Musical Wine Glasses

26 May

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musical wine glassesIf music be the food of love, play on. That’s how Shakespeare used to define music in The Twelfth Night and I couldn’t agree more being an amateur musician. I’ve tried to use music as a weapon of seduction, but my skills simply were not there; so I tried with my cooking skills, but there are just not many burnt-flavoured food lovers out there; so I decided to rely on my ability to tell anecdotes on those failed attempts.

If you’re looking for an idea to hit the right note for an at-home dinner date, musical glasses may just be your cup of tea. They’re basically wine glasses with light gradations on the side indicating the level to which it should be filled with wine to hit the desired note. Just rub gently the rim of the glass with your wet fingertip in a repeating circular motion and notes will ring out; or alternatively you could gently knock the glass with a knife like you would a xylophone.

In a nutshell, with an expense of £39 you can have a set of two musical glasses designed by Douglas Potts and Jasmine Lau of Nostalgics design studio and turn each sip of wine into a symphony. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: it’d make a lovely Christmas present, but hurry up, it’s already been selling like hotcakes on Luna & Curious!

So, if you want to make sure you strike a chord with your very special guest at your next soiree, try with a pair of musical glasses. If nothing else, you’ll have an excuse to keep filling up his/her glass!

English flag

Idioms

Abbiamo già parlato dell’uso delle espressioni idiomatiche in inglese e di come spesso siano collegate in modo metaforico a cibi e bevande. L’argomento del post di oggi si presta a qualche esempio di idioms collegati alla musica, ad esempio:

to hit the right note = toccare il tasto giusto

to strike a chord = toccare le corde giuste

Ma anche:

to sell like hotcakes = andare a ruba

(not) to be my cup of tea = (non) fare al caso mio

In a nutshell = per farla breve

Attenzione!! Così come in italiano, le espressioni idiomatiche sono tipiche del linguaggio parlato, ma è bene usarle con moderazione per evitare un effetto un po’ posticcio e falso.

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The Ingredients of Love

5 May

Ever wished there was a recipe for a perfect relationship? Well, it looks like Angie Stone found her own secret recipe…

Listen to Angie’s recipe and fill in the gaps with the right quantity for each ingredient.

The Ingredients of Love

Hey Musiq, yo
You think we can do this, yeah, uh
Yeah, yeah

[CHORUS]
How do we make love
And what’s it truly made of?
How do we make love
And what is it truly made of?
Oh yeah, oh yeah

Gimme an ________ of some honesty
Some innocence and a  ________ of loyalty
A  ________of some attitude
And of course a  ________of freak, yeah

At least a  ________of conversation
Some attention when it comes to relation
Two  ________ of intelligence
And a  ________of righteousness, oh

[CHORUS]

What I need is a  smidgen of strength
And a whole lot of stamina
What I want is a  ________of respect
And a damn good listener

Well, if it means anything to you
Girl, I feel the same way you do
So let’s let it marinate
For about three hundred and sixty-five days

[CHORUS]

Baby, I need to feel it’s blended to perfection
Love is splendid
In connection with old-fashion remedies
And recipes of love, oh yeah

And sugar, no matter
What the friends may be saying
I’ll be sippin’ on every drop of the main ingredient
It’s tasty love, yeah, yeah

[CHORUS x 3]

 Units of measurement

Vi sarà capitato di trovarvi all’estero e di assaggiare qualche piatto prelibato, di cui vorreste tanto conoscere la ricetta segreta. Magari  avete anche trovato il coraggio di andare dallo chef e farvi scrivere la ricetta, ma quando poi vi siete ritrovati alle prese con once e galloni avete perso ogni speranza. A me è capitato e so bene quanto è frustrante dover stare lì a risolvere equivalenze prima di poter finalmente mettersi a cucinare!

Il fatto è che sia il sistema britannico che quello americano derivano dalle antiche unità di misura inglesi, comunemente usate nei paesi del Commonwealth e dell’impero britannico. Oggi, entrambi i sistemi sono ancora utilizzati nel Regno Unito e negli Stati Uniti, ma sono stati rimpiazzati dal Sistema Internazionale (SI) nella gran parte dei paesi del mondo.

