Canapé judge: tasting tiny food. 

This past Wednesday I went to “Venue and events 2016” which is a yearly event organised by Squaremeal, where you have tons of events/venue/food suppliers. I usually go to get some inspiration for our Christmas party and team building activities.

This year I also had another opportunity: becoming a judge for the “Canapé Squaremeal cup”.

After a long afternoon strolling at Old Billingsgate Market – where, by the way I worked so many times when working in catering- I got selected to be a judge.

The Canapé cup was taking place in the vaults, very iconic part of OBM. We all had a list with numbers and details about the different canapés and we had to mark our favourite three, very difficult cause most of the canapés were so pretty to look at. Of course the look is not the only important thing, canapés have to be easy to eat (usually just one bite) and tasty.


As you can see, they were definitely pretty! For my top 3 I picked a combination of great taste and good presentation.

Being able to judge and taste food is always a good experience, I found it interesting cause it wasn’t just a mare “eat to feed yourself”, but a posh version of it.

Now, let’s wait and see who’s the winner!

Stay tuned, next on the blog my Scottish adventures!

 

4 years and counting. 

On a normal 17th of September 2012, I was on a plane heading to London thinking that after 6 months I would have been back home again. 

And here I am, 4 years later in my London living room. Who would have thought?

If I think back, I see myself with short hair moving around London looking for my first house, getting lost in Elephant and Castle which is now one of the places I know best. I see myself in class, thinking that sport management was my thing. And I see myself in catering, working in any possible venue, thinking that I couldn’t possible work that much and then realising that my body got used to it, and carry on for hours and hours. I have to say that if I think back, one of the things I remember the most is that time, maybe because I have been in the catering industry for 2 years. The amount of wine I poured, the number of plates I have served and cleared, the times I had to manage waiters and waitresses at high profile events, feeling the adrenaline of it. I had an amazing time. 

And then, when things changed and I decided I wanted a “normal” job I still enjoyed it, cause it gave me the chance to do other things and have a better life. Like traveling. This year alone has been amazing, with the “12 trips in 12 months” project that is working well so far. 

Money is not all in life, but it does give you the chance to do more things and things you always wanted to do but you couldn’t affort, especially in a city like London where the rent usually takes up a big chunk of your salary. 

The most amazing part of the 4 years is the amount of things that happened and changed, I am doing a job that I never thought I would and so this means only one thing, actually two: 

1. Life is unpredictable. 

2. We can really become what we please in our life, we can do the job we want, we can achieve some dreams, there’s infinite possibilities to do what we like the most.

I cannot understand and I am not very tolerant to people that say: “oh now is too late for me to change career or to do this and that”. I want to tell you a secret: the only time it will be too late is when you’ll be dead

So, enjoy till you can, believe things can happen, put come effort in following your passions and remember that literally anything can happen.

In the meantime, I want to thank my family for always being in my life, my friends in Italy for still being there every single time I go home (and still counting down the days till the next time we are going to see each other), all my friends here in the UK where I have met some really great human beings, but let me thank also all the people that entered my life but then left: that’s ok, it happens. 

I am very great fun every single day for the things I had, for the ones I have achieved myself and for everything else that is yet to come. 

Cheers! 

Beef tartare + wine: summary of a weekend in Paris!

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I have never really liked Paris.
The first time I tried to go, I think in 2010, we couldn’t leave cause it was December and there was too much snow in CDG. Thanks Paris!
The second time, or better the first real time I have been there, was two years ago when I went to visit couple of friends.
This time, I had a ticket to use from my late train to Brussels so I decided September was the right time to go back.

For part of last weekend, the weather was amazing. Hot and sunny. Only Sunday had one too many clouds, but hey you can’t have everything can you.

The evening of my arrival I met with a friend that I met on my first days in London, 4 years ago, when I was studying. It was in fact two years that we didn’t se each other so it’s been great to catch up, specially when we went for dinner in Montmartre. Wine and beef tartare, what else do you need?

I really do not understand what the Brits have against beef tartare, or any type of tartare. You do not know what you’re missing, good Lord.
Anyway, dinner and amazing company – I couldn’t have asked for more.

