Order | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Recently I was in Seattle for a couple of speaking engagements. I had a few days for me to be a tourist and enjoy a city I had never seen before. My first impression of the city was the same as San Francisco, the roads go up and down, some are very steep to climb on foot or in the car and at times stop signs are placed at the very top of the hill, leaving the car in a vertical position. Weather was cold, gray, windy and the sun peeped into the clouds on and off during the day.

I have always loved the order of classical architecture, but I have discovered order in the cement jungle of the modern cities as well. (Click on each photo to view it larger).

The geometric cluster of buildings propped on the hill overlooking the Bay create a very playful skyline order.


The classical pediments at the top of this corner building, caryatides of native Indian framing windows, balustrades and dentelle work disguise the boxy modern building behind it.

The verticality of these two towers orderly lead in a downtown street of business and shops.

Modern cities must have color contrast for interest, but the order is in the windows, all the same size, where even the reflection in the glass has an order.

Light and dark in order.


Tall and short order. A very tall building shields this classical elegant building in which Banana Republic store resides. Cheap merchandise sold in a classical architecture…..

In this photo geometric order steals the scene. Glass building, brick stairs, horizontal and vertical windows, dark and light buildings, this corner has an appeal thanks for the greenery. This is the view from the rowdy Irish pub I ate. Beer and food were delicious.

Seattle is a very modern city, bustling with people, amateur musicians cheers the streets, traffic is congested, young people eat in rowdy pubs, and buildings are vertical, just like all the new cities of the Middle Age, when churches and cathedrals were built to reach God and the competition between the patrons who could pay to build the tallest church was high.

For me it’s always a good thing when I can combine work and pleasure. The trip was profitable, lovely people came to hear me speaking on the subject of Colors and sold a lot of my book: RED-A Voyage Into Colors was a hit. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior and Fashion Designer, working in the USA and Europe. She blends fashion and interior well in any of her design work. She loves to remodel homes and loves to create the unusual, as much as she likes to restyle people’s images. She needs your story to design your dream. She is a public speaker, a mentor and author. Check out her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

Reflecting | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Taking photos is a sort of amusement we all do. Professional and non professionals photographers, we all want to lock time in place and remember those moments years later. I remember when photos came out of a film and printed on paper. In the back of all my paper photos there is a note and a date. Without those notes attached to each photo, I would completely miss a piece of my life. A photo reflects and records fashion, customs, or manners of an era. It records a landmark that might be no longer there. It reflects people expressions, emotions, good and bad times. Often, we can hear words spoken in a particular situation captured in the photo.

In the London tube, looking at this picture, I can still hear the stranger coming down on the other side, fervently inciting with a “ravish her!” the man who was kissing me on the neck as we were climbing. That man later became my husband. The reflection of that passionate moment, leaves on in this picture. (Click on each photo to view it larger).

London Tube

 

Carnaby Street was the reflection of a changing society, pop art and fashion reflected the rejection of anything traditional, old ideas and conventionalism.  Objects of consumerism started to show up on the market. I saw my first wood hand massagers and didn’t know what to think of it.

Massagers

Wood Massagers

I saw hanging legs moving like can-can dancers showing a new style of pantyhose in a store resembling a sleazy theatre backstage. Pantyhose was the reflection of a changing fashion.

Hanging Legs

 

Covent Garden reflected British life, traditional looking stores with wood trims, café with windowpanes, tea time English style. I recall one tourist, an Italian woman, saying to her man the espresso coffee she ordered was not even good enough to wash her feet in it. She had no idea I was listening and understood everything she said. If I didn’t have this picture of Covent Garden reflecting that moment, I would have forgotten that funny episode.

