October 30, 2016

Ticino: a unique corner of Switzerland

A truly magnificent view from half-way up the San Salvatore mountain

Stepping back into my childhood... hiking with the family!

Autumn in Ticino is really Summer’s last goodbye, but with lots of added flavour!

The sweet chestnut tree, a common sight in the southern Alps, was once known as the "bread tree", since chestnuts were one of the staple foods of Canton Ticino until the early Middle Ages.

Stocking up on some good weather and good food before the winter arrives.

Ricetta della nonna: Take some yellow pumpkin, cut it to pieces and boil in salted water. Once it is soft enough, blend it with the mixer. Prepare a good broth, and when it is boiling, add to the pumpkin mash. Let cook for a moment, and add some milk and a slice of butter.
Serve with croutons and grated cheese.

Ever seen Umberto Eco's movie: The name of the Rose?

A truly magical corner of Switzerland

October 29, 2016

A beautiful day in Lugano

Looking onto the Lake of Lugano

Tiger Lily is in town

Lugano's symbol: Monte Bré

BSI is about to be integrated into a bank called EFG International, a global private banking group. Another tradition lost.

An intriguing private courtyard in the city center

Only in Lugano: Tea Room Vanini and Ristorante Federale

A glorious day in Ticino

October 28, 2016

Six years of blogging: Expat with Kids blogiversary

Back in 1998, three days after our wedding I had followed my hubby to the other side of the world convinced I would never again return to good old Switzerland. As my mother tends to say: "You never know what comes around the corner." Nine years later I was back on my home turf!

On January 6th, 2007 the kids started public school in Lugano. A big change from the English speaking International school in Madrid from where we had moved. Switzerland was to become our home and I set my mind towards a long-term commitment, happy to have returned to my roots.

Although Lugano is the Italian speaking part of the country, the system, the rules and regulations, the transport system, the food, the people and the way of living were very familiar. It did not take me long to slip into Ticino lifestyle, nevertheless keeping a low profile and trying to fit in with the locals... no easy feat!

The day started early, by 8:00 the kids were out of the house, however, they would come back for a two hour lunch break at 11:45. At 15:30 it was time to pick up little Expat girl. I loved spending time with my kids but this schedule did not leave much time for other projects.

Lugano at the time was booming , many Expat were arriving especially from Italy and Russia. The housing market was at an all-time high. What was missing was an English guide on how to find your way around the area.

I had come across blogging thanks to a table neighbour during a dinner party. Little did I know it was to become a passion. With time on my hands and a determination to share all the advantages this lovely spot has to offer I launched into my blog Expat with Kids and never looked back. The first post was published on six years ago today.

In the meantime Lugano tourist office has launched an English blog, the English speaking community has an excellent Facebook page and there is even a new International school just across the border.

So, I might not be the only kid on the block anymore but my passion for blogging has remained as has my love for the Ticino... and that is more than enough reason for me to continue to blog!


October 23, 2016

Ticino's autumn flavours

On a rainy day, my favourite Sunday pastime in Lugano must be going out for lunch with my family to a grotto.

Grottos, typical of Ticino, are rustic establishments - often family businesses - usually located in remote and shaded areas. Inside you'll discover the cosy, unique and genuine ambiance of a simple tavern, often with an open fireplace. Usually, local products and dishes are cooked with love and served with a smile.

Ticinese cuisine, which is closely related to that of Lombardy, is, like in all regional gastronomies, the result of a continuous process that lies somewhere between evolution and preservation.

The poor and monotonous food of the last centuries, when the majority of the Ticinese people lived off chestnuts, polenta and potatoes, slowly became richer. New food, flavours and recipes came into the picture with the changing of the times, also thanks to Ticinese immigrants that brought back different culinary ideas from the countries they visited.

At the same time, however, Ticinese cuisine preserved several of its characteristics: the use of genuine products, the simplicity of dishes tied to the rural world and the fondness for tasty flavours. Today it proposes dishes prepared according to the recipes that have been handed down from one generation to another but also the modern re-visitation of traditional recipes.