On the Saturday I went to Versailles, I decided not to visit the castle cause the day was too sunny and beautiful to spend it inside. I went, instead, to the Marie Antoinette Domain: an area (very big!) dedicated just to her, with parks and little castles. What a life, eh?

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A great day, specially when we found the perfect spot for some pictures. In fact, this weekend seemed more like a photo shoot than anything else. And it feels nice, cause when I am solo traveling this never happens! Right, let me show you the “Summer 2016 Paris Collections”…

I had fun, I have to admit.

Clearly after a late night, a picnic in the sun, walking with my backpack, arriving late at the Versailles gardens (and not being able to see them!) and all this jumping, you can imagine how tired I was, so early night in Paris and ready to stuff my face again with croissants and other goodies the next morning.

Also, just in case I bought some wine and cheese.

On the Sunday morning we just took a walk next to the river, noticing a marathon and strolling around some beautiful gardens to end up in the Latin quarter for some super tasty crepes for lunch.

Now you tell me, what would you want more?


Stay tuned my friends, Edinburgh is coming up next.🙂

Chronicles of a foodie weekend. 

Food makes my life better. 

In fact, while writing this post I am eating or better snacking with some Parma ham and olives from Italy. But let’s start from the beginning.

I try to have all my weekends planned and I always go to the gym at 12pm on Saturdays – a good way to kick off the weekend and make sure I don’t go too crazy on Friday night. Last Friday I also had a super healthy meal: sea bass fillet with tomatoes and potatoes and a salad on the side. And a glass of two of white wine. 


My Saturday started with a light breakfast and then off to my Step class. I didn’t want to eat too much after my workout, mainly because it was so tiring and I didn’t want to waste all my efforts. So I went to my Italian friend’s place for lunch and he was like should we make some pasta (of course, what where you expecting?), I said fine let’s make same pasta but I am not eating a lot. Now, that’s the best part… Ready to see how much pasta I had?

 

We are Italians, that’s the way it works. This mussels and shrimps pasta was lovely, it didn’t take long to make and if you have the right ingredients it can be so tasty. Be warned though, after lunch you’ll experience a deep sense of sleepiness and it will seem like the pillow is talking to you and whisper: “Come and join me on the bed…”. We just couldn’t resist, we did take a nap while watching “Rio 2” – not that I have seen much of the movie anyway. 

One will expect that at this point of the day, it’s done, your day is over. Instead I had the brilliant idea of going out for dinner. 

Recently, the list of the 100 best restaurants in London has been published on the Time Out London. The restaurant we picked for last night’s dinner was on the list, not that this fact influenced our decision because I have always wanted to go anyway and it’s in the local neighbourhood. I did read about it on the magazine and it had amazing reviews. We managed to get a table for two at The begging bowl, surprising cause there’s always a queue and they don’t take bookings. Let me say straight away that I am not a big fan of trendy places that don’t take bookings (specially in London!) and also I am not s big fan of tapas size plates. 

I am not sure where my dislike for Tapas started, but I think it has to do with cultural reasons. When we go for a aperitivo in Italy (a drink before dinner), we usually get small bites to eat as well and most of the times you don’t really pay extra, maybe the drinks are a little bit more expensive but you get food with it. Also I am not a big fan of sharing and I do believe portion should be of a fair size. If you want to try my dish when you’re having dinner with me, that’s ok. But no, I am not going to order 5/6 plates to share as you are recommending on the menu, and then pay a sometimes ridiculous amount of money just because you’re listed in the top 100 and you’re in London. Because I am sure that if I go to Spain, this is not the way it works. In fact, I will be spending New Years Eve in Barcelona, I will let you know. 

This explained, back to last night’s dinner: the tapas concept was fine with me this time since I had that big lunch. 


The food looked good and I liked most of it -except a crab plate I had. The service was ok, the price for what we had was a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, in prospective the amount we spent it’s maybe a normal amount but compared to the quantity of food, I am not sure it was appropriate. I felt the place was just a bit overrated. We are still talking about a place in Peckham, which is not central but had central London prices. And the other place I felt the same way about was Chevice, renound for Peruvian cuisine. To be honest with you, over priced and no wow factor in the food. 

