A Dinner Story | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

San Vito- Bari, Italy

I was born on the sea, the Adriatic sea to be exact, on the limpid blue-green sea waters, salty, crispy waves, grottos, inlets, natural rock formations where crustaceous live and various blue fish are happy swimming in and out.
The food staple for people born on any sea is fish. On those parts, it is very common to be invited for dinner and be served many courses of fish.

Years later I moved to USA, a meat eating country, the search for fresh fish for my daily meal stopped abruptly. I go to grocery shops and I can smell the foul fish odor as soon as I enter the shop. I get closer to the fish counter and the smell gets stronger, the fish is covered with a ton of spices to camouflage the foul smell. I wonder who buys that fish!

I used to order fish plates in restaurants and after a few times returning the dish to the kitchen, I stopped ordering fish in restaurants. Fresh fish smells exactly like the sea, if it stinks has been dead for days or weeks! Just remember that.

Now, I know the reason why when I am invited to someone’s home, the main dish is meat, often chicken, boring, colorless, tasteless and tiring chicken….what’s so exciting about chicken! If I must brag about meat, only one time, in Texas, I was invited to a bison steak dinner and it was the best steak I had in my whole life!

One day, one of of my Californian friends wanted to organize a cooking class in her huge home for her girlfriends fit for a triathlon. She asked me to cook something special, good and healthy from my native Italian region. I told her that where I came from the staple food is fresh fish and she agreed to it. I went really out of my way to please her and her friends, drove for hours to the coast, where I knew one fisherman who could assure me the freshness of fish, and cook one blue fish for each, baked with some vegetable in a cartouche.
The reaction from the women was awful, when they open the cartouche on their plate, saw the fish head and screamed as I had put some kind of horrific thing in front of their eyes. Those women didn’t know anything about fish, how to source it, how to cook it and neither how to eat it.

They exclaimed the fish was dead, I asked them if they usually eat meat alive. They said it was cruel to the fish, I asked them if it is not cruel to kill animals, including chickens, and if it isn’t even more cruel to wear leather jackets or sit on a leather sofa. They were shocked to hear these comments. I am not in tune with people talking nonsenses, I have no patience for them and I tell it as it is. Humans have eaten meat and fish since the primordial time. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it but don’t push your beliefs on me.

I also knew my friend was not equipped with the right tools to eat fish with, thus I brought my silvers to her for that occasion and made her look good. Silly me! I should have made a chicken dish to leave everyone satisfied and convinced that they had not eaten a dead animal. Live and learn.

Fish knives


These are the fish knives needed to separate the flesh from the bones if any, also used to eat a fish fillet. Never a regular knife is used for fish. Only in high end restaurants, these knives appear on the table along with other interesting flatware.

If you invite people to your home for dinner, always ask the guests what they do not eat and if they are opposed to something you have in mind. My friend agree to a fish dinner because she had been to my native land, she knew how good and fresh fish is over there. Luckily, my dessert was a hit. Of course give people sugar and they will be super happy. Ciao.
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page


Copyright © 2021 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion designer/consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. She has conceived a few new books of various subjects to which she is working simultaneously. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel. Get a copy of her books on:
Amazon and Barnes&Noble





Teatime | Valentina Cirasola | Designer

At the end of last month, I organized a teatime chez moi, it was about time to see some humans after a year of distancing. It seems I have put my body on an energy-savings mode. In fact, I just got around to post this short video on my YouTube channel after the teatime event two weeks ago.

Teatime is a precious time to spend with a few chosen friends. Setting a nice table to go with tea and small morsels is a way to show your friends you care for them and want to catch up with life or their latest news, help them with their challenges if any, or just want to spend some quiet relaxing time with them.

For a successful teatime, only a few things are needed. Good food all made in small bite-size and an exciting conversation with lively people are a must, the rest is all that frills that help to make a nice teatime experience, such as a theme for the table setting, the right colors to go with a selected theme, background music, and a pleasant atmosphere from good lighting.

You can choose any theme for your teatime table. The idea is to group items in the same theme without being too much of a matchy-matchy. I selected a botanical theme, thus some of my teacups are floral and some have some nature elements (ladybugs). My plates have grapes embossed in the glass, and some plates are shaped like shells. The wood napkin rings are carved as shellfish and courtyard animals. The runner is designed with birds propped on branches. I added the fresh flowers and mixed them with the dry flower composition.

This is a small example of a theme, they can be selected from any subject once likes. Go ahead, invite someone you have not seen in ages. It’s still February, in most places in the world is very cold, a warm delicious tea and morsels at teatime will make you feel like a human again. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2021 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

My Mask

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer established in 1990. Often people describe her as “the colorist” as she loves to color her clients’ world and loves to create the unusual. Currently, she consults on colors based on clients’ personalities and lifestyles, she creates atmospheres using the proper lighting that is going to add harmony and peace to the homes and she helps clients creating fantasy rooms instead of typical rooms looking like furniture showrooms. She is the author of six published books, two of which are on design subjects. Amazon and Barnes&Noble

My Bohemian Thanksgiving Table | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Yesterday, sitting with friends at my Thanksgiving table, I was remembering the same day four years ago, when I turned on my computer early in the morning before starting the festivity cooking and found a message from my publisher congratulating me for publishing my first book. The feeling of being on 7th heaven was indescribable!!!

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

We talked about this event while enjoying the mixture of typical Thanksgiving American food and food from Puglia, Italy, in fact some recipes even came from my book. I think my friends were more surprised to see how the simplicity of my food can hold a high flavors and taste than the huge production I made.

FullPlates

It seemed to me that the mixture of food from two different cultures, called for an eclectic tablescape. I wanted to have a Bohemian style table with colors and things not matching to perfection and that is what I did. The colors of my house lean towards warm tones, they are perfect for an autumn festivity.

I chose a white tablecloth as the base for layering all the colors. Two different colors tea tablecloth covered opposite corners of the table, one black with motif of nature and birds and the other one in golden tones with classical motif.

Playing with geometry and mixing round with square plates from various dish sets was fun. The square plates designed with fruit come from Italy, I carried them with me on the plane.

I made the napkins from leftover material of other projects and closed them in brass napkin rings. Tea light holders made of rusted metal go well with brushed bronze flatware.

Glasses don’t match but the greenish tone is their common denominator that marries well with other greens on the table.

Prosecco bottle has an interesting Venetian embellishment. She is the autumn leaves lady that sometimes is on a wine bottle and sometimes is on a mirror somewhere else in the house. Her purpose is to embellish.

Thanksgiving2

Crostate-A

My Pumpkin Pie Fairy by Mark Roberts is a highly collectible character hiding between the tablescape.

Dinner was great. Menu was long, but we paced ourselves through many hours of eating, conversing, drinking and music listening. I was so grateful to have had some friends eating at my table on this day of gratitude. Thanksgiving is one day, thanks-living is a life-style.

Is there one Thanksgiving you remember more than any other? Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValentinaXmasValentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She especially loves to design all those rooms with a “make me feel good” tag attached, such as kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. She is a public speaker and a mentor. She is also the author of two Italian regional cuisine books and a book on colors, all available here in this site on the Books page and on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
Amazon:
http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

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

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