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Posts Tagged ‘traveling’

Foodie finds food!


Peas, Herbs and Garlic Scapes

So much awesomeness for my last day in Boulder! The second day of Food and Light, wonderful lunch at The Kitchen, and an unbelievable dinner at Frasca Food & Wine. In the midst of all this, I have decided that I want to live in Boulder – not necessarily right now, because I’m pretty sure I could barely afford a broom closet, but eventually – maybe in the Whittier area… hmm..

The workshop was, of course, fantastic. Diane Cu and Helen Dujardin led discussions on artificial and natural lighting, exploring speedlights/flashes/strobes as well as bounces/scrims & diffusers and how to use these different tools to properly light a given subject and create different effects. Super helpful and informative, both in terms of techniques but also tools and future purchases (aka more additions professional wishlist).


Mmm lunch!

After our morning session, I returned to The Kitchen for another fabulous gluten-free lunch. Instead of the lamb burger, I got in touch with my inner Italian with a prosciutto and burrata sandwich with arugula, mint and balsamic dressing on grilled Udi’s bread – YUM! – with a warm Yukon potato salad. I headed back to the gallery for our afternoon session, which featured two awesome demos on food styling by Diane and Helen, highlighting their different approaches to planning and composing a shot – so cool!! Our afternoon session ended with a little bit more shooting, followed by five photo contests with two winners each, judged by both our instructors and peers. It was so amazing to see everyone else’s photos – so now I’ll share them with you here!

After we wrapped up for the day, I headed over to Frasca Food & Wine for one of the single-most amazing meals of my life. A warm roasted beet salad with blistered grape tomatoes, burrata cheese and radishes in a light vinaigrette followed by a gorgeous risotto of chicken conserva with Chanterelle mushrooms, thyme and leeks – it was smooth and delicious, a perfect blend of flavors – and so light! I daresay, it was almost refreshing, even in this heat! If I could have that every day, I could die happy (probably of a heart attack, but that’s beside the point!). Finished editing photos and packing, now it’s time to veg out in my hotel room before my 8h30a shuttle ride to the airport and home to Seattle!



Mmm cherries!


Cherry Chile Chocolate from Chocolove


Donut Peaches


Baguette and Olives

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Food and Light


Dried Chiles

What a day! The first day of the Food and Light workshop was fantastic, although it started off a bit rocky. I set my alarm last night and, exhausted, fell asleep around 9h30. I must have turned off my 7h00 alarm in my sleep, because I awoke at 7h46 in a panic – the workshop begins at 8h00. I ran around like an idiot getting ready, shoving my contacts in, grabbing my camera and laptop, etc. and – to my utter amazement – appeared, presentable, on time at the gallery across the street! But oh man, what a way to start the day!

The first part of the workshop covered the pretty basic fundamentals of photography and the camera, etc. and spent a lot of time doing hands-on work with different props and other things. Grabbed an unbelievable lunch at The Kitchen – “Boulder’s Community Kitchen” – which stocks locally sourced ingredients (including Udi’s gluten-free bread!!) and is generally eco-friendly (the kitchen runs on wind-powered electricity and the used oil is recycled to run the owner’s car). I had their amazing fire-grilled lamb burger with pepper, tomato and mango chutney on Udi’s bread, with french fries and a green salad with a big, refreshing glass of iced tea – delicious, filling, and perfect in the heat!

Fire-Grilled Lamb Burger & Fries
Grilled lamb burger on Udi’s gluten-free bread from The Kitchen

The second half of the workshop included a lecture on lighting and lenses, then more hands-on work-time in the gallery with cool props, great people and our fabulous instructors. Here are a few examples of what I’ve been up to… and a link to the Food and Light Flickr group – let me know what you think!


Dreamy Raspberry Cupcake


Fresh Blueberries


Fresh Strawberries and Raspberries

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Colorado, ho!

Gorgeous, no?

