Friday, September 14, 2012

Another adventure in Italy

 So here I am again in Italy...specifically in the town of Maddaloni. It is in Naples,the Capania region known for Mozzarella de bufalo. The reason I'm back is to babysit my granddaughters. My son in law is stationed here and he and my daughter are taking a quick trip to Dublin for the Navy Notre Dame game. They didn't have to ask me twice if I wanted to come. After a long plane trip I arrived on Monday. We spent a quiet day just hanging out. Today was also my oldest granddaughter's first day of high school. She attends school on the Naval base. Tomorrow she has to start taking the bus since I refuse to drive. The drivers here are such thing as stop signs or traffic light. They do exist but no one actually stops at them. It's hot, in the mid to high 90's with humidity, though my daughter said it's not as humid as it has been

 Yesterday we went to the local farmer's market. It is a large market with everything from live poultry to seafood and vegetables cheeses salumi sweets to a flea market with every thing from pots and pans to clothes and household items. We walked around checking out the seafood and veggies for that evenings dinner. The market takes a little getting used to since there is all that fish and seafood out there it does smell like a fish market. Yes, everything is on ice but just sitting out in the open with flies all over. Not quite used to that aspect since in the US sanitation is such a major deal. We ended up buying clams and mussels and some vegetable.
shaved ice.. he shaves the block of ice by hand
clams and musseles

one of the veggie stands

some kind of eel?
  After the farmers market we walked down to one of the local grocers. There we got some of the wonderful mozzarella de buffala, prosciutto and bread. My daughter says to come here for those types of things but go to the larger grocery store for other staples since the prices tend to be better. So, clam and mussels pasta for dinner..delicious.

 What a noisy night! Since it's so hot here and it doesn't cool off much at night so everyone has their windows open and so you can hear everything! Of course we crazy Americans.. the grand kids (the little ones) go to bed around 8 p.m. while the older one needs to be in bed by 9 or 10 since she needs to catch the school bus before 7am. I was tired so I went to bed around 10 and I could hear the neighbors talking and dishes rattling. Here we are going to bed and they are just sitting down for dinner. So lots of talking and laughter and dishes. About midnight the fireworks started. Apparently they do fire works for any celebration from someones birthday to the birthday of one of the saints. The fireworks lasted about 10-15 minutes then the dog started barking..all night. About the time the dog quit the roosters started crowing. Needless to say I'll need a nap this afternoon.

My daughter and son-in-law took off for Dublin late this morning.So, my first day with the girls. First on the agenda go next door and pick a few lemons and make a lemon pound cake. I found we didn't have any powder sugar for the icing so great I can walk over to the grocery store and see if I can manage with my limited to non existent Italian. Boy, we are spoiled. The grocery store is more like a mini-mart. The produce is decent but trying to find staples, and of course they don't have the brands or things I'm used to finding at home. I finally found the powder sugar, it's a small box maybe a cups of sugar. Got a couple of boxes, kids wanted yogurt and I found a bottle of wine. Not too difficult. I also have to remember to bring my own bag, they charge for plastic bags. Now we can go home and bake. Got the batter made but no one told me how to turn on the oven!! I turned it on so the light lit up. I figured that meant it was on and it was getting hot. I turned it to the correct temperature and stuck the cake in. I check a little later and found the temperature had gone down. Turned it back to the original starting point and again the temperature raised. I could smell the cake baking so I figured all was well until I took a peak. The top was nicely browned but the batter was still liquid. I put a piece of foil on top and continued to "bake". Luckily it was later in the afternoon that this was all going on and Tianna came home from school. She set the oven for me-you had to light the pilot first! So, the cake finally baked. Nothing like being in the oven for a few hours. Actually with all that it didn't turn out too bad.. and it tasted good...whew! After all that it would have been sad if it didn't turn out. Left overs for dinner, nice evening with the kids. Time for bed and again the noise starts.

 Today the little ones and I walked to Puffalandia a little amusement park a few blocks away. Of course it was closed! Walked to the gelato shop and it was closed! Of course it was around 10:30am but you would think they'd be open. It is August the month for vacation, maybe they are still on vacation. We'll try again on Saturday. Back to the house for a tea party. Ahh.. nap time for the little ones and me! Fried chicken for dinner.
Thinking of taking a walk back to the grocery store..making potato salad to go with the fried chicken so I need to see if I can find a few ingredients. Wonder if the have sliced olives or dill pickles? No dill pickles..just some brined in wine, don't think that will do. Did find the olives. Went to the little market after that and got my mozzarella, half a loaf of bread and some tomatoes.. all in Italian, Yaa me! I think this is what I'll miss the most when I go home. The bread, cheese, prosciutto.

