Christmas 2019

Tuesday, Wednesday 25-26 December, 2018

A nice dry day for Christmas. Lots for me to do. Luckily, I’d wrapped Krish’s presents the night before.  Christmas rituals – Christmas lights, Christmas candles, Christmas music.

The crazy thing was that, along with the two wrapped presents for Krish under the tree – OK, the poinsettia – there were four wrapped presents for me. This is actually the first time this has ever happened. He really has found the Christmas spirit, at least for this year!

Presents!
Presents!

Then I made eggnog as a surprise. Krish yearns for it every year.

I belong to three Facebook pages for Canadians. Two for London, one for the UK. Eggnog is a huge topic at Christmas, how everyone misses it, where can you buy it, if only there were eggnog… In a blog I read regularly, I found a recipe and decided to give it a go. It’s made with whole creamy milk, double cream, sugar, egg yolks, and nutmeg. I nailed it! It tastes perfect. A big hit!

First try at eggnog - nailed it!
First try at eggnog – nailed it!

And I made stuffing and cranberry rolls instead of sausage rolls this year. Sounds odd but stuffing in the UK isn’t the bread affair it is in Canada. It’s mostly sausage meat, with herbs and onions.  Some ready-to-cook stuffing topped with freshly made cranberry sauce and sealed all around. I actually really liked this. Lighter and less salty than a sausage roll. New favourite!

My presents were: Three books, and two espresso cups so I can start using my moka now – have been hesitating on that! The books were typical Krish choice – To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Unfinished Palazzo, and The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici. I’ve started on the introduction to the second.

My Christmas books
My Christmas books
Espresso cups
Espresso cups

For Krish this year I wanted to focus on memories – the egg nog is part of that. Then I got him a clockwork toy from Bazar Bonino in Torino, and a large box of meccano, which I saw advertised on the local neighbourhood site. All three were a really big success but I knew the meccano would shock and delight him – he was dumbfounded. I hope he makes something with it. I’ll never be able to top this gift.

German clockwork toy
German clockwork toy
Box of meccano
Box of meccano

We watched a lot of romantic Christmas movies. Silly ones. Krish was in charge of cooking. We had pork pie, some leftover quiche, and raw veggies for lunch and for dinner, a steak with mashed potatoes and some red cabbage. Food bulletin done. No photos of the plate before we started!

Time for a rest
Time for a rest

Boxing Day has been mostly quieter. I’ve done some organising and some catching up on this and that. And now we’re making the late Christmas dinner between us.  Stay tuned.

Dinner is done and Christmas proper is over for another year.

Traditional Chrismas dinner - roasted potatoes, turkey, stuffing, brussel sprouts, with gravy, cranberry sauce and pickles
Traditional Chrismas dinner – roasted potatoes, turkey, stuffing, brussel sprouts, with gravy, cranberry sauce and pickles
Mince pie, vanilla cream, cuppa tea!
Mince pie, vanilla cream, cuppa tea!
And we're done
And we’re done

Market to Table – Cooking in Turin

Friday, 5 October, 2018

Third time trying and this year I finally managed to get a cooking lesson in Torino. My source was Bonappetour. I’ll definitely check this again for the future!

The course I chose was Market to Table with Rosemarie. The plan – meet for breakfast, go to the market, cook, eat! This reminded me of Lucy’s classes in Lyon so it was familiar. Always a little cautious, I set off on Friday morning just about 8am. I couldn’t find a single way to avoid the dreaded metro but ‘go’ it was.

Three Torets at Bernini
Three Torets at Bernini
The metro at Bernini
The metro at Bernini 

I’d done a little reading and, coincidentally, had stumbled over comments about Rosemarie and her cooking classes in other Torino blogs. That’s also how I discovered her blog! So when she walked into the little caffeteria, I knew her instantly. Accidental stalking pays off! We each had a pastry with pear and ginger and I had a ‘cappuccia’ – thanks to Rosemarie for teaching me that word.

The local market, Brunelleschi, is very small compared to Porta Palazzo and the markets Giovanni introduced me to but it’s got everything you’d need and it’s calmer and less rude. Rosemarie bought beans, pears, a cheese with peppercorns, some ricotta, five salted anchovies from Spain. It’s good to listen and pick up the market terms, hearing things that might be useful for me later. I was impressed by how the stall holders could make suggestions when Rosemarie told them what she was cooking. From here we moved on to a butcher where again they listened to the menu and knew what meat to cut up for stewing. And a generous stalk of sage, inside a twist of paper.

