Lunchtime | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Today I am following the photo challenge: Lunchtime  by Michelle.

Colors in the kitchen do not stop at walls, counters and cabinets. Designing and preparing meals with a good company is a creative process to stimulate feelings. Colors contain the ingredients, which give out taste. Choosing and combining colors in food is as important as selecting ingredients to make delicious morsels. We can characterize food in a color wheel and make that the palette for our daily nutrition. Nature has created the beautiful seven colors rainbow as an optical and meteorological phenomenon, to which we refer when we talk about color selection. We can refer to the same rainbow colors when we select food, except that eating food in colors is not an optical illusion, is a real solution to a healthy life. To this, add healthy laughs, family and real friends and voila’ you have created the solution of a good life.

 

I am featuring here five colorful dishes from my books on Italian regional cuisine Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

Roasted Vegetables Tarte
Potatoes Gâteau Al Verde
Zucchini Fritters
Cauliflower Muffins (savory)
Fried Olive with Barley

I want to point out one dish in particular: Fried Olive with Barley. The recipe doesn’t even call for barley, I added it because the black Calphalon background of the skillet would have not shown the black olives, but after I tasted it, I say it’s the perfect healthy lunch.

Preparation:

Boil the barley in salted water for 25 minutes. Barley takes longer than pasta to cook and it tastes always “al dente”. Set aside when done.
In a skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil, sauté black olives until they look crinkled. Add some chili peppers if you like it hot and 1 or 2 chopped tomatoes.
Continue to sauté briefly, add cooked barley, sprinkle chopped Italian parsley and a swirl of olive oil.

This specialty is typical of Puglia, a region in the South Italy, filling and healthy, so simple it is almost a non-recipe. I hope you will try it. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PDots2Robert 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”. Check out her books on

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

An Observation On The Kitchen | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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I have been a month in Italy visiting my family and friends and suddenly I noticed something about the kitchen space that should have been very familiar to me, as I had seen it for most of my adult life living in Italy.

Photo ©Valentina Cirasola

 

Kitchens in Italy are purely functional, no frills, no granite counters, no luxury, only essentials; they are used for cooking only and in some cases to eat in. Casual entertaining happens in the living room, dining with friends or co-workers happens in the dining room and only close friends get invited to sit in the kitchen. Yes, kitchens are the center of the home life as a concept and it is true that most family problems are resolved around the kitchen table and this does happen in Italy too, but Italian kitchens are not conceived as the space in the center of the home. They are located as far as possible from the living quarters enclosed with doors to keep the guests out, or to hide a kitchen not totally made up or clean yet, which by the way, it isn’t a very common scene to find in Italy. Italian kitchens are always spotless, even after an army of family has eaten there. The idea of the kitchen not being in the center of the house is also to keep cooking aromas, odors and vapors away from the rest of the house.

 

Laundry is often located in the kitchen or near by in the corridor, or on the balcony/terrace where it is easy to just turn around and hang the clothes to dry on the balcony line. It is easier to hang the clothes to dry in the sun and wind, other than being a natural process, as no chemical softener goes into the clothes and saves on electricity. I hang my clothes to dry in the sun even now living in California, where I could have the comfort of all the technology available, but I choose to stay as natural as possible in my house chores.

 

Taking a closer look at the function of the kitchen in a different country brings me to the observation I had. Due to the location of the kitchen, as I said far from the living quarters and not made in an open floor plan as it is done in America, it is very difficult to snack mindlessly. In Italy when people are finished with their evening meal, they move to a room dedicated to watch T.V., reading, or playing music usually not close to the kitchen.
In America the kitchen is conceived as a great room, where cooking, living, family activities and entertainment share the same space. Slouching down on the sofa to watch T.V. and snack on poor, processed or boxed food is so much easier because kitchen cabinets and refrigerator are looking smack at you and they are in a few steps of reach. Also it is easy to have a late snack before going to bed, just because the kitchen is located conveniently in the middle of the house, something that doesn’t even cross people’s mind in Italy. Once the evening meal is finished, all the eating activities are also completed.

