A Life With A View | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

I went to street markets and discussed food with the vendors, I tasted the food I will never see again (unfortunately) unless I return soon, I got drenched in colors, breathed the salty air of the Adriatic Sea and soaked the local traditions. I heard the patois I am so familiar with and amused myself listening to people speaking it. I made new friends, and I wrote a lot of travel notes. That was my travel to the South Riviera of Italy.

Remembering those days, feelings of rage and happiness run together now, I don’t even know if I belong there even though that is my native land, but on the other hand, I don’t feel I belong somewhere else either!

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Lungomare Bari

Lungomare Bari

Along the wall of the military fort, it felt as if I was on the balcony of the Adriatic Sea. The Fort of Sant’Antonio Abate, a lookout tower since the first half of the twentieth century is the highest point of the old city. From there the gaze follows the entire layout of the medieval walls and the outline of the waterfront. People living up here enjoy the sound of the waves every day. The air was cool and fizzy, we kept climbing to the top, dusk was coming, maybe the wind was going to pick up speed, the Sea and the sky were going to be dark in unison.

 

Fortino Colors

Fortino Colors

I heard the passerby saying they would love to live here in these picture-perfect places. Of course, who wouldn’t? This small house sits on valuable land,  the circular entrance takes to the upstairs loggia and inside the house through small steps, it faces the Sea and has the best exposure to natural sunlight. People living here have a life with a view. It feels harmonious, it feels healthy. The sun’s energy welcomes them in the morning where the horizon meets the Sea and salutes them falling into the Sea at dusk. Magic!

Balconcino-Bari

Balconcino-Bari

Dusk caught up with us and suddenly we had a desire of the local focaccia, the top filled with fresh tomatoes, olives, oregano, course marine salt, the best olive oil and nothing else. It goes with a super chilled Peroni beer, which the local people prefer to drink out of a sweating glass bottle. At that moment, everyone was quiet, and I heard a total silence speaking in the beautiful rosy sunset background. The food here is so good that silence people!

Sei a Casa Sei a Bari

Photo: Sei a Casa Sei a Bari

Like all the good vacations, they must be short, intense with emotions and all must stop when everything is still pleasurable.

Focaccia Barese in Preparation

Focaccia Barese in Preparation

I returned to my California home and made the focaccia I ate on the Southern Italian Riviera. It was very good but not as good as the one I ate that evening at dusk on the Fort of Sant’Antonio Abate. Here, the water, the soil and the ingredients are so different, nothing will ever come the same as in Puglia, at least I am happy I can do it.

Geez, a month of vacation is never enough!
My European genes are calling. See you soon, Europe!
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

 

Copyright © 2019 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Valentina with short hairAs a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, her native land, Valentina’s intention is to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. She wants to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism. Through stories of local customs, art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, she wants them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out her books on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
The latest published book ©The Road To Top Of The World is a travel narrative on short stories of Puglia  – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8

 

 

 

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It Is Coming | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

I have stayed away from some of my activities, especially blogging, as you might have noticed my absence. For more than six months I have dealt with an ergonomic problem on my right hand caused by too much computer usage, but this down time did not discourage me from continuing the most important things. Stubborn, disciplined, high tolerance for pain and goal oriented, that’s what makes me.
Despite all pains and sometimes the impossibility to move my hand as I wanted, I went on anyway to write the fourth book I had planned for this year 2018.
The Road To Top Of The World is coming in September!

©The Road To Top Of The World by Valentina Cirasola

I cannot call it a novel really, it is a book of short stories, a mixture of my memories of the region growing up there, my impressions of the new region of today, some history, use, customs, traditions, stories and experiences made with a group of Americans I took there with me.
So many things are locked up in my drawers of thoughts, it’s about time they all come out in some form of communication or another.

