Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My new favorite spot

My camera accompanied my on my afternoon run yesterday. The scenery was so beautiful that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take pictures of it! I recorded a video so you could all see a better view, but I'm having a hard time uploading it so I guess the pictures will have to do.

I found a little country road a couple miles past our house that goes right through vineyards, farms and olive orchards. There's an awesome Tuscan castle in the background, but it might be a little difficult to see in the pictures.
Hope you like them!

And of course, can't forget my shox. We've been through a lot together.

Monday, September 29, 2008

3 Tuscan desserts that you MUST taste

For lunch on Friday, Emily and I ventured to our favorite pastry shop to try some famous Tuscan desserts that we had been hearing about for weeks. Pane Forte, Richiarelli cookies and Cantucci. I'm pretty sure that Richiarellis are my new favorite food. Mom, Dad and Scott: prepare your taste buds for pure bliss! They are amazing!

Chocolate Pane Forte...
almost like a fruit cake, only with nuts and chocolate- and a lot more solid.

Chocolate Cantucci on the left, Pane Forte in the middle, and Richiarelli cookies on the right.

Florence round 2

Once again, I find myself in Florence.
Don't worry, I'm going again this Thursday- so more pictures to come.
We didn't really have plans for last Saturday so Emily, Jo and I decided to take a quick shopping trip to Florence. We spent lots of time at the market finding loads of leather souvenirs for their families. But I can officially say that I didn't buy anything... except for lunch and my bus ticket. Having to fit all of my belongings into two suitcases really makes me limit my shopping potential.

But really, if any of you have any "leather requests," let me know.
I'm sure I can arrange something:)

One of the many jewelry shops on Ponte Vechhio

Putting my lucky penny in the hog's mouth

This picture is for Mom and Dad- it's the same view of the painting in our living room.
We had some extra time in the afternoon, so we trekked up to the Piazza Michelangelo, which has a fantastic view of the entire city.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pigeons and People Watching

I've never really been a fan of pigeons. In fact, living in Siena has reassured my dislike of these “rats of the sky.” Not only are their feathers and poop everywhere, but I’ve been nearly dive-bombed at least a dozen times.

So today for lunch, I was sitting on the steps of a small church near the school enjoying my peach and favorite slice of zucchini pizza. My attention turned to a pigeon next to me who was coming way too comfort, which made me start paying attention to all of the scavenging pigeons in front of me. Ironically, at the very moment that I was thinking about how much I dislike these birds; I saw a car pass about 30 ft. in front of me, followed by a loud crunch and the flutter of wings.


Okay, so I knew pigeons were stupid, but not that stupid. The car wasn’t even going that fast! Before today, I didn’t know road kill existed in cities. But I guess I do now.

Lucky for me, I was far enough away from the dead bird to still be able to enjoy my lunch. I just got to laugh at all the tourist’s faces when the walked past. Of all times to not have my camera with me! And the best part- about 10 minutes after the incident, and old man walked past, picked up the pigeon by the wing and moved it to the side of the road! Is that sanitary??

Not only did the poor dead pigeon provide me with a very blog-worthy story… but also with great lunchtime entertainment! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life.

Cooking class week 3

Arugula Salad

Amazing Foccacia bread
Tuscan style stew with crostini bread and tomatoes

Grilled steak strips with sauteed porcini mushrooms

Pine nut tart

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Market Day!

Every Wednesday morning there is an ENORMOUS outdoor market here in Siena. We found some awesome deals on sweaters, scarves, ties and jackets.... but you can pretty much find anything and everything there, including lots of dried fruit which is my current food obsession. So if you ever happen to be in Siena on a Wednesday morning, I definitely recommend the Market.

Lots of bags... we had to take them home before going to school.
Don't worry dad, I bargain shopped:)

Not a fan of the meat stands. Humongous slabs of meat don't appeal to me whatsoever.

This is where I draw the line

The last three weeks have opened up an entirely new category for me in the food department. I've tried wild boar, clams, shrimp (which I used to not like) squid... even rabbit and chicken liver pate! But last night when they brought out the octopus, I got a little squeamish. So I ventured out of my comfort zone and actually tried it.. sans suction cups. I mean really, suction cups? I think I'll pass.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Home theater at its greatest

Sundays are pretty laid back here in Siena-there's not much to do in the city other than shop and eat.. non of which are really Sunday-like activities. So we turned our bedroom into a sweet home theater.. we pushed our beds together, piled on the blankets (our room is FREEZING) and watched Pride and Prejudice, my all-time favorite movie, on the laptop. As you can tell from the cardboard box, it was a pretty high tech setup. Haha. But we had a great time.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cooking class week 2

