Italian Favorite: Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich

Whew, we’re back from vacation.  It was wonderful.  Really.  But I also need a nap.  To be precise, I need several naps that last for at least 2 hours each. 

In lieu of naps, I give you a very brief recipe.  On the trip, we ate lots of good food.  Italy and Switzerland didn’t survive for centuries on “meh” food, that’s for sure.  There was rabbit and homemade gnocchi and pumpkin ravioli (not all together).  There was lots of happy eating silence.  My favorite?  Well, I know this isn’t especially gourmet or sophisticated, but my favorite eating of the trip happened to be a sandwich.  You probably guessed well from the subject of the post–tomato and mozzarella, of course.

photo from pdxfoodlove.com

photo from pdxfoodlove.com

Here’s my very official recipe for this favorite sandwich:

Get some good bread, slice it in half.  Throw on some thick slices of tomato (Roma or larger preferred, although cherry or grape tomatoes would be tasty, too).  Add thick slices of fresh mozzarella (the large roundish kind stored in water would be best).  Enjoy.

Something about the combination of the fresh tomato flavor, the light but satisfying mozzarella and the crusty bread (my favorite choice) is just perfect.  It’s carby but somehow doesn’t make me feel guilty in the least.

If you want to, you can add spinach or arugula or any ol’ kind of greens.  Some balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper would be tasty additions, too.  Or whole-grain mustard.  Or basil.  Or prosciutto or turkey slices or anything you want on your sammich.  Just enjoy the simple and the tasty before tomatoes are out of season.

Happy Italy to you!

D.C. Adventures

We found ourselves in Washington, D.C. yesterday (for a whopping total of 4 hours), and I soaked up as much city architecture as possible. 

photo

We decided it would be a good test run for Scott’s old (and much beloved by Scott) sandals.  Will they stand up to hikes and treks and adventures in Europe?  Turns out the answer to that is a resounding no.  A few miles into our 5.2-mile D.C. adventure, Scott’s right shoe took a turn for the worse.  It was about 25% unglued before the walk, and it’s about 75% unglued now. 

The fun thing about the sad shoe event?  Well, Scott was walking around the city like he had a really weird tic for the remainder of our adventure.  Not fun for him, but very entertaining for me.  I’m proud of my man for letting me giggle at his walk for the remainder of the afternoon.  Intermittent giggling, anyway.  He’s a good sport.

We also met up with a friend we haven’t seen in about a year and a half, and it felt like a giant hug.  I should talk to old friends more often.  Consider this an apology to all of my friends.  I know I’m bad at calling you, and I’m trying to get better at that.  I like you, I really really like you. 

(Surprise) Vacation!

We’ve been planning another trip to Italy almost since the moment we got home from our honeymoon.  Well, if I’m being precise, we started planning the moment we lost all of our honeymoon pictures that have us together in one frame, which was about three months after our honeymoon.  But the exciting new twist to the story?  We booked tickets for the very very near future, and we’re headed to Italy and Switzerland.  Yay!!!  We thought about going, then we decided it was a bad idea for now, then we decided we were wrong about the bad ideaness of it all.  The rest is flight booking history.

If you know me, you know that Lugano, Switzerland is my very favorite place on earth.  I got to live there for six months in college, and I will gladly tell any ol’ stranger that Lugano is just about heaven.  Sure, that sounds like an overstatement, but it’s true.  I felt content there, and I also felt like God designed that place to show off just a little bit.  The Alps and the lake and all of that good food in one place?  Definitely showing off.

So yes, I’m extremely excited about sharing Lugano with Scott.  Extremely.

photo from weareholidays.co.in

photo from weareholidays.co.in

Doesn’t that picture make you want to write a book or paint something or at least dip your feet in the water while eating three scoops of gelato?!  It makes me want to do something wonderful.  Sigh.

Back to trip-planning reality for a second though.  While we’re there for a few days, I have two main culinary goals.  My first goal is lots of gelato.  Duh.  My second goal is to eat raclette for the first time since I was a little kid.

photo from valais-terroir.ch

photo from valais-terroir.ch

If you’ve never had raclette, it’s essentially warm, smelly cheese on a plate with a few vegetables like new potatoes, small onions, or pickles.  It might sound unlikely, but it’s delicious. 

It’s going to be a big week for dairy in the land of the Swiss cow. 

Monday is for Daydreams

Sometimes the best recommendation for a Monday is to daydream (in responsible doses that make your day better while letting you get something done in the real world… Surgeon General’s work-time warning).  Today, I’m thinking about future travel.  National Geographic is such an enabler, too.

photo by Dick Pitini and from the National Geographic website

photo by Dick Pitini and from the National Geographic website

The Dolomites?  Sure! 

I love what a combination of peaceful little hillsides and dramatic rocky mountains that is.  Wow.  I never would have put the bottom and top halves of that picture together if I hadn’t seen it here.

Finally Friday

I know it’s been a short work week for me so far (fifth work day coming up tomorrow), but it feels like it’s been a long work week.  I’m sure you understand.

