The Hot Tale Of Trains, Tickets And Roman Lovers by Aria The Bad Ass | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

Bari Train Roma Aria Alpert italian journey 01 The Hot Tale Of Trains, Tickets And Roman Lovers by Aria The Bad Ass | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

The tale of how Bad Ass Aria, never takes no for an answer, when it comes to reaching a Roma Lover. Well let me back up, let me start by saying, I got my train to Roma. Finally. It was quite an ordeal to get here. On the train that is. I have been challenged with an insane transition back into the real world from my peaceful countryside retreat in Noci. Away from food, wine, espresso, drama, computers, phones, language barriers, crowds of people, obstacles….Ahhhhhhhhh….

So…this is what happened…

The train station is in Bari, about an hour away from Noci. The van dropped me off, with 40 minutes to purchase my ticket, get some water, relax and slowly meander onto the train. I went to the self-serve computer to purchase my ticket but was having trouble. Hmmmmm, what was the problem…. well…the problem was the train seemed to be… sold out. Huh? SOLD OUT?? WTF?

My anxiety immediately started to build. I didn’t even think to buy my ticket in blissed out Noci.! Huh. Okay, pull yaself together. Talk to the authorities. So, I stood in the long ass line to talk to the Italian ticket guy. My turn comes, 25 minutes later. ‘I gotta get on that train. To Roma now.’ I demand. Not only does this guy not speak any English, he didn’t seem to give a shit and he just kept shaking his head, NO.

Well, mister grumpy Italia, I am not gonna take NO for an answer. My lack of speaking this beautiful language will not stop me either from convincing whom ever I need to convince that I gotta get on that f-ing train!!!

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Retreating To Noci And The Abate Masseria Resort | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

retreating to noci Aria italian journey 011 Retreating To Noci And The Abate Masseria Resort | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

My cooking school has ended and now I have a few free days before I go back to Roma to meet my sister who will be joining me for the last two weeks of my Italian journey. Hmmmmmmm…what do I wanna do after a decadent week of abundant food and wine and socializing and lack of sleep…how about a silent retreat and f-ing cleanse! Ha.

I was looking on line at a bunch of different towns and hotels and then, after many searches, I found it: Abate Masseria Resort in the town of Noci. This place sung to me through the computer. I asked Silvestro what he thought about Noci (which means Walnut in Italian) and he said, “Noci? Why would you want to go there? It’s a farm town in the countryside and there is nothing to do.” Perfecto. That’s exactly what I want. Nowhere to be, nothing to see, no one around, no espresso, no wine, not a lot of food, just the sound of birds singing, wind blowing, farmers working, ahhhhhhh… bliss. So I took the train from Lecce north to a town called Bari, got into a cab and drove 45 minutes into the mountains, arriving at Abate Masseria Resort in peaceful Noci.

retreating to noci Aria italian journey 02 Retreating To Noci And The Abate Masseria Resort | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals
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Sea Food And The Bottom Dwellers | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

Aria italian journey cooking school seafood 01 Sea Food And The Bottom Dwellers | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

Lets be honest, I am not gonna be eating shellfish when I get back home and if I wasn’t here in Lecce I would not be eating all these ‘shit’ eaters at all. Well…that is what they are! And, as you know, while I AM here, I say… f-it! But I gotta admit, it’s been a wee bit challenging for me. But, I’m doing the best I can with embracing the all the many crustacean meals we are making. And we do seem to be making a lot of them. I mean, we are along the Adriatic Sea and all, where the water is clear and blue and beautiful. It surely looks clean but as we all know, looks can be deceiving so while I am here, it’s better not ta ask or investigate if the Sea is, in fact, clean so….F-it!

Today was an easy peassy fish soup that surprisingly didn’t taste too fishy or was too stinky. Which is kinda surprising cause it’s clams, shrimp, mussels, scampi and cod fish in a pot with white wine, tomatoes, garlic, sea salt, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped parsley, basil and mint. It’s very quick to make. The soup takes, at most, about 8 minutes from start to finish. Thank god for the bread today cause I basically dipped it in the soupy part, avoiding the ‘shit’ eaters as much as I could…

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The Last Supper | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

last supper Aria italian journey 01 The Last Supper | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

Yes, friends, this is almost it. The Awaiting Table is coming to an end. It’s been so lovely but, I gotta tell ya, I am f-ing filled to the brim with food and wine. I need to stop f-ing eating and drinking! Ahhhhh… 1 dinner and 1 lunch to go…I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…okay…twist my arm…. :)

The temperature keeps rising here so we wanted to create the least amount of heat in the kitchen while making dinner. That was the plan anyway. But as you know, plans don’t always go as planned. Somehow I volunteered to make the eggplant over the hot stove. The dish shoulda been called eggplant with essence of Aria from all the sweat I dripped making them. And right next to me, Ted was sweating a big pan of yellow bell peppers and next to him Giuseppe was sautéing a pot of string beans…I mean…come on guys! This was probably the MOST heat we made in the kitchen!

