Friday, December 31, 2010

Italian tradition for New Year Eve: lentils with sausages

New Year fireworks but respect the lentils with sausages...they bring good look and money next year..this a recurrent tradition in my family. 

Since I can remember sausages and lentils were on my family dinner table and today the same tradition is in my family!!! 

With your meal drink even a nice glass of sparkling wine!!!

This is the recipe for about 4-6 people:
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 pound prociutto, pancetta, or bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage with fennel
  • 1 medium can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small dried chili pepper, or red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak lentils for about 12 hours, then put lentils in a pot of boiling, salted water; when the water boils again, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or according to package directions. Drain..

Saute the bacon, onion, carrot, fennel, shallot and garlic in the olive oil in a large skillet. When vegetable are soft, remove and brown the sausage in the same skillet. Set sausage aside on paper towels.

Remove all fat from the skillet and return the bacon and vegetables to the pan; add the tomatoes, hot pepper, and bay leaf, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the sausage and heat through, simmering for 5 minutes or more.

Season with salt and pepper and serve on a large platter.

Buon Anno!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas decorations around Rome: Piazza Navona & Piazza Venezia

Christmas decorations embellish the city we live in during the Christmas seasons and Rome is not an exception. 

On Boxing Day my parents stayed in Rome, enjoying their break and so here a few shots by my dad in Piazza Navona first, where is the Fountain of the Four River by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.... and now full of stands for Christmas.




babbo natale



Between the stands the are more Babbo Natale and Befane ...which one would you like???

babbo natale


.... when they left Piazza Navona, they decided to carry on they walk and then stop in Piazza Venezia, where this time the Christmas tree was decorated and the Vittorio Emanuele II monument was illuminated...
(The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument in Rome is  known locally as “The Vittoriano”, “The Typewriter,” “The False Teeth,” or “The Wedding Cake.” This enormous monument was built in the early 20th century to honor a unified Italy’s first king. Later, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was placed inside, along with a museum to Italian Reunification)

Vittorio Emanuele II monument

...and even the Nativity was represented....

Grazie per le foto papa'!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

GoMA: 21st Century. Art in the First Decade

To celebrate the first ten years of the 21st century GoMA and the Queensland Art Gallery have created a new exhibition which will extensively explore the contemporary collections and feature outstanding new commissions and a select group of loans from Australian and international lenders... yesterday we have decided to go and investigate this new exhibition... 

my children were really impressed, because they could go and experiment with their own hands the artworks and that is amazing!

Photos by Simona Albanese

Also a blog has been created for this exhibition. 

Have a look to the link below:
21st Century Blog: Art in the First Decade

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vacanze romane

Do you remember the movie "Vacanze Romane" with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn? 

During their journey on the Vespa scooter they have enjoyed some of the most beautiful sites of Rome, so if you are going to spend only a short holiday in Rome don't forget:

Bocca della Verità, Circus Maximus, Navona Square, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Coliseum....and many many more

Let me tell you ...a lifetime is not enough to discover Rome!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Next Saturday is Christmas - Sabato prossimo e' Natale

Christmas is very close now...only one week!!...and finally I have completed my shopping in town after I had lunch with my children and my husband at Vapiano restaurant, just off the Queens Street Mall.... 

 at Vapiano

at Vapiano

....and then coming back home I catch the bus my friend Alessia was on last week and I did some photos.
It is the first time I see a bus decorated in this way and certainly it is a nice thing, because the driver loves his bus and wants to make his passengers happy!

Route 199 by Simona Albanese

Route 199 by Simona Albanese

Bus door

Now in New Farm, it is raining!! Were is the summer?

Back home!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Italy: chocolate from Turin and Perugia

It is almost Christmas.... have you got a passion for chocolate?

Chose between some wonderful Baci Perugina

Baci Perugina

and some fantastic Gianduiotti from Turin.


Brisbane: the Christmas tree in King George Square

 Finally yesterday we went back to town and we photographed the Christmas tree on King George Square, plus we have found Santa's Mail Box!!!
We have already sent the letter to Babbo Natale!!!
Christmas is very close now!!

The Christmas tree on King George Square by Simona Albanese

 Santa's Mail Box by Simona Albanese

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Piazza Navona: the Christmas Fair

Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful square or piazza of Rome with the  outstanding Fountain of the Four River by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the Church of  Saint Agnes in Agone by Borromini. 

Every year on this square the Christmas Fair market runs from December 8 to the Feast of the Epiphany, on January 6th. 

On the stands there are booths with toys, Christmas Decorations, figures for Christmas nativity scenes, candies, cakes, 
sweets, chestnuts, sugared apples, the famous torrone, liquorice and much more.

The Befana arrives on the 6th January. 
This is the day those children who have broken their promises or behaved naughtily receive coal in a stocking.

All Romans come here... like my kids who enjoyed themselves!!!  

