Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Coppa Italia

For those of you who follow Cortina Hockey, you may have noticed that there have been no games recently. Sadly, no - we haven't been on vacation in Switzerland. It was that time of the year for....the Coppa Italia! This is a tournament that happens every year in Serie A Italian hockey. The first year we were here, they won! The second year, I don't even remember what happened, so it must not have been that great. This year, two funny things happened:

Image via Cortina Hockey

1. There are only 8 teams in the league this year. Renon offered to host the semi-finals/finals, which are at the end of November, so, for some reason, they decided (themselves, probably) that they didn't have to play in the first round of the tournament! Which means that poor Fassa, didn't even get a chance to Italian.

2. In the first game of the tournament which was last Thursday, Cortina beat Brunico 3-2, the #1 team in the league! But then they got back on track and lost the second game 7-2, and the third game 7-3. But - only two teams have beaten Brunico this year and we can call Cortina one of them.

And the good news: since Cortina is out of the tournament, we CAN go on our Swiss vacation while the other teams slug it out in the semi-finals at the end of November.

Monday, October 28, 2013

October Risotto

This month's risotto is: butternut squash with sage and chili! It was an easy choice this time....butternut squash is EVERYWHERE right now, and also, I had sage leaves that came in an herb package that I bought and had no idea what to do with, so....this happened:

Like my September risotto, the recipe comes from this book but I changed it a little bit this time - the original called for a whole stick of butter, which seemed a little excessive.

Here is my version (which served three):

1 tbsp butter
1small yellow onion
2 tbsp chopped sage
2 tsp dried chili flakes - more or less depending on how spicy you want it
1 cup finely diced butternut squash
1 cup Arborio rice
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup Parmesan, plus more for serving

Heat up broth and leave it to simmer on the stove (oh, the luxuries of having four burners). Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. Let the onion cook and soften for about 10 minutes. Add in the chopped sage and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add butternut squash and let soften a bit, about 5 more minutes. Stir in the rice and let it get coated with butter - "toast" it for about 1 minute. Add a ladle full of broth to the rice mixture and stir. I usually turn the heat down to low at this point because our burners get very hot and you want to the broth to be simmering with the rice, not furiously boiling. When the rice has absorbed the broth, add another ladle of broth, and repeat this process until all the broth is gone OR until the rice is full, tender, and has lost its hard bite. Stir in the Parmesan and serve immediately.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to Recycle

We've been in Cortina for about 7 weeks now (oh, plus about 15 months) and finally, finally, we have mastered the art of Italian recycling.

This is not a joke.

For the first 15 months we were here, we lived in The Savoia and we would toss our plastics, papers, glass, tin cans and several empty wine bottles into a crate that we kept on our balcony, and when that full, Ryan would trot downstairs with it and dump it into the bins behind the building. Aside from a few times when the superintendent, Angelo, pulled us outside to point and gesture frantically at the recycling/trash bins and speak rapidly in his very complicated Italian dialect, we thought everything was going very smoothly. The recycling man came every Monday morning around 5 am and emptied the bins with a gigantic crash, and that was that.

Well, finally, we have discovered the error of our ways. When we arrived in September, to our new house in Chiave, we kept doing what we had been doing for all those 15 months before - seasoned Cortina veterans that we are. One evening several weeks ago, I was in the kitchen baking cookies and I happened to glance out the window, which overlooks the recycling area, and I noticed an older woman (who lives in the building next to us, but has full reign over all of Chiave) going through the recycling bin and pulling out all of our plastic items, looking at them with disgust - like how DARE they make focaccia bread that comes in a plastic tube - and then tossing them into a huge blue bag that she was holding in her other hand.

So. What did I do? I hid. Yes. I hid underneath the window because I didn't want her looking up into the kitchen, see me watching her, and then giving me a lecture on how to recycle because I am not even the one who takes the recycling out! From my spot on the kitchen floor, I could hear her calling "Franco! Franco!" to our landlord, who must have gone over to her, because then I heard her describing to him what complete idiots we were, the kind who have no clue how to recycle their plastics. This conversation went on for 20 minutes, which of course is practically nothing in Italian time, but when you are sitting on the kitchen floor, it's a little bit longer. But I figured that listening to their conversation, and piecing together how wrong we were to throw our old water bottles in with our old wine bottles, was good for my Italian.

In the end, I had it figured out that plastics don't, in fact, go in with the glass and aluminum, like they usually do. Also, I overheard them wondering, "plastica in Inglese?" and I wanted to jump off the floor, fling open the window, and yell down to them, "plastica in Inglese is PLASTIC! I know that one!" In any case, I felt a lecture coming on one day soon. When Ryan got home from practice that night, I told him never to take the recycling out again.