The following are among some of the most renowned and appreciated Ticinese dishes: minestrone, pumpkin soup and busecca, risotto, roasted meats (rabbit, kid), and polenta with Luganighetta sausage or brasato (braised meat), baked, sautéd or marinated fish from the river or lake.

Among drinks, besides local red and white wines, there is fresh and thirst quenching lemonade called gazzosa (which my kids love) but also grappa and ratafià (also called nocino), a liqueur made from walnuts of which, they say, only friars know the original recipe.

Sunday lunch at Grotto Mulino

Served with love: Vellutata di zuccha

 Brasato con polenta and a boccalino of Merlot ticinese

October 16, 2016

Educating for complexity

It started with three simple words back in 2015: New Strategic Plan which resulted with a three page Strategic vision resumé last night.

In between lay months and months of hard work: preparation, organization, team building, work shopping, brainstorming, cooperation, compilation, creation, realization, revision, leading up to the revelation and launch of the school new innovative and ambitious Strategic plan. A road map towards the future.

Last night a little association created over 50 years ago announced to the world it was going to play with the big guys of International schools by putting itself on the educational map. It did so with a bang inviting staff, students, parents, alumni, press and local dignitaries to celebrate the official launch in the Natural History Museum of Paris. It was the perfect surroundings to get a very important message across to everyone.

The IB school has reached a crossroad in it's life cycle: it can either engineer its way around this and carry on as before or it can redesign a new, more challenging but ultimately more rewarding path for staff and students.

There is a palpable sense of evolution as the school's mission transforms in the service of a different vision. More than half a decade of accumulated experience in International education gives it the confidence to offer a bold vision for its future. We are moving from experience to influence.

Lived experience is often complex and it is communities such as our school's that have so much to offer. The new Strategic plan provides a road map for the future allowing our children to engage with and succeed in an increasingly complex world.

As for last night, out of roughly 400 kids I can say I did not see a single one walking around with his head stuck in a device! All of them were running along the esplanades of animals under superbly designed lighting effects and theatrical settings. It will be night in the museum they will not forget... and neither will I.

A spectacular backdrop for a celebration

Moving from experience to influence

It's a complex world we are navigating in

Familiar faces

Curiosity never hurts

Amount of waste a family of four produces in 10 days

October 13, 2016

It's a National sport...

We all know that there are regularly strikes in France, but it’s hard to say whether it is because French people complain more than other people, or because they are less afraid to fight for their rights.

One thing is certain though, French people are adamant about saying what they think and are quick to complain when something doesn’t make them happy.

Today I actually saw it printed on a billboard in front of the City Hall and it made me double-take.

Parisians, let's talk about your rights!

Bienvenue dans le pays de la liberté d'expression.

In French freedom of expression is defined as the the individual's right to state the product of his/her intellectual activity towards his/her entourage.

In English it signifies the right to articulate one's opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction.

Need I say more?

October 10, 2016

I miss my neighbours!

We have moved over the summer and now live down the road, however, I do dearly miss my neighbours, especially during the month of October!

Here is a post from two years ago which I 'd like to share with you:

Rarely have I been more excited about something happening in my neighbourhood than yesterday!

Before we first moved to Paris, I was desperately flat hunting and scouting to find something decent within three days. As it often happens, it was to be my very last flat viewing before I rushed to the airport and back to Lugano which at the time was home. I had, however, found my perfect flat. A classic Hausmanian building from the 19th century with a view onto the Arc de Triomphe and a tiny tip of Eiffel Tower if you stretch. It could not get any better.

The only hitch was the restauration of the building in front of us, which was not only noisy but also very dirty. During the extensive refurbishment our flat was filled with dust during the dry days and the windows were a sad sight during the rainy ones.

After three years of enduring the racket across the street even on Saturdays, but steadily watching the building's development with a certain curiosity, it has finally open up it's doors in all its glamorous splendour.

