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... 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

December 23, 2017

Best Christmas present...

When your cousins back home in Switzerland know how to cure your homesickness and keep you going until your next ski holiday in the Swiss Alps... Mille mercis les cousins! Joyeux Noël.

December 21, 2017

Dreaming of a Swiss Christmas tree

Attempting to render my tree completely unique with a selection of beautiful Swiss Christmas tree decorations, I was in search of baubles in bright colours, unique novelty ornaments and the ultimate tree toppers during my recent visit to Zürich. 

I was lucky and stumbled across all kinds of exquisitely Swiss Christmas tree decorations... unfortunately the baubles were over 25.- Euros a piece. 

Therefore, my traditional tree decor from the past years has made its reappearance but I have added a stunning centrepiece this festive season: an Eiffel Tower tree topper acquired from a street vendor at Trocadero for 3 Euros!

Starting out my quest for Swiss Christmas tree ornaments in Zürich's trendy department store
... the colour is right but the price is not!

Swiss Edelweiss hearts

Swiss Alpine motives

Swiss Decoupage baubles

Would I really want a cow hanging from my tree?

Edelweiss, Seilbähnli and and hiking shoe make me feel homesick!

Rhätische Bahn miniature and an Alphorn bring back childhood memories.

These chocolate bars are not to eat and much too expensive for my taste!

A little piece of Swiss real estate hanging from the tree. 

I could just use cookie cutters as tree decoration?!? 

 My grand acquisition for this year!

December 18, 2017

Zürich at Christmas

They say homesickness prompts the development of coping skills and motivates healthy attachment behaviors, such as renewing contact with loved ones. In other words, there is no better way to cure a bit of homesickness than to travel back home.

I would debate home is where my family is. I could also say home is where my heart lies. However, home is also where I have left people behind whom will always have a special place in my heart. Lucky for me, two very dear friends of mine happen to live in Zurich where we grew up together. Need I add more? I booked myself onto a Swiss Airways flight back to my home town for some homesickness indulgence.

These were my moments...

Leaving a grey and rainy Paris behind...

... to arrive at the spick and span Zürich airport!

Culinary homesickness cure: Cervelat und Büürli

Zürcher Tirggel zum dessert!
Traditional Christmas honey biscuits from Zürich.

Reach for the stars! The 157-foot-high tower belonging to the Urania observatory makes it possible. The main telescope allows magnifications of up to 600 times.

I had never noticed this gift from Paris on the Bahnhofstrasse: water fountain dd 1870.

We all know who he is!

Eile mit Weile: a very traditional Swiss board game

Handmade Samichlaus figurines from the Schweizer Heimatwerk, a modern retail shop founded in 1930 offering the finest «made in Switzerland» handicrafts.

Tiger Finkli (tiger slippers) are a Swiss cult object worn by kids since 1938.  

When I can see the snowy mountains from the city center I know I'm home.

Zürich looking quaint

S'Määrlitram is yet another Christmas institution. Zürich would not be the same without Samichlaus und Christchind taking you for a round trip through the city telling you stories and feeding you Z'vieri.

The Sächsilüüte Platz has changed since I was little.
It now hosts an enormous Christmas market including an ice rink and a carousel.

Cookie cutters are still the same.
Swiss Christmas biscuits are the best.

Jelmoli department store was selling personalised wrapping paper. How cool is that?!? 

Some traditions never change: de Päcklitisch!
Free gift wrapping for Christmas and not a piece of waste in sight.

Another longstanding tradition is making your own candles at the Bürkliplatz.
It still smells the same when you walk into the tent.

Could not resist this shot.
Contrast from up close reality to far away alps in the background.

Bis zum nächste Mal: Ciao Züri!
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