I am a bit tired of going to overrated places in London and get charged for nothing. And it’s not just about restaurants, we can also include bars and clubs. It’s amazing that London has so many restaurants and chances for you to try foods from all over the world, but sometimes I do find the overpricing unfair, like they’re mocking you.

Anyway, the weekend continued with a brunch on Sunday morning. I think brunch is a brilliant time of the day. I went with some friends in this place called The Table in Southwark. I am a big brunch lover but I never tried this place before. Guess what? The bill was cheaper than last night and the food/service were really good. 

To end the day in the perfect way, we headed to Mercato Metropolitano for a tour of Italian products. Also, remember that the official opening on the 15th of September is coming up. Make sure you go and check it out.
Stay tuned for more adventures: after a month stop from travelling, I’ll be heading to couple of places in the next 5 weeks. To be precise I’ll do 3 weekends away out of 5, to keep up with my “12 trips in 12 months” plan. To be honest, if things stay as they are now, for this year i would have 13 trips on my list. :) 

Remember, the best is yet to come. 

My first musical in London and other stories.

Theatres have always been magical to me. I used to spend a lot of time at our Teatro Verdi in Trieste when I was a kid. My dad used to be the masseur of the ballet company and he always had tickets for us, but the best part was when he took me backstage and introduced me to the ballerinas and actors. He was always so proud of me for some reasons and they seemed all happy to meet me and weren’t bothered at all that I was there. I remember big smiles, wigs, make up, fairy tale dresses… For a kid, what a dream experience!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t gifted with anything related the theatrical arts so I remember that sometimes when I was watching the musicals I wished I was as talented and I would have loved to be part of that team on stage. In reality, I don’t think a stage is my thing at all even if I clearly don’t lack of confidence. Let’s say, though, that I have other talents – many still to discover. 

My plan for the weekend was to just chill at home, it’s been an intensive year in terms of travel so this was one of the first weekends free. I was food shopping at Tesco when I got a text from a good friend that was wondering if I was free to see this musical in town. I managed to get at the Savoy theatre in under an hour, do not ask how, and I went to see “Funny girl” with Sheridan Smith. I have to admit I had no clue about this musical, so I did a quick research before getting there. 

For one reason or another, I never managed to see a musical in London so this was my first time and I did enjoy the show, the actors were great. But also, last night made me travel back in time, to when I was 10 and I was wearing that new dress my mum got me to go to the theatre cause my dad got us tickets to see the show. If I only could go back in time, just once…

This is been a very tough summer for me, if you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning you’ll know I usually spend at least two weeks in Italy in August and I always come back in tears. This year, due to my brother’s 40th birthday, I went to Italy in July for just over a week. I have been travelling quite a lot this year so the time was limited and I wanted to keep some holidays for another good trip later this year/early next year. It was my choice, so I can only blame myself if I get moody every single time one of my friends post a picture of the see back home. Still, it’s hard and I don’t know how people do it. I know I am used well and this is why summers in London are so difficult for me and I also know it sounds crazy that the sun influences my life so much and still, here I am to tell you that your day or week gets fucking awful when the sky is grey for 3 days in a row. But yes, you get used to it as to all things in life.

Anyway, I’ll be off for some new adventurers soon so stay tuned… There’s so much more to come!🙂

The Ornatrix, by Kate Howard.

I will put it simply: I love books.

I have many passions, lots of interests that come and go and I am always up for new things to learn. There’s only one thing that it’s always been there, that never changed through time: books. I remember when I was a kid and my dad got me some magazines for kids and I used to read them all in one go.
I do not know if I got this passion from someone or if it’s always been in me but I do suspect the second option is the right one.

Once I moved to London, I had to leave my beloved books in Italy and, moving four houses in four years, I decided that I would stop buying books or at least limit it. This is why I asked my brother to get me a Kindle and I do read on that sometimes, specially the thicker books. Suddenly though, I felt like I had to buy MORE books. How lucky was it then that my colleague’s husband works for a publishing company? Chatting about books, he suggested me to read The Ornatrix by Kate Howard.

