January, February…soon be March…soon be Easter!

My Map of Berlin in 1913, had to print it out in 9 sections and stick together. You of course can only see this tiny version

My Map of Berlin in 1913, had to print it out in 9 sections and stick together. You of course can only see this tiny version

Getting a bit behind with my posts this year and it’s only February!  It’s amazing how time flies when you’re doing nothing. Well, doing nothing isn’t strictly true, I am trying to write a novel and now wondering whatever made me start, but start I have and finish I must. It does take up a lot of my writing time though. It’s proving to be much harder than I thought, mainly because I’ve decided to start the story in Berlin at the beginning of 1914 and this means lots of research.  So every five sentences or so I have to look something up. ‘Why not look it all up before you start,’ I hear you say. Well, it’s not that easy because things pop up that you don’t expect to pop up and then you have to check out things and change things…It’s a learning curve. The Man is quite helpful, he does have a great deal of historical facts and information stored in his head which has come in pretty handy for me lately.

But, back to Italy and Le Marche.

In January we went from this….

The Man strolling in the warm Thai sunshine

The Man strolling in the warm Thai sunshine

To this….

icyroad

Snow and ice in Italy January 2015

We were welcomed home by the animals….

Jpeg now always waiting by the door in case there's a chance we might leave without her and pop off to Thailand again.

Jpeg now always waiting by the door in case there’s a chance we might leave without her and pop off to Thailand again.

Mickey the cat making himself comfortable...

Mickey the cat making himself comfortable… he missed The Man I think. 

Of course we have more than just animals in our family and my son Will joined us for a few days at the beginning of this year.  We took him for a day out…as you do with your kids. We first went to Porto Recanati, which was a little bit of a disappointment. Like any seaside resort, out of season it lacked a certain liveliness and colour. The restaurants were almost all closed and the sea front (lungomare) was cheerless. But we did find a place serving a 2 course lunch with wine for about 12 euro a head. Pasta followed by fried fish. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant but I can’t… and it appears I didn’t take a photo…perhaps Will did. After lunch we went to Castelfidardo to the accordion museum, which was very interesting. I had thought that it would be a little boring but there were show cases housing many different types and styles of accordion. Paolo Soprani, a farmhand from Castelfidardo, early in the 1860s began what was the first industrial production of accordions and a model of his workshop is in the museum and a video showing the history of the instrument and clips of bands, orchestras and even the Beatles playing the accordion in many different styles of music.

Wills, who plays himself, was able to give a quick demo while in the museum, interesting because apparently he plays it upside down, but it didn’t seem to make any difference to the tune.

wills

After the museum we went to a shop selling accordion…not cheap.  Castefidardo is apparently THE place to buy an accordion if you are a professional player or know your stuff.  People come from all over the world to buy in this small town and probably in the very shop we were in – Victoria. We didn’t buy one, not on this occasion anyway.  We did however, get the change to play the biggest accordion in the world – well we posed for a photo anyway.

bigestpiano

We enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided, The Man and I, that we would go for an outing once each week… get out and about more, you know what I mean?  Needless to say that didn’t happen but we did manage lunch in January in Smerillo in a fab restaurant called  Le Logge. We dined in the typical Marche way, several courses including an unusual one of bacon and egg.

baconandegg

wine, coffee and vino cotto, plus a drop of mistra (very strong aniseed liqueur locally distilled) served in an edible chocolate cup! Fantastic.  We’ll be going there again in the summer when we’ll be able to sit outside.

liquerinchoc

Lovely waitress pouring my mistra into the chocolate cup!

Since then we’ve been pathetic in attempting our day out a week – well I AM writing a novel…we did manage to get to the White Bakery in San Benedetto last Friday (13th)  to enjoy  burger and chips.  Grand stuff.

burger2

finished

We didn’t enjoy that much!

Looking forward to some warmer weather in March and our next outing, which will be to Jesi….watch this space.

Eating Out in Brooklyn

pasta

‘You can eat out every day in Brooklyn for a year and still have plenty of places left to go…  some of the best restaurants in New York are here.’ that’s what one taxi driver told me. During my stay in Park Slope I did my best to try as many of the restaurants as I could. It’s common to eat out and popular to have a take-out. My daughter told me that home cooking is not a priority in New York.

This blog isn’t about reviewing restaurants but I just wanted to give you a little taste (excuse the pun) of my gastronomic experiences. I have included links to some of the cafés, bars and restaurants I enjoyed.

Roasted Carrot Salad

Roasted Carrot Salad

I had some wonderful pasta with rocket pesto, fresh tomatoes and zucchini at Rucola, a fabulous Italian restaurant on the corner of Dean Street and Bond, to start we had roasted carrot salad, unusual and delizioso (delicious obvs). Slow cooked barbecue pork is popular on many of the menus, often served in a sandwich and of course all sandwiches come with fries, and the fries are fantastic, there are mostly roughly cut and thin, perhaps a little heavy on the salt but I don’t mind that. Salads are abundant and you can mostly get a base variety of lettuce and then add what you like to the top, Building on Bond made a mean salad, Bob’s Cob being one of them.

Of course, hamburgers are plentiful and there are $5 hot-dog stands on every corner of Manhattan. Food from street vendors is popular and people pick up a pretzel or a doughnut on their way to work. Speaking of doughnuts I had them twice for breakfast, best  I’ve ever tasted, honestly…

Delicious caramelized onion soup at Café Colette in Williamsburg, an area of Brooklyn. This café was buzzing one Monday lunchtime. Alchemy bar and restaurant in Park Slope Brooklyn was just round the corner from our house so a favourite haunt with the family. Roast chicken was a popular choice for us but also the mussels went down pretty well!

It was wonderful to stroll down 5th avenue Brooklyn, (not to be confused with 5th Avenue Manhattan) and stop at one of several coffee shops to choose a coffee from the enormous list of options. Straight coffee, soya latte, cappuccino, mocha, espresso, skinny latte, chai latte, etc., and of course everything comes in small, regular or large AND you can have any of them iced! Best to make up your mind before you get to the shop then you don’t stand staring at the menu boards for ages. Of course, coffee must be accompanied by a little something; croissant, muffin, Danish, cookie, turnover…oh it goes on and on and so have the pounds! Mercifully, as I also did a lot of walking whilst staying in America I have managed not to pile on too much weight.

One more little point…Before leaving I did have to pay a visit to the amazing deli, Sahadi’s on Atlantic Avenue to purchase a few double choc malt balls to bring back to Italy…didn’t buy nearly enough though…
choc balls

Next time I visit NYC, first thing on my list is a trip to the famous deli Dean & Deluca’s in Manhattan …I just don’t know how I managed to miss it this time round. Guess I was a little busy becoming a Nonna (Grandmother) and that truly was the best experience for me during my stay.

Book for a menu..great idea

Book for a menu..great idea

Coffee and Pecan Bun ...yum!

Coffee and Pecan Bun …yum!

Rucola

Rucola

Cafe Colette

Cafe Colette