So we let it build up for a while, until a few mornings later when I returned home from the store. I was heading up the stairs to our door when I heard someone calling "buongiorno....BUONGIORNO!" I turned, and there she was, the Signora of Chiave, ready to teach me about recycling. "Oh! Buongiorno, Signora!" I said, and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that she had left all sorts of different bags on my steps. Well, she marched right up those steps, picked up the bags, stuffed them into the grocery bags that I was holding, and explained:

You have to put your plastics in the blue bag. There is no bin for the plastics, they only go in the blue bag. The blue bags are big, so you don't want to put them out every week. You have to wait a few weeks until they fill up, and then you can put them out. That way you don't waste a whole blue bag on a few plastics and you don't run out of blue bags. You have to put the glass and the tin in the "normal" recycling. You have to put trash in one bin, and you have to put uneaten food scraps (called "secco") in the same bin as the trash, but in a completely separate and biodegradable bag. You have to put the paper in the yellow bins, and things that you might think are paper or cardboard, such as old milk cartons, are not! They're secco! Why, you might ask? No, you don't ask why, because as we say rather frequently.... this is Italy.

Monday, October 21, 2013


I ended up having a very exciting week last week because by the end of it, I had been to two new places - Bologna and Brunico! I was sitting around reading on Saturday afternoon when my friend Ellie called and asked if I wanted to go for a drive with her - she has a new baby, Savannah, who likes to cry unless she is in the car or in her stroller (she's a mover). So I said yes, and Ellie picked me up and we drove and drove and drove until we ended up about an hour away in Brunico!

I've been to Brunico before, but only to go to the rink - they have a very good team there - and never to the actual town, which was charming and German (although still in Italy). We walked all around, hiked up to the castle - which was closed, of course, because everything is closed all the time! - had a drink and drove home! It was the perfect afternoon trip and baby Savannah was quiet the whole time...

Here's two more pictures that I took: the first is of the castle - castles are very common in that area - and the second is of the church. Ellie was telling me a funny story about German/Italian churches...She said they always have two steeples with two bells that ring at different times of the day. It's an ongoing joke that one bell is for the Germans who are on their time, and the other bell is for the Italians who are on their own time - so funny!

And speaking of Brunico...Cortina will be playing them this week on Thursday and Sunday for this year's Coppa Italia!

Thursday, October 17, 2013


On Monday morning, my friend Cori and I went to Bologna for the day and night. We drove down - it's about 3.5 hours away from Cortina, which is good because I already want to go back - and wandered around for two days soaking in the new sights.

It's always fun and refreshing to be in a new place, exploring new things. Here are a few pictures from the trip....


The city was filled with students (there's a University there), little cafes that spilled onto the streets, motorbikes, arches, AND most of the buildings were pink. Like bologna?? We wondered...that became an ongoing joke.

 My favorite thing in Bologna was the market. There are tons of little stands and shops for everything: fruit, vegetables, fresh pasta, cheese, fish, meat, flowers, etc. It was amazing and everything looked so fresh and colorful.

These are the towers of Bologna:

There are two of them left, dating back to the 12th or 13th century. Apparently Bologna used to have many towers throughout the city, but now these are the most prominent two - one leans quite a bit! You can see them from all over the city.

Anyway, I came home on Tuesday evening with a random assortment: radishes, radicchio, pink and white beans and a little jar of truffle salt. Until next time, Bologna!

Monday, October 14, 2013


When I first started writing this post (last week), I started it off by saying:

"Fall is here!"

And then I put up this nice picture of a fall tree:

But that was last week. This week.....

Winter is here!

Anyway, here's what's been going on: Ryan had two home games last week, against Milan and Asiago. I've been busy learning Italian every morning (imparo italiano ogni mattina). Since it's cold/rainy/snowy here all the time, we've been eating lots of soups and drinking this amazing Chai tea that we got in Austria. I've tried my hand at baking twice now and it turned out pretty well - the oven is a life saver on these cold fall (winter?!) days - and it makes the kitchen the warmest room in the house! We tried to go to Venice one Sunday but it was pouring, so we acted like the Americans that we are and instead went to.....the mall!

I spent a few hours last week working on updating the blog. If you subscribe to posts via email, you may have noticed that you had to re-enter your email address when I changed the blog address in August. I heard some reports that it wasn't working too well, but it should be back up and running now, so subscribe away! I'll be posting every Monday and Thursday this year, so check in on those days.  Unless of course, we do something really amazing that would warrant a Wednesday post...
So, as we say - ci vediamo giovedi!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Grocery Shopping

I realize that this might sound strange, but when living in Cortina we sometimes have to go to Austria to get things done. Grocery shopping, specifically. Yes....yesterday we drove to another country to go to three different grocery stores. We are so deprived in Cortina that we don't have things like coconut, jalapenos, basmati rice, Chai tea, wasabi peas (I mean, come on), hummus, and feta....all staples of our diet, so we drove to Austria to get them. Grocery stores are much less expensive there, so we sort of treat Austria like Costco and stock up on Kleenex, soap and paper towels (and Chai tea). Then we come home to our tiny kitchen and jam all our purchases underneath the sink and under the bed.

The only, only problem with Austria is that everything is in German. Imagine! So you need to Google translate things before you go. For example: backpulver = baking powder. Who knew.

Anyway, we did that, and after we had spent approximately two hours in three different grocery stores, we continued on to the little town of Lienz where we had dinner. Ryan noticed that everyone around us was eating the "house plate" which was a huge and very delicious platter of different kinds of meats, three types of potatoes and mixed vegetables.So, when in Austria....