Well! Just arrived in Boulder and I am so excited for the Food and Light workshop tomorrow and Tuesday. Located in the Rembrandt Yard art gallery, right in the heart of historic Boulder, my attendance at the two-day workshop is a graduation present from my family – aren’t they wonderful? I could laud their amazingness for pages, but I wouldn’t want to bore you. In any case, the workshop is taught by four of my all-time favorite photographers: Diane Cu and Todd Porter, Helen Dujardin and Jen Yu. If you really try, I’m sure you can conjure up some idea of my excitement!

I’m staying in the charming, historic hotel near the Pearl Street Pedestrian mall – it’s all dark wood, chintz fabric and highbacked chairs – basically, super cool. I took a leisurely stroll (almost two miles…) to the 29th Street Mall to have dinner at the wonderful Laudisio and boy, is it worth it!

Antipasto: gluten free breadsticks and a Bibb lettuce salad with pancetta, fennel, grapefruit, chevre and a grainy mustard vinaigrette.

Primo: Polenta baked with creamy spinach, ricotta and Gruyere, with a puttanesca sauce and fresh tomatoes in a crisp parmesan cup.


“Living Bibb” insalata


Polenta alla “Boulder”

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Civita di Bagnoregio
Civita di Bagnoregio

Today was another long day in the field – but so amazing! We met our charter bus at 7h45 this morning, driving (albeit rather slowly) for almost three hours to Orvieto. We took the funicular from Orvieto Scalo to Orvieto proper and proceeded first to the most adorable artisan chocolaterie, then to the cathedral. Il Duomo (1290s-1310) is intense: a solidly Gothic cathedral, constructed from alternating layers of volcanic rock: black basalt and white-gold tufa, looking kind of like a Beetlejuice layer cake. Yeah. Anyway, it is one of few definitively Gothic churches in Italy and is utterly unique at that: the facade is decorated with bas reliefs, unbelievable mosaics, a large rose window with complex tracery and sculpted pilasters and columns inlaid with gold and marble tiles. The facade is most known for the aforementioned mosaics which shine brilliantly (some might argue blindingly) in the afternoon sun, making the cathedral glisten like a beacon on the hilltop.

Inside, the basalt/tufa construction continues, and you come to notice that the lancet windows are not glass (obvious from the outside) but they are not bricked over, either – they are outfitted with paper thin panels of marbled alabaster, which casts a gentle golden light on the side chapels and aisles. The late 16th-early 17th century design campaign, initiated by the Opera dell Duomo (a civic committee of laymen who have been in charge of the cathedral’s design since the 14th century) was a major art historical event, but the products are no longer in situ. The sculptures and altar were removed in the 19th-20th century when the interior was renovated back to its Late Medieval appearance. Thus, the 12 apostles (by various artists), Francesco Mochi’s Annunciation, and the highly architectural tabernacle have all been removed to local museums.

That being said, there is still much to see in the Duomo: the Cappella del Corporale (Chapel of the Corporal) which features the relic from the Miracle at Bolsena (which I am not going to get into, but do read it for yourself), as well as the Cappella Nuova which features frescoes by Luca Signorelli and Fra Angelico. Unfortunately, the Cappella del Corporale is really dark and has a rather odd fresco cycle depicting scenes from both the Miracle at Bolsena and the history of the Eucharist. The Cappella Nuova, from the 16th century, has intense frescoes by Signorelli of the Apocalypse/Book of Revelations, the Last Judgment and scenes of Heaven in the vaults, as well as Fra Angelico’s depiction and Christ with the Apostles over the altar. On the walls proper, there are portraits of poets and humanist scholars (like Dante) and tondos depicting scenes of historical violence and martyrdom, as well as a Lamentation which both quotes the Meleager sarcophagus and a miniature reproduction of the antique itself in the background.