Covent Garden

 

Street fashion

 

Wigs

This  is really strange, but this reflecting theme took a different meaning for me. Now, so many years later, I am reflecting on the reason I was attracted since a young age to an Anglo-Saxon country, me, a Mediterranean girl, full of life, who loved to improvise and organize things on the spur of the moment. Leaving Italy, family and friends behind to go live in a speaking English country was difficult and the hardest thing I have ever done. In am reflecting on what attracted me to people so different from me, in background, culture, language, beliefs and customs. What attracted me to people saluting with “I see you later, or I call you later” if it doesn’t mean anything? It could mean next year just as well. I am reflecting on the reason, I get to be on my friends’ schedules when I want to have their company for a casual cup of coffee, lucky me! Was it supposed to be my destiny?


I am still reflecting why on mother’s day I have no longer a mother to celebrate….Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior and Fashion Designer, working in the USA and Europe. She blends fashion and interior well in any of her design work. She loves to remodel homes and loves to create the unusual, as much as she likes to restyle people’s images. She needs your story to design your dream. Check out her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

 

It’s Easy Being Green | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

It’s easy being green in my kitchen. Vegetables abound even though no one in my family is vegetarian or vegan. Every meal is composed of various food, complemented with vegetables prepared in all possible ways. We eat everything, nothing goes to waste. There are no enemies at my table the “infamous calories”, we don’t believe in counting calories. We enjoy our food. Simple as that.

People who have eaten in my house, ask me why my food is simple and full of flavor. The answer is equally simple: I don’t need to produce complicated food every day, but I want to eat savory food, with layers of flavor easy recognizable one by one, inside of which every spice comes through vibrantly fresh. The secret is the freshness of every ingredient. In my kitchen, there is nothing pre-packaged, pre-made, nor pre-organized by the food industry. I go to market to get fresh food and I return every two-three days. My vegetable and spice garden produces a small quantity of food, if the season goes well,  and I take full advantage of that too. (Click on the photo to view it larger).


What was green on my table today? Fusilli pasta with spinach pesto. When basil is not available, use spinach, arugula, or parsley.
It takes almost 15 minutes to make it, all the ingredients are raw except for the cooked pasta.
Before starting the preparation, very briefly toast a hand full of pine nuts in an iron skillet over the stove, or in the oven for 5 minutes. Be careful, they burn easily.
Now, wash all the spinach. Drain the water, but leave them a bit wet.
In the food processor, put all the spinach, 3-4 cloves of garlic and grated Parmigiano cheese (I used pecorino for a stronger flavor).
Turn on the machine and from the top hole, add olive oil a little at a time, until spinach have become a cream.
Drop the green mixture in a skillet, add pine nuts, season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Cook pasta al dente for no longer than 8 minutes. Drain the water, add it to the skillet with the pesto mixture.
Toss and turn, let it marry well. Serve this delicious green pasta with more cheese to add at the table.

This is a green dish to cook and eat at once, good for summer or winter. It will surprise you how easy it is being green and to eat green food.

Oops, I goofed, I should have used a yellow plate with this green dish.  Food photography should be equally appetizing. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola is the designer who cooks. She has a deep interest in food that led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition, well-being and learning food of the world. She wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory, in which she included one recipe for each color. Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate of http://www.wine-fi.com says: “Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”. Get your copy of Valentina’s books on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Shadow | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Early afternoon, the south of Italy rests with pleasure. Every business, schools and offices close down from 1:00 to 4: 00 pm. This is people’s time; most people go home to eat homemade food with family.

The sun reflected on walls mutates from bright yellow to orange, then from gold to ocher and finally fades into a Siena tone. Looking at these colors changing before the eyes, one has the impressions walls are empty canvases for painting a picture with gold foil and antique technique. As the sun turns, shadows and highlights add themselves into the deep ocher and gold. Everything picks up that mysterious sense of antiquity, simplicity and peace. The afternoon rest becomes sweet, lulling, magic, even without going to sleep, the world doesn’t turn for four hours. Shadows are so refreshing, especially in the hot summer heat. (Click on each photo to view it larger).

