Great British baking

Are you a fan of the tv show, The Great British Bake-off?  I am!  I learned so much about baking in general and about British desserts in particular from watching that show.

Yesterday I was in the cantina of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and was delighted to see Lemon Drizzle Cake, Bakewell tart, and other desserts I learned about on the show.

I tried the Bakewell tart, and it was tasty.  It needed some salt to balance all the sugar.  But, that’s just me.




Sizzling summer in Florence

L’estate e’ arrivata!!!  Summer has arrived!  Big time!  Florence is sizzling, even earlier this year that the last 2!


The thermostat rarely dips below 90, even at night, it seems.


The city of Florence prepared these great posters of Estate Fiorentina 2019! I think Dante is going to want to drop that red cloak, or maybe he just finished swimming in the Arno and is using the coat as a beach towel?  That makes perfect sense to my heat-fried brain!

But, in Florence, you can always cool off with these summertime fruits (candies)!  Have a great summer, wherever you are!



P.S. I’m not a fan of hot summer weather.  I’m planning another getaway next month.  Here’s a hint: fullsizeoutput_1187


I’m praying London’s weather stays like this!!

Here’s to the women behind champagne!

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The 17th century Benedictine monk Dom Perignon may get the credit for developing the methode champenoise, but when it comes to creating the iconic sparkling wines that fill our flutes, we owe the lion’s share of our thanks to the ladies.

Beginning in the early 19th century it was the women running some of history’s most recognizable champagne houses who pioneered the attributes we consider mainstays today. From the iconic bottle shape to the clarity of the vintage, from that crisp, brut flavor profile to the marketing of champagne as a wine of luxury, it was the so-called “merry widows” of champagne who turned bottles of bubbly into a world-famous celebratory sip.

Why widows, you ask? Unlike many women of the era, widows were allowed the independence necessary for running a business. While unmarried women were dependent on their fathers or brothers (they couldn’t even get a bank account) and married women were forced to rely on their husbands’s money and power, widows were allowed to own property and businesses in their own right, control their own finances, and move freely in society.



Very easily entertained

I am both very easily entertained and very susceptible to boredom.  For me, they seem to be 2 sides of the same coin.

I get bored with the same old, same old, even if it is living in Florence Italy!  I need a jolt of excitement.

If I am lucky enough to spend 2 weeks in Paris, then I am easily entertained.  The photos below will prove my thesis!


My first evening in Paris! Do you see what I see?  Sunshine!  I haven’t really seen it in a month in the wettest spring Italy has known.

I wander into a market to buy a few essentials for the apartment, and upon my hunt for cream, which is a staple product in most American and Italian markets, I discover that it ain’t so easy to spot in France.  I spend A LOT of time at the dairy cooler, surveying all of the products that could maybe be cream (there is a ton of crème fraîche, naturellement!), but I don’t like a soured cream in my morning cuppa. I eventually settle on this jug of Fleurette, which sounds to me more like a perfume than a milk product, but what do I know?  I like to experiment.  Verdict? I got lucky!  It’s a slightly sweet cream product that is great in tea or coffee!  Woo hoo! Hourra!




Then I noticed this canister of RICORE au Lait, and got a can to try.  Que se passe-t-il (what the hell).

Then we move into the universe of yogurt, which in France is an art form.  I settle on a couple of flavors, never having had citron yogurt before.  I know only that it will have some citrus flavor.


Citron yogurt is delicious.  It is not too sweet (like American yogurts) and with a lemon flavor decidedly improved with the zest of lemon.  It is lovely!


I’ll be back with more of the simple things that float my boat soon. Au revoir, mes amies!

A special vineyard in the Italian Dolomites: Castel Monreale

Not far from Merano, Italy stands a very interesting vineyard: Castel Monreale.  Here’s a bottle of their great red, a picture I took later with the backdrop of Lake Como.




So, here’s the locale: not bad, eh?



The grape plants shown in the next 3 pictures are about 75 years old and planted in the old style, which is very labor intensive because no mechanization can be used.



The cortile of the castle: