the fowl)

True to the saying that "when God closes a door it opens a window" and even before the cafe I was running ended, I got a work offer from a digital advertising company and the food styling that I set up has started to flourish. It also began to get good projects before the year ended. The nicest way to give an exclamation mark for 2013 was,  the moment AsiaLIFE magazine invited me to join their annual cook-off video episode and be part of the magazine cover story. It was a milestone for The Artist Chef :)

(Verdict from Richard Mr. Sterling - An American food and travel writer)

It was the most amazing culinary experience I've ever had! This gave me a validation of how master chef contestants would feel. Real time cooking, on the spot recipe concoction with the given ingredients that would define Saigon for 2014 - all in front of the rolling camera. My recipe represents a mini thanksgiving meal. Saigon is a melting pot, from that idea I put up a few different cuisines I have learned from foreigners. I put it on one plate that can be eaten and be shared the Vietnamese style. This invitation is not about the competititon beacuse there isn't any prize! It is about the experience I had with the top caliber chefs in Saigon (including a chef who worked for a Michelin star restaurant in Chicago) with real toques on their heads. Hats down towh all them specially the most humble and fun to be with French chef Mr. Thierry!

(Chef Thierry - Executive Chef of Boat House Saigon in Thao Dien Village)

In life we are given moments that sometimes we don't understand but we have to embrace it the moment it's there. It will make sense later on, believe me. Whether it's about your career, life or love - follow your heart... I usually do and it makes sense. I have no regrets of the things that happened in my life...whether that specific moment or person who came my way for a long time, quite a while or short-lived, I have embraced them with full stamina or I simply gave my all. I followed every beat of my heart bravely that's why I got buckets of stories to tell everyone that could be familiar or unfamiliar.

People would ask me, what do you do for a living? What is your profession? What is your passion? What is your dream? To simplify my answer that I myself often struggle to answer -- Well... I am an advertising chic who got a decade of creative advertising expertise and a culinarian slash food stylist whenever and wherever. I also have a huge passion for traveling because I want to embrace different cuisine, art, culture and people who will nourish my being. I still dream a lot of big things in my advertising, art and culinary journey and I will definitely share it once I achieved them again...

Hurray to the surprises of 2014!  This is my galloping year -- I believe so :)

Until the next dabble of words about exciting stories whether off to renaissance life again or back to some down under adventures or to to jump from the sky in a place called middle earth, lets see...

You can watch the video of the cooking episode with the link underneath:
AsiaLIFE Annual Cook-Off Challenge

big hug,
joanie  xox

Monday, September 02, 2013

Scusa Ma Ti Chiamo Amore

Peculiarly for today I want to write something that one can consider food for the heart and could probably nourish you as an individual. Everyday of our lives since we were born, our hearts beat for several reasons and for whatever purposes it serve, we are entitled to follow it. The heart desires many things in life and the moment we fail to obey it, we might forfeit a wonderful opportunity that may come.

I myself forfeited many small opportunities in my day-to-day life but I have no regrets about it. Sometimes it's okay to miss small waves and just be prepared for the giant ones. My impulse for following my heart's desire is often big. In this life that no one can guarantee what could happen, what we can only trust is our gut-feel. That's what I did three years ago.

It was that year when I felt that I was in the verge of wanting to see a bigger world from where I was. I went to travel to UK and Europe by myself with one objective --- to see the other side of the planet! After a month of hopping in Europe, and Italy was my last stop -- I brought home an enormous amount of wonderful things. Aside from that, I had something to ponder about and contemplate for bigger waves that are coming -- on whether to risk or not.

A year later I made a risk. I quit my career that I had for a decade. I moved to Italy to study my favorite cuisine then eventually worked for a freelance job in marketing. It was La Dolce Vita to best describe what life I had there. I never had that certain happiness in life. It was the joy of having all those snippets of events that happened in my life in Italy that I will never ever have if I just stayed with my job. Those memories are about the friends I made, the food I cooked and ate, the places I visited, the houses I stayed, the culture I tightly embraced and love that I felt.