Alberobello - Trulli Courtyard

Alberobello – Trulli Courtyard

Silence pervades the streets filled with the sun, they seem abandoned. At times one can hear a distant voice, a music on low volume, or a telephone ringing. It’s my native ancient world, it’s all familiar, I was made here.

As an expat to California, I live on the go every moment of the day, rushing to nowhere, floating in the air like an object thrown to see if it reaches a point, but when I am in Puglia, I feel grounded, my batteries recharge, the slower rhythms make life so right and I wish they would never stop.

giovinazzoombre

These are the shadows of happy guests in my travel group. That day we enjoyed our lunch, wines were excellent, food divine and laughs… well… I don’t know why they come so naturally in Italy.

(This post is in response to WP weekly photo challenge: Shadow).

Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

valentina-ValleMonteAs a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, my native land, it is my intention to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. I want to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism. Through stories of art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, I want them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out my books

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

Graceful | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

What do you do when outside is cold, damp and lonely? You go inside a family owned restaurant and find comfort and warmth in food. That night we did just that. The day had been relatively warm, a sudden drop of temperature was not expected for the night, but the prospect of being received in a restaurant built in 1900 with the tufa stone was too exciting to miss it. Gracefully, we were seated in a small room reserved just for us. The light yellow colored walls, the natural texture of the exposed tufa stone and the sparse décor were an invitation to feel at home.
I had no doubt food was going to be exceptional. Here, under the curved vaulted ceiling,  nothing mattered that night. (Click on the photo to view it larger).

giuseppepouringwines
I couldn’t help noticing Giuseppe, the waiter pouring our wines with grace. He was elegant, attentive not to spill even a drop on the tablecloth of that precious wine, pouring from the left of the guests as the Bon-Ton requires, the seriousness of his motion, all said to me: “Here, you will be treated with class and grace“.
In my capture, Giuseppe looks totally absorbed in his task. Pouring wines is an art of its own, it requires knowledge, elegant manners, subtle motions and grace.

Wine represents the labour of many people and nature’s generosity, when it wants to be generous. The gracefulness of the people of Puglia towards food and wines tells how much respect they have for the land. Preparation of food is sacred, eating happy food prepared with love keeps people healthy.
Knowing that someone will take care of us, offering the best food they can prepare in one night it is grace to me.
The guests in that trip to Puglia are still talking about that night. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

valentinadivaglassesAs a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, my native land, it is my intention to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. I want to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism and through stories of art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, I want them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out my books on 
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Rice Possibilities | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

risottozafferanofunghitrifolati
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

“Rice borns in water and dies in wine”. I wrote in my first book: ©Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity. Let’s start the year with something delicious: Saffron Risotto.

Risotto is a staple food for most of us Italians. It is not a fancy specialty as it might be in foreign countries. Arborio or Cannaroli type of rice, stubby, high starch content, is the type of rice needed to get the right creaminess in a risotto. Toast it in olive oil and a dollop of butter, softens with white wine,  add all the ingredients and cook it slowly by adding a few ladles of warm broth at a time until juices are consumed, and rice is cooked to a perfect cream. Some people make it sound so difficult, instead it is the easiest food to prepare in 20 minutes or less. I like to add saffron to get a wonderful a yellow color.

Improvising many other dishes with leftover food from the simple risotto,  it’s easy and the possibilities are endless: muffins, rice frittata, rice ramekins, rice torte, just to name a few. They are ideal for parties, make them fresh, don’t serve leftover food to your guests..

Risotto with mushroom: Cook the rice as mentioned above. In a skillet cook the mushroom. At high heat and 1/2 glass of water cook mushrooms only to let water out, then discard it, it would be bitter if you use that liquid. Add garlic and ginger in olive oil, bring the mushroom to the skillet, let them saute’ and marry together about 10 minutes, season with salt, pepper and parsley. Serve with the risotto mixed in or as two separate entity as in my photo (above).