Photo ©Valentina Cirasola

 

Although I like the open floor plan, I don’t find it particularly warm or private. Often I go into people’s home and I can see a messy kitchen from the entry in plain open view. I must say that when I lived in Italy never paid attention to the functionality, because every kitchen was made with the same simple principal, but now as an interior designer and living in California, I do notice the difference and it would be really hard to propose something different that would bring an entire new concept of living, one of which would be to get rid of snacking, get rid of gracing all day long and late night snack. It might seem strange to hear that the farthest from reach the kitchen is, the easier it is to keep slim. Italian kitchens other than being very modern, also serve that purpose and I like that.
If you need help with planning your kitchen space, please do not hesitate to contact me, I am here to help. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. Valentina is also the author of two published books on Italian regional cuisine. Her books are available on 

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

 

 

I Survived A 13 Courses Dinner | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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New Year’s Eve in almost every Italian homes is like history repeating itself. A 13 courses Lucullian dinner awaits to be consumed. Soon after Christmas people start planning their New Year’s Eve, whether it will be in a club, restaurant, or at home with family and friends, the end of the year is an important day of the entire year. It is a common believe that whatever one does on that evening and the first of year, one will do it for the rest of the year, therefore no crying, no paying bills, no arguing, only cooking, eating, laughing and spending a pleasant passage into the new year.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

The street markets and stores stay open at least until 5:00 pm for those who need the last few ingredients, or to find the last-minute outfit for the evening.
The people who stay at home to celebrate with their loved ones, end up cooking all day long. It sounds like an awful stressful activity to do right at the end of the year, but in reality Italian people love to cook in company of other people and even with their guests. Lot of laughter and camaraderie goes on during the cooking and that is one of the many reasons food in Italy taste so good, we make them with love and pleasure.

It is customary at lunch to have a small snack of vegetables and a fruit, but at night the New Year’s Eve dinner is an act of culinary cleverness and serious professionalism. The dinner table is well set, but not overly decorated with useless stuff, the food will take a center stage on the table of this evening.


Orange Appetizer

The dinner for this special night consist of 13 courses by tradition, one for each month of the year and one more in honor of the new coming year. It seems a whole lot of food to brush off in one night, but starting at 6:00 pm when everybody sits down at the table, until midnight when the champagne bottles pop, there are six hours of nothing but food paced with intervals and slow enjoyment.
It starts with many antipasti of different kind, but a mixture of raw and shell-fish is the king for this night, as it is for all the eves before an important holiday.

The evening continues on the note of fish. Any type of pasta with any fish sauce is served as a first course and grilled, fried or baked fish as a second course.

Olives and savory munchies fill the table to help passing time between those courses which need to be cooked fresh on the spot, to encourage conversation and wine drinking. In some families between the first, the second and third course, it is customary to pass a small portion of lemon or orange sorbet as a palate cleanser. What a delightful and fine dinner practice!

After the most important part of the dinner is served, all the minor plates will be parading such as, fried vegetables, fried puffy dough, food preserved under oil or vinegar, dried fruits and nuts, fresh fruit, typical regional home-made sweets and cookies, along with the store-bought sweets.

One specialty must never be forgotten before midnight strikes and that is cooked lentils with a swirl of olive oil and basil leaves. The popular belief is that each lentil represents money, more lentil a person can eat, more money that person will make. Needless to say we consume a large pot of lentils every end of the year just to wish ourselves a good financial stability.

At midnight the champagne is popped, kisses, hugs and laughter fill the air, accompanied with panettone, a typical Italian sponge cake sometimes filled with chocolate, sometimes with champagne cream, or tiramisu’ as I like, or candied fruit.

The 13 courses dinner is over after midnight, but the night is young and it is the first day of the new year. Outside, people shoot fireworks from their balconies and windows. It is important to welcome the new year and celebrate it any way people can. If people celebrate this first day, they will be celebrating many more times during the year, so the old folks saying goes. Then at 5:00 am in the streets is time to taste freshly made croissants, hot from the baker’s oven with a warm frothy cappuccino to fight the cold temperature of this winter night spent in boisterous festivity.
Buon Anno, Happy New Year to all and peace in the world.

