CITIES OF THE WORLD: LAS VEGAS

Las Vegas. How many movies take place in “Sin City?! A couple of years ago i’ve finally visited this “strange”and charming city.
The name means, in spanish, “fields”: in the nearby, there were indeed some water wells,  which had kept in life some green areas for a while. First, the location is striking: Las Vegas appears in the middle of the Mojave desert, if you arrive by car from the highway; weather is always windy, and air is hot even in the night. The exciting nights in Vegas: the city that never sleeps: it’s true, you have no time limits: you can eat, dance, sleep, make a plunge in the swimming pool at every hour during the day and the night.
You’re surrounded by strange buildings, gorgeous hotels, that have a bunch of attraction: even (and i was feeling sorry for them) exotic animals, like white tigers. Everything it’s a surprise, a challenge between hotels that wish to amaze the most the million of visitors (also americans) that every year visit this “city”.

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During the day, Las Vegas seems snoozing, everybody is quite relaxed and walk from an hotel to an other, from a cafeteria to a steakhouse. Must say that there are not so many people in the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard, the main Street in which more of the hotels are concentrated) during daytime, the night is longer here! With no doubt, Las Vegas shows his better sides in the night, when lights turn on and the shows start..

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Every hotels is like a theme park, and they perfectly recreated a setting, an historic period, a fairytale, and so on. The only important thing is to stand out. We visited many of the hotels of the Strip (every hotel can host  3.000/4.000 people) and every one has many restaurants in the inside, a shopping center, a disco, and so much more. In Italy don’t exist such things: for me was literaly incredible! I must show you something “bizarre” that i’ve viewed with my eyes:

CEASARS’ PALACE
Like the name says, the hotel has a Roman setting: they have recreated in the inside not even a palace, but also a roman marketplace (the sky you view in the next photo is fake, is totally recreated! -fools!-) At the outside, the buildings has several columns and capitals, they seems even in white marble, with fountains, water spurts and angels’ statues everywhere. In a word: magnificent.

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IMG_3362drittaBELLAGIO
Bellagio is a small village near Como Lake, in Italy. This resort seems to reproduce the atmosphere and the houses settled on the lake shore. There are also some bizarre touchs, like the room that i called of the “airballoons and the eagle on the Liberty Bell”.

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The masterpiece of Bellagio in my opinion is the Murano hand-blown glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly, located in the hall of the hotel. It’s just marvellous. I’ve never seen so much Murano glass all at once. Bellagio has also a beautiful show of fountains outside, that is repeated many times in a day. So beautiful and refreshing in the summer!

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IMG_3423VENICE
Like the name says, this hotel is a reconstruction of the center of Venice, whith elegant buildings, and canals with “gondolas”. (the gondoliers, even females, sing italian songs at the tourist who take a tour in gondola).
This place surprised me so much, cause for who has seen the real Venice one time in life, it’s clearly that there was an amazing effort to build this resort. It was so strange, some pictures taken inside the hotel are so real .. only the buildings – too recent and neat, could have deceived me.

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Everything in Vegas is fake, and you know it, but it’s all amusing, huge, coloured,  like a giant amusement park. I felt like a child walking in the Strip, trying not to miss any details, any building, any setting. In many hotels there were really too many people to take some good shots, but i must say that Vegas is magnificent especially on the outside in the night.
I loved “Paris” (a touch of Europe in the middel of the desert) and “New York, New York!”with all the symbols of the Big Apple. The “Excalibur”, a huge medieval castle. The “Luxor”, where we stayed, that has a huge black pyramid near a giant sphinx at the entrance. The Mirage, with his volcano which erupted every night several times. And so on.. I was really astonished in Vegas, and i saw things that i never had imagined. (like the “Wedding Chapels” and the “Marriage” in Vegas, and all the merchandising related: i laught so much for a while for this custom)

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I know, and i saw with my eyes, also unpleasant things: children dancing on a street, for some dollars to bring at someone else; aged people that cannot go away from a slot machine, losing a lot, wasting time gambling; people that promote “escorts” with tourists, and so on .. i don’t want to remember these details, but still there are many negative social sides.

