Rediscovering London – reflections 2018

Sunday, 11 November, 2018

This morning it’s raining. It’s been raining since yesterday mid-afternoon. It’s not the relentlessly heavy Turin rain but it’s a lot for London, along with the sometimes fierce wind. By 3:30pm it looks like twilight and the mornings are dark enough that I light candles rather than turn on the lamps. It must be November!

London feels nothing like Turin. The light, the architecture, the feel of the streets, the earthy smell here. It feels more mellow in Hackney.

It's 3:30pm and the light is fading. I'm concerned for how much bark this tree has lost
It’s 3:30pm and the light is fading. I’m concerned for how much bark this tree has lost
During the day the light is soft and the air smells of Autumn
During the day the light is soft and the air smells of Autumn

On Wednesday we wanted to go out but it was another rainy day. So it was Thursday when I decided to take a trip to Kings Cross to check out some venues for a Christmas get together for some colleagues. Continue reading “Rediscovering London – reflections 2018”

The rest

Saturday, 3 November, 2018

The last week in Torino the rains started and it was hard to find a day when it felt OK to be out. It rains in London, of course, but it’s a manageable rain – with few exceptions. In Turin the rain is incessant and heavy, with only short breaks.  We did wander, when we weren’t indoors keeping dry and slowly filling cases.

The streets of central Torino – Centro – can be grand but in between these wide boulevards are the quiet narrow streets.  Imagine this in central London – even in the back streets and alleys!

I’m also fascinated by the inner courtyards. Just off via Garibaldi there’s a courtyard that leads into other courtyards, each with its own shops and apartments and little cafes. It was raining this day and things were very quiet. It’s like a hidden oasis from the mad shoppers, who are never stopped by rain.

The Piazza San Carlo is a very grand square. Krish was amused by the statue since his favourite crisps are the San Carlo brand. He said that every time he saw the statue he needed to thank the man (is it even San Carlo?) for this taste treat. The square is used a lot for events. In this case they are getting ready for the Chocolate Festival that was taking place the week after we left. Bad timing!

The annual festival of artists’ lights was starting to take shape. We saw a few as we left. This one had projections of lacy patterns over the paving stones. It looked so pretty. In fact, Piazza Carignano is the prettiest square in Centro. If I return, I want to explore it better.


Continue reading “The rest”

Venice – Food and shopping

Tuesday to Thursday, 9 to 11 October, 2018

I can’t write about anywhere without talking about the food!

Venice was recently in the news – tourists were given exorbitant bills. In Italian restaurants, fish may be priced by the 100g. Unsuspecting tourists think this is the full price and then freak out when the bills arrive. Beware! However, food is quite expensive in Venice. Everything is quite expensive in Venice. It’s had quite some journey to your plate.

I did read about excellent meals served in Venice. I sadly didn’t see or have one. But, for the record, Venice is beside the sea and so has a lot of seafood. In a better world, this is a no-brainer. Hint – stick to the three Ps: pizza, panini, and pasta…as usual!

The first night we decided to follow Chowhound advice and went to a fancier restaurant. It was along the Cannaregio canal so it was easy to find. We had a 72 Euro meal. Was it worth it? Judge for yourself.

Shrimp with leek starter - mushy but not bad
Shrimp with leek starter – mushy but not bad
Taglatelle with scallop and porcini, I think
Tagliatelle with scallop and porcini, I think – bit of a mess
Cuttlefish with ink - blobby, couldn't finish it
Cuttlefish with ink – blobby, couldn’t finish it
Tons of diners on the Cannaregio canal
Tons of diners on the Cannaregio canal
Pizzete for sale
Pizzete for sale
Cake!
Cake!
The prettiest meringues I've ever seen
The prettiest meringues I’ve ever seen
Cichetti - snacks for lunch - shrug
Cichetti – snacks for lunch – shrug, boring, expensive, very tiny
These snacks were more delicious - note the Korean
These snacks were better- note the Korean – I had battered mozzarella with anchovy – greasy and delicious

And, yes, Venice has fast food — misnomer! Italians don’t do ‘fast.’ At the McD’s – where I caved and decided a McMuffin for breakfast was better than a sweet pastry (the usual Italian breakfast food) there was one server, one cook, everything done slo mo. I left after 15 minutes of standing, certain I’d be another 15. At the KFC I had an awful time telling them what I wanted but eventually it arrived – a tiny container of barely BBQ beans, and a corn cobette – ah, roughage!