I would love to design your kitchen and show you the way to comfort and good cooking through a functional space. Contact me, I am at your service. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990 with a special passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos. She also the author of two Italian regional cookbooks available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

The Distinctive Direction Of Italian Fall Home Fashion | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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A few months ago, I had the idea of declaring the month of October the month of Italian style. Many presentations will occur this month in the Bay Area, one of them will be the event I have organized with Frette store in Stanford Shopping Centre, Palo Alto, CA. Frette is an Italian house producing luxury bed and bath items since 1860.
In October Frette is celebrating its 150th Anniversary with a new collection simply called “Anniversario”. It is my interest as a designer, to present the new Fall line and show my audience how to use it, in addition to talk about the distinctive direction Italian home design is taking this Fall 2010.

Fashion and home design are two separate disciplines always intertwining and taking oxygen from one another.
Since the beginning of time, the human body has determined any project of building. The reflection on the human body has been the vehicle that made people want to paint the body, to dress it, to build cities, to build homes and their interiors and to design our entire surroundings.

The Italian word “abito” (English: dress) takes from the verb “abitare” (English: to live, to inhabit). The dress is the first place our body lives in and the body offers infinite possibilities to relate ourselves to the surrounding space. Fashion gives us the freedom and fantasy to dress how we want and the freedom to compose our own style in homes.

To dress a home goes far beyond colors and fabrics, it is the thread, which resolves the human body’s architectural spatial challenges and satisfies the human desire to be surrounded by functional and beautiful objects.
Dressing an Italian home interior is quite simple as long as lines and forms are kept at a minimal. As an Italian born, I can say that Italians live in antiquity, we open our windows and history surrounds us, but in our homes we are very modern, we like simple, straight lines and very few bold colors.

Leather Floor

(Photo ref leather floor: http://www.stonepeakceramics.com/products-collections-tiles.php?coll=TOUCH&linea=FIRE)

A leather red floor would be perfect for a home studio with satin chrome furniture frames mixed with glass, as much as a white/beige striped closet doors would look so elegant on a white marble floor. Play it tone on tone and never go wrong.
Italian kitchens are not at all fussy, but functionality is a must, color is optional, they are either very colorful, we like Ferrari red by the way, or very black, greige (combination of grey and beige) and rivers of white. Forget the kitchen knickknacks all together.

(Photo taken by ©Valentina Cirasola with home owner’s permission) – (Click on each photo to view it larger).
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Italian living rooms are made for “fare bella figura” – an Italian philosophy to present a good image, to make a good impression. Our guests, when entering an Italian home, musty be greeted by beautiful things and be seated in an even more elegant room, which in some cases, the family hardly uses for themselves just to keep it new as long as possible.

Baths must have the minimal essentials and powder rooms do not exist.

Space in Italy is the essence. Italy is a small country, its homes reflect the restriction of space. In comparison with American homes, I must say Italian homes are very small, but they are very fashionable and efficient. If you visit a building with eight apartments, you will see eight different home styles, each one being very creative and á la page. In one of those eight styles, you bound to find a classic antique décor too.

Fashion and home design are two sides of the same creative coin, they both thrive on ideas and innovations.

Dress your home according to your character and personalize it as you would put together your fashion ensemble in the morning.
Carry a color scheme from room to room, mix modern with antique pieces, play with patterns, make art out of your memories and cherished moments, show your personality, be extravagant in small spaces, don’t forget to decorate cozy outdoor corners and make a “bella figura” with the main entry.

Hiring a professional designer, especially an Italian designer like myself will assure you the perfect look of an Italian home. I am ready to offer you my services, if you are. Ciao,

Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990 and a former Fashion Designer. She blends well fashion and interior in any of her design work. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles. Being Italian born and raised, Valentina’s design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. Check out her books on

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

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