Le unità di misura usate nel Regno Unito e negli USA sono per lo più coincidenti  per lunghezza, area e peso, ma presentano delle differenze per capacità, come riportato sotto:

Length

1 inch = 25,4 millimetres
1 foot = 30,48 centimetres
1 yard = 0,914 metres
1 mile = 1,609 kilometres

Weight

1 ounce = 28,35 grams
1 pound = 0,454 kilogram
1 stone = 6,356 kilograms
1 ton = 1016,04 kilograms

British capacity                     American capacity

1 pint = 0,568 litres                         1 pint = 0,473 litres
1 quart = 1,136 litres                       1 quart = 0,946 litre
1 gallon = 4,546 litres                     1 gallon = 3,785
 

I’ll have 830 calories, please.

22 Apr

calories at StarbucksSembra che l’allarme obesità non sia più solo un problema tipicamente Made in USA. A quanto pare gli strati di ciccia in più iniziano ad accumularsi in modo preoccupante anche sulla lattiginosa stirpe celtica, a tal punto da indurre la FSAThe Food Safety Authority – a indire una consultazione popolare sulla proposta di indicare sui menù il numero di calorie di ogni pietanza. Che incubo! Certo, è facile comprendere come il numerino 830 accanto ad un Triple Chocolate Trifle possa provocare dei ripensamenti, ma che ansia! È possibile che qualcuno che scelga di concedersi una bomba del genere non abbia una vaga idea che quello sia un piatto ipercalorico?!? Ok, magari non conosci esattamente il numero di calorie e a che percentuale del tuo fabbisogno giornaliero corrispondano, ma hai consapevolmente deciso di concederti questo peccato di gola e allora che noia sbatterti sotto al naso la cifra esatta del tuo senso di colpa. Non vorrei ragionare per stereotipi, ma questa castrazione alimentare mi sembra stonare parecchio con lo spirito di un popolo di cantastorie che ho sempre amato per la sua essenzialità, la fedeltà alle tradizioni e il disprezzo delle mode effimere. I can resist everything but temptation, diceva Oscar Wilde. Parola di un irlandese che non avrebbe mai votato a favore di una legge del genere.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has announced a national consultation to seek opinions on the best way of applying Minister Reilly’s request to include calories on menus at cafes and fast food outlets countrywide. The request comes as a result of several studies which indicate Ireland as having Europe’s second highest rate of obesity. The most worrying aspect of the obesity issue is its effect on children. “Heart disease, cancer, stroke and type 2 diabetes are all conditions aggravated by obesity, particularly when it occurs at younger ages,” said Dr James Reilly T.D., Minister for Health. It is easy to understand how displaying calories on menus will help consumers to make healthier and more aware choices about what they eat and encourage them to reduce their portions.

Although it may sound like an innovative initiative, calories on menus are already the norm in America and Australia, where food law ensures that big fast food outlets indicate the amount of calories in the products next to the price. Research in America found that when calorie information is shown on menus people ate 152 fewer calories in hamburger restaurants; 73 fewer calories in sandwich bars and 6% fewer calories overall.

However, unlike the USA, Ireland could find itself facing many more financial problems in adapting food businesses to this new law. Putting calories on menus won’t be an easy task: it will require technical tools to calculate nutritional content as well as professional support from nutritional experts, which may result in critical extra expenses especially for smaller businesses already finding it difficult to compete with large food outlets.

What about you? How would you like the amount of calories displayed on menus?

Naples by Anthony Bourdain

15 Mar

Gli eventi dell’ultimo periodo mi hanno fatto capire ancora più profondamente il mio legame con Napoli. È un rapporto egoista, lo so. Prendo dalla mia terra quello di cui ho bisogno, quando mi va. Poi me ne lavo le mani. Con la stessa determinazione con cui l’ho cercata e pretesa, riesco a lasciarmela alle spalle e a dimenticare le sue piaghe quando mi fa comodo. Ma è amore e non potrò mai negarlo. Per quanto dica di non poterci vivere una vita intera, non esiste altro posto che riesca a farmi vibrare in quel modo. Le sue contraddizioni sono anche le mie, i suoi fallimenti sono in parte causati anche da chi come me l’abbandona.

