Archive for May, 2008

Chocolate Expresso Cups

Oooooooo, I am craving a good cup of joe. Italy serves some of the best coffee in the world. One can order a cappuccino, espresso, machiatto, machachino and so on. Whatever your taste be there is one for you in Italy. Chocolate and espresso are one of m favorite combinations…here is a recipe to share to enjoy the flavors of both!

5 cups whole milk
1/2 cup espresso
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Heat the milk in a medium pot over high heat until hot, but not boiling. Reduce the heat to very low and add the espresso, chocolate, sugar, and vanilla. Using a whisk, stir the mixture until the chocolate has melted. Continue to whisk the chocolate mixture until frothy every few minutes for about 8 minutes, until the chocolate has completely dissolved into the milk. Pour into mugs and serve immediately.

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara

carbonara, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

In honor of our upcoming trip to Italy and my obsession with all things pasta, I htink I will prepare one of my favorite italian eats.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe courtesy Enotcea Corsi, Rome Italy

1 pound spaghetti
4 eggs
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons Pecorino Romano, plus extra, for serving
2 teaspoons cream, optional
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 slices pancetta

Boil the spaghetti in salted water until it is al dente. Drain and set aside.
Beat the eggs. Add the black pepper and cheese to the beaten eggs. Set aside. Add cream to this mixture, if desired, for a creamier dish.

Put the oil in a saucepan with the pancetta, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the spaghetti into the pan and saute for another 3 minutes.

Turn off the flame (this is important) and add the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta and mix. Serve with additional Pecorino Romano on top.
Note: I usually like this a bit more saucy so I tend to use a bit more cream. This dish is a favorite for any night of the week, in fact while my husband prefers a bolognese sauce, he is now quite partial to this!

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pienza gelato, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

Another week has quickly come and gone, so we are now 2 weeks and counting down till Italy 2008 departure. Planning is finally come into a sense of completion, day trips are planned, evening dinners planned, shopping excursions planned and our visit with Cyndi and Danilo in Fusi. We can’t wait to board the plane. We will be spending most our time in the Chianti Region(Tuscany) and Umbria, as well a trip north to the Dolomites. We have also rented a car for the time we are there and will utilize it as much as possible, although we do enjoy a ride on the preferred method of travel in Italy…the train. The US dollar is very weak in Europe right now, so our money will stretch less than usual, but we are ok with this, as we have planned accordingly. Gasoline will be very costly, but we have planned for that as well.

Travel is about balance…the Ying and Yang. We will budget on some things and splurge on others. We sacrifice for this once per year trip, and it is well worth it. This year’s trip will be another great adventure to blog, photograph and film. I can’t wait!

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Italy in 20 days! I have been dreaming of the world’s best tomatoes and my favorite way to eat them with fresh buffalo mozzarella So here is a recipe for Friday!.


* 4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
* 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick
* 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
* 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* fine sea salt to taste
* freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. On a large platter, alternate and overlap the tomato slices, mozzarella cheese slices, and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mangia!

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smell the flowers, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

Well that’s what I’ve been told anyway. Life has been very hectic and we only have 22 days before departure to Italy, so I’ve decided to try to slow myself down a bit. For those that know me, that is often difficult to do. The entire summer is filled with lots of new things. We travel to Italy to visit friends and places. Like having dinner at Dario Checcini’s restaurant one night in Panazano in Chianti….talk about a splurge! Then when we return I am having major surgery on June 30th and will be laid up for a few weeks..I will talk about that later.

So in the meantime, I will take the time to smell the flowers and rest up before our departure. These vacations often leave us extremely tired upon return. So we must rest up before we leave. I have also been walking a couple miles several evening a week to get used to all of the intense walking around Italy we will be doing. All we have left to do before our trip is to make final daily plans, and pack. Don has already uploaded maps and programmed destinations on his new TomTom I gave him for Christmas.

I am ashamed how much I obsess and plan for our trips; however, I do go with the flow when it comes to each individual days. I find if we have made plans, then the execution of the those plans often goes much smoother. Ciao for now!  🙂

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more clouds, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

Well today’s I’m on my soapbox. But I’ll make it somewhat brief. Last night I watched the news…..usually I stick with the Food Network or The Travel Channel, because I can bury my head in the sand after a long day at work. Well I am appalled at what is happening in the world. A disastrous cyclone in Myanmar (Burma), an earthquake in China, tornadoes in the Midwest, gas and fuel oil prices in the rest of our country. What is happening? It feels like the end of the world. I can’t even begin to explain my feelings on all this. Bush approves a measly “Economic Stimulus” payment to stimulate a deadened economy. Stop the War in Iraq! I know I’m on a rampage….I’ll stop.

In the meantime, we will stimulate the Italian economy when we are spending our check in Italy three weeks from now.

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yellow tulips, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

Well Happy Mother’s Day to my dear mother and mother-in-law.. ..But for many woman like my self who are biologically childless…(I do l have three lovable step children) it may not be a “good day”. So I just want to wish a ll woman a great “Woman’s Day”, remember to do something nice for yourself today.

And today’s words of wisdom: Remember, somewhere we all have a mother, but not all of us are mother’s.

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Well when I opened my email this morning, this is what I found:

Very Urgent.
After a brief meeting held by the Board of Directors of our appointed Finance Firm here in London and the Minister of Finance including the representatives of the United Nations, the African Union and the World Bank here in London, England, to see to the release of long term debt owed to many foreigners around the Globe who have been denied of their payments, our partner Finance Firm has been authorized to handle the urgent release of all funds owed by any of the Financial Institutions or Country that is a member of the United Nations, the release of your fund would be handled by the said Finance Firm here in London to ensure immediate payment in your favour and avoid delay.

From the records of outstanding Inheritances (Wills left by deceased persons), Contract Funds and Lottery claims due for payment submitted by the United Nations, your Email Address came up as one of the Unpaid Individuals. I wish to inform you that your payment is being processed and will be released to you as soon as you respond to this letter, irrespective of the amount you are been owed by any of the methods mentioned above. To start processing your claims, please, respond to this email with your FULL details.

I wonder if they know I’m leaving for Italy in 27 days…hehehehe. I can spend my inheritance there!

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29 more day to departure and I’m craving gnocchi. So here is a sample recipe of easy to make, homemade gnocchi. You can make them and smother them with your favorite sauce such as tomato, bolognese, rosa or butter & sage. Mangia!


* 2 potatoes
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 egg


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel potatoes and add to pot. Cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and mash with a fork or potato masher.
2. Combine 1 cup mashed potato, flour and egg in a large bowl. Knead until dough forms a ball. Shape small portions of the dough into long “snakes”. On a floured surface, cut snakes into half-inch pieces.

3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until gnocchi have risen to the top; drain and serve. 🙂

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more gelato, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

People sometimes ask us, why we chose to keep returning to Italy. Well the answer is real SIMPLE….everything! I always keep a mental list on hand for just the occasion. I could go on and on, but today I will stick to just ten.

1. The People and lifestyle are amazing.
2. The beautiful countryside and ancient ruins.
3. The food and wine…of course.
4. The Gelato……my favorite flavors that I intend to indulge in daily: Bacio, Torrone, Malaga, Coconut, Pistachio, Zabaglione, Amaretto, Fior DiLatte, Cassata, Fragola, Limone, Lampone, Nocciola, Nutella and Tiramisu to name a few. We have been known to sample gelato at least three times per day!
5. The Dolomites and all other mountains.
6. The seaside villages.
7.The outside markets and market days.
8. Real life history.
9. Shopping….need I say more?
10.Spending time all alone with my wonderful husband….Donatello!


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