Sunday, October 31, 2010

Job: selling watermelon and freshly pressed olive oil by the side of the road in Greece
Name: Santos
Age: 85 

I love watermelon and can't get enough of it in the summer especially while trying to survive the scorching heat of Greece in the summer. We stopped, had some water, ate some watermelon and had a chat with Santos for a little while. 

He spoke perfect Italian as he went to school in Greece when it was under Italian rule. He remembered the change over to Greek power and was a great person to speak to about the history of the region and politics at the time. 

He's a lovely man that told us about all of his grandchildren and his life growing up in the beautiful hills that surrounded his truck - he came here each day to sell the olive oil that was produced by his family nearby and was happily listening to the radio when we arrived. He said he meets people from all around the world each day that stop to take photos of the vista and to eat his watermelon. It's always nice to meet locals and hear their life stories, he had a blessed life and was a very cheeky, happy and enthusiastic man.  After purchasing some olive oil and grapes he washed them for us and even added a few extra sweet sesame seed goodies in our bag. 

Kindness, a smile and great olive oil - lovely things that remind us about our travels in Greece now that the nights are getting shorter and darker and colder. I hope any of you that travel around the island of Rhodes see Santos on your next trip.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

 What pudding would you make for George Clooney? Win, win, win

The lovely foodies at the BBC have given me some tickets to give out to you lovely blob readers – there are two events – one in Birmingham at the gigantic NEC and one in London at Olympia – the London one consists of MasterChef Live & Wine Show which I will be attending. If you are going or win the tickets we can have a taste of some red vino together.

Bring comfy shoes and some cash as am sure you will be tempted to buy some food and drink and for all of you very organised Christmas shoppers you may even tick things off your list. My only advice is to wear light clothing as you are usually hot and exhausted by the end of walking down just one aisle –and come on an empty stomach!

Some great chefs will be there including James Martin at both, while Gordon Ramsay and Rachel Allen will be at the Birmingham show (why are there not more top female chefs?? That’s another blog post) Details are:

• The Wine Show & MasterChef Live at Olympia, London - 14 Nov

• BBC Good Food Show Winter, NEC Birmingham - 28 Nov

How to win?? Send me your reply to this question:

• If the gorgeous and sexy George Clooney were coming to dinner next Friday what would you bake him for pudding/desert?

The most creative responses win two tickets for the Sunday sessions! Just tell me if you prefer London or Birmingham. Email answers to: allthingsdolce @

Be creative foodies!


Cute James Martin cooking with croutons (?)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The lovely almond is found around all over the island of Sicily. Several years ago on my first trip to Sicily, when my uncle peeled the little, green, fuzzy pod and took out the small, white contents, I didn't know what it was. After chewing the soft nut ( it only gets hard when it is dried to be sold) with its fresh and light taste, an almost muted apple one -he told my sis and I that it was an almond! Strange how you never connect what a food item looks like at source or how it grows. On my last trip there I saw a walnut tree which again I was shocked to see as I had no clue how those little round wrinkly forehead-like nuts grew either.

In Sicily, almond trees blossom in February and are usually harvested in July. The island's almonds are used in confections, sweet liqueur and even almond-flavored wines - which are thought to be an aphrodisiac. At weddings when I was younger, there would be chocolate and sugar coated almonds in a bowl for guests to eat and with each thank you gift there were a few sugar coated almonds attached to it too.

These 'confetti' were for good luck and apparently with a little bit of research I found out that it stems from an ancient tradition in Sicily.

The throwing of the almonds at the bride (we didn't throw them at our brides- the priests didn't like that) symbolised a marriage by capture (I guess throwing the almonds were part of the tactics of capture?) Now we use paper confetti, which the priest also doesn't like, or some people are not using this tradition anymore.

On our last journey to the sunny island, the almond was present every day in our food and the trees were always visible along our travels. After Jake excitedly plucked one open that he found on the ground, I ate it as we had not seen any ripe ones since the harvest had just passed. I had some initial reservations about eating it as it was quite dark in color but I quickily ignored it and popped it in my mouth - to my surprise it was rotten and tasted vile! I tried to spit out as much as possible, gracefully of course, and my mouth proceeded to sting for about an hour afterwards (!) I was hoping I wasn't going to have some reaction to the rotten almond like one does to eating the wrong wild mushroom. I survived to tell the tale of course and ate lots of fresh almond cookies to compensate!