Così, tra tanto parlare di cucina estera, ho pensato di dedicarle un tributo a mio modo, ma per non cadere nel nostalgico e assicurare una prospettiva più oggettiva, lascio che sia uno straniero a parlare di Napoli. In questo video tratto dal programma No Reservations, lo chef e scrittore newyorkese Anthony Bourdain parte alla scoperta di Napoli, sulle tracce del red sauce trail.

Was everything clear? Take this quiz and find it out!

1.  The typical Italian ingredients in New Jersey in the 60s were

A garlic, fresh tomatoes, onion and dried basil.

B garlic, canned tomatoes, oregano and dried basil on overcooked spaghetti with meatballs.

C garlic, canned tomatoes, parmesan and meatballs.

2.  Anthony Bourdain chooses Naples to talk about the origins of Italian food in the USA

A because his parents were born in Naples.

B because according to the Italian-American collective imagination it all started in Naples.

C because the ingredients used in traditional recipes come from Naples.

 3.  The “Meatball Hero”

A derives from the fact that all of a sudden Italian immigrants couldn’t afford meat.

B doesn’t exist because Italian-American cuisine is very varied.

C can be seen as an exuberant reaction to the land of plenty.

 4.  The first thing that strikes Bourdain in Naples

A is the dialect spoken by Neapolitans.

B is the way people drive.

C is the garbage industry collapse.

 5.  Being one of the oldest cities in Italy, Naples can claim responsibility for

A organized crime.

B many iconic innovations in Italian culture.

C some of the most ancient buildings in the world.

 6.  In 2004 the Italian Ministry of Agriculture

A declared Neapolitan pizza a world heritage item.

B banned pizza Margherita from the Parliament canteen.

C laid out regulations for how a Neapolitan pizza must be made.

 7.  The most significant difference between New York style and Italian style pizza is

A the fact that people eat it with knife and fork.

B the use of fresh mozzarella instead of grated cheese.

C a thick crust.

 8.  Bourdain chooses a tiny car for his Amalfi coast drive

A because he’s comfortable with his sexuality.

B because it’s more practical on narrow roads.

C because it’s only a month since he got his driving license.

 9.  They decide to stop shooting in Cetara

A because of the pouring rain.

B because the equipment gets damaged.

C because Anthony calls it a day.

 10.  The chef from Cetara dived into the stormy sea to fish

A sea bass

B octopus

C sea urchins

1 B, 2 B, 3 C, 4 B, 5 B, 6 C, 7 A, 8 B, 9 A, 10 C

Halloween Dracula’s teeth

24 Oct

Looking for a Halloween menu? Here are some ideas to have fun with your kids and their friends in the kitchen by making the spookiest treats of the season with simple ingredients! So put on your scariest apron and get your children help you with these terrifying creations!

Dracula's teeth

Ingredients (for 1 cookie)

  • 1 chocolate chip cookie
  • ½ cup of buttercream or marzipan (or any type of icing)
  • 1 bottle of red food colouring
  • 6 mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup of slivered almonds

Pour a few drops of food colouring in the bowl with buttercream (or marzipan) and mix it up vigorously until it all gets nice and red.

Cut the cookie in half: these two pieces will become the upper and lower jaw. Put the buttercream in a pastry bag, or just use a palette knife to apply the buttercream on each cookie half. Then pipe the buttercream along the cookie edge to make the gum and gently push the mini marshmallows in it. Arrange the marshmallows one next to the other to make them look like a row of teeth.

Pipe the other half of your cookie and place it right on top of the marshmallows, giving it a little bit of squeeze.

The last finishing step is to add “Dracula’s fangs”, by simply pushing two slivered almonds into the frosting.