my bufala mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto and brea
..not much going on other than more tea parties and swimming up on the roof patio.
tea party
swimming on the roof top patio

   Night time thunder storms and noisy neighbors. One night fireworks goes off sounding like it was right in the courtyard. It turns out it was right in the street outside the apartment complex. The groom was demonstrating his love for his bride to be. It was so loud the little ones woke up screaming and scared Tianna and I at first. I found out there was a wedding the next day and the groom wanted to impress his bride to be. There was also early morning fireworks going off again and church bells were ringing. Why would you do fireworks during the day since you can't see them but they go off in the mornings all the time.

the fireworks for the bride to be

 Tonight we walked to Il Sorriso one of the local restaurants and the favorite for pizza. It was Saturday night and it was crowded. Most restaurants don't open until 7:00pm but we got a table fairly quickly. We put in our order, they brought us the antipasti,then we waited and waited and waited after 45 minutes the little ones were getting sleepy so I asked Tianna to tell them to just box up the pizza for take out.. it was ready in 5 minutes! I don't know what the hold up was for sit down dining. So we took our pizzas home to eat. Tomorrow Summer and Kobie return from Dublin.

Summer and Kobie are back and the kids are happy to see them. Nice quiet night spent with the whole family. The plan is to make Beef Wellington tomorrow for Summer and Kobie's anniversary. This should be fun..we'll see if they can find all the ingredients

 Off to the city of Naples. Crazy city! I've never seen so many cars with no regard for lanes, parking anywhere and motor scooters you have to watch for. Had lunch at the original Sorbillos restaurant. Great pizza. Walked around a little bit, got hit with a little rain but at least it was cool.

lunch at Sorbillos

Marina in Naples

they crazy traffic
After we got back home it was time to make the Beef Wellington.  It was a little bit of a challenge since a few of the ingredients couldn't be found and the puff pastry was a little funky.. like it had been thawed and refrozen.  Very sticky but I made it work, plus Summer had no rolling pin so had to use a wine bottle instead.
We didn't have any beef broth to make a wine sauce but had some instant gravy powder and some Kitchen bouquet so we used that and added red wine and low and behold not too bad  of a wine sauce was made.  Actually it was pretty good wine sauce.  The Wellingtons turned out well despite everything and everyone enjoyed them.

Today it's Pompeii. Pompeii was interesting and amazing. To see all the ruins and and old artifacts. I was surprised at how large a city it was..we didn't even cover the whole area. I think I enjoyed this excursion the most.
ruins with Mt. Vesuvius in the background
Lana and Ari among the ruins
mumified person
floor of one of the rooms
 Dinner tonight was at Savaris about half an hour outside Maddaloni. They open at 7:00pm and I think we were there a little after 7 and there was no one in sight. The doors were open and we finally found someone and yes, they were open. They had live fish and crabs in tanks and fresh seafood displayed on ice. Plus the little ones were excited because they had a little playground out back. My dinner consisted of pasta with seafood for my 1st course and grilled swordfish for my 2nd course. All of it was very good plus of course the requisite bottle of wine. Tianna enjoyed an octopus salad and pizza, the little ones shared pasta and my sword fish and I can't remember what Summer had. Everything was delicious and by the time we were done eating the place was starting to fill up.

my primi course.. pasta frutii de mare
My last day._ Vietri sul Mare or Vietri by the sea? Again a very interesting town know for it's pottery and ceramics. All the shops had the artists painting the various dishes and pots. It is a very colorful town with ceramics embedded in the sidewalks and on the walls of the buildings and a wonderful walking tunnel (so you didn't have to dodge cars)that was all tiled with various designs. I wanted to buy some pieces but I didn't have room in my suitcase to take them back. I did get a business card from one of the shops so I can order online. Summer bought several pieces.

Last dinner is at an agri-tourismo..a total farm to table dinner. Dinner in the home of the farmer, 2 people(the farmer?) cooking and waiting tables. The only thing they ask is if you want red or white wine then they start bringing on the food. I was too busy eating to take pictures. First a plate of little mozzarella balls (bufala of course) salami, fresh ricotta, and provalone.  Then came the appetizers, grilled zucchini and eggplant in a light vinaigrette, baked beans, bread stuffed with some sort of cooked down peppers, egg and cheese kind of frittata, plus several other dishes.  The main course was roasted pork and for desert an apple tart and espresso.  I wish now that I had take pictures so I can remember  what all was served.  It was all delicious.
What a great last meal.
Saturday, at the airport bright and early..really early and back to the good ole USA. It was a wonderful trip, had a great time with my grand kids my daughter and son in law.
Sorry for the lack of food pictures..just too busy eating most of the time to remember to take them.

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