Saturday, 23 March 2013

A Bit Of Italian

Hello Friends and Curious Anonymous Readers,

Buon Giorno!

I found myself watching the  inauguration of the new Pope in Rome the other day.  It followed soon after the former Pope’s  (mysterious) sudden resignation and departure after seeking legal, permanent  “sanctuary” in the Vatican.

When I first heard his new name I assumed   that he was styling himself after St. Francis Xavier, co-founder (along with St. Ignatius Loyola)  of the Jesuit order that he’s a member of.  I was encouraged that perhaps this meant that he was the start of  a new, less corrupt Church  and as one of the “military” (as Jesuits are described) who was going to clean it up .  But instead he’s apparently decided to be the very first Pope to choose a man who’ was so “out there” that he talked  to animals as his idol/model.  Is he hinting at a planned escapist approach of “hear no evil, see no evil” in order to preserve the Vatican status quo?

While still on an Italian theme,  we were having a walk around the Jordaan the other day  (in the freezing cold) to do a bit of window shopping on the Nine Streets.  As were walking there after getting off the tram I spotted this in a cafĂ© window.

Beneath the two rows of tiramisu was tray full of beautiful cannoli!
They are my very favourite pastry of all and so hard to find in this part of the world.  My Italian food appreciation was cultivated while living in New York with it’s vast diversity of ethnicities.  There were many Italian bakeries around and I took the availability of cannoli for granted.  When I moved to Ireland I I never once in over 20 year saw a cannoli throughout the entire country.  Trips to London never yielded this illusive pastry either although all sorts of food products that I missed from the US could be found there.  Other Italian desserts were widely available in both countries.  Tiramisu was everywhere.  You could get a wide variety of Italian deserts from Marks & Spencer or Sainsburys but alas no cannoli.  I based my  “I’m completely at home now”feeling mainly on what foods  that I can find that I was used to from the USA.  My list included ricotta cheese, plaintains and cannoli at the top of it.  Slowly but surely I found most  these things in Ireland as they modernized.  They never did get plantains but I could get them when in London so would occasionally “import”a few when I visited my son over there.   But never did I see a cannoli.  When I visited NY it was the first thing I wanted to eat, followed by a pizza, Dunkin’Donuts French cruller and a warm pretzel from a stand.

About a year  ago while walking down the Haarlemstraat I spotted some cannoli in a window of  Mondo Mediterraneo  .

It was as though I had spotted a mirage.  I had to take closer look to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.  (We had just been in a coffeeshop.)  But it was real cannoli!  I went into the shop and saw that they had two sizes of them.  We bought 2 large ones and 2 small ones to go and I remember eating a small one on the walk to Centraal Station to get the tram home.  I was in heaven!  I’ve had them a few times since (along with some delicious pasta dishes from there) and OH has fallen in love with them, too.  So here we were on a random walk and I spotted them in another place.  They’re springing up all over!  I’m really feeling completely at home here in Amsterdam food-wise.  I can get every single thing I used to get in NY and then some.  Cooking and baking have become a real adventure these days and I’m experimenting with so many new things.  I’d like to try to make my own cannoli.  I know how to make the filling but apparently you need a special yoke ( Derry-speak for gadget)  to make the pastry tube.  But I’ve got a few ideas and one includes making it a slightly different shape.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Springing Back

Hello Friends and Curious Anonymous Readers!

Happy St.. Paddy’s Day to all.  It’s three years today since I had  all my wordly goods loaded on to a moving van and then left my life in Ireland behind.  I thought there was a certain irony to leaving on it’s most celebrated day.  I was making a different kind of toast than probably everyone else that day at the bar at Belfast Airport or on the flight out.  Sometimes I miss my home there and especially at this time of the year I miss my garden.  The cherry blossom tree outside of my bedroom window would have been blooming right about now and the daffodils in the front of my house would be starting to open up and say hello to spring.  I dug this old photo up to show you:

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A New Lease On (Blog) Life

Hello Friends And Curious Anonymous Readers,

I hope that the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one has treated you all kindly.

It’s been a while since I posted here.  There are several reasons for it but the biggest one was that I wasn’t happy with where this whole thing was going.

To begin with, I didn’t like the title.   A  blog title needs to “do what it says on the tin” and I sort of boxed myself into a corner with the brief for my blog being things that I make or do.  But that’s only a part of my life and I was feeling stifled by it . It really wasn’t all about the hands.  Besides what I make and do I wanted to talk about things that I see or places I go and  how I feel about those things.  I may even get on my soap box from time to time since that’s my nature but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum. 

I think that this new title reflects my little piece of the blog world.  “Terry-ness”has been a term used by various friends over the years to describe my particular style of doing things or way of looking at the world which is often unconventional to them.  To me, it’s just me being me.  :) So welcome to Terryness and I hope you find it interesting or entertaining to visit.  Feel free to speak up too!

PS: I think my next step is figuring out how to use smileys here. :-)