La lista dei desideri – 8.

Scala dei Turchi, Sicily

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The Scala dei Turchi (Italian: “Stair of the Turks”) is a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte, southern Sicily, Italy. It has become a tourist attraction due to its unusual white color, as well as by its mention in Andrea Camilleri’s series of detective stories about Commissario Montalbano.

You can reach the white cliff on foot, climbing a large, limestone staircase that has formed naturally over the centuries. The nature, as a great artist, has worked this material over time, making it soft and sinuous, with the help of the sea and the salty breeze, creating terraces and smoothing every corner. When you ascend the staircase, you will have the feeling of being in Wonderland, on a huge white meringue. The sea, taking advantage of this sparkling white, will be showing off his blue. By the way, the name Scale of the Turks seems to derive from the fact that in ancient times the ships of marauding Arabs and Turks found shelter in this bay.

The Scala is formed by a sedimentary rock with a characteristic white color. It lies between two sandy beaches, and is accessed through a limestone rock formation in the shape of a staircase, hence the name. The latter part of the name derives from the frequent raids carried on by Moors. In August 2007, the municipality of Realmonte applied for the inclusion of the Scala dei Turchi (together with the nearby Roman Villa Aurea) in the UNESCO Heritage List.

Along the beach near the Scala there are two well-equipped facilities for dining and bathing.

“Scala dei Turchi is a place of outstanding beauty. When you look at these rocks you can hardly believe that nature can produce colours and shapes like these. You can find strong contrast between blu sea and white marl cliff and the view is amazing . There’s a peaceful atmosphere and a very beautiful scenery. Now I’m sure, this place is not on the planet Earth … Don’t miss it if you go to Sicily!”

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Cucina italiana – Senza carne – 8.

Yes, besides zucchini there is also eggplant season, and I need to tell you that I love this vegetable even more 🙂 I know many recipes, and even out of Italian kitchen there are many ways how to prepare, cook, grill, oven bake, etc this vegetable. But now my plan is to show the best options with Italian spices. A long time ago I found a very funny site, which collected Sicilian 68 recipes what to do with an eggplant (back at the time I was a rookie cooker, so when my mum gave me a whole eggplant from her garden I didn’t really know what else I could do with it besides to grill, so yes… google was my friend:)) Here it goes, enjoy:

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/09/24/68-sicilian-eggplant-recipes-yes-really/

“Sicilians call eggplant the “meat of the earth.” The white-fleshed purple-skinned fruit can indeed be prepared like most cutlets. You can fry it, grill it, bake it. You can also stuff it, roast it, puree it, stew it, even pickle it. Depending on where your eggplant hails from, it might be long and skinny or squat and fat. It might not even be purple at all.”

But of course, many of them are with meat, flour, etc – so I have collected the ones out of this list which can be added to my diet (gluten-free, sugar-free, meat-free), find hereby my favourite 11!! 🙂

1. Eggplant “tonnato:” prepare classic preserved tuna sauce and serve with chunky grilled eggplant pulp and grilled sardines.
2. Toss risotto with pesto, ricotta and fried baby eggplants.
3. Slice eggplants with skins on in half lengthwise and stuff with mozzarella and pecorino cheeses and bake it.
4. Marinate eggplants in olive oil, garlic and Sicilian oregano, then grill.
5. Eggplant parmigiana: cover eggplant slices in Parmesan and tomato sauce, then bake.
6. Cook, then puree eggplant with basil.
7. Puree smoked eggplant and serve with gluten free toast.
8. Stuff saffron arancini (rice balls) with pecorino cheese and finely chopped grilled eggplant, zucchini and tomato.
9. Grilled eggplant salad: toss with pomegranate and mint OR with tomato and mozzarella
10. Cut eggplant into sticks, bread and fry.
11. Chickpea fritters, served with sweet and sour eggplant salsa.

I believe most of them are self explanatory and no need for super detailed recipe. My intention was to give you inspiration, and of course many ingredients can be changed or replaced with other things according to your diet. But there is one recipe I would like t share with you, this is Eggplant parmigiana, aka:

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

For sure you know this, or have seen this somewhere!! And actually the recipe is super simple, basically layers of garlicky homemade tomato sauce, meaty fried eggplant, and melted layers of parmesan and mozzarella cheeses: this is the ultimate recipe for the Italian-American classic. Of course many other versions of the classic recipe are available, now I’m sharing with you my 2 favourites:

The first is a breading-free version, really well worth trying, especially in late summer when eggplant (and tomatoes!) are at their best. This version has no Parmigiano-Reggiano either, and has an incredibly clean, fresh flavour as a result, but feel free to add a dusting of freshly grated cheese to each layer if you prefer.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/08/italian-style-eggplant-parmesan-melanzane-alla-parmigiana-recipe.html

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The second is very close to the classic recipe that I actually and usually follow in 90% the only thing I skip is breadcrumbs and replace with more cheese or if by any chance I find gluten free breadcrumbs in the stores then we can go 🙂

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/aubergine-parmigiana-melanzane-alla-parmigiana/how-eggplant-parm-227-med109000_vert.jpg

 

 

La lista dei desideri – 7.

