January 13, 2018

Where I live: Paris in B&W

A few years back a fellow Paris blogger challenged me to post a coloured themed Paris collage. A vignette of greens was the result making Paris look very lush and verdant in the spring!

Winter is very grey in the city of lights and a blue sky is rare and much appreciated when it does finally show. The city's architecture, however, looks stunning in black and white hues.

January 12, 2018

Food, glorious food!

Who is not complaining about having eaten too much food over the holidays? Well, if you aren't you are one of the lucky few.

Spending the Christmas season south of the Alps means that the festivities are essentially about food, maybe a church service or two and some presents. But above all come the extra-special family meals that can only be described as loving, dramatic, emotional, crowded, loud and, of course, scrumptious. When I say food I am talking about two full-fledged meals a day starting on December 24th and possibly lasting until New Year's Eve! Then... you start eating the leftovers!

Here are just a few foodie pictures that now looking back make me smile even though my scales might have seemed unusually out of synch this morning?!?

Leftover salmon blinis with some bubbly on January 1st.

Neapolitan aperitivo... before the five course meal starts!

Amaretto biscuits... my favourite!

Hot chocolate with whipped cream to keep the energy levels up.

Couldn't resist this cannolo siciliano 

This salumeria is defiantly calling my name

The beauty of Italian supermarkets

 Even better when it comes in Pink!

January 6th is Three Kings day and the feast continues...

... to be topped off with "banan peze à la creole" 
for a farewell dinner by my beautiful Haitian friend.

January 5, 2018

Ever heard of the Olive path?

How could we resist the beautiful sunshine? Spending a few days in Lugano over the holidays we were very lucky with the weather. When in Switzerland do as the Swiss, so, we stepped into nature for an invigorating breath of fresh air!

We opted for a hike along the "Olive Path" - a route through lush country with impressive panoramas - enjoying a landscape reminiscent of the Mediterranean. The trail wound along the lake and passed across the remains of old olive groves and areas on which this prized tree is being planted anew. The path thread its way through several little plantations of young olive trees as well as several examples of very old trees.

At the end of the trail lies one of Ticino's most charming village called Gandria. Between its alleys and stairways we discovered charming little corners, miniscule terraced gardens, old staircases and walls decorated with frescos. It was a perfect place to play hide and seek...

The view down the valley towards Gandria.

The view towards Lugano.

A glorious day in the Ticino, Switzerland's sunniest canton.

Feeling like I'm in Ibiza.

After a swift 3km hike we arrived in Gandria.

Church of Gandria.

The village is so small only about 250 people live there.
Gandria can only be reached by foot, bike or boat.

Luckily no one steals their neighbours' firewood in this village.

Off-season stillness and peace.

A romantic entrance.

Imagine arriving to your doorstep via boat?

Olive trees wherever you look...

... or palm trees!

January 4, 2018

Sun-kissed Ticino

While the rest of Europe is being battered by winds up to 140km, ski resorts are closed due to excessive snowfalls and rain is forecast across the Northern Continent, the Ticino is enjoying some lovely days of sunshine and spectacular moonlit nights.

Admittedly, I would have loved to go skiing these holidays after having watched all the snow falling across the Alps over Christmas on TV, however, I am now not so sure.

Villages are snowed in, valleys cut off, routes blocked due landslides, chalets evacuated and entire ski areas closed due to danger of avalanches. Even the Gotthard tunnel - which runs 57km through the Alps - was closed this afternoon due to an accident, while I am strolling along the lake side of Lugano enjoying the beautiful blue skies.

Swiss Meteo forecasting rain at least for another two days across the country except...

... in sunny Ticino

Blue skies wherever you turn.

Feel like a dip in the lake?!?

Lugano's 15m high Christmas tree in Piazza Rifoma.

A spectacular full moon on January 1st, 2018 over Monté Bre.
Although the "biggest full moon of 2018" doesn't look that different from a typical full moon — it is at the moon's closest point in orbit, called perigee, but it appears a bit bigger and brighter than other full moons.

January 1, 2018

Expat with Kids 2017 best nine

You may or may not have seen the "Best 9 of 2017" grids popping up on your Instagram feed these past days? Well, I could not resist the trend and let the feed locate the nine most-liked posts from Expat with Kids in 2017. This is what my #2017bestnine looks like... my heart is clearly torn between big city life and the sunny beach.

