Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Work

So I finely have some new work to share. I'm super excited about my new horse art and have been crazy busy editing and printing test prints before getting them up on my Etsy shop.  I've been kind of obsessed with shooting horses lately and have 3 new pieces to show for it. The first I'm crazy about and have already framed and hung on my own wall.  It's titled, "Intense Beauty"... and he is, isn't he?!

The next two are "Strong & Silent #1"...

and "Strong & Silent #2". 

These both look good alone but I love them together as part of a dyptych!

I have many more new pieces to share with you so if you're interested head on over to my Etsy Store to check them out!

I'll be back early next week with more from my Italy trip. But for now, here's a little teaser.

Ciao for now!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Italian Holiday" Part 1

So I'm back home in Toronto and back to my "real" life!  Processing all my photos is causing me to suffer Italy withdrawal big time! Everyday of the trip was just so fabulous that I really don't know where to start so I guess I'll just start where it all began.... Rome!

 After a long, stressful flight (long story), we arrived late at night.  Just enough time to grab a quick bite to eat at a unremarkable restaurant close to our hotel and then off to bed.  The next morning we woke refreshed and eager to start our "Italian Holiday".  We had lunch reservations at Aroma near the Colosseum so spent the morning walking around the Monti area. After building up our appetites we headed over to the restaurant.  We had read numerous online reviews of the restaurant and were anxious to see if it lived up to its reputation. We were not disappointed! The staff did everything they could to make sure that we had an extraordinary experience. We had asked for a table on the terrace to make sure we could experience one of the most incredible features of the restaurant... the unobstructed view of the Colosseum!  We were delighted when we were led to a table right at the front of the terrace.  Check out this view!


It really was spectacular and so was the food!  We ordered the "Menu Degustazione" or tasting menu with wine.  If you are planning on being in Rome and want to treat yourself, I highly recommend it. It is 7 delicious courses with the appropriate wine pairings but you can also order without the wines if you prefer.  Unfortunately we were too busy ooohing and aaahing over every delicious morsel, not to mention the yummy wines, so I forgot to take photos of all the courses but the pic above is the homemade "Filine" pasta with pork and wild fennel.  Here is the complete tasting menu from their website;

 Tasting menu

Capesante arrosto profumate alla menta con fonduta di finocchi e porri fritti
Mint flavored roasted scallops on a fennel fondue with fried leeks

Magatello di vitello al punto rosa con insalatina olio e limone,
duetto di bignè e cannolo alla mela verde
Lightly cooked veal “Magatello” with baby lettuces and a duo of bignè
and green apple filled cannolo

Torciglioni con aliciotti, pinoli tostati,
filetti di pomodoro e panure di pane profumato all’aneto
Homemade “Torciglioni” pasta with anchovies, toasted pine nuts,
fresh tomato and dill flavored bread crumbs

Filini fatti da noi con costarelle di maiale e finocchiella selvatica
Homemade “Filini” pasta with pork and wild fennel

Medaglione di branzino con olive, pachino, origano
e fagottino di scarola
Medallion of sea bass with olives, “Pachino” tomato, oregano
and lettuce parcel

Sella di coniglio profumato alle erbe delle nostre terrazze
con tortino di patate al latte
Saddle of rabbit perfumed with herbs from our terraces
and potato flan

Mousse al mascarpone con gelato al pan speziato e gocce di caffè
Mascarpone mousse with “Pan speziato” ice cream and coffee drops

It was all excellent and I discovered a couple of fav new wines.  First the Weingut Niklas Sudtiroler Sauvignon 2012 which was served with the Mint flavored roasted scallops on a fennel fondue with fried leeks. It had a strong, clean mineral taste with a lovely fruity finish. 

I also discovered my fav new desert wine.  Ben Rye by Donnafugata from Scicily.  I was hooked at the first tasted.  It has lovely syrupy layers of apricots, dates, and candied citrus fruits with a tobacco tinged finish. Yum!

All in all we spent a leisurely 3 hours at Aroma thoroughly enjoying the wonderful food and wine, not to mention that wonderful view! It was the perfect indulgence to start off the perfect "Italian Holiday"!  Have you been to Aroma Restaurant in Rome?  I'd love to hear what you thought. To leave a comment please click on the individual post heading at the top of this post.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about our next day and our trip to the Piazza Navona.

Ciao for now!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hi from Positano!

Just a quick hello from beautiful Positano. We are enjoying the view from the terrace of our room and hope you will too!  We arrive back home in a couple of days and I will have plenty more stunning pics and stories to share with you then.