At the bakery, Rosemarie chose grissini and six crusty buns warm from the oven. At the wine store, they listened carefully to what we were going to eat and suggested the wine. As we left, Rosemarie told me they wanted me to have a biscuit – yum! I chose fig and nut.

At the enoteca. Fervent discussion about the choice of wine
At the enoteca. Fervent discussion about the choice of wine

Rosemarie lives on the third floor of a slightly older apartment building. We get there in a tiny lift whose doors are opened manually. I survive that risk too! The flat is large and homey. The whole thing is homey.

Rosemarie had invited another person over to help her with prep and cleaning. I’m surprised that it’s another Torino blogger that have I been reading, Sonia. (Did I find them through each other’s sites?) It feels a little odd knowing that I have had a glimpse of their Torino lives, while I’m a stranger. But it does feel like I’m among friends. That’s a good feeling.

It’s also a good feeling to have a helper while you’re cooking. Sonia set things out, cleaned up behind us, and was an expert hand with kneading the pasta dough. I learned a lot and I got to prep and help with the cooking. I’m pretty sure I could manage to cook all of these things with a little patience – not my strongest suit, going slowly.

The menu, as promised in email — Appetiser: acciughe al verde (Anchovies in green sauce) Starter: agnolotti al plin con burro e salvia (pinched agnolotti in butter and sage) Main: Fricandò di manzo (Piedmontese beef fricandò) Dessert: Pere cotte al vino (Pears poached in wine).

Rosemarie's kitchen
Rosemarie’s kitchen

My pictorial essay follows!
Continue reading “Market to Table – Cooking in Turin”

Shroud of Turin and Gran Balon!

Sunday, 30 September, 2018 24C

But first, another culinary note. Yesterday we decided it was time to give our local enoteca (wine shop with cafe) a chance. We pass it all the time but have never gone in.  I ordered russian salad (skipping the two pasta choices) and milanese. Krish had penne with ragu and also the milanese. The pranzo (lunch) deal is 12 Euros each.

Pranzo menu
Pranzo menu
Monochromatic lunch - Russian salad, Milanese with Cauliflower Gratin
My monochromatic lunch – Russian salad, Milanese with Cauliflower Gratin

It’s OK. We may go again. Simple food, friendly service, a no-brainer since it’s across the road. However, again we’re struck with how ordinary and unmemorable the food is, especially when I throw two salads together later in the day for dinner. Would the Italians think my food too complicated, too much going on? It’s also worth mentioning that there were six or seven people sitting on a larger table across from us. They seemed to be ordering everything on the menu and sharing the huge platters. Despite the overflowoing banquet, they swallow it all in record time and leave, empty plates everywhere!

My dinner. Asparagus with Chicken, Two salads - Pesto Potato salad, Beet with goat cheese and arugula
My dinner. Asparagus with Chicken, Two salads – Pesto Potato salad, Beet with goat cheese and arugula

I’m not a huge fan of churches unless they are rustic and unique. I don’t typically enjoy opulence or artistic piety. But then the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista (Cathedral of St John the Baptist, aka Torino Duomo) was supposed to be open for 3 Euros. Last year the Duomo was covered in scaffolding but this year construction is finished. It’s a beautiful and intricate dome atop an otherwise plain looking rectangle of a church. The looming campanile (bell tower) dates from 1470 and the church was built during 1491–98 . It would be unremarkable if it didn’t contain the chapel of the Holy Shroud, which was added in 1668–94.

The Campanile on the left, the domes of the Duomo to the right
The Campanile on the left, the domes of the Duomo to the right
Steps to the cathedral
Steps to the cathedral
Looking towards the altar
Looking towards the altar
Lighting my usual candle to Mum and Dad (centre fourth row down)
Lighting my usual candle to Mum and Dad (centre fourth row down)
Looking up to the smaller dome
Looking up to the smaller dome

There’s nothing to make me linger in here – the usual memorial statues and plaques, pews, banks of candles, an organ… but the altar is quite stunning, overlooked by a very large window, where I could see people looking down to where we were, and that’s where I need to head. Walking around, though, I couldn’t find a way in so supposed it was a separate entry – it was.

But this big window intrigued me, looking down on us. I need to get behind there!
But this big window intrigued me, looking down on us. I need to get behind there!

Before wandering outside, I saw a small crowd of people and hoped I could get in behind the window there but, no, this was the spot for the shroud. It’s displayed only once every 25 years unless the Pope is in town so I wouldn’t get to see it, but there’s an area for it and there was lot of genuflecting and crossing and muttered prayer – and the most candles! – going on in front of that thing. I stayed for a little while to read the prayer, translated in several languages. And then I left.