As a result of said week, I’m daydreaming my way through lunch pretty seriously.  One of my two excellent college roommates and I used to play a game of “Where would you rather be right now?”  It’s a useful game for any day that isn’t actually a vacation.

This is where I choose to be (mentally) during my lunch break today:

photo from chicagotribune.com

photo from chicagotribune.com

I choose to be on the beach with a good book, burying my feet in the sand, applying sunscreen at perfect intervals (which is never how it actually works), and eating ice cream at equally perfect intervals.

Soon.

Also, I understand that I’m terribly antisocial, and I should have picked a beach picture that includes family or friends or something active.  But like I said, I’m terribly antisocial sometimes.  My family loves me anyway.  Thanks, family!

Remembering India

Today’s goals are all fairly mundane and non-blog-worthy–making a doctor’s appointment, unpacking a few of the very last boxes, and you get the picture.  So I’ll tell you what I’m thinking about instead.

As I look up phone numbers online, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is playing on TV.  The movie is about a group of English retirees (who don’t know each other at the start)  who move to India, where they think their retirement money will buy a better and perhaps more exciting life than it would in dear old England.

Their trip hasn’t resembled our trip to India in many ways, but I love seeing images of India again.  And there are similarities.  Some of the people in the movie are struggling with how to interact with the locals.  Who hasn’t felt that way in a culture other than their own?  Some are struggling with the food.  My stomach has definitely been there.  Some are thriving, enjoying every second of newness and smells and colors and wonderful people.

Mixed in with the wonderful people, we did hear plenty of horror stories about people while we were there.  You hear those stories when you work with women who have been rescued from the sex trafficking industry.  But in those women, we saw the beauty of hope.  There was hope in the middle of lives that should have stamped out all hope.

That’s my favorite memory of India.  There were gorgeous colors and patterns, and we stayed in a mountainous area with stunning views,  but the hope was best of all.  There was life and brightness where there should have been none.

Scott and I revisited India a week or so ago with our first curry since the trip.  It was technically a Thai curry instead of an Indian curry, and I know they’re really different.  It reminded me of our trip anyway.

Want to try it?  Thai Red Chicken Curry.  The peppers were crisp, and the basil and lime worked perfectly with the curry and the coconut.

Image

photo by Ellie Miller

They don’t sell curry paste at our grocery store, so I made it from scratch.  I used this recipe: Thai Red Curry Paste.  It was easy, since you basically just had to chop and mix and process (a.k.a. mix some more).  The non-easy part was finding some of the ingredients.  To remedy that, I used the sophisticated tactic of omitting those ingredients.  Which ones did I miss?  I believe that would be fresh lemongrass and shrimp paste.  I was grateful for the several substitution options that were listed in the paste recipe.

So that’s it, folks.  I’m thinking about curry and hope (and gastrointestinal distress).

Rocky Mountain High

Last week finished with a bang in addition to July 4th fireworks.  I had the pleasure of going to Denver to meet the son of one of my awesome college roommates.  He’s two and a half (the son, not the roommate, who is female), and it was high time that we met.  Plus, I wanted to hang out with his mom, and his dad is great, too.  It was just an overall win.

So trip breakdown (in chronological order):

  1. Awesome conversation with Candice–you know, the kind of conversation that is really difficult to achieve over the phone or through snail mail.
  2. Time hanging out with Matty, who is cute and fun and smart and everything a parent would hope their child would be.
  3. A good viewing of The Princess and the Frog, mixed with more great friend conversations and some playing with blocks.
  4. Dinner at David’s restaurant (husband of said college roommate, also a friend from college) to sample the awesome work he does every day as a chef.  It was delicious, so if you ever find yourself in Denver, let me recommend Lou’s Food Bar.  You can find an official review of the tastiness here: New York Times review.  And you can check out their menu here: Lou’s website.
  5. Girls’ night out at the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art.  You’re going to get pictures at this point.

Friend time in front of the giant broom at the museum.

The exhibit was so powerfully displayed.  I mean, I like clothes, but I’m no expert on haute couture clothing.  I didn’t know a thing about Yves Saint Laurent’s history or how he interacted with societal issues throughout his career.  Not only did I learn things from the exhibit, I felt inspired and awed by the presentation of the clothes.  Good job, museum curators!  It was exactly what a museum exhibit should be.  Here’s a small taste of an exhibit room, compliments of the Denver Museum of Art website:

Wall-o-tuxedos, glimpse of evening gown display, and a vague idea of the awesomeness.

It was a lot better than any picture can credit, and it was followed up with some more quality friend time in downtown Denver.  Candice and I decided that the Denver Public Library has an awesome building.

Downtown Library

Candice proposed that it would be a good place for me to work.

Sales pitch!

And then it was back to the house for some sleep, another half viewing of The Princess and the Frog (I totally support Matty’s desire to watch favorite movies over and over again, since it’s something I have done a time or two myself), a visit to a fantastic bookstore and an arts festival, and a drive to the airport.  There’s no time like old friend time, so I was a happy camper on the way home to Virginia.