But because life is always bitter-sweet by default, I must say that I also had my hurdles and frustrations when I was there. It even made me cry. It was very challenging for me at that time and my title for this post which means "Excuse me for calling you my LOVE" would some how help me define the emotions that I feel now.

I flew 14 hours straight without stop-over just to reach my destination. I crossed the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. I passed by two continents before landing my feet to where life will walk me. The time difference is five hours from where I came from. And if height should be a comparison, it's a whopping 12 inches difference. If you will try to compute the age, I'm five years ahead. I don't speak the Italian language but thankfully there's GOOGLE translate to get us by. What am I entering to? I asked myself that time. This must be something.

My love for Italy,  made me sacrifice a lot of things that up to these days I am not over contemplating of taking another risk for whatever giant waves that may be ahead of me. I'm still somewhere in between finding "COSA CHE AMO" and if any moment the leap of fate is back, I can only say these things:

"Non posso garantire un sorriso giovanile che dura per sempre, né per riempire lo spazio del divario torreggiante abbiamo fisicamente abbiamo, ma queste sono le mie promesse: prometto che un giorno io possa articolare le cose che voglio dire nella lingua che ci sia comprensione , prometto di cucinare ogni singolo giorno della nostra vita e, infine, io prometto la mia fedeltà che dura una vita"


big hug,
joanie  xxx

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Jesse & Celine

From the pinky tangerine color of  “Before Sunrise” in Vienna, to the Yellow Ochre hues of “Before Sunset” in Paris, finally comes the most anticipated movie of this era. This is the last movie installment of the three geniuses behind this trilogy--Director Richard Linklater and actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy. They finally set an Aquamarine color mood to the film “Before Midnight” in Messenia, Greece! 

I would presume that everyone including me followed Celine and Jesse on their saga of their romantic story about love that started 18 years ago in Vienna. Their screen romance brought in a good chemistry to the film that made millions of followers engaged themselves to the story.

Let’s rewind a bit down the memory lane how these two films climbed the chart of my number one favorite movies of all time regardless of the genre. To begin with, I’d say I have aged with these movies along with the characters. Who wouldn’t? Common! It’s 18 years! I was in my high school when “Before Sunrise” was released on 1995. And unfortunately I didn’t see it at the cinema but it was one of those movies that were shown on HBO during my UNI days. I slept late night those times doing my drawing plates. Being a Fine Arts student, this type of film is something that will make me set aside my pencil and have a sit on the couch first and watch. Well it’s worth the time then and it even became my favorite movie.

On Before Sunrise, who wouldn’t want Celine and Jesse? They were young souls and wanderer of what would life be in the future. How can I forget the “Milkshakes” poem read for Celine by an anonymous poet on the street of Vienna? I’m sure all the girls’ hearts melted as well. Among other scenes I like were the one inside the booth, on top of the Das Wiener Riesenrad giant ferris wheel at Prater amusement park (now a popular wedding venue in Europe), the fake phone call at the restaurant, and of course the picnic before the sun rises at the Maria Theresien Platz. With these snippets of location that each tells a story, now has it’s own “Before Sunrise Vienna Tour” and it’s on my list of things to do when I visit Vienna soon. On another note, this also reminded me to ride the train that passes the Semmering railway. Going back, the before Sunrise obviously has an open ending at that time but it never came to my mind that it will have a sequel.

Coming from the open ending of Before Sunrise, during the time that mobile phones, email and any other means of internet communication were not yet popular as the traditional mail and landline telephone—This was when Jesse and Celine just made an agreement to see each other again at the same spot of the train platform in Vienna after six months. Nine years later, came the sequel of the movie and it was called “Before Sunset”

The two young sweet hearts did not see each other after six months. It took us nine years to find out why and the sequel narrated the reasons. “Dammit! Why we didn’t exchange numbers?!” that was the sentiment of these two people when they finally met at this quaint bookstore in Paris called Shakespeare and Company for Jesse’s book launch. Celine said, “What happened is what meant to happen. It’s written in our fate that we are meant to see each other after nine years here in Paris.”  Yes they finally met, Jesse is married and Celine got a list of past unsuccessful relationships. These things didn’t hinder the flare they have for each other. With obvious manifestations, Jesse enthusiastically invited Celine for something. Definitely he is up for something and that made this exciting story goes on.