The region of Puglia exists at least since the 11th century, but now tourists of many nationalities are flocking to Puglia, as if fresh water was discovered. Everyone wants to taste, feel and see the region. A couple of years ago, an Indian Maharajah got married in Puglia and brought 800+ people along from India.
For more than 10 years, Hollywood has found characteristic spots and special corners to film there many blockbuster movies.
Tourists used to land in Puglia only to take the ferry-boat to Greece and showed no interest to even spend a few days visiting, but now they land in Puglia, stay for a while and cry when they leave.
Even though I am an interior/fashion designer by trade, TV producer and author of three other books, I wanted to write outside my trade this time, for pure enjoyment and fun. Living in California didn’t make me forget who I am, what my roots are and what Puglia taught me in terms of values, traditions and morals.

It all transpires from this book: The Road To Top Of The World.

The above picture is the draft of the book cover. It is a colorful book of 40 chapters corroborated by many colorful pictures in each chapter.
Stay tuned for the launch at the end of September 2018.

By the way, after many natural solutions and so much money later, I bent to my young doctor’s wish to shoot a bit of steroid into my right hand tendons.
He revived my hand and made a new person out of me, reborn with more gumption. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

As a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, her native land, Valentina’s intention is to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. She wants to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism. Through stories of local customs, art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, she wants them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia!
Check out her books on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

 

I Am Not A Vegetarian And Yet….| Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Food is part of my color scheme of life. I cannot live without colorful and flavorful food presented well, even if I am eating alone. Eyes want to see beautiful things to send a message of happiness to the brain. It doesn’t take much efforts to do something special for ourselves.  I am not a vegetarian and yet my every day food seem to reflect that style of eating. As soon as I was weaned, my parents taught me to eat everything without distinction and to waste no food. That concept has been good and alive in my life, every where I lived in the world.  I have discovered that in countries different from mine, people eat the same vegetable, often prepared the same way, but, also, I have discovered new vegetables, new flavour and new ways of cooking vegetables. My repertoire of earthy food is getting so big, I don’t have enough days in a year to cook them all. For the moment, enjoy these three simple and so tasty recipes from my kitchen as much as I enjoy them.
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

A sandwich to die for –  Grilled Zucchini and Italian Prosciutto.
Thinly slice zucchini, align them on a parchment paper over a baking sheet.
On each zucchini slice, add finely chopped garlic and ginger, Parmigiano cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper and bread crumbs.
Bake at 400 F. until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
Brush a small amount of olive oil on each bread slices and grill them (I made my country-style bread).
Assemble the sandwich with Italian prosciutto. I did not add anything else, it is tasty enough as is.

Grilled Zucchini and Italian Prosciutto di Parma Sandwich

What do you say about a plate of oyster mushroom? 
I adore this dish, whether it is made for a healthy lunch, with a piece of bread and a glass of red wine, or as a side dish to go with an entrée of meat or fish.
Brush off impurities from the mushroom, or cut them off (if you wash mushrooms in water, they will exude water in the cooking).
Finely chopped garlic and chili pepper, if you like it, briefly sauté in olive oil, then add mushroom and continue to sauté until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add chopped Italian parsley to finish. It is a real delicacy!

 

Oyster Mushrooms Sautéed in Olive Oil and Garlic

Do you have mozzarella?
In Italy we call this sandwich “Mozzarella In Carrozza” translated is Mozzarella In A Chariot.
Beat some eggs, depending on how many sandwiches you are making. Season the eggs with salt and pepper.
Warm up an iron skillet brushed with some olive oil, or butter.
Slice mozzarella in thin pieces.
Dip each side of the sliced bread in the eggs. Lay on the hot pan, each slice of bread one at a time, then mozzarella slices on top, close the sandwich with the top bread slices also dipped in the eggs. With a spatula push down gently on the sandwich to allow mozzarella to stick to the bread.
Brown one side of the sandwiches until crisp, carefully turned with the spatula, brown and crisp the other side.