McDonald's
McDonald’s
And you know who
And you know who (both of them)

Shopping is interesting. There are a lot of small shops. I did see one department store near St Mark’s Square that looked absolutely fabulous but it wasn’t open yet so I couldn’t go in. I was not going back to that area again! Venetians also seem to like pretty fashion items, leather, and lots of lots of souvenirs here.

Shopping street
Shopping street
Shoe fashion
Shoe fashion
Shopping in an alley
Shopping in an alley
Pretty bags
Pretty bags
Fruit and vegetable market by the Rialto Bridge
Fruit and vegetable market by the Rialto Bridge
Rialto fish market
Rialto fish market
Tourists shopping at Riato
Tourists shopping at Riato
Porticoes and columns at Rialto
Porticoes and columns at Rialto
Inside the Rialto Fish Market
Inside the Rialto Fish Market – there in some form since 1097
Heaven knows what they were selling
Heaven knows what they were selling
Bookseller
Bookseller
Memorials to the shopkeepers, everywhere
Memorials to the shopkeepers, everywhere
One of the hundreds of mask shops
One of the hundreds of mask shops
Souvenir glass balloons - they seem nicer in dozens
Souvenir glass balloons – they seem nicer in dozens

My Venice Chapters

Venice – the streets and the people

Venice – canals and bridges 

Venice – doors and windows 

Venice – the Ghetto 

Back to Romantic Venice? 

The MAO and Giovanna

Tuesday, 2 October, 2018

The temperature dipped and on went the warmer clothes. Calendar Fall is already here and now Real Fall is settling in wherever it can. The light is different and the air is clearer. How long till I can really see the Alps?

The sunrises are golden
The sunrises are golden
The architecture is golden too
The architecture is golden too

The free museum days in Torino are perfect for me. I don’t like to spend too much time looking around and in London this means I can pop in for a short time, leave when tired, and come back again when I have an inclination. Torino has designated days each month for free visits. First Tuesdays, first Saturdays, first Sundays…with a few others thrown in for good measure. On the first Tuesday of October, I went to the MAO – Museo d’Arte Orientale (Museum of Oriental Art). It’s on Via San Domenica in the Quadrilatero so an easy walk.

Narrow street of the Quadrilatero
Narrow street of the Quadrilatero
One side of the MAO's beautiful gate, which leads to a corridor - like a zen garden
One side of the MAO’s beautiful gate, which leads to a corridor – like a zen garden
The architect's date stamp, a stepping stone to another time
The architect’s date stamp, a stepping stone to another time

The exhibit on the main floor was of photographs of the Nomads of Asia. This didn’t sound all that interesting but I was wrong. I was so struck by these peoples who wander the plains of Asia – China, Asia, India, the middle East – living a life unchanged for hundreds of years. Some of the colours and clothing and customs were stunning. It seemed almost impossible to imagine that they were living in the same century that I was, or on the same planet at times.

These women in Russia had the most beautiful dresses. They stood beside a tent made of dozens of animal skins
These women in Russia had the most beautiful dresses. They stood beside a tent made of dozens of animal skins

Of course, I am struck by the images of women, doing the tasks that have never changed. The only clue that these are modern women are in the photos showing plastic bags and other paraphenalia around the walls of their tents. In three different regions of this massive continent, there are so many similarities.

And, most strikingly, this woman weaving, while tending to her child. No doubt there is food simmering somewhere that she will pay attention to. This multitasking changes from culture to culture yet is always the same in nature. The job of nurturing.

I’m always struck by the Gujarati of India. Gujarati people are descended from Aryan nomads who lived in the  valleys of the Indus River in 2000 BC and settled in Gujarat. They now make make up about one third of the diaspora worldwide.

The Aryan colouring of the Gujarati of India
The Aryan colouring of the Gujarati of India

As is often the case, the museum was more interesting than expected. I loved the photo exhibition. I liked the exhibit spaces less and I felt a little stifled.

Continue reading “The MAO and Giovanna”

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”