English flag Plurals

Formare il plurale dei sostantivi in inglese è piuttosto semplice: nella maggior parte dei casi, basta aggiungere una -s alla fine della parola.

recipe – recipes           almond – almonds             spoon – spoons

Esistono, poi, delle eccezioni a seconda della lettera con cui termina la parola, vediamole:

Type of noun

Plural form

Examples

Nouns ending in -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, -z
-es kiss – kisses, tax- taxes
Nouns ending in vowel + y -s boy – boys, tray – trays
Nouns ending in consonant + y -ies lady – ladies, baby – babies
Nouns ending in –f or -fe -ves knife – knives, half – halves

A complicare tutto arrivano come sempre i sostantivi irregolari, parole che hanno una forma completamente diversa al plurale. Ne sono tanti e, non chiedetemi perchè, molti di questi appartengono alle categorie alimenti e animali
Ecco alcuni esempi:

Tooth- Teeth                    Fungus – Fungi                 Sheep – Sheep
Octopus- Octopi              Deer – Deer                       Fish – Fish
Louse – Lice                     Man – Men                        Woman – Women
Foot – Feet                       Cod – Cod                           Ox – Oxen
Mouse – Mice                  Goose – Geese                   Child – Children

 

Halloween recipes

21 Oct

Halloween is at the door and whether you like this feast or not, one thing is for sure: children do like it. Originally born as a Celtic feast when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts, it has become nowadays a celebration extremely popular all over the world, especially among kids, for whom any opportunity to eat sweets, dress up and light bonfires is always welcome.

So, here are some easy-to-make Halloween recipes to have some fun with your kids in the kitchen and get them helping to make some creepy creations. What a better way to spend some quality time with your kids and make sure they don’t set the couch on fire with their friends? It was just a little Holloween bonfire…
worms of the earth

Worms of the Earth

Ingredients (for 2 cups)

  • 150 gr Philadelphia with Milka
  • 6 Oreo biscuits
  • 4 jelly worms
  • dark cocoa powder

Continue reading

A tribute to my women

21 Oct

Rosie the RiveterSono nata in una famiglia matriarcale, una di quelle famiglie nelle quali cuore, cervello e, spesso, muscoli sono rappresentati da donne. Da mamme, zie e nonne ho imparato quasi tutto quello che so fare o, comunque, le abilità che contano davvero, come apprezzare le cose semplici, saper ridere davanti a un cumulo di macerie, preparare una pizza di scarole.

Alcuni loro gesti, proverbi e modi di pensare oggi rivivono nei miei, a volte contro la mia volontà, e molti dei loro insegnamenti derivano dalle azioni e dalle piccole scelte del quotidiano, di cui magari non ne erano neanche consapevoli. Come una mamma in bilico su una scala che cerca di riparare i cordini delle veneziane e una ragazzina scettica che le chiede se sa come si fa. Tutto si può imparare, fu la risposta. E loro di cose ne sapevano tante: mi hanno insegnato a usare l’apostrofo e mi parlavano del botulino, non di ritorno da un trattamento al botox, ma mentre le aiutavo a preparare i vasetti di melenzane sott’olio. E quando la risposta era troppo difficile, c’era sempre un’alternativa di più dolce e fantasiosa, una storia da raccontare, un aneddoto divertente.

Di donne così ce ne sono tante: se ne stanno in un angolo e mandano avanti intere famiglie, in silenzio, per non rubare la scena a chi ha bisogno di continue lodi anche solo per cambiare una lampadina. A queste donne voglio dedicare la sezione Yummy Mummy, per piccole ricette da fare con i bambini e imparare un po’ d’inglese cucinando.

Galway Oyster Festival

15 Sep

L’estate ormai si allontana ogni giorno di più, è meglio farsene una ragione. Avete notato che la mattina vi svegliate coperti dal lenzuolo e che finalmente iniziano a diminuire su facebook le foto al mare dei vostri amici? Oggi, però, voglio mantenerne vivo il ricordo ancora un po’, dedicando questo post a uno dei simboli più succulenti dell’estate: i frutti di mare. Chiunque mi conosca un po’, è al corrente della mia dipendenza dai frutti di mare, dalle cozze in particolare. Non è solo una questione di gusto, ma una sorta di “sapore della maddalena”, come scriveva Marcel Proust: la capacità di alcuni profumi e sapori di risvegliare antichi ricordi. Così, davanti a una bella impepata di cozze, mi vengono in mente le tavolate al mare da piccola, quando ne eravamo così tanti che un solo tavolo non bastava, mia madre che ci costringeva a prendere una compressa di Bactrim prima di mangiare i frutti di mare e le gare per accaparrarsi l’ultimo mestolo…

Allora, se come me perdete la testa per i frutti di mare, correte sul sito della Ryanair e prenotate un biglietto per Galway, in Irlanda, dove dal 28 al 30 Settembre 2012 si terrà l’imperdibile Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival.