Things started when the lovey-dovey dined at Le Pure Café in Paris with countless recollection of the past and exchanged of few questions. From there they headed for a cruise at Seine River and enjoyed the afternoon breeze. At some point they headed to Celine’s apartment to have an afternoon tea. The moment finally came when Celine played a song on her guitar called “A Waltz for a Night” and mesmerized while sitting was Jessie. The movie ended with Celine dancing and telling Jessie that he is going to miss his plane. The movie ended with another open ending. This created different conclusions to the audience—will Jessie miss his plane? What else Richard Linklater have in mind? For sure he is on for a part 3!

Another nine years passed by, after a long speculation of the part 3 of this movie—it finally came out! Whew! Another nine years of anticipation just ended. For a big fan like me, I have endured the long waiting and possessed the virtue of patience. It is always worth the long wait. Although up to this moment I still haven’t seen the movie so the anticipation in my heart is still high up and frustration starts to loom.

Greece is one of the countries I wanted to visit and there’s this town called Crete that I really want to see. There is something about this town that I am really curious to go if hands of fate allow me. It’s a small and quaint landmark that I will leave it as a mystery for now and keep it for myself. Not far from Crete is Messinia, where the beautiful setting of “Before Midnight” happened.

Celine and Jesse, aged and got two lovely kids. A story manipulated by fate. Comes in three exciting movie installments in a very well written screenplay. The power of words and conversations clearly stunned me how Linklater wrote it with memorable lines versus any visually arresting trilogy ever existed. A timeless film souvenir  that I will definitely watch over and over again with popcorn and milkshakes.

For now, I just want to make a plan of visiting Greece, France and Vienna to do my own tour of the places that Jessie and Celine went together on their eighteen years love story saga.

Meanwhile lets see how the hands of fate maneuvers with my life :)

big hug,
Joanie xxx

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Polaroids from Firenze

When I first stepped on to this renaissance city of Italy in the year 2010, I wasn't smitten until I lived there. On my first arrival at Firenze, the train station called Stazione Santa Maria Novella welcomed me with it's old and charming look. I feel like I was transported back in the old days of Europe just like how I've seen it in any old movies. There were twists and turns before I arrived at the house where I will stay in Florence in 2010. The Italian owner told me that she had a full-house when I arrived so she cannot accommodate me, unexpectedly. Oh oh... that was really unexpected for me! But it was a pleasant surprise that she drove me with her mini cooper and brought me to hostel where I will stay and happened to be her hostel. Then I had my accommodation. It was at Via Aprile Venti Nove where I first stayed in Florence. Great view of the duomo Santa Maria del Fiore and the terracotta roofs of the neighborhood. After a year, I came back to live in Firenze. I stayed at Via Agostini Lapini near Piazza Alberti with my peculiar landlord Letizia and cool Chinese, Spanish and Belgian housemates. I also stayed and lived at Borgo Lorenzo with my Italian best friend. The street of his house is just beside the Duomo and every morning I wake up with the sound of the church bell ringing.  I also stayed at Via Della Scala just behind Stazione Santa Maria Novella but only for awhile to stay with my Amore that time. The first shelter I had in Firenze will always be significant for the reason that it became my passage to different houses I have visited and stayed in Firenze. Mi Manchi Via Aprile Venti Nove :)

