As I promised in this post I'll talk about holidays, my holidays, of course. This year, in spite of the few days off, we managed to have a triple holiday, thanks to a stroke of luck (aka the postponement of my coming back to work). I don't rule out a fourth little holiday, if luck assists me again, but I don't want to attract bad gods on me, so I won't go on. I'll talk about the past, so I'll play it safe!
My long-awaited holidays began with a week-end in Verona: Verona greeted us with a hot sun, its peaceful calmness and its really italic center, in which you can walk without any rush, in search of its history or in search of some shade. Here below you can see some characteristic Verona glimpses: starting from top left, clockwise, you can see Ponte Pietra (Stone Bridge), the Lombardi Tower, a view from above, the Arena and a view on the Adige river.
As I already told you in my last post, Verona was our base for an important event: Ben Harper's concert in Villafranca di Verona (Scaliger Castle). It was without any doubt the most wonderful, charming, touching and amazing concert I have ever went to (I already decided that there will be other Ben's concerts in my future, and I'll cook something to throw him on stage … after a TWO AND A HALF HOURS concert he has the right to recover from a justified low blood sugar?), and when I thought about it I still get goose bumps: here you could listen to Where Could I Go? (this is the concert I attended ), sung in part without amplification … speechless, huh?! Here below you can see some pictures taken at the concert, along with a picture of the Scaliger Castle and one of the cops on horseback seen in the streets… and if they gallop, it means you're in trouble!
Then, after a short coming back (just a day, for a birthday party and a few errands, luggage included), we set off, destination Berlin: car, subway, train, bus, plane, subway and we arrived … seems like a transoceanic travel, and we were "just" in Europe: low cost airlines!
But Berlin worth everything, even adding a ship stretch to our already troubled travel: Berlin is beautiful, rich and vibrant with recent history, full of life, throbbing with modernity, a blaze of glass and steel that dazzles in the August light.
Here below you can see some of the sights and monuments that impressed me the most. Starting from top left, clockwise, you can see: the "funnel" of the Reichstag dome, the Reichstag, the universal clock in Alexander Platz, the cover of the Sony Center, a view of Potsdamer Platz (that now has a big place in my heart) at night, a silvery view of the Spree River from the Fernsehturm (tower of television), the Brandenburg Gate, the steles of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and a view of Potsdamer Platz in daylight.
When I talked about recent history that you can still "smell" in Berlin I was referring to the Berlin Wall. Here below you can see some pictures of the Wall and other things related to it. Starting from top left, clockwise, you can see: one of the most famous East Side Gallery (an open air art gallery, that includes only murals painted on the former Berlin Wall) work of art, showing a Trabant that breaks through the Wall; the "curriculum vitae" of the Wall, with the number of people who lost their lives in the attempt of crossing the Wall, year by year (in total they were 136); the furrow that delimits, in the road surface, the layout of the Wall; the Wall in Potsdamer Platz (no, the Wall wasn't as tall as the buildings … it's just an optical effect given by the shot from below); the sign that indicated the leaving of the American sector of Berlin (photo taken in the Checkpoint Charlie museum); one work of art of the East Side Gallery; a Trabant; another beautiful work of art of the East Side Gallery, almost at sunset.
And here it is to you a small culinary bracket. In Berlin you can really find anything to eat, regardless of nationality and origins, while the only true Berliner dish (most of the food that we generally call "German" it's actually Bavarian) is the Currywurst, a wiener flavored with curry (not all of them are already flavored, but some are yellowish for this reason) served with a curry flavored ketchup-based sauce with a generous sprinkling of curry on top. If you are wondering why curry should be typical of Berlin, don't ask me, 'cause I don't know … but I taste everything, and it was not bad at all! Then you can find almost everywhere excellent pretzel (my motto was "at least a pretzel a day"), liters and liters of Pils beer (Weiss beer is another Bavarian must), and you can eat the best kebap and falafel of your entire life (thanks to the strong Turkish community in Berlin)… at least they were MY personal best. Then, as I said, Berlin is a cosmopolitan city, so you can find noodles, sushi, pasta (although I saw some scary pasta dishes), pizza (surprisingly decent-looking; I don't know nothing about the taste: I never eat Italian food abroad, 'cause I prefer tasting local food), pita bread, fajitas or whatever it jumps to your mind.
Here below you can see a rundown of what I saw, but mostly eat (obviously it doesn't include everything I swallowed, but it gives you a "taste"); starting from top left, clockwise, you can see: apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce, the chocolate shop Fassbender & Raush in Gendarmenmarkt, two Erdinger beers, the slinging with which some brave boys cook Rostbratwurst in the street, Salzkartoffeln (ie boiled potatoes) with cream cheese, sour cream and chives, a donut (very U.S.A., but you can also find it in Berlin), the famous Currywurst and "the man who carries the pretzel".
And now let's talk about my last holiday: 5 days spent in total relax in Albenga, a small and beautiful town in western Liguria. There I didn't take any pictures, 'cause I was too busy collapsing on the beach, reading thrillers and eating focaccia and other delicacies, I leave you something better than a simple picture (despite Albenga deserves a lot of picture): an easy Ligurian recipe I made some time ago, the Ligurian syle rabbit.
LIGURIAN STYLE RABBIT
Ingredients (2 servings)
* extra-virgin olive oil
* a garlic clove
* a small onion (or a scallion), finely chopped
* 2 rabbit shoulders (the recipe should be made with all the rabbit, diced. We were only 2 people, so I prefered using only rabbit shoulders)
* 2 bay leaves
* a glass of red wine
* 50 g olive taggiasche
* 20 g pine nuts
Put in a pan a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and, when it's hot, sauté garlic and chopped onion until the latter is golden brown. Now put the rabbit shoulders and sauté them until they are golden; add salt, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Pour a glass of red wine and, when it's evaporated, add olive taggiasche and pine nuts. Put the lid and cook the rabbit (the meat should be soft and should detach easily from the bone), checking on it from time to time: if you see that the rabbit is too dry, add some water or broth. The shoulders will be cooked after about 20 minutes, but if you decide to put some meaty pieces it will take longer. Serve the rabbit hot, topped with some cooking sauce.
I served the Ligurian style rabbit with some new potatoes: I washed them, cut them in half (or in 3 parts for the bigger ones) and I sauté them in a pan with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and rosemary, and then I "finish them" with a quick stop in the oven.