Famous for being one of the most internationally acclaimed food festivals in Ireland, Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival takes place every September in one of the quaintest harbours in Ireland. Throughout the festival weekend the city comes alive with concerts, cooking demonstrations, parades and many other international events to whet your appetite.

If you’re a true seafood lover, you shouldn’t miss out on the chance to taste the best seafood recipes joining the famous Seafood Trail in some of Galway city’s finest restaurants, which will be serving the freshest oysters in Galway and a wide range of local seafood prepared with creativity and flair.

Moreover, for the 2012 edition there will be one more surpise. Thanks to the association with Failte Ireland, the festival will have a very special focus on Irish food heritage this year, engaging visitors with a series of light talks called “Tales by the Sea”. Free storytelling sessions and traditional marquee events throughout the city will tell visitors the story of Galway, exploring its connection with the sea, its produce and the communities that relied on it from its founding to modern day.

Finally, for a non-stop afternoon of entertainment, don’t miss out on the Guiness World Oyster Opening Championship, a truly hilarious event featuring contestants from every continent competing for the world title and valuable prizes.

Foodspotting: for real foodies 2.0

16 Aug

Launched in January 2010, Foodspotting is foodies’ ultimate social network. It allows foodspotting appusers – oops, foodspotters! – from all over the world to share information about their favourite foods. All you have to do is take a shot of the selected food with your mobile and then submit it to the website/mobile app, adding a short description of the dish and geotagging the restaurant where you spotted it. Once a picture is posted, other users can add more info to it, for example letting others know of other locations where they tried the same dish; they can also nom foods they’ve tried and love (a function similar to Facebook like button) or flag it, by correcting imprecise info about the dish. Users who are awarded more noms get featured on the main page and get closer to the status of “food guru”.

Now, if you’re thinking this is just an app for crazy people hung up on food, you couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, you can definitely find weird stuff like Halloween pizzas, double animal burgers and pineapple bread, but you can also find excellent food spotted by experts like the Travel Channel and Zagat. Let’s have a closer look at some of the things you can do with Foodspotting:

  • Create a guide: guides are the easiest way to share a list of foods and drinks you recommend. By creating a location-based guide, your recommendations will be instantly mapped and accessible via mobile. So, whether you’re looking for a selection of vegetarian restaurants on the Gold Coast, Australia, or healthy places around LA, or you just want to have a look at the weirdest menus from around the world, you simply have to shuffle through other foodspotters’ lists.
  • Meet new people: are you looking for somebody to share your passion for fine dining with? Foodspotting is the place for you! In its huge community you can find foodies from all over the world, from a “giddy gastronaut and globetrotter” (J. Roncelli from California) to Moriza from New York who claims that “bread is for birds and beer is for bears”.
  • Set your location: search by type of food, place or person and ask Foodspotting community to help you eat your way through wherever you are.
  • Blog: take a look at the constantly updated blog and find out about the best deals in your area or the latest trends in pasta making.

Is it too good to be true? Hold on, there’s even more coming! If you’re hungry for work at the moment and not just for food, you’ll be glad to know that Foodspotting is hiring. It’s a small team (currently eight people) but they offer competitive salaries, company-paid healthcare, paid holidays, flexible hours and plenty of opportunities to eat tasty food. They’re looking for people to work in their industrial loft in San Francisco’s SOMA area, but should you prove to be an amazing fit for this role, they would also consider relocation opportunities. You can apply via LinkedIn or email links to applications you’ve worked on to jobs@foodspotting.com . Good luck!