The Ornatrix is a story set in 16th century Italy, where Flavia is born with a mark on her face the shape of a bird. Pretty tough back then, people believes lead to witches to be burnt and some other cruel stuff. Flavia’s parents are guilty of not accepting her look and making her feel an outsider. Jealousy is what leads her when her sister is getting married so as punishment for her actions, Flavia’s parents send her to the convent of Santa Giuliana. She isn’t really accepted there either, even if the nuns get used to her face. Her life changes when she meet Ghostanza. Flavia soon becomes her Ornatrix, her personal maid. Ghostanza introduces Flavia to the art of what is considered the make up of that time, which is mainly very toxic for the skin but covering up the face and giving it a white and angelic look is what every matron in the city does.

Flavia’s main desire is to get accepted by a society that bans the imperfections, so the book follows her in the challenge of looking like everyone else. Eventually, I do believe she accepts herself. I won’t spoil the rest of the story because it’s definitely worth a read.

What I found reading this book is that the topics are very modern even if the story is set in the past. Beauty, society standards and acceptance is something we all know and we all talk about.

Just before I started reading this book, a famous Italian blogger posted a pic on social media about her in a swimsuit at the beach. The message was pretty clear: do not be ashamed about your body, go to the beach anyway. I found it brave and true, we cannot be influenced by how the media and the society would like us to be and I think at some point in the book Flavia realises it as well: doesn’t matter how many layers of make up she wears, she will continue to be the same person, with the same flaws. The birthmark won’t disappear, it will always be there so she might as well learn how to live with it.

While I was reading, I almost wished I could have gone into the book and let Flavia know that it’s ok, that eventually society will accept the ones that look different and that she’ll be fine. Unfortunately, I realised that is not entirely true and that still in 2016 we do have issues accepting something that doesn’t really fit in any of the categories we have been taught and that we know.

Hang in there Flavia, maybe one day people will accept everything that makes us unique.

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Thanks to Matt at Duckworth Publisher for the book.
The book is on offer till TODAY on Kobo at £3.99, otherwise you can find it on Watersones‘ website or on Amazon. Also available Kindle edition.

 

Mercato Metropolitano: the closest place to Italian Paradise. 

As you all know, I moved to London from Italy four years ago. It’s been a long journey, with many trips back and forth, with plenty of Italian food in the suitcase every single time.

London has so much to offer and the diversity of people, cuisines and activities is what I love about this city. Every now and then you can find the small Italian deli that offers this or that product that you haven’t had the chance to eat in a long time. Like this place in Chiswick where I got the best Gorgonzola ever.

So the other day, when a friend told me an Italian place was opening, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I was like: “Uh, it’s gonna be another one of those small places with couple of great items.”

Not sure what to expect, I went to Mercato Metropolitano yesterday after work since it’s not that far from the tube station to go home: Elephant and Castle. As you might know, the area is renovating and changing so no surprise they decided to invest here.

The place is located couple of minutes walk from the Ministry of Sound. You can’t miss it, the signs are pretty obvious.

The area is huge, 45000 square ft, divided into different sections. They opened last Friday so just one third of the place is now open. The main part, for now, consists in the food market. And no, we are not talking about a small deli, we are talking about a fairly big supermarket with just Italian products. From fruits and veggies, pasta and sauces, to ham and cheese and of course wine.

P a r a d i s e.

I felt like walking in wonderland, everything I thought London was missing is now in a unique place, not far from home.
There’s outdoor space to enjoy a panino col prosciutto and a glass of wine and then there’s another area where different producers are selling fresh bread, cheese, pasta, pizza, ice cream and coffee. A pizzeria is opening soon, as well as a cinema and a gym.


The idea is brilliant. I would have loved to open something like this myself, if I only had the money to invest.🙂
The concept is to offer Italian quality products to Londoners and I hope this will also help them to understand better the Italian culture, which is not only made by lovely food, but also by amazing and friendly people.

The potential of the place is huge: market, street food, fresh and authentic products but I also think it will be the perfect place for people to chill out, meet friends, attend events.

Mercato Metropolitano  is open from 11am to 11pm (closed Monday) and you can find it at 44 Newington Causeway, London SE1.

What are you waiting for then, go ahead and let me know how good that mortadella is!

Well done guys, keep the good work up!