How many times in this lifetime that I've seen a carousel? Countless. But the one that gave me goosebumps is the carousel at Piazza della Repubblica. Its grandeur and elegance are the characteristics that make this piece of art remarkable. I was told that the arc at the Piazza has been the gateway of the cavallo (horses) during the old days. And this carousel stands just so close to the arc. Whether day time or night time, this cutie ride glistens to whoever will see it. I saw this carousel for the first time during the night-- and it really gave me a nice feeling just by staring at it for a long time. So when I lived in Firenze, it's impossible for me not to pass by Piazza Repubblica just to have a look at this majestic rotating object. Even the surroundings of the Piazza became the venue of a lot interesting activities. Mi Manchi Piazza della Repubblica :-)

Bicicletta. The typical means of transportation among foreign and local students in Firenze. I lived in Florence and I was on my third day living there when I contacted a guy named Pietro. He was selling his bicycle and lives in the nearby town called Sesto Fiorentino. Although it was difficult for me to transport the second hand bike which will cost me 60 euros, I still looked at it. Pietro told me that there are cheaper bikes, but those are the stolen ones! Uhu... it's the same everywhere! Bicycle thieves! So after meeting Pietro, I just decided not to buy one and just rent a bike when I need it. I think it's better that way and there will be no attachment involve. I usually park my rented bike just outside the house at Via Agostino Lapini-- my Spanish housemate had her bike too and parked there as well. The joyride of the bicycle is one of the most interesting things I had in Firenze. Having experienced driving on the cobblestones was quite tough and challenging. Not to mention all the ATAF buses running around you plus the pandemonium of tourists were all part of the daily traffic struggles! Indeed, Mi Manchi Via Agostino Lapini :-)

Via Dei Martelli, reminds me of the Vodafone shop, Mc Donald's, a museum, and countless cafes that will lead you to Piazza San Marco. It's also one of the main big roads around the center of Firenze and most of the time there are plenty of tourists walking. Christmas Day of 2011 was the first time I saw this road with just a few people walking by. It's Buon Natale as the Italians will say... The beauty of doing nothing strongly happens on Christmas day. My memories of this main road is quite random and not really stunning. But I always remember simple and non sense situation most of the time. Because when you look at small things in a bigger perspective, you will then realize the value of it. I would say that this main road had serve snippets of good memories of my stay. I would truly say...  Mi manchi Via Dei Martelli :-)

Ponte Vecchio from another point of view. You will see this bridge with the Arno river and all its typical features on all touristy photos but it's rare that people would pay attention on this tiny handcrafted metal thing. This is being sold to tourists when you go around Ponte Vecchio near Uffizi gallery. I find this object as a charming discovery in the most romantic spot of the city--Ponte Vecchio! The old bridge is the spot to view the river, listen to Saturday night live music, eat gelato, glance at the jewelry shops or simply have a good walk. I extremely miss it. Mi manchi Ponte Vecchio :-)

These are some polaroids from Firenze from my 2010-2011-2012 stay in the city. These photos are not the highlight or the most important photos I had in Florence but receiving them now reminds me that I really had tiny bits and pieces of wonderful memories during the time I lived there. I would love to write more of my Italian life, but I told myself that maybe I should write a book. It's just hard for me to put all the details of my stay into writing at the moment. There are ups and down since I came back from Italy. Roller coaster ride back here in Saigon but now I'm quite settled with some things. And today, I received these photos that made me wear a little smile on my face. No matter what, Firenze will always be my home and definitely I will be back soon whether for travel, exhibition, shopping or to live again. Who knows? For now I find comfort and happiness from where I am and who I am with ---without forgetting the good memories I had back in Italy. They will always be in the pocket of my heart :-)

I welcome myself back to blogging this 2013!

big hug,
joanie xxx

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Food Revolution Day -- PHILIPPINES!

Today is the global Food Revolution Day and I am posting this blog despite my long absence of writing some post because this is a very important day for me as the Philippine Ambassador of this movement. I am very happy to bring the awareness in my country and had some positive help from few people who made these events possible!

I would still be very busy until May 25 for the last event of Food revolution Philippines. I have to do a lot of catch-up post for my blog. I am pretty much sure I have tons of stories to tell from my Manila and Cebu events. You guys might get disoriented because you will be thinking that I am still in Italy and what am I doing back in Manila. Long story but all for good to share very soon!