We finished up at the cathedral then walked across town to the museum. Oh my goodness, my inner (okay, outer) art history nerd was in HEAVEN: Francesco Mochi’s Angel and Virgin Annunciate right there, in front of me. AH. I can’t even tell you how unbelievably amazing it is to see two of your favorite sculptures in person, without a huge crowd, not sequestered behind bulletproof glass or ten feet away behind a railing. AH. Okay, so the story of Francesco Mochi’s Annunciation is awesome – basically, the young artist, untried and untested, was suggested to the Opera del Duomo by Alessandro Farnese c. 1600. Now, the Farnese had a pretty big influence in Orvieto and the Opera conceded, granting Mochi the opportunity for his first major commission which produced what I consider to be the first sculpture of the Baroque. Look at the angel! His drapery is twisting, rustling, whirling – as if he is streaking down from heaven like a meteorite, about to crash land on the altar! Erm, ok maybe not, but it does look like he’s still in the process of racing to reach the Virgin. And the technique! The undercutting is so intense and the base so tiny, but the whole work is an unbelievably set of counterweights and the whole thing balances perfectly, but to obtain this, the draper is so thin in places, that if you get down on the floor and look up (which I totally did), you can see the light shining through. AH. Bernini-shermnini! (It’s ok Gian Lorenzo, I still love you).

And the Virgin! Here she is, her profile modeled, first of all, after the sybil a 13th century Tuscan sculptor, Giovanni Pisano (Mochi was all about the Tuscan tradition and saw himself as part of the legacy of Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo). Anyway, the Virgin – this sculpture was super controversial at the time – not that you would ever know it now. The Bishop of Orvieto* refused to allow it to be installed on the high altar because he found it extremely inappropriate – why? Well, two reasons: first of all, he argued that her drapery was too clingy and, albeit not revealing, but evocative – of the wrong sort of idea. Second, he felt that it was not the kind of moment we wanted to represent – here she is, grabbing her dress, and looking totally startled/annoyed/frightened – she stood up from her reading (as the text goes) so quickly that her drapery is tangled on the chair and the chair itself is rocking off the floor – but then, if a speeding angel appeared in your bedroom, bearing news that you were at this very moment conceiving the son of G-d, wouldn’t you freak out too? Anyway, after three years of stonewalling, the Opera won out and the pair was installed.

Okay, okay I’ll stop. After the museum, we wandered around Orvieto for a few hours, souvenir shopping and grabbing lunch before meeting back up, taking the funicular back down the mountain and hailing our charter bus – next stop, Civita di Bagnoregio!

Civita, an hour or so from Orvieto, is a teeny little town in two parts: the more modern part, and across a canyon, the more famous medieval hilltop town. We walked down the mountain, then back up on that teeny little footbridge in the lower right of the picture. Uh huh. But our efforts were rewarded! The most amazing bruschetta (so I was told) with wonderful cheese and house-made olive oil and wine. The family who owns the osteria has been producing olive oil in Civita for 500 years and now also produces red wine and honey – and they’re amazing. The olive oil is light and olive-y and almost garlicky, but delicious. Oh wow.

We left Civita around 19h15 and didn’t get back to Rome until 22h00… yeah, just a little bit later than our professori had anticipated, so they’re cutting us a bit of a break tomorrow, giving us a late start. Thank goodn
ess.

* Oh did I mention that this bishop also collected paintings by Caravaggio? Yeah. Triumphant Love is totally cool, but this Virgin is ALL WRONG.

Orvieto - Guitarist
Guitarist performing near il Duomo

Orvieto - Il Duomo (Exterior)
Il Duomo (Orvieto Cathedral) henceforth known as the Beetlejuice Basilica

Orvieto - Il Duomo (Exterior Detail)
Detail of the intricate Gothic facade

Orvieto - Il Duomo (Nave)
Il Duomo – Nave

Chiese Orvieto
Two churches and rooftops, en route to the museum

Orvieto - Giardino
Arcaded atrium (I love arcades in sharp lighting)

Mochi's Annunciation
Mochi’s Virgin Annunciate (1608-09)

Mochi's Annunciation
Mochi’s Angel of the Annunciation (1603-05)

Mochi's Annunciation
Detail of Mochi’s Angel

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Ah, Roma!

Il Stazione
Stazione Roma Tiburtina

Today was beautifully, remarkably uneventful. We woke up early and caught the 9h39 train as we had planned, arriving back in Rome around 13h15. Unfortunately, we arrived back at Roma Tiburtina at 13h15 and couldn’t catch a local commuter to Stazione Termini until 14h00. Ah well, the sun was warm and there were wildflowers growing between the tracks that were begging for a portrait! Alas, nothing was open and we were unable to restock our sadly, sadly depleted refrigerator, but we all have pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic as well as peanut butter and jelly, so we’ll be just fine.

