Category Archives: Food. Cibo.

Running on a Dream

Ciao a tutti!

I’m still hanging tough in good old Sicily, and have recently been out and about in mainland Italy (pictures at the end of this post). Equally as exciting, I began personal and marathon training!

Recap of last week’s travel training:
3 miles easy: Canal-side in Venice – saw different parts of the city and several cruise ships

4.5 hours of hiking from Vernazza to Riomaggiore – one of the most beautiful hikes of my life (and that’s sayin’ something after several memorable beautiful hikes in Ecuador, Glacier National Park, western Washington state and Alaska)

Ran 2 miles HARD of an attempted run in Vernazza – steep inclines seemed to defeat the “easy” nature of this run

7.6 miles easy: Intended to tack on the last mile from the previous run, and instead, got a little carried away in Rome. Started out easy and relaxed as I was leading our travel crew on a run from our airbnb to the Villa Borghese and over to the Tevere. I kept stretching the run another half mile here and there, to accommodate the Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps, and we ended up at 7.6 miles.

Duomo+PLUS run in Acireale.

Something that’s been on my mind is my footwear at work. A recent Runner’s World article addresses the extra foot stress that comes from wearing high heeled shoes:

“One study found that women who regularly wear high heels had calf muscles that were about 12 percent shorter and Achilles tendons that were about 10 percent more rigid than women who regularly wear flat shoes. A different study showed that basic walking mechanics were different (in a bad way) in women who wore heels at least 40 hours a week compared to women who wore heels less than 10 hours a week. Note to men: The heels in this study were only 5 millimeters high, so this might apply to you as well.

What To Do About It: Walk around the house barefoot. As much as possible, wear flat shoes with a toe box that allows your toes to spread. If heels are unavoidable in your profession, do the best you can to minimize the time you spend in time, such as wearing other shoes when commuting. Also be diligent about calf and Achilles flexibility exercises if you have to wear heels for work.”

Although I prefer to wear flats for my foot health, it is fun to wear heels sometimes; and, some days I just want the extra burst of self-confidence that comes along with the additional burst of height. Reading the whole article renews my yearning for a job that balances physical activity with desk work – the article points to long commutes (mine is 35-40 minutes each way) and long hours at the desk with poor posture (guilty) as two other major contributors to running injuries.

I would love to incorporate more motion into my work routine. Already, I am lucky to have two projects for which I collaborate with a colleague down the hall from me. I take advantage of the proximity to trek down the hall for the majority of our work – rather than use the phone or email. This gives me the opportunity to stretch my legs and spend 10-15 minutes standing while we hash out the next detail of our project. I also try to incorporate a stretch session into each work day, a habit I nurtured more religiously during my winter marathon training. I plan to return to this habit. Do any of you have suggestions for ways to incorporate movement into a desk job? Let me know in the comments section!

See you soon…

p.s. A few favorite pics from my recent trip to Venice, Vernazza (in the Cinque Terre),Rome and within Sicily! I traveled with my husband Dave, and his sister MariBeth and her husband Dan. We also had great trips this spring with Michael and Dan – pics below, too!

View from the hiking trail leading away from Vernazza toward Corniglia – you can see the balcony to our apartment rental.
971303_10201563200710591_568823292_n-1

Venice from the vaporetto (public transportation barge on the canal)
999333_10201503423576200_937804450_n

Venice from the Rialto Bridge
1003811_10200866386056374_1302460998_n

The Mediterranean Sea from atop the Turkish Steps in Realmonte (near Agrigento)
993304_10200921567555877_51927380_n

Dave, me and Michael – awaiting performance of Antigone
943358_10151699087279529_538875689_n

Scene from Antigone – performed in Italian at open-air Greek amphitheater in Siracusa
969883_10151699087534529_1392842964_n

Another view of the amphitheater in Siracusa
481693_10151699087154529_159188879_n

Windmill at the salt flats in Trapani with Dan – we had a whirlwind trip filled with dynamic foods and sights
944454_10151735578749529_1751977286_n

We also had world-class arancini (say it “are-on-chee-nee” – this is the plural) at Bar Giageri in Piano Tavola. Here’s a photo of the arancino di pistacchio (arancino is singular). Dan declared this arancino his favorite Sicilian food of the trip – risotto wrapped around a pistacchio, cheese and ham filling, lightly battered and fried.
10597_10200455507684291_1492891592_n

Ciao!

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Food. Cibo., Running, Travel

Mm is tasty.

Or it might be better said it makes you go “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”

Mm or Mm! is the name of a favorite seafood restaurant in the center of Catania.

Today, I’m going to defer to the story-telling prowess of my friend Nick.

Click this link to check out his description of Mm at his blog, Sicily Ciao.

Buon appetito!

5 Comments

Filed under Food. Cibo.

Finocchietto Selvatico and frustrated cats

Finocchietto Selvatico is wild fennel – a wonderful Italian addition to the vegetable palate. Say it with me like you say pinocchio “finocchi-et-toe” “sell-vah-tee-koh” – then get ready to say “Mmmmmmmm.”

Tonight, we prepared finocchietto selvatico in a cultural hybrid recipe – incorporating Calabrian sausage, fresh ricotta, and (for me) Sicilian oranges with the fragrant wild fennel. The cultural hybrid was the grain – quinoa. The recipe that sparked this dish called for pasta, but we substituted quinoa and used about half of the recommended meat portion.

20130409-193221.jpg

Fresh bundle of finocchietto selvatico, wild fennel

I washed the fennel and snipped the ends of the stems before throwing the fennel into a pot of boiling water for ten minutes. The delicate anise-fennel scent that arose from the snipped ends was intoxicating.