Leaving the Strip towards the suburbs, i suggest to take a tour in Freemont Street, in the ancient part of the city (Las Vegas grown up at the beginning of the 1900). Freemont Street seems a “huge tunnel”, because it’s a street covered in white cloth; on the white canopy, many times in a day, they beam sparkling typed tests, and loudspeakers play different kind of music. (there are tribute for several artists: when i took part at the Freemont Street Experience there was a tribute to Freddie Mercury and the Queen “We are the Champions”, so good!)

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For many years, the western end of Fremont Street was the area most commonly portrayed whenever producers wanted to display the lights of Las Vegas. The large number of neon signs earned the area the nickname “Glitter Gulch.”  In this district you can see also the first “casinò” builded, like Golden Nugget. For some reason, this part of the city can bring you in the past, when mafia had strong economic power. Hoping to come back someday to discover more.

A TYPICAL RECIPE OF MY TOWN: PISAREI AD FASO’

Hello! Some days ago i read a post on Stephan Blog regarding an italian recipe: pasta dish with fagioli. So i was thinking that it would be nice to speak today about a typical dish of Piacenza, my town: pisarei ad fasö (literally, from our dialect, pisarei – a small type of pasta, similar to gnocchi – and pinto beans – in italian “fagioli borlotti”)

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It’s a poor dish that originate from old farmers cooking, tasty and nourishing. Here the recipe:

INGREDIENTS (4 persons):
For Pintos (Borlotti) Sauce:

– 300 gr of dry “borlotti” beans
– 1 stick of celery
– 1 onion
– 1 garlic slice
– 100 gr lard
– 50 gr butter
– 250 gr tomatoes sauce
– parsley and basil (if you like it, there are many “interpretation, someone uses bay leaves)

For Pisarei:

– 400 g flour
– 30 gr bread crumbs
– Grana Padano grattugiato (only for flavour up the dish in the end)

PREPARATION:
First of all, you start the preparation of the “Borlotti” Sauce: put to soak the beans for 12 hours and then stew them for 1 hour in a pot, together with the stick of celerty and the onion, half cutted. (if you don’t have enough time, it’s okay if you use beans already boiled) In the meantime, you mince the lard togethet with a small garlic slice and two spoons of parsley.
Put the ingredients in another casserole, add the butter and blend a bit. After 10 minutes, add the tomatoes sauce, basil and the beans (already drained), together with a bit of their cooking water. Cook for 1 hours and 30 minutes, adding salt and pepper as you wish.

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Now on, you’ll prepare the “pisarei”: make a well in the centre of the flour, put in the centre bread crumbs together with a bit of hot water, then you start to knead the ingredients. Whenever the mixture absorbs the water, you’ll add gradually other hot water. Keep kneading for 10-20 minutes, till then the mixture will become smooth and elastic.

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A little at a time, took a bit of pasta and make some small, thin rolls; after, divide them in little pieces, and push lightly with the thumb in the center of each little piece of pasta, they will remember little curls. (they seems “gnocchi”, but they’re smaller) Cook the “pisarei” in hot, salted water; in the end, strain them and flavor them with hot “borlotti”sauce. Serve them with grated Grana Padano.

Buon Appetito!

INTRODUCTION TO CAKE DESIGN!

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Hello! How is going your week? Yesterday i was looking at some old photos and i found the photo of my fisrt Cake Design Experience, a course which i attended in April with teacher LallabyCakes to decorate cakes with sugar paste. I’m always been attracted by sugar paste cakes, they’re so coloured and beautiful, so many subjects to realize! Before taking part of this course, I was asking myself how was it possible to make such beautiful flowers and subjects with such a high precision .. In reality, i discovered (and i was really relieved!) that there are some tricks. Many tricks. And above all, there are a bunch of tools that you must have to make seriously cake design. (some item a bit expensive, i think) Let me show some basics that you can use to give a try!