Risotto muffins with asparagus. Cook the rice as mentioned above, or if you like to take short cuts use the Mahatma Yellow Rice. It’s not the same thing as making your own risotto, but it saves time, 10 minutes and it is ready. While this is going, prepare asparagus as you like. I brush them with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, then grill them. After the rice is done, cut the asparagus in small pieces, mix in the rice, add one egg and Parmigiano cheese, fill a non-stick muffin pans with this mixture, sprinkle Parmigiano cheese on top and bake at 375ᴼF until golden brown. Serve on a bed of mixed greens as in my photo (below).

asparagusrisottomuffins

yellow-rice-mahatma

Risotto Muffins with veggie and meat. Mix in the risotto some leftover veggie, ground meat, one egg, spices, season to your liking, fill paper cup cakes, drop them in the muffin pan and get a new taste. Bake at 375ᴼF  until golden brown. (Photo below).

risottomuffins_veggie_meat

Risotto Squash Ramekins (single portions). In the oven, roast a butternut squash seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme, sage and olive oil.  When done, scrape the pulp off the squash shell and mix it with the risotto. Butter and fill ramekins with the mixture, sprinkle Parmigiano cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake at 375ᴼF until golden at the top. (Photo below).

risottosquashramekins

Remember, all the ingredients are already cooked, it is only matter of marrying them together the second time when you have leftovers. Give a leftover an intriguing new taste. This is very easy, promise! Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

FedoraHatStampValentina Cirasola is the designer who cooks. She has a deep interest in food that led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition, well-being and learning food of the world. She wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory, in which she included one recipe for each color. Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate of http://www.wine-fi.com says: “Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”. Get your copy of Valentina’s books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Memories In The Caves | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

I had the opportunity to take a group of Americans to the Caves of Crispiano, in Puglia, north of the town of Taranto on the Ionian Sea. Crispiano is also called the town of “100 farmhouses”, many with fascinating architectural features dating from the 15th century. During that visit, I met the mayor of Crispiano Mr. Egidio Ippolito, a gracious chap, who spent some time with my group showing us around and telling the history.  Crispiano’s caves extend for a kilometer into the region and are illuminated at night. Every December the city organizes a live Christmas nativity scene making the caves a magical place.


The caves go back to the 12th century, when Basilian Monks fleeing from the Turkish Saracene’s religious persecution decided to settle in Crispiano’s valley, a farmland without much housing available. The Monks dug into the earth rocks to make their dwellings and crypts. The caves were also one of the stops Templars made on the way to the Holy Land. The vignettes of Nativity scenes are on display throughout the year, the caves are open to visitors. Every character represents the lifestyle as it was in the 12th century, they are miniatures with revolving mechanisms showing the action of each one. In one corner, there is a man shaving the wool off his sheep, a fisherman sewing his net and the woodworker cutting wood planks, in another corner there is a woman washing clothes by hands at the river and another woman cooking. The faithful reproduction of the village in the caves shows how everyone contributed to life with their activities.The vignettes are an incredible work of precision.
The light inside the caves changed cleverly from day to sunset, night to dawn giving the viewers the right sensation of how it was when people relied solely on the movement of sun and moon.


The Italian national press described Crispiano’s caves as the Bethlehem of Italy. Hopefully, they will not be kept a well-hidden treasure for longer.
Tomorrow, on Christmas Eve, the live Nativity scene will turn the caves into a holy, spiritual place and I will miss it.
Happy Christmas to all and if you don’t celebrate it, take a rest time to ponder on your life and celebrate it.  Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

 

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PrintI am writing a travel diary of my last trip to Puglia with an American group and sharing with all of you my notes of feelings, observations, food-wine tasting and experiences that have changed the life of people traveling with me. The trips I organize are made for people who want to live it up in Puglia! In my books about Puglia cuisine, readers will find many references to Puglia’s history and many easy, healthy recipes to follow at home. Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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