At the next Italian wedding I go to I hope they have some almond confetti.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Winter-y hot chocolate nights are coming

Tried Nestle's Aero hot chocolate today from a package. I liked it and it doesn't taste like the crappy hot chocolate you get from a machine. Made with water it gave me the 4pm chocolate hit I needed today. I always remember burning my tongue as a child when we would have tiny white Styrofoam cups of it after skating sessions. I never did think it warmed me up, the only thing that did was getting into the car and getting home! Today is a nippy day in Londontown, frost on some cars this morning - old man winter is coming!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I missed Canadian Thanksgiving due to travels but I am hoping to still secure an invite to an American one. Considering I don't know any Americans in London I may just have to re-create a Thanksgiving dinner on any random day – like an un-birthday (does anyone remember that from Alice & Wonderland?!). I miss my annual Thanksgiving dinner as it is a time when I gather some of my great friends for a sit down meal and before the start of it we do the cheesy thing that my family always does and say what we are thankful for. I think this year we should hold hands while doing it too; mostly people’s statements are general ones relating to family, friends, health and happiness and sometimes it is something specific - some years there have even been tears. Once the sappy sharing of love is over the big bird emerges, it's not always a turkey, but it is carved like it is. There usually is lots of wine for us to forget how cheesy we were at the star of the meal and everyone goes home like they were a stuffed turkey, which you are not to do anymore due to health and safety reasons (boring).

I am now turning into Calogera Snr (my mother) who usually serves a 'turkette' (a fat chicken), this was always disappointing as children since the other kids at school always boasted about their big turkeys and came to school with dry turkey sandwiches for the whole week after the holiday, but since my parents were a bit foreign to the whole Thanksgiving thing, they served chicken and told us it was turkey!

Our turkette was served with lasagna and Italian wedding soup and a whole host of other things that were traditionally Canadian thanksgiving-y but we didn't care. The pumpkin pie would always be bought, sliced up for everyone to eat, but the plates would all return to the kitchen un-eaten except for my sister who bizarrely is the only one that acquired a taste for it. The rest of us ate something like my mother's amaaazing tiramisu.

My travels this year have been weird, wonderful and always full of sunshine, love and laughter, the one thing that all of them did was remind me how lucky I am and to this I am very thankful. I have been blessed with love, luck and happiness coming from some of the greatest friends and family around the globe. Thanks to my favourite sisters in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, London and my real sister in Toronto for being part of the reason for this sappy post. Ok enough sap! Smell ya later readers! Off to make friends with an American to snag an invite to eat some real turkey – I’ll bring the tiramisu!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Asia is such a magical place with weird and wonderful sights, sounds and smells at every corner. Every day, the goal was to have a fresh coconut water which revitalizes and hydrates the system and comes with a long list of health benefits (apparently Madonna is a now a big fan and has bought shares in a coconut plantation). 
But for us we just LOVE the fresh, cool, crisp taste and needed to have at least one freshly cracked open for us a day, if not two! The picture below shows one of our yummy coconuts - a heart shape was created when it was hacked open.
In Singapore you can get the best street food for under five Singapore dollars or eat at a Michelin starred restaurant for $500 on the same street. Trying out the street food at local hawker markets is an experience, they are hustling and bustling places with Indian, Malay, Thai and Chinese foods all being sliced and diced and served up under one roof. There are stalls for every type of food imaginable and even some interesting market traders selling delicacies that we were curious about but never seemed to get around to trying - next time!
 We took a pass on the pig's organs this time.
The above is from an award winning Hawker stall called Thunder Tea rice - the dish is made with green tea and packed with extremely healthy ingredients like fish, beans, basil leaves, green tea leaves, mint leaves, parsley, coriander leaves, okra, cabbage, tofu, long beans, and spinach. It is amazingly yummy and you can feel the goodness go into you while you are eating it.

Check it out if you are in Singapore any time soon. There are 3 locations.

Thunder Tea Rice
China Square Food Centre
51 Telok Ayer St.

Amoy St. Food Centre,
7 Maxwell Road

Food Republic @ Vivo City
No. 1 Harbour Front Walk