Loads of Love everyone! :-)

big hug,
joanie xxx

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Marcella Ansaldo

Ciao Italia, Australia, Vietnam e Filipinas!

To these four countries in the world that I consider my nests, I'd like you to meet Marcella! She is my Italian culinary mentor and a friend! I have long wanted to write this blog post for her but I just couldn't gather all the thoughts that I have in mind to describe this very admirable lady. Today seem to be the perfect day for me to put all those words together in this special blog entry. To make it more special I did the cake below and I would like to dedicate it to her on this special occasion of International Women's day to give tribute to her and to all the women in the world who are just like her--- Grande!
(Orchid Caramel Pudding Cake)

Happy International Women's Day Ragazze!

(Photo snapshots of Marcella... which I did during our classes)

Marcella Ansaldo and I met through my cooking school in Firenze where I took the trimester program. She hails from Giglio a small island in Tuscany where she and her family had their restaurant that ran for many years. One day they had to sell the restaurant and decided to move to Firenze. She taught Italian cuisine in Apicius Culianry school in Florence for a decade before she put up her own. In her school she always talk about her island Giglio and about her room window with the view of the sea. She basically loves seafood because she grew up with a good catch of those everyday of her life. Now a well-achieved cooking Guru, Marcella exemplifies the woman with huge passion for cooking and a good mother.

(I am now a Giglio Graduate)

I also have a huge passion for cooking and that is the main reason why I went to Italy. And because of that good fate, I met my mentor and my good friend. I can now say that my Italian cooking knowledge is quite diverse. My palette is now trained to know what is right and wrong when it comes to Italian cuisine. Most of all, the number one thing that changed my cooking behavior is learning to tame the amount of flavor and spices I put in the food I cook. Now what will always resonate in my memory is whenever Marcella will yell at me the word "BASTA!" (which means stop) every time I put too much pepper in the dish I cook. Italian food is simple and it's always about fresh and good quality ingredients. From those learning I appreciate good food more.

(Big class with the American teenage kids)

How I miss Marcella, the way she danced during our classes, the devilish laughter but always carry the angelic smile and above all the motherly care she provided. I thank her for everything that we shared together during the cooking classes and the one special day that she invited me to assist and see her doing the big class with tons of American teenage kids. It was hilarious and fun but what I will always cherish are the private classes we had whom she branded as a "FAMILY" thing. I look forward to the day that we can cook together again.

Mi Manchi Marcella :)

big hug,
joanie xxx

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Simone Massoni's 2012 Typeface Calendar

There are four different seasons in a year--Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Each season arrives in our lives and bring us something. It comes, and it goes. Same with the people whom you consider friends. Some are seasonal and some will stay all year round. No matter what season, I am happy that I am blessed with friends who are coming in every season of my life. And last fall, in Firenze--I have gained friends who became valuable people in my life. I am grateful to have met Simone who gave me this calendar that I fancied about and reminded me of my great love for typography.

He came up with a desk calendar with twelve classic typefaces that went well with the twelve sexy and posh chicks that he illustrated. I know January is about to end but it's just the start of the year and it's not yet too late for you guys to own this calendar that Simone designed. It's also available online so it would be great if you will purchase this cutie item thru this website.

Place your order now!
I am also thankful to Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini for inviting me to his YELLOW party at KM zero design agency from where I met good people and some became my friends including Simone and his fiancee Ilaria. They are nice couple who are both artist. His fiancee Ilaria is an illustrator and also a good cook. I look forward to the day that we can cook together.

Below I enumerate twelve of my favorite typeface at the moment. It would be fun it you also have your own favorite typeface and you can play around on the design and post it in your blog.

