Monday, October 27, 2008

More Chestnuts!

Remember how I said that Italians really like chestnuts? Well, Emily and I found out yesterday that Italians have chesnut FESTIVALS! Who knew, right? But of course, before we went to the actual festival, we got to hunt for more chestnuts. We found a mother load!

Emily and I are really lucky to have a host family that takes us lots of places around Tuscany. It's great to see so many places that I probably wouldn't get to see otherwise. We drove about an hour up to a small medieval mountain village called Santa Fiora. The festival was right in the in the center square- there lots of local crafts, wine, olive oil, and of course, chestnuts!
There was an entire venue set up for food... mostly including chestnuts. Emily and I both tried chestnut-filled ravioli with a mushroom sauce. Probably one of the best pasta dishes I've had yet! Also on the menu: chestnut bread and ricotta and chestnut marmalade for dessert. I think I might just have to plant my own chestnut tree when I get back to the states.

After lunch we walked around town for a while. As always, there were some amazing view of Tuscany.

By the end of the day, we were pretty tuckered out.
These are our we're-tired-we-want-to-leave-faces.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lunch at Peter's house

Our BYU professor Peter, his wife Leah and their three kids live in a adorable cottage about 20 minutes away from Siena. On Friday they invited a few of us girls over for lunch, so we got to spend the day hanging out with the kids and making mexican food with Leah.
Their seriously live in
ultimate Tuscany-it is so picturesque!

The view from their front yard.. people actually live in that castle!

Their house used the be where the groundskeepers of the Castle lived-they have a lot of restored furniture inside from the 1500's.
You can't really see it in the picture... but you can see the towers of Siena in the distance

Mexican food DOES NOT exist in Italy... obviously. But I never realized how much I love Mexican food until I didn't have it at my fingertips. Leah and I concocted our own version of refried beans and they turned out so good! We even made Spanish rice and fresh salsa.
Nothing gets better than Mexican food in Italy. ha!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cooking x 2

This week they doubled us up with cooking classes... and even though it left me with limited time for homework, I didn't mind it at all.
Monday night was "seafood" night and I had my first experience with anchovies.. and whole fish. yikes! I'm not a fan of cooking fish when it's staring at you. Kind of freaks me out.
As far as the anchovies go... I highly doubt I'll be eating them with my salad ever again. ha!

Parsely pasta with zucchini, leeks and clams. I'll take this over anchovies any day.

Orata (a Mediterranean fish) with tomatoes and herbs

Don't know what to call this one... pretty much eggs, sugar and creme layered with biscuits.

Wednesday night included a lot of "firsts" for me. We first made pasta with chestnut flour and mixed it with a porcini mushroom sauce. Like I said, chestnuts are pretty popular around here.

Then we cooked lamb, which was also another first. Also, the best peas I've ever had.
And then, my favorite dish... chestnut marmalade with whipped creme and biscuits. Then with a persimmon and chocolate sauce with currants. Too bad they don't have chestnut marmalade in the states- it's to die for!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Emily took this in Assisi - I laugh every time I look at it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chestnut Hunting

I had no idea that finding chestnuts in the forest was such a past time for Italians.
But apparently, it is.
Our host family took us into the "bosco" yesterday to look for chestnuts. They usually collect loads of them in the fall, freeze them, and eat them for the rest of the year.

So Emily and I tried our hand at this chestnut hunting and came out with pretty good results... except for the fact the my cuticles were KILLING me because of the chestnut spikes.

We also found some wildberries...

a 1,000 year old church...

And a wild boar with piglets. I think we ate its sibling for dinner last week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Family comes to visit!

After being in Italy for almost seven weeks... I can probably say that I haven't really been homesick... however, I have definitely been "family sick." Seven weeks is way too long to not see them! So you can imagine how excited I was to have them come visit me for the week. My host family actually owns and rents out the entire apartment next to ours, and they offered to let my family stay there for the entire week. It was awesome because I got to hang out with them a lot more than if they were staying at a hotel and they got to know host family quite well.
My dad rented a car and it was awesome to be able to drive around Tuscany and see things on our own time frame. It was great to not have to ride the bus to school for the week! The fam came to class with me on monday and got to experience what life is like at our school. We took some day trips to Florence, San Gimignano, Assisi, San Gusme, Cortona and of course, Maranello to see the Ferarri museum.
Overall, probably one of the best weeks yet in Italy. Nothing better than family time!
Wine cellar in San Gusme

Climbing the arch in Siena

One of Scott's favorite parts of Europe... Red Bull "cola." Apparently they don't make it in the states.
Piazza Michelangelo in Florence

Ponte Vecchio

San Gimignano for dinner

Basilica in Assisi

Dinner in Cortona

Ferrari Museum in Maranello

Cooking class with Mom

I was lucky enough to have my mom come to cooking class with me this week. We had a great time learning how to make homemade basil pasta together. Dad and Scott even sat in on part of the class!

Basil pasta with pecorino cheese sauce

Steak rolled with mozerella and herbs

Chocolate souflee with mint sauce

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cinque Terre

Sorry for this somewhat-delayed blog post. I've been enjoying the last three days with my family while they're here to visit for the week.

This post will probably be forever long because I took LOTS of pictures on my weekend trip, but I hope you like them:)

So 22 girls in our group decided to take a trip to Cinque Terra, which is actually an Italian National park on the northwestern coast just out of La Spezia. It’s made up of five coastal villages that are mostly accessible by train and hiking trails.

We left EARLY Friday and took about a 4 hour train ride to La Spezia and then another 20 minute train into the first town of Riomaggiore

Our group took up an entire cabin in the train... we got some funny looks.

We started the day off on the “Walk of Love,” which Cinque Terra is famous for. It’s a path along the coast between Riomaggiore and Manarola that has incredible views of the four other villages, but gets its name mostly from the enormous concrete wall covered in “love graffiti.” So of course, we all had to leave our mark
My new addition to the wall... the heart near the top

at the harbor in Manarola

After spending some time in Manarola, we started on the hike to the third city of Corneglia. We found an awesome little lookout spot down some old steps near the water. The view was so amazing that we ended up just laying there for like an hour. We couldn’t get enough of it!
laying on the rocks... had to document it

The hike between Manarola and Corneglia

In the third town of Corneglia I found my found my new favorite gelato flavor… which is definitely saying something because I rarely ever pick favorites. It’s called “Miele” and is made from local honey. Pure bliss! Sad thing is, they only sell it in Corneglia. So if you ever happen to be in Cinque Terra, I definitely recommend trying it.
View of Corneglia

View from Corneglia

We headed back to Riomaggiore for dinner and to wait for the bus to take us to the hostel. I found another new favorite of mine: Foccacia bread with pears and gorgonzola cheese. The Cinque terra area is famous for its Foccacia as well as its pesto.. and I definitely see why! While waiting for the bus we found a great spot on the beach to watch the sunset.

We all stayed in a hostel about 20 minute out of Riomaggiore. It was my first experience in a hostel...let's just say I would prefer a hotel room, but it was fun because all of us were there together.
our lovely bunk beds... complete with sanitized sheets. (we hope)really? who does that?

On Saturday morning we woke up early to start our hike between Cornelia and the next village of Vernazza. It took about 90 minutes and had some pretty steep climbs but amazing views.

Overlooking Vernazza
We took the train to the last village, Monterosso, because we heard the hike was pretty intense. We had gnocci with pesto for lunch and then changed into our swimsuits to hang out at the beach for a while before catching the train back to Siena.

Pretty ironic that I was at the beach... and it was snowing in Utah. ha!