NON-STICK BOARD, ROLLING PIN & SMOOTHER
They’re fundamental to “stretch out” the sugar paste in a uniform way. They make a trio with the smoother, used to make the sugar paste smooth and without imperfections.
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PLUNGER CUTTERS (stampo ad espulsione)
This is a really a great invention! There are different sizes of different flowers and subjects, so you’ll obtain perfect decorations in half of the time! I found pretty much of a variety of subjects (fashion, flowers, leaves, animals,  shells, stars, and so on) and i think it’s one on the simplest (and funny) way to start with decoration.
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ROLLER:
Second great invention! Before reading about the tools of the cake design, i always asked myself “How is it possible to make such perfect decorations, even elaborated laces all around the cakes? Now i have the answer: decorated rolling pins and, for wide surfaces, the decorated roller. The effect is guaranteed!
The surface of the roller is smooth, but you can insert, from both the sides, little “barbed” circles, which create regular patterns on the sugar paste.
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MODELING TOOLS
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These are some of the principal modeling tools that you’ll need to shape the sugar paste easily. Really fascinating, seems always to make a sculpture while using them!Here the main common tools (they’re in order, from left to right)

1) Bone tool: to smooth curves and flowers cavities in sugar paste;
2) Blade&Shell tool: to cut the paste and to realize small details like paws, decors and borders.
3) Ball tool: to smooth flowers’ petals and to create volants.
4) Scallop&Comb: the extremity Scallop cut the sugar paste to create laces or to make circular cuts in the paste; the extremity Comb help you to impress parallel lines or the “stitching effect” on the paste.
5)Serrated Tapered & Cone tool: the barbed tool impress a “star pattern” on the paste, instead of the smooth extremity that help you on modeling flowers.
6)Tapered Cones 5/6 Star tool: it’s usefull to impress a “star pattern” (like a stuffed stitching) on the paste or to modeling flowers and petals.
7)Bulbulous Cone tool: the cone extremity is perfect to create volants on stripes of sugar paste.
8)Hint tool: to model and create vains on petals, flowers, hairs and other details.

When you use these tools, be sure to make it on this soft sponge, which doesn’t ruin the shape of your decoration.
set-2-pz-spugne-modella-fondenteNow I’m ready for the second level course!I hope that our teacher will organize it soon! In my photo, the cake we decorated during the basic course, and my “participation certificate”! At the end of the course, (which was organized in a pastry shop of my town), the owner of the shop gave us a little present: some plunger cutters, a barbed pincers and a decorated ruler. I was so happy!

TAKE TIME TO RELAX! (ALSO THE SIGHT)

Hello! Time’s flying, we’re already at the middle of November. We’re into autumn, finally! And autumn, for me, means also time to take it easy and just relax, with a warm plaid and a cup of hot chocolate, a good book to read, flipping trough the pages of some interior magazines…
In this post i’ll try to describe, with images, the mood that i like to breath in some corners of my home, cause it’s important to have your own space to rigenerare yourself. Also colours are really important to achieve this purpose, so you have to be beware of the shades of colors you put together. (Feng Shui can teach us a lot about this topic)
disimpegniThis is the reason why spaces like hallways, storage closet, also the spaces underneath the windows can be used in a better way.
Speaking of me, i think that neutral colors, in shades of beige or grey, are the most relaxing for my body and mind, and the easier to match with every other color. But it’s important to liven up them, cause they could become a little “flats” before your eyes. orange palette
1) PERSONALIZE: In the course of time, i’m got used to surround me with the things i love the most: books, magazines, photo album, travel guides .. it’s a beautiful satisfaction to have plenty of things in your house that remind you on the beautiful experiences in your life, or simply at your hobbies: your home must reflect the inner side of who you are. Unlikely a home that you build step by step, instinctively, will have something wrong at other people’s eyes. I really hope that you’ll find some good advices with the inspiration boards below.