Ciao for now!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Italy Starts Today

Well this is it!  Travel day!  The day I have been waiting for for the past few months.  Our flight leaves at 7:45pm and I can't wait to be on it!  Tomorrow morning I'll be having espresso and eating breakfast in Rome!  After a few days in Rome we move on to Tuscany and then the Amalfi Coast.  I will try to post from Italy every couple of days so you can share the experience with me.  Please follow along and if you have any suggestions for restaurant reccos I would love to hear them.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

What's On My Cookbook Shelf

A lot of the cooking I do involves recipes that have been handed down to me from generations past. My mother taught me all the basics of how to cook and passed on the recipes that came from her parents in England or the recipes she learned to make from my father's mother in Berlin. These recipes are often my favorite go to comfort foods that I make over and over again so I know the recipes by heart. In fact, for a lot of them there are no actual hard copies of the recipe. I couldn't even tell you how much of each ingredient to use or start to write a recipe for them without actually making the recipe again and writing as I go because I do it all by memory and instinct. But if I'm looking for a new recipe or just some foodie inspiration I most often head to the great wide world of the internet or one of the many (and I mean MANY) cookbooks that I keep on my shelves. These books have become like classics to me. Here are just a few of my favs:

First and foremost, the classic of all classics, The Joy of Cooking. I still say if you're fairly new to cooking and you can only purchase one book then it has to be Joy!  You can't beat it for its comprehensiveness. It's filled with absolutely everything you need to know (and some things you don't) about the art of cooking, not to mention great recipes. 


A number of years ago I was producing a television show in Vancouver when we featured a guest chef named Donna Hay. At the time I wasn't familiar with her but her books have now become some of my fav go to cookbooks when I'm looking for something easy and flavorful. One of her books that I resort to the most is Off the Shelf: Cooking from the Pantry. It's a great resource if you're looking for a recipe that doesn't require any fancy, often hard to find ingredients. Just stuff that you probably already have in your pantry.


I also adore Donna's book Flavours! If you love stimulating your taste buds you will love this book!

  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a fondness for cooking recipes that don't have a lot of ingredients. Some of my favorite, go to recipes only have 4 or 5 ingredients, not including seasonings.  One of the books I love for simple recipes involving only a few ingredients is The Minimalist Cooks Dinner by Mark Bittman.  I can always count on this book for fuss free, yet tasty recipes.

Indian food is one of my favorites!  In fact I often say that if I don't get it at least once a week I go into withdrawal.  Indian cooking often defies my "few ingredients" rule but the end result is soooo good it's worth it! For my Indian fix I often find myself taking out one of Madhur Jaffrey's books such as At Home with Madhur Jaffrey.

But a few years back when I was living in Vancouver I came to love a restaurant called Vij's owned by Vikram Vij. I am now back in Toronto but luckily Vikram has his own cookbook out called Vij's At Home so I can satisfy my Vij's fix without the cost of an expensive plane ticket to the west coast.

Those are just a few of my favorite go to cookbooks.  As for what's on my lust list, I'm looking forward to picking up the Jerusalem cookbook that everyone is talking about. Have you tried any recipes from it? I'd love to hear what you think about it.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Italian Pottery

My trip to Italy is now only 1 week away and I'm really starting to get excited! One of the things on my list of must dos while I'm there is to shop for Italian ceramic dishes. Also known as majolica, it seems almost every region and town has their own version, colors and patterns but one of the best places to shop for Italian pottery is in Deruta, a picturesque, medieval hilltop town in Umbria. Deruta has over 200 ceramic workshops that specialize in creating the beautiful ceramics they have been producing since the early middle ages. Deruta's trademark pattern is  "Raffaellesco" with the famous dragon design.

I love collecting colorful serving dishes and am hoping to pick up a few pieces while I'm there. There are so many beautiful patterns that I have a hard time deciding which ones to buy. Some other favorites are;


                                      Pictures courtesy of Ceramiche Sberna

Some of the more popular retailers in Deruta where you can find these beautiful patterns and more are;

Via Tiberina Centro 181

Via G. Savemini

Via Tiberina, 146

While there are some retailers in North America that sell Italian majolica it's hard to find here in Toronto so imagine my surprise when I walked into a small kitchen store in my neighborhood and saw this beauty! It was the only piece they had and it was even on sale!  Yay! 

It's clearly marked on the back as being made in Deruta but unfortunately there is no pattern name. If anyone knows what pattern it might be I'd love to know.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables.  Typically a spring/early summer vegetable here in Ontario, you can still find some fairly decent local asparagus around at this time of year. My favorite way to cook it comes from a friend of mine. Roasted in the oven with olive oil and sprinkled with rock sea salt.

Roasted Asparagus
Olive Oil
Rock Sea Salt

Clean asparagus and break off tough ends.  Add to a baking pan with generous amount of olive oil.  Sprinkle rock sea salt and toss to coat the asparagus evenly.  

Roast in a 425 degree oven for approximately 8-10 minutes.  Cooking time will vary depending on how thick your asparagus is. I like to take mine out of the oven a minute or two earlier as it continues to cook even after it's removed from the oven and I prefer my asparagus al dente. 

 How do you like to cook your asparagus?