Valentina in Piazza Navona - Christmas 2009

Lorenzo and Valentina around Piazza Navona

Lorenzo on the Mary-go-round 

Valentina on the Mary-go-round

My angels

Photos by Simona Albanese

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Verona: the tradition of Saint Lucia

The 13th December is re-known as the shortest day of the year and as  the most ancient and loved tradition in Verona. In fact, according to the legend, during the XIII century, all Verona’s children were affected by an epidemic disease that attacked their eyes. For this reason the local population decided to ask Santa Lucia, the protector of the eyesight, for a saving grace organizing a pilgrimage towards its statue. In exchange of some gifts the children followed their parents and the epidemic disappeared. 

Enlightened Christmas star by Olivieri

This event is marked by the traditional Santa Lucia’s trade fair that occurs still now before the 13th of December in Bra’ Square where you can find the Bancheti de Santa Lussia: stands full of sweets, toys and the carousel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sweets around Italy: Pandoro and Panettone

Christmas decorations 
are everywhere....
streets and shops are 
beautifully decorated, 
but our attention 
is on the food...which sweets Italians 
eat for Christmas???

Certainly the Panettone, originally from Milan.

Here the recipe 

1/4 cup diced orange peel
1/4 cup diced lemon peel
1/4 cup diced citron (optional)
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup currants (optional)
1/4 cup dry sherry
Toss fruit in cherry; let stand 30 minutes. Measure flour, then combine drained dried fruit with the flour.
1 cup warm water (110°F)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs 
1/2 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup white sugar 
3 1/2 cups of flour
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast dry yeast 
In medium bowl, combine yeast, water, and sugar. Cover and let stand 10

minutes, or until foamy. Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt.

Mix well. Stir in flour (to which dried fruit has been added) 1/2 cup at a
time until dough forms a manageable ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured
surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until dough is soft and pliable but not sticky. 

Place dough in a large, lightly Pam-sprayed bowl, cover, and let rise in a 

warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and spray a round 8-inch cake pan with 
nonstick spray. Punch down dough. Form dough into a ball, place in 
prepared cake pan, cover loosely with dish towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
 Brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter if desired. Bake on lowest rack in oven for 45 minutes, or until 

loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
Cover loaf with foil during last 15-20 minutes of baking to prevent 
over-browning. Makes 1 loaf.

The panettone is the most famous cake overseas during the Christmas seasons, nevertheless there are other typical cakes, such as the Pandoro,a specialty from Verona. This is a cake typically shaped like a frustum with a star section, often served dusted with vanilla scented icing sugar made to resemble the snowy peaks during Christmas.

Here the recipe from Mario Batali:

Yeast Mixture:

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 egg yolks, plus 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup water


In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar, 1 egg yolk, and 1/2 cup flour, and blend well. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.
On a clean work surface, mound 3 of the remaining cups of flour and make a well in the center. In a medium bowl, beat together 4 of the egg yolks, 1/2-cup sugar, the butter and 1/2 cup water. Add the yeast combination from above and mix well. Pour the entire mixture into the flour well and gradually mix the flour into the liquids to form a sticky dough. Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or use the dough hook attachment on an electric mixer. The dough should remain somewhat tacky, unlike bread dough.
Grease or oil a large bowl and add the dough, turning to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
Punch down the dough and add the remaining flour, egg yolks, 1/2 cup water, egg, sugar and lemon zest and knead until blended, then knead for an additional 10 minutes on a floured work surface. Place in a greased or buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap, then let rise for an additional 2 hours.
Butter and flour two pandoro molds or coffee cans. Punch the dough down, divide it in 2, and roll each piece into a ball. Place one ball in each of the molds, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the pandoro for 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let rest for 10 minutes, then unmold and let cool completely.
In a small bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar and water and stir well. Drizzle the pandoro with the mixture and serve in wedges.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One of Leonardo da Vinci's work in Rome

Portrait of musician by Leonardo da Vinci

The Portrait of Musician by Leonardo da Vinci has left Milan for the first time after 500 years to be on display in Rome at the Capitoline Museum in the same room where is the Marcus Aurelius.

Th Portrait was most probably executed by the young Leonardo representing his friend Atalante Migliorotti.

Scott next to the Marcus Aurelius

Friday, December 10, 2010

My family restaurant: Mario's a Trastevere

While going through my photographs last night I have found a bunch of photographs done at my family restaurant at the beginning of December last year, when Christmas was already in the air and the children where so happy to spend time with my family, aunties, "nonno", "nonna" and brother.

It is amazing how time goes fast and how important it is to share this beautiful moments with the people you love the most!!!

My mum and Valentina

Zia Vanda

My dad

Zia Lina


Valentina and zio Luca

Valentina, zio Luca and Lorenzo

Happy Lorenzo

So if you go to Italy during this Christmas holiday and you think to have some genuine Italian food go and have something to eat there at Trastevere and tell my mum, Rosalba, that I send you there.

The "trattoria" will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Buon appetito!

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