Being an artist myself makes me feel happy being around with the people of the same species. Dealing, interacting and having friendship with the people of the same interests as yours would always remind you of the things that you are passionate about and things that you are good at. Seeing Simone's artwork leaves an inspiration to me-- that I shouldn't forget to do my doodles and continue to explore the world of art and design. I have learned that world of design has no limits so I have to continue to discover a lot of things and sharpen my creativity. And of course my cooking would always be there as well :-)

This is it for now my mates and amici!

big hug,
joanie xxx

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 Begins at Italia: A diverted path!

(Taken during winter snow at Aosta Valle, Italia)

Christmas came by so quickly and I did nothing but eat and sleep the past days! The winter weather makes it hard for me to dabble some words and express here in my blog the unique way I spent the yuletide season. Procrastination days aren't over yet but I have to do this post now on the first of January, otherwise I am afraid that I might abandoned this blog for the whole year if I won't do it on the first day of the year. Hehe!

My culinary studies just finished last December then I have to move to Milano for a freelance work. It has been a very very beautiful student life I had in Firenze. To study cooking in Italy is the most wise decision I have made in my life so far. It costed me a million in Philippine peso for everything from school, food, lodging & airfare but the experience I gained is ten times worth than a million pesos! I could've bought an SUV car but riding it wouldn't make me tell priceless stories like what I have gained now. And this blog will be my venue to articulate all those life changing experiences I had.

(Traditional Italian Christmas cake I did in my Firenze Cooking School)

Experience is something money can't buy and something that no one can steal away from you. I can claim that I am a millionaire when it comes to that as compared to my money in my bank account. Experience go hand-in-hand with people. I gained not just experiences but valuable people whom I can forever keep in every corner of my heart. Each of them occupies a space. And to name a few I just have to mention my culinary teacher--Marcella then others like Daniela, Cosimo, Rita, Jurgens and Massimilliano!

(Traditional Italian Christmas Eve Dinner with Massi's Family)

Speaking of Massimilliano, I will now segue my Christmas story with him here in Italy. Being away from my family and to celebrate Christmas the second time without them still brings me some certain sadness. But since I am so used to being by myself, it's not as heavy to me unlike other emotional people. But no matter how you avoid the thought---Christmas is about spending time with your family. I don't have it here in Italy until Massi invited me to spend it in Firenze than being alone in Milano. Voila on the eve of Christmas I went to the city center and witnessed the Milan Christmas rush as I buy gifts for Massi's family. Then at eight in the evening I arrived at Stazione Santa Maria Novella in Firenze once more and Massi picked me up! And I arrived at their house just in time for the Christmas eve dinner. First plate, second plate, third... and dolce were served! Traditional Italian or specifically Calabrian food were done by his Aunt. Then at the midnight part of the evening we gave the gifts to each other and opened it! I like their gifts to me and they liked my gifts as well! Next day was about poker, eating, sleeping, cooking, and walking around Firenze are the things I did with him and his family. Now I could say that I have my Italian family in them whom I can count on, I thank Massi for adopting me :)

(Massi and his mom Cecilia during the gift giving)

(Taken during fall at Boboli Garden in Firenze, Italia)

So now it's 2012 and I am still here in Italy. Supposedly I should be in London for the whole month of December for the holiday and will fly back to Vietnam on the 2nd of January. But fate plays its trick on me and give me something unexpected. Pleasant surprise and it still surprises me as days go by. Last year my goal is about Italy and I successfully did it! This year I don't have a fixed goal, I feel like I am just a free soul going with the flow of life. And it excites me where it will bring me to. I don't know where but I'd be happy to be there. I don't want to make a wish, I just let God make his wishes for me and I know it's better that way. Leave it up to him... Oh but well Oh Lord, I just realised---I still want to buy my dream house! Uhmmm... not a fixed goal, could be next year or when it's possible :p

Parking my fingers now and should end this blog post now...

Buon Anno a tutti!!!

big hug,
joanie xxx

Monday, December 12, 2011

Natale in Italia by Surprise!

Ciao Amici! Come Va? Me, molto bene...