On a side note, I am fairly certain that I am, in fact, allergic to Rome. Every time I leave the city, my nose stops running and I stop sneezing – as soon as we come back, 20 minutes later, I’m sneezing, my eyes are itching and my nose is starting to drip. Attractive, no? Oh, Roma.

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Seaside

Vasto - Pier
Pier out over the Adriatic Sea

Happy May Day! I’ll be honest, it was a little more (or less) happy here! In Italy, May 1st is also Labor Day and everyone takes the day off to be with their families, hit the beach, whatever. On the down side, everyone takes the day off and practically nothing is open – you’ll be lucky to find an open bar for your morning espresso!

Today was gorgeous – we took the train from Chieti to Pescara and from Pescara to Vasto, a small seaside town an hour or so away. We arrived just after 11h00 and immediately hit the beach, walking along the shallows for over an hour before deciding to head up to the town itself. Now, we were too cheap/lazy to find a bus, buy a ticket and deal with all of that so we elected to walk up the mountain. Yes, mountain. It took us an hour, in sundresses, sandals and 75F sun-shining weather, but we did make it, and only mildly dehydrated/sunburnt at that. We walked around Old Vasto for a few hours, grabbing lunch at a charming local restaurant (okay, it was our only choice – nothing was open) where we feasted (okay, not really) on local Pecorino cheese and a balsamic reduction, a salad for myself and pasta for the girls. This not-quite-epic lunch was, however, followed by the most amazing gelato ever (not to mention cheap! €1.80/medium aka 3 flavors mounded into a giant cup). Of course, I got hazelnut, coffee and dark chocolate — how can you go wrong! — but the vanilla, coconut/dark chocolate as well as lemon and cherry/cream were apparently excellent as well.

We meandered our way down the mountain, past orange trees and farms, along the highway, through the new part of town, past the old train station and back to the beach. We walked the boardwalk on our way back to the (new) train station, picking up some souvenirs along the way (I found adorable wood earrings and Gina found a bouquet of 15 hand-woven silk flowers). We headed back to the train station, walking past restaurants and hotels we had passed that morning, enjoying the cool breeze and warm afternoon sun. We ended up taking the 18h41 train back to Pescara – no big deal, there were two more that ran that night, one at 20h00 and one at 22h00. However, in the process of booking our tickets from Pescara to Chieti, we were confronted with the realization that there were no more trains that evening – the last one left Pescara at 18h00 and there would not be any more until tomorrow morning. We were a little concerned, but Pescara is not far from Chieti and our hosts had encouraged us to just take the bus anyway – so we would do that.

An hour and a half later, we pull into Pescara Centrale – pleasantly sunburnt (I daresay) and ready to head home for dinner. We visit the newsstand/bus-ticket-purveyor in the lobby only to hear that there are also no more buses tonight. Great. We had to call Tony. 20 minutes later, Tony pulls up in the rickety (albeit stable) Fiat Punto we have become so accustomed to and we take off, once again at breakneck speed, through Pescara, along the turnpike and back to Chieti. Fortunately, we leave early tomorrow morning (9h39) and will be back in Rome in the afternoon, just in time for… oh wait. It will be Sunday. Like good roommates, we cleaned out all of our perishables before leaving the apartment for three days; like unadvised foreigners, we didn’t set anything aside because we didn’t know any better. At least there’s Monday!

Vasto - View to the Beach
View of the Adriatic Sea and the Beach from Old Vasto – see that skinny little dock? That’s the pier in the previous photograph.

Vasto - Carousel
Carousel on the Vasto Boardwalk

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Taranta Peligna

Taranta Peligna
Window + balcony of another abandoned building in Taranta Peligna

Well, as it were, Tony’s friend ended up not being able to go with us this morning, so Tony drove us himself. It’s roughly an hour and a half drive from Chieti Scalo to Taranta Peligna, the small mountain town where Maria’s great grandmother, Maria DiNardo is originally from. The country is beautiful, and the route took us along sharply winding roads through the Maiella mountains, through Fara San Martino (where the best spaghetti in the world is produced- according to Tony- using water from a mountain spring) and Casoli.

