Disgraces on the Menu Turned Six – Time to Blow Out the Candles Again!

Another year has elapsed – this blog just turned six!! As usual, I’d like to stop for a moment and look back at the last twelve months of blogging and podcasting. Before I do that, I would like to thank all who have been supporting me by reading, by listening, and especially by sharing their thoughts via personal messages and comments. It means a lot to me, please keep sending your feedback!

Now, back to my “retrospective”, so to speak. Podcasting seems to have become my main focus. This past year, I have published ten episodes featuring amazing new and returning guests: Hannah Solomon, Diana Zahuranec, Rick Zullo, Gino De Blasio, Domenica Marchetti (twice), David Scott Allen, Silvia Arduino, Alida from My Little Italian Kitchen, and Giulia Scarpaleggia, thanks for participating and for putting up with me and my questions! Recently, I also began posting full transcripts of some of my favorite episodes, and narrations of meaningful articles, starting with Il Mercato – the Tradition of the Italian Street Market.

During the year, I posted seven new recipes for as many favorite dishes: some old staples (Valdostana Onion Soup, Squash Risotto, Passato di Verdure, Oven Roasted Vegetables Stripes), and some preparations I recently discovered and fell in love with (Pesto alla Trapanese, Spaetzle-style Passatelli, Chard and Spinach Gnudi).

I also wrote three articles on food and culture; two were published as guest posts: Dried Pasta vs. Fresh Pasta (for Experience Italy Travels) and The Basic Rules of Italian Food (for Once Upon a Time in Italy), which was written after consulting with several Italian food bloggers. The third article, which was published on this blog, deals with Personal Space and the Italians, a topic I have been meaning to discuss for a while. All three posts were great fun to write, I hope you enjoyed them.

I am also happy to have connected with five more bloggers who, like me, talk about the authentic food of continental Italy. Of course, I promptly gave them the Cannolo Award. David from Cocoa and Lavender, Luca Marchiori from Chestnuts and Truffles, Coco from Coco’s Bread & Co – Eating Healthy, Giulia Scarpaleggia from Jul’s Kitchen, and Viola Buitoni from Viola’s Italian Kitchen, congratulations again!

Finally, I’d like to add a note on a technical detail. Last October, this blog was migrated to WordPress! I can’t say it was a trivial task, but the process was much smoother than I initially thought – a testament to the platform and its amazing community. I hope you are enjoying the new layout and functionality.

All in all, year six has been a great year, with lots of new connections and ideas. I am very much looking forward to year seven with the same enthusiasm as when I started in 2010!

Thanks again and… Salute!

[Italy: Instructions for Use] Dried Pasta vs. Fresh Pasta

It has been a long time since my last post on the travel website Experience Italy Travel, but I continue to host a section called “Italy: Instruction for Use” where I talk about Italian food and culture, and where I share useful tips aimed at first-time travelers to Italy. In this informative post, I go over the difference between fresh pasta and dried pasta, explaining why there isn’t really a debate on freshness when deciding between the two. Interested to know more? Click here for the full article.

Year Five: Complete!

I can hardly believe it has been 5 years since I started this project! Time flies when you’re having fun, and flies especially fast when you’re in good company – over this past year, I connected with many people and I like to believe that together we changed how Italian food is perceived around the world! Slightly, of course 🙂

By far, the biggest networking opportunity came from participating in Turin Epicurean Capital, a food literature event that saw me as a moderator. Particularly, I continued to work with fellow participant Diana Zahuranec), who has since become a recurring guest in the podcast and a great contributor to its success.

My visit to Turin also allowed me to reconnect with friend wedding planner Valentina Lombardi, who introduced me to her new project: Experience Italy Travels, a service aimed to show international travelers the true side of Italy. To help reach that goal, Valentina offered me to write: “Italy: Instructions for Use”, a fun section where I try to explain the ins and outs of Italy and of the Italians. Naturally, I accepted enthusiastically!

Recently, I also had the honor of being interviewed by Rick Zullo, awarded blogger and author of popular ebooks, as part of his new podcast: The Fatal Charm of Italy. Our chat was a lot of fun – if you want to hear us talk about the unwritten food rules that Italians follow, and much more, please head over to Rick’s blog.

As this blog completes Year Five, I would like to thank all visitors and followers for their support in the form of feedback. Please continue sending me your comments, observations, and corrections – as a blogger, nothing makes me happier!

[Italy: Instructions for Use] How to Shop for Groceries Like an Italian

Continuing on the series “Italy: Instruction for Use”, this post contains useful tips on how to get by in Italian grocery stores. How do you line up in a crowd when there’s no visible queue and everyone is standing by the counter? What’s negotiable when interacting with vendors? Is it OK to ask for samples? Click here to get all the answers!

[Italy: Instructions for Use] How Italian Restaurants Work

As announced in the podcast, I began writing for my friends at Experience Italy Travels – a new challenge that makes me very happy! As my usual, I will be talking about Italian traditions and culture, but I’ll also give my tips to help travelers get by in Italy, and think like Italians!

The first post in this series is about dining out in Italy. What time do Italians have dinner? Is it OK to check out the menu before sitting at the table? Is bread included with service? How about water? Is tipping expected in Italian restaurants? Why doesn’t someone bring the bill??? Click here to get all the answers☺.

[Thoughts on the Table – 35] Introducing Valentina Lombardi from Experience Italy Travels

Thoughts on the Table is back with my friend Valentina Lombardi, announcing her new project and my collaboration!

As part of her job as a wedding planner, Valentina has been helping people from various parts of the world discover Italy and the Italian traditions. Join us to hear how her background led to the creation of Experience Italy Travels, which also features “Italy: instructions for use“, a fun section written by yours truly☺

Congrats and best of luck to Valentina and her partners!