Un Pasto Italiano (An Italian Meal)

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Enza has completely spoiled us with homemade specialties that she just whips up.  Instead of writing too much, I am just going to post pictures. All of this pasta is made from scratch – eggs and flour. 

We either roll it out (with my new rolling pin) or use the Pasta Queen machine. 

The teeny pieces are noodles for lentil noodle soup. 

We also made ravioli.

With both salsa pomodoro (tomato) and green pesto (made with my hand blender).

Bruschetta is also a favorite – especially for pranzo (lunch).

And we always take a break to dance.

Buon Apetito!

Una Cucina Italiana (An Italian Kitchen)

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Una Cucina Italiana (An Italian Kitchen)

On our first night home, it was snowing and we were tired, so I picked up zucchini ricotta ravioli from the refrigerated section at the grocery store (what I consider the “fresh” pasta, trying to impress our Italian guest).  It was fine, but after that, Enza decided to take matters into her own hands and teach me a thing or two! 

First – the ingredients.  We have gone all over town and decided that the very best pane (bread) and salsa di pomodoro (tomato sauce) are at the Italian market in Annapolis.  In fact, we go there nearly every single day because Italians only eat fresh bread.  Enza knows the whole crowd there and found out that they make the sauce in-house, flying the tomatoes in from Naples every week.  Wow!  (I admit – it is amazing!)

Then we go to Fresh Market, which has been deemed to have the best verdure (vegetables) and olive bar. 

Also important is flour.  I learned that different pastas require different types of flour.  Enza says, “Non Bianca” – no white).

Next – the appliances.  Enza gave Frank a stern lecture about not equipping me with the right tools to make a proper Italian dinner.  While I worked, she made him take her to pick up a mixer (for torta – cake) and a handheld blender (for pesto).

Apparently she also threw in a rolling pin to roll out pasta dough – , which Frank took back out of the cart, figuring he needed to draw the line somewhere.  And boy did I hear about it !  (From both Frank in English and Enza in Italian).  So I told Enza no problema, we can order on Amazon.  Two days later, it arrived.  We opened, and Enza crowed, victorious – a triumph for women everywhere! 

Next up – see what we do with all of these tools!  Lots and lots of hand-made pasta!

To Annapolis!

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We are leaving the Big Apple for Annapolis.  We have LOTS of luggage – Enza brought lots of clothes and gifts for everyone.  But we successfully made it down the stairs to the Uber. We are on our way!

When we got to Penn Station, Enza exclaimed, “Mamma Mia” (a sentiment I often have held when traversing Penn Station).  But thankfully, we had access to the Acela Lounge, which was much more quiet – and had red caps to help us with the luggage.

Then it was time to board!  At Penn Station, they post the track at the last second, and there is a mad rush for the escalator.  It is possible to get run over and completely turned around.  But in the lounge, they call your name, and the redcap escorts you to the train BEFORE the track is announced.  Totally worth the upgrade.

We found our seats and settled in.  Enza loved it all – taking picture after picture of the scenery and sending messages back to Sicily.  She even wanted a picture of the conductor.

And absolutely loved our train attendant – especially when he brought hot towels – that got another “Mamma Mia!” (And she made him reenact it for the picture.)

By the end, the whole car knew she was visiting from Sicily.

Finally, we disembarked in the snow  at BWI– from the big city to the country. 

We have settled in at home now and celebrated our first night with a poco limoncello.

Buona Notte!  (Good Night!)

L’Ultimo Giorno A New York (Last Day in New York)

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After 5th Avenue, for our last day in New York, we decided to go shopping at a place for more normal people – Macy’s!

At their original store, which they claim is the largest department store in the world. 8 floors full of name brands, regular cloths, and even restaurants.

We wandered around checking it all out – coats, underwear, swimsuits – before deciding to just have lunch.

It turns out Macy’s has an excellent Italian trattoria called Stella 34 (since it is on 34th Street). We shared margherita pizza, artichoke on focaccia bread, and burrata with prosciutto.  

Enza loved it that the brick over pizza was named for Mount Etna – the volcano in Sicily!

Then got serious with souvenir shopping. Enza was in the market for magnets, and we found a shop run by a Chinese couple. It was fun to watch them try to communicate (they did better than I do!) and Enza trying to bargain with them. It didn’t work, but she got a good deal anyway.

