A trip to Spain!

Once again I have to start a blog post with an apology for not posting anything in a while – who though that university would require doing work? (And going out a lot, but this doesn’t sound as good an excuse for not blogging.)

My second term has been even better than the first, particularly due to the fact that I got to spend a week in the sunny southern Spain last month. I was in the seaside resort of Nerja for my first year field trip with the rest of my year, and had a fantastic time.

Balacon de Europa, Nerja

Balacon de Europa, Nerja

Nerja is different to other towns on the Costa Del Sol. With its white-washed houses, a well-cared for old town and a beautiful beach, it has a real sense of being ‘Spanish’ unlike towns such as Marbella and Benidorm further down the coast. It has a wonderful terrace, named the Balcon de Europa which extends from the town’s main square, and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea towards Africa. I’d recommend getting an ice cream from one of the bars near the Balcon de Europa. The area is perfect to sit and enjoy one of the many choices of flavours from the deliciously decadent chocolate ice creams to a more exotic coconut flavour. Spanish cuisine is one of my personal favourites, so exploring the many different bars and restaurants in Nerja was great for me.

Another highlight of Nerja is of course the world famous caves. I spent an hour there looking at the incredibly grand caverns with ancient stalactites and stalagmites. I could have spent so much longer in there, despite the fact that I am normally quite claustrophobic, as the natural formations are spectacular. If you get the opportunity to spend longer in the caves, there are meant to be some excellent examples of pre-historic cave art.

Eggs, Chorizo and patatas, Nerja

Eggs, Chorizo and patatas, Nerja

Although the nightlife in Nerja can’t be compared to other towns along the coast, a small strip of bars and clubs known as Tutti Frutti Plaza offers late night drinking and music for a very reasonable price. I’m sure the bars are filled with people in the height of the tourist season, but they were particularly quiet during the time of year that we visited, though with 130 students from our course, this didn’t stop us from having a great time.

Personally, I enjoyed the trip so much as I really got to know the other people on my course who I will be studying with over the next couple of years. I’m very much looking forward to taking other field trips in the years to come, especially as Malawi and New York are being mentioned for next year!

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Food and the Trouble with Social Media

As many of you well know, I have a little bit of an addiction with social media. I can hear you nodding in agreement, probably as you try to ignore my latest inane tweet, attention grabbing Facebook post or “vintage” style photograph from Instagram. I should spend less time on these sites but they interest me very much.

I love being able to keep in touch with my closest friends on Facebook now that we have all been separate by university; I love the banter and debate that Twitter provokes and more recently I have enjoyed sharing pictures with everyone on Instagram. But it’s also nice to take a look back and see what kind of things one has posted. I did this, and I have identified that I have a deep fascination with one topic. Food.

I tweet about it, I post about it, and I even take photos of it and share them. It looks like it’s all I think about, and I’m wondering if it is something that should concern me, as I sit here writing whilst devouring some chocolate buttons.

I’m not usually a fan of “instablogging” but here are some of the highlights of my social media and food relationship from the past few months. I might even post some of the recipes in the future, so please let me know what interests you.  You can do this by tweeting me, commenting on here, on my Facebook page, on an Instagram post…

This is an in-progress shot of a pasta sauce I was making, made to the recipe that my Nonna uses (and her tomato passata bottles)

 

Here’s a very nice Pad Thai I made only the other night. I love Thai food in particular, and this is one of my favourite Thai dishes, plus it simple to cook. 

 

Insomnia and hunger do not mix. I made this Rocket & Parmesan salad with a balsamic dressing at about 1:30am when I couldnt sleep. On another note, I should probably stop watching Nigella Lawson

 

A Parma Ham and mozzarella ciabatta sandwich that I ate at my dad’s eatery Carlo’s Kitchen on Union Street. Very nice. Especially after a day of lectures and a train journey.

 

I made this vegetable soup myself! It’s so healthy, delicious and cheap which is perfect for being a student.

 

Finally, here’s me eating a pavlova that my mum made. Its my favourite dessert, and she made it on the day of the Olympic Closing Ceremony, hence the Union jack (and gin & tonic).

 

A Taste of Tuscany

I’ve just got back from a short but fantastic trip to Tuscany. I was with my Dad a few other people for some  wine tasting on the Zonin estates, which was a great experience. I’ve been to Tuscany before, but this was the first time learning about wine making and the stories of the historic, mediaeval vineyards. Each wine tasting was accompanied by food which was best suited to the wine; and we got to eat in beautiful homes on the estates such as Castello d’Albolo. We were in the Chianti region of  Tuscany, where the famous Chianti Classico wine is made with San Giovese grapes that have ripened under the Tuscan sun. Here’s a selection of photos which I took on the trip which best represent the beautiful Tuscan countryside.

 

San Giovese vineyards at Castello d’Albolo

 

These scooters can be seen shooting about all over Italy!

 

My favourite pasta dish – Papardelle con Ragu

 

In the gardens at Castello d’Albolo

 

The tourist hotspot of San Gimignano

Vegetable gardens outside Castello d’Albolo

Carlo’s Kitchen

My dad recently sold his main restaurant, La Cucina, after 9 years of fantastic memories, great food and excellent parties, so we’re really excited to be working on his other venture, Carlo’s Kitchen! It’s a slightly different palce to La Cucina, it’s more of an eatery. It’s more modern, you can come in for a coffee or for an excellent lunch and you can even takeaway a meal. With school work and exams I don’t really get to go up there as much as I like (which will change in the summer!) but I’ve been helping out by working on the twitter and facebook sites. I’ve even got a t-shirt!

If you love coffee, great Italian food and you’re in London soon then take a look at Carlo’s Kitchen!

Check out Carlo’s Kitchen on Facebook: facebook.com/CarlosKitchenUnionSt

Follow on Twitter! @carloskitchen