Tag Archives: arancino

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.

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

Venice from the Rialto Bridge

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

Dave, me and Michael – awaiting performance of Antigone

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

Another view of the amphitheater in Siracusa

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

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.



Filed under Food. Cibo., Running, Travel

European Style Bakeries in Taiwan

Ciao tutti!

It is Thursday – a day to celebrate your life, your community and all the joys of living!

Let’s start talking Taiwan again. I’m nearly done with the photographic journey of my visit to this mountainous Asian isle. Below are pictures from Mr. Beard Bakery – a European style bakery located near my cousin Maddie’s first residence in Taipei. While I was somewhat familiar with Chinese style breads and pastries from various visits to various Chinatowns in the U.S., I did not expect to find European style breads in Taiwan.

Heck, I can’t find many of what I would call “European style” breads in Sicily! There is not a multigrain to be found, here. Semolina? Sure! Pecan flaxseed? Not so much. Besides my amazing family, darling colleagues, and the Olympic Mountains, Tom Douglas*’s pecan flaxseed bread from the Dahlia Bakery is probably the thing I miss most about Seattle.

Whereas Sicilian breads are lacking in grain diversity and flavor variety, Taiwanese bread choices are flush in both. Mr. Beard Bakery had a wide variety of European style breads, a dizzying array of grains, loaf shapes and flavors, as well as hybrid Euro-Asian offerings.

The chocolate chocolate bread was divine (second photo down in the link), a chewy crust with a cupcake-like inner soft core, the bread was a chocolate rush without being too sweet to eat another bite. And another bite. I ate half the loaf immediately. Did I mention these bites were punctuated by chocolate chips hidden in the dough? Yes. Those chocolate chips alternately stayed firm and melted just enough to create a rich chocolate vein. It was spectacular!

Here is Maddie, selecting a loaf of chocolate chocolate bread.

I also tried a sort of sourdough loaf with red bean paste filling, an example of the Euro-Asian hybrid. Red bean paste dessert wontons were one of my favorite desserts ever, thank you Muramoto! They led me to sample other red bean paste delicacies in a variety of settings and styles, with almost uniform results of enjoyment. Mr. Beard Bakery did not disappoint me, either.

The buns wrapped in plastic are other Euro-Asian hybrids, mimicking the Chinese style of stuffing creative fillings into bread. Since my first experience of this was a pork bun, I have called them “pork buns” ever since, no matter what the filling is.

Many cultures came up with the basic idea of a pork bun, which provided an edible carrying case for a high-protein filling. The carrying case is often a carb (bread, rice, etc.) that holds seasoned meats or vegetables. These portable meals were vital to manual laborers who worked far from home and could not return home for lunch, and did not have a snack shop nearby. The arancino is the pork bun of Sicily.

As you can see from the Mr. Beard Bakery photos, it was a magical place full of delectable baked goods. Per usual in Taiwan, the staff were also impressively friendly and gracious. While Mr. Beard Bakery is a unique bakery, the European style bakeries were everywhere in Taiwan. Yet another reason to stop what you’re doing right now and start planning your vacation to Taiwan.

*Tom Douglas recently won the James Beard 2012 Outstanding Restaurateur award! He runs a great group of restaurants in the Seattle metropolitan area, employing many wonderful people!


Filed under 5-100, Food. Cibo., Travel

How to Order Italian Style

I’m adjusting to the Italian life. During my visit to Catania yesterday, I remembered the first lesson in snacking at a bar. The first lesson was to go inside the bar attached to the outdoor tables in the Piazza del Duomo (http://www.siciliainfoto.it/Monumenti%20a%20catania.htm) and request a table, which I did in Italian! (Remember here, a “bar” is a cafe, and you need to check in with the host before claiming your outdoor table). However, I quickly slipped away from emulating Italians and gave in to my first instinct. My first instinct was to order everything I wanted right away, and it all came out at the same time.

It all came at the same time, but I couldn’t eat it all at the same time. So, naturally, I started with the arancino. As you can see, an arancino is a fried rice ball, stuffed with some yummy filling. You might not be able to see the accompanying breadcrumbs on the outside crust. This one had tomato and eggplant inside and it was good and filling without being rich and heavy. This surprised me a little since it was fried.

After the arancino, I quickly downed my espresso, which was just warm enough to say it was still drinkable. Then, I turned to my granita. Ruh-roh. In the time it took me to get to the granita, it had already started to melt considerably. With the hot Sicilian sun, granita always melts before you finish it, and even moreso when I gave the melting a head start.

As I progressed through my lunch, I noticed that the Italians surrounding me ordered in bits and pieces. An espresso here, a pastry there, maybe another espresso to finish, or a bottle of water as an afterthought. In retrospect, I could easily have started with the arancino, then flagged down the server for the espresso, sipped and enjoyed that, and finally ordered the granita when I was ready for it. The good news is, I’m ready for next time! The better news is, the granita was still incredibly delicious and refreshing.



Filed under Adjusting, Food. Cibo.