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2) SOFT IS ..BETTER!: Choose with attention your decors and furnitures: plaids, pillows, cushions, lamps and much more.. every detail makes the difference for the final outcome. Don’t be afraid to fill the house with fabrics, poufs, cushions: soft things make your home just warm, for yourself and for your guests!fluffy cushions

hanging chair3) INSERT A PECULIAR OBJECT: it’s good to break optically the perception of spaces. It could be maybe an object that remind you at your chilhood (the hanging chair!), a travel souvenir, or something else.. It must be something that only you have!

green yellow4)LET’S COMBINE COLORS! It’s not such a big deal, in reality, you must have some simply rules always in mind. If you’re a bit insecure, you may start from neutral colors; then, combine maximum two other colors with the neutral one; take inspiration from magazines, and especially from Nature: landscapes or animals have always adequate combination of colors. But Always, don’t forget what you like the most, you don’t need a cold, tidy home, but a home in which you feel better than in every other place.

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I’VE MADE IT AGAIN!

Sunshine Award – And Radiating Some Rays of Sun to Bloggers!

I was nominated once more by Shanna Curls and Carrots for the Sunshine Award! Thank you, Shanna – I’m really proud of the award, (although i still think that you’re too indulgent with me!) and “mazel tov” on your award. I started to read her blog by chance, and I noticed right away that we’ve a lot in common: passion for cooking, beautiful places, for travel, and, after speaking on our blogs, I can say now that we’ve also some remarkable values in common. Maybe I can say it’s kinda of a empathy i feel? Speaking of the blog instead, it’s really accurate, also in graphic: one day a healthy recipe, one day her beautiful family. When I read her blog, i’m both permeated by happiness and serenity. (and by hunger, sure!)  Shanna is also the first supporter and cheerleader for my own blog, and she gives me always good advices. Thank you, Shanna, for your continued inspiration, dedication and happy aura. Now, keep on blogging!

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The rules are: 1. Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post. 2. Link to the blogger who nominated you. 3. Answer 10 questions about yourself. 4. Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award. 5. Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them. 6. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

1. Who would play you if your life was made into a movie? Too difficult!Maybe Elizabeth Bennet (Pride&Prejudice – yes, i’m reading it again in this period!)

2. Where in the world would you most like to travel? I enjoy USA. It would be amazing make a summer tour coast to coast!

3. What is the best thing about blogging? The connections I have made with fellow bloggers – and having a sort of personal diary for writing, photography, interior design and recipes.

4. What is your secret indulgence? Coffee and chocolate. In winter especially. They warm me up!

5. If someone handed you £1000 tomorrow what would you spend it on? Sure on a trip abroad, in a country i’ve still never been.

6. What do you never leave home without? My bag (with my wallet, a pen, my phone, and so on..it’s an heavy bag usually)

7. What’s your favourite meal of the day? Dinner. When i can relax with Davide, and it starts our time to spend together.

8. What makes you laugh? The children. Also when i’m in touch with them for work, they always make me smile. (they know that i’m drawing their small bedrooms, they’re all excited!)

9. Who would be your ideal dinner party guests? My close friends: people who are fun, that make me laugh and appreciate great food. The friends with whom I can share a lot of beautiful memories though.

10. What was the last thing you Googled? A dictionary: Italiano-Inglese (sometimes I can’t remember the exact terms)

These are excellent questions, nominees! Please answer the same 10 questions I have responded to, if you’ll accept the award. You can find the nominations for the Sunshine Award below; feel free to take a peek at these blogs, i like them so much! Cristina

Curl and Carrots
OwFotografik
PutTheLightOn
TheNoviceGardener
ALifeOfPhotograph
AllisonEats
LoveAndCupcakesBlog
DaisyWorld
Truth&Cake
MyFavouritePastTime

FIRST AWARDS FOR “THE BLOG AROUND THE CORNER”!

WordPress Family Award, Liebster Award and Dragon’s Share Award

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Wordpress Family Awarddragon's loyalty awardThank you so much to Shanna at Curls and Carrots for nominating me for the Liebster Award, Dragon’s Share Award and WordPress Family Award. I adore reading her blog! My nominees for all three awards, in no particular order, are below. Each of them have unique and excellent blogs. You won’t regret stopping by to a “visit”! They have wonderful recipes and stories to share. Thank you to each of you for encouraging and supporting The Blog Around the Corner – i’m really honoured!.