Mozzarella In Carrozza

There you have it, three simple lunches, easy, inexpensive, healthy and tasty, that you will want to repeat often. This kind of food is only found in Italian homes, not in restaurants.
During trips to my native region of Puglia, Italy, my guests will taste food with a flavour of simplicity and antiquity, such as these. Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2

Copyright © 2018 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
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

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
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

 

 

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

Winter Food | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Fire is on, red wines show their characters through the ruby coloration, days are mostly grey, in some parts of the world even snows and in my home it’s time for comfort food, winter food, healthy food, warm and filling food with whatever the market offers. Today, I am presenting stuffed cabbage with tuna, chickpeas, spinach, brown rice, eggs and spices. It seems to have had a good response among my friends. This is a good recipe to get rid of leftovers, it can be done with other ingredients as well, such as ground meat, mashed potatoes, white rice, quinoa, all vegetables with cheese and no grain and so on,  all depend on your fantasy. It is also low in calories.
Set aside a couple of hours of your time, if you are fast in the kitchen it might take less time.

I am not going to give you quantities, this is a free-form specialty, more ingredients you assemble more baking pans you will fill up. It’s all good stuff. Keep in the freezer the portions you don’t use in one dinner for those days when cooking is not on your list and still want to offer the family something delicious to eat. A large cabbage will give you a good number of large leaves to stuff.

VerzaRipiena

 

  • In salted water parboil all the cabbage leaves, one by one for about 3-4 minute each. The salt will prevent discoloration through the process and your leaves will stay a vivid green even after the baking. Lay them on a towel to dry.
  • Wash the spinach in the quantity you need and sauté with garlic and olive oil. Drain the juice that forms and save it for later. Squeeze the spinach of all juices and pat dry.
  • Boil the brown rice or cook it in rice cooker, I mixed in saffron, parsley and olive oil.
  • If you don’t have chickpeas already cooked, the canned type is OK too, but drain the salted juice in the can and wash the chickpeas in abundant current water.
  • Drain the can tuna from the water and crumble it with a fork. Fresh tuna is better of course.
    ****
    Now, in a very large bowl assemble all the ingredients: brown rice, tuna, chickpeas, spinach, 2-3 beaten eggs and some spices you like. Add a small amount of Parmigiano cheese, just for binding, season to your liking with salt and pepper. Mix well. Eliminate the hard spine of the leaf, it doesn’t bend well and set aside for a different dish later. With a spoon fill each cabbage leaf, roll and make a package. In the bottom of a baking dish put a small amount of that juice obtained from sautéing the spinach, align each package, on top add tomatoes sauce (passata) or peeled tomatoes, a swirl of olive oil and a small amount of Parmigiano cheese.
    Bake uncovered at 400˚ F until the top is golden brown, maybe 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Serve warm.

If you have leftover stuffing, turn it into a frittata and you have another good meal assured. Buon Appetito!

In my home cooking is an important everyday experience. It doesn’t matter what our profession is, when it’s time to eat we change hats and turn into demanding chefs. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
10626547_10203527385518761_5878448476892428943_nValentina 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. Get your copy of Valentina’s books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Fashion And Food | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

One of my friends in my homeland Italy sent me a piece of news with a comment:
“Valentina decorates her home projects with colors of food and the fashion industry is putting food on clothes”.
Are fashion designers tired of seeing model as stick figures or finally they have realized that good food emanate good energy and vibrate positivism?

There is nothing more perfect than nature. Getting into the habits of cultivating own food, which is possible even on small patches of dirt, balconies, small patios or terraces and then cooking the homegrown food is the quintessential of health, fun and alignment with the Universe. Colors of natural food are vibrant, dynamic and alive. If we put natural food in the mouth why wouldn’t we want to wear their colors? The natural and positive vibrations will double for sure.

You might want to click on this link to see a roundup of fashion collections and the food that have inspired different designers in various years of this decade. In this site there is fashion by season, by recipes, by colors and designers.
http://www.tasteofrunway.com/

“Who said there are only colors? There are also the nuances.” ~ said Diana Vreeland, editor of American Vogue in 1969.
That’s right. Have you ever looked at the peel of red onion? Outside is red-purple and inside is almost pinkish. The colors of fried onions in a tempura batter with sage leaves range from beige, golden beige, pale yellow, gold, silver sage and white. This poor specialty was Armani’s inspiration in designing the perfect 2014 shimmering collection inspired by fried tempura onions. Onion is such a poor ingredient with a not so high reputation that often disgusts a few people, but when cooked can give an aura of elegant sophistication.