That night, another cousin came over for dinner.

Antoinette is Frank’s niece, who lives in Staten Island.  She learned Italian before she learned English and had visited Enza in Sicily many years ago with her mom and sister (who was at the dinner earlier this week). It was fun to listen to the two of them share family stories and try to follow along (my Italian is getting a little better every day!).

What a special week this has been!

Next up: Amtrak to Annapolis!

Giorno Elegantissimo a New York (Elegant Day in New York)

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We are so busy having fun that I have gotten a little behind on the blog.  To catch up –

Today I decided to show Enza some of MY favorite spots in New York. It was cold so we had the Uber drop us off right at the best spot of all – Tiffany. I explained to her that Tiffany has beautiful jewelry, but expensive, so fun to just look. And they are so nice there – even if they know you aren’t buying, they still treat you like a queen. We went through the revolving doors – uno / uno (we had to teach Enza that you only go one at a time).  Frank made a beeline for the 6th floor lounge, which has sofas for husbands to wait, which Enza and I dreamily waved him off.  We saw some eye-popping pieces, including the diamond necklace worn by Lady Gaga at the Golden Globes.

Next we took a one-block stroll down 5th Avenue – a strada famosa (famous street) with lots of fashion.  She had heard of 5th Avenue.

To our final destination – The Plaza Hotel

I told Enza that when I was little, my favorite children’s book was Eloise, the little girl who lived at The Plaza. They serve a splendid afternoon tea in the Palm Court.

They first brought us champagne – Enza took one sip, looked a little surprised and exclaimed, “Buona!” Good!

She declared the day not just “elegante,” but “elegantissimo!”

Buccheri Cena Familgia (Buccheri Family Dinner)

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Tonight we had a truly authentic family dinner in Little Italy.  As I have said, Enza’s father and Frank’s mother were siblings, making Frank and Enza first cousins.  Frank’s nieces and nephew (his brother’s children) still live in Brooklyn, where Frank grew up.  So they are all related to Enza.  We were looking forward to this night.

So much so that Enza decided that afternoon that she needed to have her hair done.  We are in New York, and I am pretty good with logistics, but had a momentary panic of how to conjure up a salon on a moment’s notice in a city that isn’t mine.  Until I remembered about a place I had heard about – the Dry Bar – that specializes in blow-outs only.  All they do is blow-dry hair.  And there was one 3 blocks from our apartment!

So we made an appointment and trudged up 34th Street for an hour of beauty

Enza made me take a “Before” picture:

And After Picture

On then on to dinner – at Vincent’s in Little Italy, which has been there since 1904.

Most of the Brooklyn family speaks Italian to some degree, so stories and questions and pictures fired back and forth, along with spicy marinara, linguine vongole, and lots of vino rosso. 

I could just picture Frank’s mother looking down and smiling – what a very special evening .

Alla Cima! (To The Top!)

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We can see the Empire State Building from our apartment, so our first avventura in New York was to get to the top.  Enza was a little worried we actually had to CLIMB, but I assured her there was an ascensore (elevator). 

We rode up, up, up to the 86th floor. And what a view!

It was cold (-2 degree Celsius – around 30 degrees F), so we didn’t linger, but had fun spotting sights.

After that, we decided to introduce Enza to her first Starbucks.  She loved it that they yelled her name when her espresso was ready.  And declared American caffe – “va bene” (all right).

Adventures With Enza

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We have already had a wonderful time with Enza!  And I am finding that I can understand a lot of what she says in Italian (so my studying has paid off).  I’m not very good speaking though – I freeze up or don’t pronounce correctly.  But we pantomime our way through – and I keep Google Translate open all the time!

We rented an AirBnb in New York for the week so that we could sightsee and meet up with the Brooklyn Family, who are related to Enza (more on that later).

Our apartment is in Murray Hill, which is near the UN, on East 34th Street (the same 34th Street from the famous “Miracle on 34th Street” movie).

We are on the 33rd floor with a fabulous view of the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, and the whole skyline.

The apartment is 2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms – perfect for us.

This is Enza’s room:

And the view at night – bella!