Saturday, September 26, 2020

Aperol Spritz

For our second outdoor lunch at Belotti, we were seated on the roomy, shady side of the restaurant and our table faced this bright Italian sign for Aperol Spritz---"Italy's #1 cocktail." We can attest to it's popularity, having visited Italy's Piemonte region last September.

In Alba, I was intrigued by a happy table full of Scandinavian tourists (pre pandemic, of course) drinking bright orange aperitivi. What could they be?

A few days later, wandering the hilly streets of La Morra, I got a chance to find out. We stopped for lunch at a trattoria, nabbed a table on the lovely patio and ordered what everyone else was having--Aperol Spritz!!  They were delicious.

So refreshing on a hot summer afternoon in La Morra


Back at our Belotti lunch last week, excited by the bright orange poster advertising Italy's #1 cocktail, we ordered Aperol Spritzes, but to our dismay we were served a dispirited watered down version of the cocktail in a short glass

After a few sips, we complained to our waiter and he cheerfully brought us two new drinks which he called biciclettas. These hit the spot and we happily drank them with our fabulous salad and pastas.

Biciclettas at Belotti

 After a bit of research I found out that a bicicletta is a cocktail made with Campari instead of Aperol, so  it's really a Campari Spritz. Chowhound's website offers a thorough comparison of the two liqueurs for those who may be interested. I am paraphrasing their comments below:

Both Campari and Aperol are part of the amaro family (amaro means bitter in Italian) which are consumed neat as an after dinner digestivo or before a meal as an aperitivo to stimulate the appetite. Aperol, created in 1919 by two brothers from Padua, is the sweeter of the two, with a higher sugar count and an alcohol content of 11%. It's signature blend is dominated by bitter and sweet oranges, rhubarb, plus a secretly guarded ratio of herbs and spices.

Campari, created in 1860 by Gaspari Campari in Milano, is significantly more bitter and boozy at 24% alcohol. Its flavor profile features orange zest and a pronounced herbaceousness as well as intense quinine, floral and tart red berry flavors. In cocktails the tartness is usually balanced with something  like sweet vermouth.

As for color, Aperol has a significantly lighter orange hue, while Campari is known for its bold electric red tint. Both colors are achieved by a coloring agent.

So when our waiter substituted a Bicicletta for an Aperol Spritz, he was plying us with a more alcoholic cocktail and hoping we would enjoy our lunch and go away happy. It worked! We are looking forward to returning and next time we'll order a Bicicletta straight away.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Challah for Rosh Hashanah

The traditional Jewish Sabbath bread, Challah, is typically oblong, but for Rosh Hashanah, everyone serves a round Challah to symbolize eternal life. Once an ethnic Eastern European food, challah has become as mainstream as bagels. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year Festival and is always held in September. This year it's September 18th-20th and the Cheeseboard in Berkeley made a fruited loaf for the holiday. It sold out early on Friday so I was first in line on Saturday the 19th. I love their special holiday offerings--my favorite is their saffron bread sold at Christmas. They're very nondenominational.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Mid-August Lunch at Belotti


Lattuga ( living butter lettuce, toasted pine nuts, lemon dressing) plenty for 2


            To celebrate International Left Hander's Day, I took Dean out to lunch at Belotti in Oakland

This could be Italy but it's College Avenue in Oakland

Casoncelli Bergamaschi

Dean ordered casoncelli, a scrumptious, rich pasta dish that the chef describes as "my mom's Bergamo style stuffed pasta with beef, prosciutto, pork shoulder, grana padana, smoked pancetta, butter and sage."

 Dessert - an americano with a rich version of tiramisu. I had a traditional espresso

     Speaking of mid-August, I love this Italian movie. It's the perfect entertainment for hot summer nights! I saw it in the theatre a few years ago but it's now available from Netflix, so I sent for the DVD  and watched it again (and again!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Happy Times at the Ferry Building

Simone and Giulio outside the Ferry Building

This colorful couple appeared at Book Passage in San Francisco one morning when I was working, and I was impressed. I figured they were foreigners, so we struck up a conversation. I found out that Simone Fougère is a DJ from New Zealand and her companion Giulio Cavallo is Italian. Anyway, they were headed back to their home in New Zealand from Spain where they live in the winter. I asked if I could take their picture and they were delighted to model. It was always fun meeting interesting visitors at the Ferry Building, which was a destination for tourists, when there were tourists.  Click HERE  here for a sample of their show.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Paris--- Place D'Italie Friday Morning Market

Figue de Barbarie
I'm gazing at the Figues de Barbarie (prickly pears) in drizzling Paris, remembering sunny Sicily  

Farther along (this market goes for blocks) I admired a basket of African bracelets. I only bought 3, what was I thinking!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

A Fruit Market in Cefalù, Sicily

                   A colorful scene in Cefalù, Sicilia from a memorable trip in 2009. Click HERE

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Woven Straw bag from Ecuauador

I'm showing off the brightly colored straw bag that my sister in law Ricki brought back from Ecuador a few years ago. I finally got around to cutting and tying the long strings to the desired length, so now it can lend a pop of color to drab days.