December 31, 2017

December 30, 2017

Napoli's biggest temptation: food!

As in any part of Italy, Neapolitans are passionate and quite opinionated about their cuisine. The food of this city is as exuberant as its natives. The cooking of this region aims to preserve the flavors of the local fresh ingredients as well as their fragrance, thereby maintaining a focus on simplicity rather than sophistication. Southern Italian food is considered to be the "soul of Italy".

Spending a few days in Napoli over Christmas means adding roughly one kilo a day to the scales. Seriously! The food is so delicious and Nonna's cooking is the best. Like any self respecting Neapolitan family, the best meals are found in the homes where nonna and mamma make dishes using the decade’s old family recipe. Each family, of course, has their own unique version of the dish.

Walking through the airport upon our arrival, Expat Girl mentioned with a smile that we would be taking off from this gate in less than a week but weighing at least 5 kg more... each of us. 

And she was right!

As we prepare the New Year's Eve menu we will just conveniently forget about the extra kilos and concentrate on more scrumptious food... there are always the New Year's Resolutions to be made!

Core e mamma comme me piace e te chiamma accussi.
Core e mamma si a vita mia.
Restaurants don't need to look flashy but the food needs to taste good, preferably with home cooking by Mamma or Nonna who are standing behind the stove!

Pizza fritta is an absolute must in Napoli...

...as are spaghetti alle vongole.

Neapolitans are also known for their preference for sweets! The desserts of this region focus on citrus and pastry and here are just a few of the region’s favourites.
Zeppole are my latest discovery.

 Dolci alle mandorle are my personal favourite.

The family Christmas lunch table at 17:30... 

... and we are still going strong!

When you run out of homemade struffoli...

...the only option is to buy some. 
However, they will never be as delicious as Expat Girl's homemade ones thanks to Nonna's recipe!
These little balls of deep fried dough are drizzled with honey and decorated with "diavulilli" (colored sprinkles) and preferably served warm.

Baba al rhum in all its variations are Expat hubby's favourite.
The classic version is served plain and soaked in a rum, strega, or limoncello-based syrup, but you can also find them sliced and filled with pastry cream, ricotta cream, cream chantilly and fruit, lemon cream or Nutella.

Sfogliatella riccia is Expat boys favourite!
Paper-thin layers of beautifully baked clam-shaped pastry pockets filled with an oozing, buttery filling of creamy ricotta cheese, sugar, cinnamon, and little bits of candied citrus.

December 29, 2017

The streets of Naples

After five years we have returned to Napoli to celebrate Christmas with my in-laws. Every year is a controversial visit with much expectation, a little tension but always guaranteed fascination on my part for this city is a corner of Europe that is and always will be unique in so many different ways.

Neapolitan reality... religion and washing ...

...hanging out the window wherever you turn!

Naples' historic city centre is the largest in Europe, covering 1,700 hectares and enclosing 27 centuries of history and is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. 

Much of the city's 20th-century periphery was constructed under Benito Mussolini's fascist government, and during reconstruction efforts after World War II.

Sadly Napoli has not escaped the 21st century phenomena of graffiti...

... nor the tourist traps...

.. but it still has its charms hidden in the little alleys.

Everywhere you look you'll find alleys going off into areas you probably don't want to wander into on your own.

Old world charm: Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Naples' 2,800-year-history has left it with a wealth of historical buildings and monuments, from medieval castles to classical ruins. The most prominent forms of architecture visible in present-day Naples are the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque styles but you need to look for them...

Naples' sports scene is dominated by football club S.S.C. Napoli.
Forza Napoli!

Last minute Christmas shopping along via Toledo.

Castel dell'Ovo: the castle's name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation in medieval times as a great sorcerer and predictor of the future. In the legend, Virgil put a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications. Had this egg been broken, the castle would have been destroyed and a series of disastrous events for Naples would have followed.

It might be falling to pieces but the architecture is still spectacular.

Piazza del Plebiscito is named after the plebiscite taken on October 2, 1860 that brought Naples into the unified Kingdom of Italy under the House of Savoy.

The Vesuvio is ever present

Time to return to Nonna's
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