Curls and Carrots
LaVagabonde
Io non mangio Simmenthal
TravelliAMO
Cucina Psico(va)labile
This American Girl
Son nata Paperoga
Reporter per caso
Francesca C.
In viaggio con Francesca

Rules of WordPress Family Award:

1. Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and a link back.
3. Nominate up to 10  bloggers for I’m a Part of the WordPress Family Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post and notify them on their blogs.
4. Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog.

Dragon’s Loyalty Award:

1. You must link the person who has nominated you.
2. You must share 7 things other bloggers may not know about you.
3. Nominate up to 15 people.
4. You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.
5.7 things you may not know about me: 

– when i was in high-school i attended a theater acting course, it was really a beautiful experience;
– some years later, i acted in a short film (different experience from theater, but really interesting)
– i love watching moovies, any kind of moovie, of course! (see points 1 and 2!)
– speaking of moovies, i’m scared about horror moovies .. (i know that they’re “grotesque”, but it’s useless)
– i love japanese mangas (also drawing them)
– i sing a lot all by myself! (while driving, under the shower, and so on …)
– i feel ashamed if someone hear me while i’m singing carefree, maybe also dancing when i make housekeeping (see previous point!)

Liebster Award:

1. You must link the person who has nominated you. 
2. You must share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. You must answer the 11 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee.
4. You  must come up with 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.
6. 11 facts about myself (even harder than the previous award!):

– i love animals (except snakes and spiders)
– since i was a child, i had many dogs as my companions, i’ve great memories of the moments spent with them.
– i wrote some years ago a tale of few pages that was chosen and published on a small book, together with other tales. I’ve still a copy of the book and i cherish it.
– one of my dreams is one day to write a book (see previous point!).
– another of my dreams is to keep on travelling all around the world and see as much as i can.
– when i was a child, i wanted to have blond hair and blue eyes (instead of brown hair and dark eyes): i was really disappointed to be the perfect contrary of a Barbie doll.
– always when i was a child, i was unable to imagine me as an adult, so i was really worried.
– coffee and chocolate (not cigarettes) are my best companions (not to say “my drugs”) every day.
– i hate injustices and bad manners in people.
– i have a little sister who has 17 years less than me. (i could be her mother)
– i must confess that i’m no good at swim (sigh!)

And now .. the interview!

1.) What is your favorite book? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2) What do you look forward to doing most each day? Uhm .. many simple things! Going to work and create something interesting, eating lunch with my Darling, blogging of course, reading, and so on ..
3) Who in your life inspires you to write? Probably nobody .. I’m the first one to inspire myself .. and my Darling always supports me in my own choices.
4) If money were no issue, where would you travel next? Japan
5) If you could only eat at one person’s supper table until the end of your days, who would you choose and why? i really don’t know!Maybe my granny’s table.
6) What musical artist or composer can bring a tear to your eye? This is hard: every beautiful love song bring me a tear to my eye!
7) What is your favorite season – and why? Spring! Cause of the beauty of the awakening nature.
8.) Who is always there for you, unconditionally? My darling, Davide. And then, my parents. (on the blog Shanna too is also here to support me!)
9) What movie do you adore so much that you would watch in twice? Oh my! There are so many moovies that i’ve already watched twice! Maybe “Memories of a Geisha” by Rob Marshall.
10) What mentor or teacher has shaped you the most – and why? I think my history and philosophy prof. in high school, cause he teached me to be curious and open-minded about many topics.
11.) If you had to view the world through one shade of glasses, what color would it be? Red.

For my nominees: cause i’ve really no time today to invent new questions, please to consider the questions above and to answer on your blogs, if you are ok to join the contest! Thank you Shanna and all the Others that read me every day and inspire me to make good and creative blogging! See ya!Cristina

THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: INVOLTINI MOZZARELLA&BACON

INVOLTINI DI MANZO RIPIENI DI MOZZARELLA E PANCETTA CROCCANTE SU LETTO DI PATATE E ZUCCHINE

INGREDIENTS (4 PERSONS):
– 6 beef cutlet (if steaks are big, divide them in two parts)
– 1 mozzarella (also buffalo milk mozzarella is good)
– 5-6 bacon slices (pancetta)
– 4 potatoes
– 2 zucchini
– salt, pepper, garlic (if you like it), parsley and rosemary

PREPARATION:
Just to start you cook, with a teaspoon of salt in the hot water, potatoes and zucchini together till they’re boiled. It’s important to pay attention at the cooking time, cause the vegetables don’t have to “take themselves apart”, they must remain compact.
Put the vegetables in a casserole in small pieces, and add flavour with salt, pepper, and a mince of parsley, rosemary, garlic. Add in the end some extra-virgin olive oil.