Turns out, it is one of Paris' most prestigious hotels. It is now a treat to look out of our window to enjoy the glorious facade promising prince-like treatment to well-heeled visitors to the French capital.

In 1922, Marcel Proust and James Joyce, the two greatest novelists of the 20th century, met here for the first and only time. In 1928 the American composer George Gershwin wrote the “blues” section of his orchestral poem An American in Paris while staying at the hotel. The building, which dates to 1908, is steeped with history, having housed the Nazi military command when Paris was occupied in World War Two. After the war, the building was briefly the headquarters of Unesco before sinking into anonymity as a French government conference centre and then as offices.

For decades, tourists and Parisians walked past this spot without knowing its extraordinary story. This was a place where the history of the French capital in the 20th century was made, both the light shades and the dark.

Well, last night for the first time ever, the entire outer facade went PiNk transformed with eye-catching pink lighting and decorations much to my delight! It went PiNk for a purpose with the initiative to support Breast Cancer Awareness. Staff are looking extremely smart in black uniforms with their elegant pink ties and specially designed pink pins. Guests and city residents are invited to enjoy a host of enticing pink-themed rooms, dining and spa promotions. I am just enraptured that the usually grey Parisian backdrop finally matches my PiNk dining room.

I have no idea what Mr Joice or Mr Proust would have made of this but I am absolutely tickled PiNk!!!

October 2014

October 2013

Winter 2012

October 8, 2016

A girls' wine tasting seminar

Time for wine! How can I resist an invitation to a degustation by my foodie friend?

It wasn't just any proposition, it was a summons for the girls to gather at her house and meet a sommelier of a near-by restaurant who was going to present the French wine appellation Crozes-Hermitage, the largest in the northern Rhône.

We were told that Crozes-Hermitage, along with the rest of northern Rhône, has a continental climate that differs from its southern neighbour, which has a more Mediterranean climate.

I am no sommelier - nor do I aspire to become one, I just like a nice glass of wine -  so unfortunately all the technical details were lost on me.

I was already concentrating on the first white wine which tasted delicious with the rich cheese platter that our impeccable host had prepared.

The two red wines that followed were more appreciated by the other ladies given my preference for white wines. The jambon de Paris, variation of French breads and salads were devoured with gusto by us girls while the poor sommelier seem to be loosing control rapidly as our conversation became more animated in a mix of English, French and Spanish.

Eventually we all had to run off to prepare late dinners for our kids and hubbies, however, we had enjoyed an unexpected feast with lots of giggles and the complicity that accompanies a gathering of good food and great friends.

Oh, and thank Goodness the sommelier never knew we had started off with a glass of champagne and sushi for aperitivo before he had arrived... and what's more...

... apparently my cooking excelled that night according to my family!

October 6, 2016

Colour me beautiful...

The weather is fabulous. The sun is out and the sky is blue... what better way to enjoy such a rare Parisian October day than to head out to the Fondation Louis Vuitton with some girlfriends to visit the glass sails of Frank Gehry's building whom the French artist Daniel Buren has covered with an array of multicoloured filters.

He has covered the 3,600 pieces of glass making up the building's 12 sails in brightly-coloured filters. The colourful pieces have been arranged in a chequerboard-like formation, and have been applied to both the inside and outside of the building's glass facades – creating a kaleidoscopic effect that changes depending on the time of day.

The bright panels pick up hues and textures present in their surroundings: green expanses of forest, the red of neighboring buildings.

13 different hues that accentuate the shiplike structure’s 12 billowing sails.
Guess which is my favourite?!?

Patterns refracting on 3,600 pieces of glass both inside and outside of the building

A penchant for tiling would seem to share the iconic Louis Vuitton "Damier" pattern

"One of the most important things is to give to people the freedom to see the way they'd like" says Daniel Buren.

A peek towards the Eiffel Tower

The very first sketch drawn on a napkin by Frank Gehry

Not quite sure why they call this the grotto? 

A sense of pure luxury

These four deckchairs had our name of them...

... after a very intense lunch!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...