How time flies and before I knew it, it's Christmas already. My blog have slept for two months and I couldn't believe it. I have never been missing in action this long! I miss blogging. Come to think of it, there are so many stories to write and so many food photos to post. I have been away and busy for millions of reasons and it's 99.9% positive. I should've been in London at this point and getting ready for the English holiday but sometimes fate has something else in store for each and everyone of us. I am deeply surprised that I am still here in Italy and would spend my first Christmas with snow.

I have been enjoying my culinary studies and Florentine life for the past 3 months that made me think that I'd love to spend my Christmas here. It came to the point that I will do everything just to extend my stay. So many options involved and one of those is studying their language. Well in my heart I'd really love to study it. I would like to see myself to be well-verse in having an Italian conversation. I went on different mazes but it didn't work out. So I just concluded that maybe fate has really planned my life to be in London for Christmas according to my itinerary. Then again it's amazing how fate played it's game on me. What a pleasant surprise that I will have a freelance work in Milano. Up to when? I don't know yet. The good thing is--there is a reason now for me to stay longer in Italy. Opportunity just paved its way!

I just wanted to say hi to my blog today. I am quite very sick and staying at home dealing with my cough and slight fever. It's the weather that I am not accustomed to. Winter is approaching and I really hope that my body can adapt to it. I promise to post more as I back track what happened since October and November. The biggest highlight was--my second solo painting exhibition in Florence. I will surely post the photos here.

The picture above of Ribes & Wine cake is now my favorite cake to do. My recent fixation after discovering the small red berry fruit called Ribes.

Ciao , ciao alla prossima! :-)

big hug,
joanie xxx

Friday, September 30, 2011

Genovese Pesto - Saigon & Florence

My old way of doing pesto in Saigon, Vietnam

Buonasera ragazzi e ragazze!

How time flies that every time I will find time to blog, weeks passed by already and September is ending tomorrow. I have been learning a lot from my cooking school with my dearest teacher Chef Marcella and figo Chef Damiano. One of the remarkable learning I had so far is doing the authentic Genovese pesto. This Italian pasta dish hails from Liguria region and from the province of Genova. I learned that you never cook a pesto which I usually do in my own style and sometimes put bacon on top or chicken. I remember how my Italian boss said it's bastardizing pesto when you add meat. Pesto is pesto in its simplest form and he was right because he is from Genova. So from that learning and new techniques I learned from my Italian teachers, pesto is now one of my favorite staple pasta dishes.

My new way of doing pesto in Florence, Italy

If you notice the picture of my pasta on top which I did when I was still in Saigon, it's quite a bit oily and dark. This one with the linguine pasta is refreshingly green and not oily. How lovely this pasta especially putting my new favorite Pecorino Romano from sheep milk. And the word Pecorino derives from the word Pecora which means sheep. What also excites me doing this pesto sauce is because I have now few Basil pots at my veranda where I usually sits for breakfast and doing skype with my friends.

My pesto ingredients are ready to be blended

My veranda with my Basil pots

I have been out of town lately and I really promise to post separately the pictures of the town I visited. I visited the not so touristy places like Bologna, Lucca, Siena and Fiesole---they are nearby town in Florence. Quaint, beautiful and quiet. But of course I never fail to gaze nor explore the beautiful city of Firenze and one of my favorite spot is the Piazzale Michaelangelo. You will have there the overlooking of Florence with all its landmarks including the river and the cinematic Ponte Vecchio.

Overlooking view of Firenze with Ponte Vecchio

So far I have been around with so many places in Florence like restaurants and pubs with my classmate and new friend Maija. She is from Finland and a very nice girl. I would love to share you guys more of my adventures next time. I have been learning a lot of Italian now and improving just by hearing from my new found Italian friends. And I have some good news next time and I hope I will have some more. Meanwhile, I am excited because I am going out of the country and going back to Spain this time Madrid. I was wishing I can also go back to Barcelona because I really love it but 4 days off school may not be enough. This is it for now...

Ciao Bello and Bella! :-)

big hug,
joanie xxx