Still Sardegna, again and again 🙂 I think it’s a constant inspiration for me 🙂 Even though I already spent quite a time there, there are still other places, caves, bays and spiaggias which I haven’t had the possibility to visit yet as there are so many amazing things to see in Sardegna and therefore as well my motivation is to go back pretty soon to discover some of them, and if it would be possible, then all… maybe one day 🙂

Cala Luna

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Between Barbagia and Ogliastra, in the centre of the eastern coast of the Island, you will find one of Sardinia’s most symbolic beaches, because of its wild appearance and unspoilt beauty. Most boat excursions take in Cala Luna, a wide wedge of pebbly sand 4.3 miles (7km) south of Cala Gonone, with sheltered, shallow water and a bar. You can also walk here from Cala Fuili in about two hours, along a path that’s occasionally tricky but largely shaded (though sun hats and water are essential accompaniments). A good option is to experience both ways – walking there and taking the boat back, or vice versa.

Cala Luna is characterized by the mouth of the Codula di Luna torrent. Sheer rock faces protect and frame the cove, dotted with shady, spacious natural caves that offer shelter from the sun in the hottest months. The golden beach in the centre of the cove is washed by the clear blue sea. It is particularly popular with recreational underwater fishing enthusiasts or people who simply want to take a dip in its waters. It is equipped with a bar, a place for dining/refreshments and has shallow waters that makes it easy for children to play in the sea. Because of its unusual beauty and wild charm, it was chosen as the setting for the film entitled ‘Swept Away’ by Lina Wertmuller, with Mariangela Melato and Giancarlo Giannini, an Italian cinema cult movie. It was also the setting for the remake of the film, starring the superstar, Madonna.

All around the bay, are the mountains of the Gulf of Gennargentu NationalPark, with their inaccessible peaks, the land whitened by pure white stones scattered all over the territory and large green valleys offering picturesque trekking trails. Holm oak, strawberry tree and oak woods create a picture-postcard landscape throughout the year, especially when spring and autumn bring with them a kaleidoscope of colours. Further south, along the gulf, in the territory of Baunei, you will find other havens with their unspoilt nature and crystal clear waters, and other corners of paradise that will remain in your memory for a long time and all of which can be reached by boat or via exciting trekking trails.
http://www.sardinianbeaches.com/beaches-of-sardinia/east/dorgali/cala-luna/

Cucina italiana – Senza carne – 7.

From the previous recipes I posted most likely you noticed my intention, that I’m really into healthy cooking while keeping the Italian tastes, so I’m sharing recipes accordingly. I try to avoid sugar, flour and as it’s summertime being as light as possible, using seasonal vegetables, while of course I skip meat, as I’m pescatarian. Even though you are not that strict with yourselves, there are some principles which are great to remember once choosing a meal to cook to stay on the healthier side. 🙂

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-tips-healthy-italian-cooking

I have two very light recipes as well for today. Easy to make, it can be added to any kind of diet, enjoy! 🙂

Garden Minestrone

Overall Minestrone means a seasonal soup and the original recipes are usually covering a thick soup made with fresh vegetables often with the addition of rice or pasta, sometimes both. Common ingredients include beans, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and whatever you can find in your garden. There is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season. It can be vegetarian, contain meat, or contain a meat-based broth. Because of its unique origins and the absence of a fixed recipe, minestrone varies widely across Italy depending on traditional cooking times, ingredients, and season. Minestrone ranges from a thick and dense texture with very boiled-down vegetables, to a more brothy soup with large quantities of diced and lightly cooked vegetables. In modern Italian there are three words corresponding to the English word ‘soup’: zuppa, which is used in the sense of tomato soup, or fish soup; minestra, which is used in the sense of a more substantial soup such as a vegetable soup, and also for ‘dry’ soups, namely pasta dishes; and minestrone, which means a very substantial or large soup or stew, though the meaning has now come to be associated with this particular dish.