Sauteed Mushroom with Pear and Gorgonzola cheese Bruschetta

Risotto with Pecorino Cheese, Pears and Cinnamon

Pepper stuffed chicken with roasted potatoes


Friday, September 19, 2008


On Thursday we got to take a day trip to Florence for our "art class," and yes, besides shopping and eating gelato, we did see lots of art. It's only about an hour and a half bus ride from Siena, so we will actually be able to go a couple more times while we're here in Italy.
We have awesome VIP passes that let us skip all of the lines to any museum in Florence, so we were able to go to the Ufizzi museum to see lots of Botticelli paintings and also L'accademia to see the Statue of David.

Baptistry, Duomo and Belltower

Ponte Vecchio- where they only sell jewelry... mostly gold and cameos. Great place for window shopping but way overpriced. And it's the oldest bridge in Florence.

Inside the Duomo

Gates of Paradise by Ghiberti


I have the best boyfriend ever

Trip to the Contrada Museum

Siena is famous for its annual horse race,The Palio, which is actually held two times during each summer in the main piazza in the city. The entire city of Siena is divided into 17 "contradas," or neighborhoods, that compete against each other in the Palio each year.
To get a sense of how intense the rivalry is... take the rivalry between BYU and U of U and times it by 500 years- some of the families here have been in the same contrada for that long! We were lucky enough to get to go to one of the contrada museums- usually tourists aren't allowed in. The museum has all of the history and artifacts from dating from the 1600's- pretty amazing!

View of Tuscany from the patio

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And you think Italian men are attractive??

Think again.
We practically had to stalk "mullet" and "rat tail" to get this picture- but we couldn't resist.
Ultimate Nast!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

1 year...

It's been one year since Nick and I went on our first date. In fact, this is the first picture we have together.
It's crazy how fast time can pass you by- but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Thanks for the great year Nicholas- you make my life beautiful:)

Night on the town + cold and rain = hot chocolate

Last Friday night we all decided to meet at the Campo... but as soon as we got there, it started pouring!! We tried waiting it out for about a half hour, but just ended up sprinting to a nearby cafe for hot chocolate. And it was literally hot "chocolate." I'm guessing they probably just melted a chocolate bar into my cup- it was so rich! But it was really good with the biscotti they brought us... not to mention the great view from the restaurant!

View of the Campo with the Duomo in the background

View from our table

I think starbucks might have some comptetition

Cooking Class!

I had my first cooking class last friday- and it was AMAZING! There are about 12 people in the class with me and we have a personal chef along with a translator because the chef only speaks Italian. The kitchen is great it's great because we make everything from scratch! This week we made our own spinach and ricotta ravioli. I'm definitely buying a pasta machine when I get back to the states. Also on the menu: Tuscan salad, fresh tomato sauce, pan seared steak with yellow squash and panna cotta with strawberries. And the best part- we get to eat it all when we're done with class! :)
The kitchen- with our chef in the background

Making the ravioli

All I can say is that I'm going to have some killer receipes when I come home!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spaghetti with Clams

I had never had clams before last night, but surprisingly, I really liked them! I think the small size of the clams makes a difference- I can handle seafood in small portions. This is an awsome recipe- another one of my host "dad's" originals. Hope you like it!

Ben’s Spaghetti with Clams


About ¾-1 lb. fresh small clams. (can’t remember the Italian name, but he says they are “non-spitting”)

1 full garlic clove

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

2 roma tomatoes, diced

1 hot red chili pepper (just the tip- about ¼, unless you want it hotter)

Spaghetti noodles

White cooking wine


Olive oil

1. Heat the clams in a large saucepan - Don’t add any liquid.

2. Put half of the garlic (whole, not chopped) in the saucepan and let it boil with the clams.

3. Heat clams until they are all open.

4. Separate all of the clam meat from the shells and put in a separate bowl. Leave a few of the shells with the meat for “garnish.”

5. Start boiling water for spaghetti noodles

6. Pour enough olive oil in a large skillet to coat the bottom. Add the other half of the garlic (not chopped) and the chopped parsley. Sauté for about 3-5 min.

7. Add the Roma tomato chunks and the tip of the red pepper to the skillet. Sauté for another 3-5 min.

8. Add about 1/4 – 1/3 cup white wine, 1-2 tbsp salt, and a few tbsp of the boiling water to the skillet-Enough liquid to just cover the ingredients.

9. When pasta is done, add to skillet and mix with ingredients

10. Don’t forget to remove the garlic cloves and red pepper tip- they are just there for flavor