The colored pasta Marellihttp://pastamarella.it/ – produced in Puglia, the southern Italian region where I come from, inspired Missoni soft colors for 2014 Spring, while Marc Jacobs for his 2011-12 collection chose stronger and more vibrant colors from the multicolored pasta that marries well with four types of cheeses pasta dish. This multicolored pasta inspired him to combine bold colors, just like the pasta dish combines the strong flavor gorgonzola with three other cheeses.

One of my favorites is Balmain 2013 black and yellow ensemble with similar colors in the tasty dish of Linguine with lemon and cuttlefish ink. This is a dish for fine palates and food connoisseurs.

The friend who sent me the flavorful articles made another question:
“In which location would you enjoy eating the plate of Linguine with lemon and cuttlefish ink and which wine would you choose? He suggested Amalfi Coast as a location where to taste Asprino d’Aversa; on the beach of Ragusa, Sicily, drinking a Grillo; in Salento on the cliff of Otranto, Puglia tasting a Verdeca wine.

Well, with these good suggestions from my Italian friend, I will go look for cuttlefish (ink is so very easy to extract from it) and will hand-made the linguine.
It’s more difficult to talk about hand-made pasta then actually make it.
Create a great weekend. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val StandingValentina Cirasola has been in business as an interior designer since 1990 improving people’s life by changing their spaces. Often people describe her as “the colorist” for a reason. She lives in a colorful world, wrote a book on colors ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors and loves to color her clients’ environments by creating the unusual. Her deep interest in food led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition and well-being, then finally she wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine. Find Valentina’s three books on Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

A Wine Moment | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Cacc’e Mmitte sounds as an unpronounceable strange name for a wine and perhaps it is, but the flavor is unbeatable. It’s not a new discovered wine for me since I come from the same region of the wine, I am surprised to know that a few wine representatives now carry the Cacc’e Mmitte in their selection of wines for restaurants and pubs.
In the Southern Italian dialect form, this name refers to the easy drinkability of the wine after it has been freshly pressed and the easiness to refilled the glass with a wine that doesn’t need much aging.
In reality making this wine is an ancient procedure. In the remote times of south Italy, farmers rented all the wine making equipment for only one day to anyone who wanted to make wines, but the pressing process had to finish in one day to leave the premises free for the next person. At the end of the procedure the wine must was taken out of the wine pressing tanks “Cacce” and transported away to a new cellar premise, then a new tenant came in for one day and used the same tanks “Mitte” to crush their grape and produce a wine style of their liking.

The Cacc’e Mmitte is a D.O.C. wine originated in Lucera, in the Foggia district of Puglia region, where the Gargano shows off the beauty of the Adriatic cost.
In 1995 Italian laws set the D.O.C. label to protect names, origins, production methods and characteristics of Italian food and wine, therefore it stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Denomination of Controlled Origin).

I love its ruby color and its intense aroma, its alcohol content is about 11.5%. What do we pair this wine with?

A few days ago, I tried it with Valdeón Due Leche Blue cheese from the Spanish region of León, wrapped in sycamore maple or chestnut leaves. It’s made with cow and goat cheese, hence the name due leche and I must say the odor is pungent, but an incredible bombardment of flavors happens when brought in the mouth. Needless to say we consumed a large piece of the Valdeón in a short hour and only two people.

Now take out your tulip shaped calyx, pour yourself Cacc’e Mitte wine, enjoy it with the Spanish Valdeón, add a few nuts and forget the world. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val in ParadiseValentina Cirasola has been in business as an interior designer since 1990 improving people’s life by changing their spaces. Most often she designs kitchens and wine grottos; outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms; great rooms and entertainment rooms. Her deep interest in food led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition and well-being. Finally she wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory. Get your copy of Valentina’s books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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