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http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/garden-minestrone

Light Tiramisu

Yes, I know. Tiramisu is a traditional recipe and you shouldn’t even dare to touch it or change it, but I did. 🙂 As I love it that much that I was not able to skip from my diet, so I decided to change the recipe a bit. Actually I didn’t really find the 1:1 online, but this recipe here is pretty similar to what I’m usually preparing. The principles are the same, I change sugar for natural sweetener, I skip fat mascarpone and replace it with a lighter ricotta cheese.

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/instant-tiramisu

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For approx. 10 servings:

  • 1 cup part-skim or light ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup natural sweetener (e.g. stevia)
  • 24 sugar & gluten free ladyfingers – in some countries you can find it in stores, if not here is a great home made option
  • 1/2 cup Amaretto – we need to keep this 🙂
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • (and if you feel like adding fresh strawberries to one of the layers or replace the coffee with it go for it, even fresher and so yummmy:))

And the steps are the same as in case of the usual tiramisu recipe. So easy to be a bit more health conscious with just replacing couple of ingredients. 🙂

La lista dei desideri – 6.

When I was writing about Puglia my plan was to include Polignano di Mare as well, actually on the first place. But then I realized that there are too many things what I would share about this place particularly and it’s better to dedicate the Puglia article to the region and write a separate post about this magic place: Polignano di Mare 🙂

Polignano offers all the right ingredients for a perfect day out. The tiny old town, reached through the Porta Vecchia gate, combines charming, white-washed streets with beautiful old churches such as the Chiesa Matrice. You may find yourself getting lost in the winding streets, but you won’t mind at all. Before you know it, you will have reached one of three panoramic terraces offering breathtaking views of the beautiful Adriatic Sea and coastline.

Polignano di Mare is famous throughout the world for three things:

  1. First of all cliff diving. In recent years the town has hosted the Red Bull diving competition, attracting crowds of 45,000 people in 2010!
  2. Second is its outstanding ice-cream, which you really cannot afford to miss on a hot summer’s evening.
  3. The third and possibly most famous export of Polignano a Mare, however, is the great Domenico Modugno, who wrote and sang numerous classic songs, including the massive international hit, Volare (originally entitled Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu)! The locals are incredibly proud of their favourite son and rightly so. As you wander through the streets that inspired such a wonderful song, you might well find yourself involuntarily singing or whistling, “Volare, oh,oh… Cantare, oh,oh,oh,oh… Nel blu dipinto di blu… felice di stare lassù…”.

You can find his monument here:

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Beautiful place 🙂

And the 4th thing for me, which is a recent miracle in Polignano di Mare is Grotta Palazzese, a restaurant and hotel inside a cave. Most likely you have seen many pictures about this place on the internet, just didn’t know where exactly it is. Well it’s also here 🙂

Grotta Palazzese

http://www.grottapalazzese.it/it/i-ristoranti/

Going out in Trastevere – 2.

Terrazza San Pancrazio

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This outdoor rooftop lounge bar is serving seafood, such as raw fish, sushi and oysters, orchestrated with Yugo restaurant. Afterwards, move to the other side of the Terrazza, where a full bar, plush vintage couches and a lighted garden space awaits. The refreshing cocktails, and live jazzy music or low-key DJ sets create the kind of summer ambience that makes the Terrazza the place to be on a balmy night.

https://www.facebook.com/TerrazzaSanPancrazio/

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Il Baretto 

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Il Baretto Cocktail Bar is very close to Terrazza San Pancrazio, so it’s still located in the heart of Rome and has always been a place where everyone can feel at home, with pleasant atmosphere that makes you feel free in the body and in the mind. Il Baretto is the place to indulge in a bit of deserved relaxation alone or in company, surrounded by festive air. Il Baretto is now part of the daily life of the Romans from breakfast to aperitifs and until dinner.

https://www.facebook.com/BarettianiDOC/

http://www.ilbarettococktailbar-roma.it/

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Cinema italiano – Perfetti sconosciuti

A recent masterpiece from Italian cinema: Perfetti sconosciuti by Paolo Genovese. 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4901306/

It’s about seven friends who come together for a regular dinner: one challenges the others to a truth game in which they must share whatever communications come through on their phones during the evening.  It would be easy to do this script badly – a mechanical wheeling out of one embarrassing moment after another.  Come to think of it, that’s what Genovese the director does; and yet he works hard on the characterisations. There is a duality at work in the characters. They may be vulnerable, imperfect people, but they are trying. None of them is mean. The film certainly attacks the way mobile phones have taken over our lives, but the malaise here is not technical. Among these seven friends, secrets are the only constant. Genovese says he took the premise from a line by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian novelist, that we all have three lives – one public, one private, one secret. It might have been nastier in the hands of a less experienced director but Genovese handles it with delicacy. They might all be liars, but who’s going to throw the first stone?