How to Taste Wine Like a Pro

9 Jul

Sono giorni di torrida irrequietezza e… no, basta invettive, almeno per oggi! Il caldo torrido, però, quello resta. E allora, si è più propensi ad uscire la sera, a cercare riparo in qualche giardino frondoso e tentare di raggiungere l’estasi con un bel drink ghiacciato, mentre zanzare, falene, ma che dico – blatte asiatiche!! –, tentano un’arrampicata scivolosa sulle vostre gambe.

summer night

Provate ad immaginare la scena, senza blatte, però. Una di quelle sere d’estate a cui non manca davvero nulla. C’è tutto, zampirone alla citronella e chaise-longue di bambù inclusi. Non è quello uno di quei momenti in cui vorreste completare la scena sorseggiando un bicchiere di vino pregiato? Magari dispensando perle di saggezza sulla qualità della vendemmia, sul colore, la consistenza, le note fruttate e tutte quelle paroline che accarezzano l’orecchio e ti farebbero sorseggiare anche un Tavernello con la devozione di un Barolo, eh?

Ecco qualche consiglio su come degustare un vino alla perfezione. Parola di Christina Fischer, che è una che di vini se ne intende, ma ancor più di sboroni che vogliono atteggiarsi a sommelier…

The first impression is always an optical one. The eye must first analyse the colour, shade and clearness of the wine. To best analyse the colour of the wine, you should raise the glass by the stem a little bit diagonally opposite a light or against a white background. The wine must be completely clear in the light and the surface should be perfectly pure. Sometimes the wine shows cloudiness or fine floating flakes, but such lumps of unwanted substances do not necessarily affect the wine quality. In red wines, for example, such cloudiness always appears and usually consists of completely harmless tannin and artificial colouring.

But taste wouldn’t exist without smell. Fine and delicate aromas found in wine must be purposefully transported to the right place in the nose. Through sniffing, man creates small air swirls which drive the various scent substances to the mucosa situated in the upper part of the nose. In order to recognize even the finest and most volatile smells, you should gently shake the glass so that a mix of oils are developed and driven to the mucosa. Once you have emptied your glass, you should put your nose inside again in order to breathe the scent substances left on the glass.

Finally proper taste. Since the taste buds on the tongue respond to sweetness, sharpness, bitterness and saltiness, you should put enough wine on your palate in order to distribute the liquid over the entire surface of your tongue. Then you must roll the wine over your tongue regularly back and forth. Audible slurping and chewing is allowed in wine tasting, although you might want to avoid that in restaurants! When tasting, you should keep the wine on the palate for about ten seconds and swallow a small portion once or twice. During the first assessment, the wine is perceived as dry or sweet. But be careful! Sweet aromas are predominant, so you shouldn’t assess the wine too quickly. Moreover, the real sugar content is easily underestimated when the sharpness is high. As a result , you may be led to claim that a dry wine is a sharp wine, while as a matter of fact it’s just not as sweet as other wines.

Must – Have to – Should

Must , Have to e Should sono verbi modali e in quanto tali indicano il modo in cui si esprime un messaggio. Must e Have to, ad esempio, si usano per esprimere un ordine, un obbligo. Nei libri di grammatica si dice che must si usa per indicare un obbligo morale, di tipo personale, mentre have to esprime un obbligo esterno, una legge o un divieto formale. As esempio:

I have to wear a uniform at work. (si tratta di un regola ufficiale a cui tutti devono attenersi)

I must buy a new uniform, this one looks old. (è una scelta personale)

Tuttavia, nella vita reale, vi assicuro che c’è molta flessibilità nell’uso di questi due modali.

Should, invece, è il condizionale di must e si usa per dare un consiglio, fare raccomandazioni, dare suggerimenti. Ad esmpio:

Doctors say you should drink a glass of wine a day.

I verbi modali hanno alcune caratteristiche particolari da ricordare per un uso corretto della lingua. Eccole:

Caratteristiche dei modali

Esempi

Si comportano come verbi ausiliari (to be), cioè non necessitano dell’ausiliare do/did per la forma negativa e interrogativa.
You shouldn’t assess the wine too quickly.Should I drink this?
Sono sempre seguiti dalla base form. You should put enough wine on your palate.You must roll the wine over your tongue.
Non prendono mai la “s” alla terza persona singolare.  The wine must be completely clear in the light.
In quanto verbi difettivi sono privi di alcuni tempi verbali, per i quali si usano forme sostitutive. I must learn how to taste wine like a pro.(Present simple)I had to learn how to taste wine like a pro.(Past Simple)I will have to learn how to taste wine like a pro. (Future Simple)