20130409-193231.jpg

As I removed the fennel from the water (reserve the water!) – Dave was browning the Calabrian salami (a fresh salami, akin to sausage), and mincing the cooked fennel. In the meantime, I measured out the reserved fennel water for cooking the quinoa (and did the dishes). The quinoa calls for a 2:1 water:quinoa ratio. Eventually, we mixed it all together for a final mesh of flavors in the cast iron – only 1-2 minutes for that final flavor mesh.

20130409-193249.jpg

I opted to add a few bites of fresh oranges, too.
20130409-193258.jpg

As you might have noticed in the photo above, we also had fresh ricotta on hand – go ahead, hate me now…I will be reading this in two years and will probably shed a tear for the ricotta!!! Anyway, so we added the ricotta tableside.
20130409-193306.jpg

It turned into one of those – “uh, yea, let’s go ahead and try this…” dishes into an “oh wow, I’m full but I want more” dishes in the amount of time it took me to chew halfway through my first bite. We managed to set aside enough for lunch tomorrow, but it was tough! Another wonderful gift from the Sicilian countryside – finocchietto selvatico. Yummmmm!

For anyone who is still waiting for a laugh at this point, check out the link below…
While I was typing this post, Dave was giggling at this:

This is Why the Job Search Sucks.

Buona sera a tutti!

Ciao,
Jill

2 Comments

Filed under Food. Cibo., Kitties

Mmmmmm…seafood.

Tonight we had the distinct pleasure of dining with the parents of Jonathan Wakuda Fischer, Ed and Akemi.

Based on a previous experience and the Fischer clan interest in seafood, we ate at mM or Mm, depending on where you look. The awning reads “mM” but the online reviews read “Mm”. No matter the spelling, “mmmmmm” is sure to be moaned while dining.

20120928-232424.jpg

20120928-232512.jpg

We were so enjoying the company and the food that I forgot to take photos until we had nearly demolished the seafood antipasti delight! We had five varieties of raw fish, five of fried fish, a cozze (mussel) stew, filet of fried fish, and boiled polpo (octopus).

20120928-232923.jpg

20120928-232900.jpg

The pesce fritto misti (mixed fried fish) included crustaceans as well as calamari (squid). Buon appetito!

2 Comments

Filed under 5-100, Food. Cibo.

Pizza Norma

Mmmmmmmm…

20120927-203040.jpg

Tomato sauce, eggplant, olive oil – all baked in a wood-fired oven, then topped with freshly grated ricotta salata (salty).

Direct from our neighborhood pizzeria -Via Va!

20120927-203239.jpg

6 Comments

Filed under 5-100, Food. Cibo.

Cool, creamy and delicious lite: Gelato Festival, Take 2

Last year, I made a solo trip from the temporary housing residence hotel in Motta over to Cefalu for the International Sherbeth Festival.

The article linked above explains that ‘sherbet’ comes from the Arabic word for the concoctions that have evolved into sorbet and gelato. The festival creates five pockets of booths within the center of Cefalu, include two points on the sea. This was the sixth year of the festival and it was going strong, including extras such as “Gelato University” – perhaps a venue of research for blossoming ice cream makers out there?

The flavors, textures, and high quality ingredients of these gelato samples were simply amazing. With a few bites, I was tempted to forgo lesser quality frozen products for life. (Yes, I have since come to my senses.) The hot sticky air of charming Cefalu was a great complement to the cool, creamy deliciousness of the gelato.

Buon sherbeth!

And to all a buona notte!

3 Comments

Filed under 5-100, Food. Cibo.

Kiwis in Italy


Kiwis growing at the home of my colleague and friend, Armando
Viagrande, Sicily
2012

Growing up, my mother often peeled and sliced kiwis for our special weekend breakfasts. She had them available at other times, but I mostly remember eating those bright green slices on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The fruit usually accompanied her famous blueberry muffins, my personal favorite! Of the muffin, I loved biting into a berry that was still hot and juicy. Of the kiwi, I loved the crunch of the inner ring of seeds and the complimentary but distinct sweetnesses between the flesh and the seeds.

Over the years I have grown to tolerate the skin on certain kiwi, and to eat less-ripe kiwi than the soft, juicy kiwi of my childhood. Sometimes the less-ripe kiwi is a crunchy delight, though it tickles my mouth more with that sticky-itchy feeling I get from eating too much pineapple in one sitting.

You may be able to imagine my surprise and delight to find an abundance of kiwi in the stores and markets in Sicily. Come to find out, Italy is the global leader in kiwi production. Italy has no shame in adopting new fruits and vegetables (ahem, history of the tomato please), and incorporating them so deeply in Italian food culture as to be a part of its food identity. Seriously, can we talk about Italian food without mentioning tomatoes? I think not.

I mean, I could go on and on about certain dishes, but if it is a comprehensive discussion, tomatoes are going to be covered…I digress.

The kiwis pictured above are flourishing in the four-cornered gazebo canopy of Armando’s mini-farm. He grows nearly every traditional Italian plant you could think of if you listed the first ten Italian plants to come to mind, and then he keeps birds, rabbits, beautiful ferns and luscious trees. One could mistake his grounds for a veritable utopia, especially when the fragrant wine he produces lulls you into submission. You submit yourself to the soft hum of insects working around you, the muted chirp of night birds, and the sparkling stars overhead, and just like that, you are one with the earth and lost forever to the innocence and magic of Armando’s garden.

6 Comments

Filed under 5-100, Food. Cibo.