The Chapel of the Holy Shroud
The Chapel of the Holy Shroud

It seems the entrance to the cathedral museum is around the side so I went in there too. On the way in there are some pretty solid ruins, and I was told there are more inside. In the foyer, a very short and elderly lady with a badly curved spine wanted to talk to me but she couldn’t speak English so I was directed to another behind the counter. There was nothing about a 3 Euro entry but apparently I can come here any time for 3.50 so I decided that I would wait. Today it’s packed.

Ruins inside the Cathedral museum
Ruins inside the Cathedral museum

Continue reading “Shroud of Turin and Gran Balon!”

Shopping in Torino

Saturday, 15 September, 2018 32 and very humid

I went out!

I decided over breakfast that I wanted to go shopping, something I rarely do while on holiday. There are two stores I’ve heard about that might do the trick. One is OVS, which is a clothing department store, and the other is Rinascente, a national department store. There are several shopping areas in Turin but these stores are on Via Lagrange and Via Roma – both somewhat upscale.

Dhal for breakfast
Dhal for breakfast

The tram wasn’t as crowded as expected this morning, particularly since a lot of people get off at the first stop, Porta Palazzo market, in full swing for a Saturday. We both score a seat!

When we get to our final stop there’s more to see than we expected – a real mix of buildings. Some quite baroque, and one looked medieval. We wandered along the street looking at the architectural details. This isn’t like Paris, where all the buildings conform in colour and design, and this makes everything seem more interesting so we’re curious.

Some of the architectural detail is stunning
Some of the architectural detail is stunning

Ahead of us on the main road, we spotted an impressive building with one of those really tall doors. We headed towards it to start our journey to shop but were a bit delayed by swarms of birds.

A couple of times birds came swooping down the road
A couple of times birds came swooping down the road
The birds perched everywhere and we noticed there's no deterring spikes here
The birds perched everywhere and we noticed there’s no deterring spikes here
Looking towards our targeted building, the contrast with the medieval building on the right
Looking towards our targeted building, the contrast with the medieval building on the right
Someone opened the front door of this magnificent building
Someone opened the front door of the magnificent building we were heading towards

There were some great details on that building. First, it must have originally been something to do with electricity ( I can’t find the details so far) since along above some windows there were some engraved names – GRAMME THOMSON EDISON AMPERE FARADAY OHM.

Electricity!
Electricity!

And another great detail – wish I were taller – these rather demonic figures!

Turin has links to the occult - can see why
Turin has links to the occult – can see why

Then we turned towards – shopping! Continue reading “Shopping in Torino”

Rediscovering Torino and napping

Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 and 5 September, 2018

A good night’s sleep and the next day a slow morning. There’s something nice about going somewhere for longer than the usual week or two. There’s no need to rush to do anything. There’s plenty of time if you don’t get too lazy and this time I actually plan to be quite lazy and have some days of rest. Today seemed like a good day to do this. However, I do have to eat and eating is something that’s central to my life and travel. So…off to the market – briefly.

I now like the farmers’ market far more than the bigger market in the square. We mostly looked around to see what was being sold. Italians like to sell only what they produce themselves and this means everything is seasonal. At the beginning of September, the food looks a bit different than last year’s mid-September arrival. I bought a lettuce and some tomatoes.

The Farmers' Market at Porta Palazzo
The Farmers’ Market at Porta Palazzo

In the Mercato Orologio, we bought a pizzetta. Then we wandered a bit.

The big market at Porta Palazzo
The big market at Porta Palazzo. I thought it would be fun to contrast this to last week’s photo of a pepper seller in Ridley Road
Wandering through the Galleria. It's been cleaned up and there are some outlets now
Wandering through the Galleria. It’s been cleaned up and there are some outlets now
We were amused AND horrified to see 'Burger Store' in the Piazza Reppublica
We were amused AND horrified to see ‘Burger Store’ in the Piazza Repubblica
We ordered an insalatina di polpo to go (osporto) and watched the pizza making skills in Rondini
We ordered an insalatina di polpo to go (osporto) and watched the pizza making skills in Rondini

Definitely time for a nap! It was just like the hot summer in London. Afternoon sleeps were normal and pleasant. We talked about going out for dinner but in the end we ran to the Carrefour, went to fill some bottles at the fountain and dined on package ravioli! A television night.

A lazy dinner
A lazy dinner

Continue reading “Rediscovering Torino and napping”