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In a frying pan, you’ll cook the slices of bacon till they became roasted. (don’t add olive oil cause the bacon gave off his own oily fat). When it’s roasted put the bacon on blotting paper to dry it, and then, you crumble it in small pieces. (you’ll make a real delicious “crispy bacon”!)

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In the meanwhile put in a frying pan (also the same you used previously for the bacon) the beef cutlets, and blanch them for a minutes (turn the cutlets up and down to cook the outer side, you’ll end the cooking after in the oven). Cut the mozzarella cheese in thin slices, then fill up the beef cutlets with mozzarella and with the pieces of roasted bacon, then roll up every cutlet to form an “involtino”. Use a toothpick to fix it when is rolled-up. Finally, put the “involtini” in the casserole, on the potatoes mixed with the zucchini, and put in the oven to end the cooking. (180 °C for 10-15 minutes)
It’s important to be quick, after the cooking of the beef cutlets in the frying pan, to roll up the “involtini” and to put them immediately in the oven, (otherwise the meat will became too hard).

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Buon appetito!

TRAVELS/GREECE: SANTORINI

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Today i was looking at some old photos of our travels in Greece, and i think that Santorini is one of the most unique places that i’ve ever seen. I’ve so many beautiful shots of that summer holiday…
Santorini, (officially Thira) is an island in the Southern Aegean sea , and it’s the largest island of a small, circular archipelago (the Cyclades)which is the remnant of a volcanic caldera.Santorini includes also some small inhabited islands like Therasia and Nea Kameni.

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Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements on a previous big single island, and created the current geological caldera. A giant central lagoon, is surrounded by cliffs on three sides. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The depth of the caldera, at 400m, makes it possible for all but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; the island’s principal port is Athinias. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon.

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Besides the geological aspect, which is extremely interesting, Santorini is really beautiful to visit by walk. There are plenty of tiny all-white villages with breathtaking views on the sea; cars and scooter are obviosly not allowed in the towns center. (anyway, we rented a scooter to visit all the island from south to north)
You’ll have a relaxing walk around, taking pictures, going up and down trough the numerous stairways that connect the town streets.
Untitled 1Just because villages are build on more levels, it’s not rare that you’ll look at an orthodox Church from on high, like a bird’s eye view. This can give to you a strange perception of the space, and maybe an idea of visual “chaos”, but this is also the charming side of the island.

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Sitting on a veranda on the caldera is such an amazing experience, even if it’s just for a glass of wine. You can feel really peacefull in the inside, so far from everyday rhythm.

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The beauty of this island goes together with her fragility: the earthquakes. In 1956 a major earthquake near Amorgos island caused the destruction of many buildings in the north of Santorini, leading to the desertion of many of its villages.The major settlements today include Fira (Phira), Oia, Kamari, Perissa, Imerovigli and Pyrgos.

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I’m really proud of all these shots that i took, most of them were taken in Fira, IMerovigli and Oia. Every time that I look at my photos i’m always fascinated by the colors, the subjects and the ligths.

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When i think at Santorini, one of the thing that i reminds are the windmills, even disused, at the end of some narrow white street.
And, finally, i remember the famous sunsets, sitting on a wall embraced, in silence, shooting at the sun which slowly goes down. (and kissing more and more time, of course! Santorini is for sure a romantic place!)

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the perfect end of a perfect day..

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and the last think .. that makes me smile .. are the cats, which are part of the surrounding, which play hide and seek with the amphoras of the gift shops. (i would have taken the cat with me instead of some souvenirs .. eheh)

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Goodbye Santorini!