Taranta Peligna (the name has something to do with tarantulas – fantastic, no?) is a small, small town (population c. 500), nestled into the side of the Maiella mountains in the Aventino River valley. We rolled into town in Tony’s cobalt blue Fiat around noon and, in true Italian form, immediately pulled over to talk to someone. It turns out, Tony spotted three aging gentleman and immediately began explaining to them the whole situation: we’re three American girls, studying in Rome, staying in Chieti Scalo at his B&B and that Maria is trying to find her roots, here, in this town. He asked about Maria DiNardo, Maria’s great grandmother, and the three gentlemen hopped into their respective cars and we wagon trained 1/4 mile down the road to a small house on the hill. One of the gentlemen introduced us to the family – two aging siblings (in their 80s), and their daughter, explaining that these are the DiNardo’s and that they must be Maria’s distant cousins. After trying to sort through names and relationships from c. 1920, we were invited in for cookies and juice, and met the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of the siblings who might be Maria DiNardo’s brother’s children. We spent an hour trying to sort the whole thing out, to little success but great excitement. It was amazing to just show up at someone’s home as a long lost relative and be well-received, even invited in for an afternoon snack.

We made our way down to City Hall to speak to another DiNardo and check the ledgers of all the people and families in Taranta Peligna who emigrated to America. Not much luck, but we were pointed in the direction of a local man – Enrico Rosato – who was just returning from Rome this very afternoon and whose hobby it is to catalogue the family histories of Taranta Peligna. We stopped in at a small bar and got ice cream (oh Magnum bars, how I will miss you!), before the amateur biographer arrived, at which point, Gina and I wandered off in search of adventure.

And did we find adventure… We found the medieval castle/church/fortress near the Aventino River, and behind it, a small abandoned house. Technically, there was no breaking, only entering, but we definitely had to duck under construction fencing… oh well. The house itself was small (four rooms between two storeys, maybe 200 square feet in all) and was obviously used, at some point, as a local after hours hang out spot for high school kids. We were poking around, looking at things when Gina found a Rolling Stones album and I found the box of an original Diana+ camera…from the 1970s. Upon further investigation, all of the magazines and newspapers still on the floor also seemed to hail from this period and it was a little disturbing, this cute little house in the shadow of a church would be abandoned for 40 years.

We wandered our way back to the bar/cafe, only to find a half-dozen people crowded around the table with Maria, Tony and the biographer. They had found Maria Vincenza DiNardo, born in the 1890s. After another few hours and much discussion (during which time Gina and I ended up falling asleep in the shade by the river…oops.) it seems as though we may have found the right family. Maria (and Gina and myself) were introduced to another pair of aging siblings (also in their mid-late 80s), a granddaughter, a grandson and a great-grandson (although he was only two or three) and were able to see the ruined foundations of the house in which they think Maria DiNardo was born, way back when. All in all, it was a fruitful day, and the hour and a half car ride home seemed much less anxious in the fading afternoon sun.

Tony’s wife and our gracious hostess, Amina, offered to make us dinner – much easier than trying to find another open and nearby restaurant, we were thrilled at the offer. She made whole roasted spigola, a type of white fish about the size of trout, but which tastes more like mahi mahi or tilapia, with roasted potatoes, a green salad with sliced heirloom tomatoes, a local cheese (with bread), imported walnuts and a fruit salad for dessert. It was lovely and, if you know my eating habits well, you’ll be shocked and amazed that I dealt with a whole fish (admittedly, headless) on my own and actually ate almost all of it.

Tomorrow we’re off to beautiful, coastal Vasto for a day at the beach!

Taranta Peligna
Small masonry building just outside Taranta Peligna

Taranta Peligna
Houses in Taranta Peligna

Vineyards in Chieti
Afternoon view from our B&B towards a neighbor’s vineyard

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