The only thing that wasn’t creating any heat was a classic Leccese dish. It’s basically a bread salad with fresh vegetables. The difference is that they use a local dense hard bread to do it called, Frise Integrali. It’s cooked like a biscotti so it’s very hard and the only way they eat it is by soaking it in water to rehydrate it and then eat/use in recipes when soft. Am I the only one who finds that strange? I mean, why not just keep it soft in the first place? Well, I asked of course, and Silverstro informed me that this particular type of bread has been around for years and originally was eaten by field workers and those who travelled long distances because it doesn’t spoil. So they would pack the hard bread in their bag and when they got hungry travelling along the countryside, or working in the fields, they would forage some wild onions and tomatoes, what ever they could find and soak the hard bread in the fresh stream until soft and managia (that’s eat in Italian)! Well, I’ve tried it both ways and personally, I like it better crunchy. But then again, I’m American, so what do I know… :)

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My Life In Italy Attending The Awaiting Table Cooking School | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

cooking italian Aria italian journey 01 My Life In Italy Attending The Awaiting Table Cooking School | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

If my life in Italy wasn’t envious enough for you… and me for that matter …I’m gonna break down my days here in Lecce. Around 10am we all meet at the café for our morning espresso drink of our individual choosing. I first started out with an Americano but since it is so freaking hot here I have moved onto the iced espresso with the almond milk I talked about in my previous post. Oh and since I am being so honest with you all, I must admit, my one shot of espresso has moved onto two! It’s a pretty molto bene way to start the day, I gotta say.

So, after we all slowly enjoy each other’s company mixed with the gentle kick from the caffeine, we walk down the road to the famers market and buy all of our fresh produce and ingredients for lunch and dinner. After shopping we walk back to school in the hot summer sun and start our prep to cook lunch. Also, if we are making pasta, we will make 2 different shapes and we’ll enjoy one shape for lunch and the other for dinner.

This is the first time in a long time I have enjoyed eating pasta. It’s fresh and dense and chewy and light and hearty all the same time so less is more, which means you don’t need to eat a mound of it to feel nourished and get satisfied. And since it’s a blend of unprocessed whole grain barley and semolina flours, it gives it tons of fiber, which makes for lovely regularity for this traveler. Sorry…I’m just saying…

Ummmm…before I mention what we prepared, I just want to give a shout out to a very special particular G Monkie who informed me that I am the first and only one blogging on this site who is writing about non-vegan dishes. Thank you for allowing me to share my non-vegan ways!

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Lecce Forbidden Espresso | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

aria alpert lecce italy espresso 01 Lecce Forbidden Espresso | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

Well, I am here. In Lecce. The most quaint, glorious, Italian town I have ever experienced. Yes, I know this is the first time I have ever been to this country but I am still gonna stand by a statement like that. Lecce is everything I ever fanaticized an Italian town, along the coast would be. The friendly locals, the simple and rustic cuisine, the landscape, the vino and the…the…the (forbidden) ESPRESSO! Yep, my friends you read that right, I said it. I am proudly drinking it. It’s some good shit. I must say. I have missed you my espresso!

The espresso over here is totally different than in the states. Even the imported stuff doesn’t compare. I was talking to a local today about that and she says it has to do with the water here, which is loaded minerals and especially has lots of Iron. She says it balances the acidity in the espresso. And boy oh boy does it ever. Yum. Smooth, bitter, perfectly astringent and most importantly, it hasn’t given me the crazy cracked out feeling that I often get when I drink the stuff back home. This espresso just a nice little kick. A warm Italian embrace to get your day started out right. And while I am here in Lecce, or in Italy for that matter, I do believe I am gonna get into it. Well…I guess I already have.

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Where Oh Where Is Bite This

bite this brooklyn 05 Where Oh Where Is Bite This

I know what you are thinking…WHERE THE F HAVE YOU BEEN!!? I signed up for Bite This and have been waiting each day for my daily GreenChef inspirations!! Well, we’ve only been a week off…kinda :) At any rate, I wanted to keep you all in the loop of what has and is going on in my life. Our life actually… I shall explain…

As some of you may or may not know, I have gone through a majorly unexpected life change over these past 10 months. I filled for divorce, travelled from west to east, had an amazing foodie pilgrimage in Italy, VERY unexpectedly stumbled upon love with a certain Monkie who lived in the desert which then took me there and now, months later, we have settled in beautiful Brooklyn. Together. With our doggie Basil. Very happy. Some of you have come along this journey with me…reading my Italian blogs and now, Bite This…and I wanted to take this time to say thank you for reading and for your wonderful comments. They have meant soooo very much to me.

bite this brooklyn 11 Where Oh Where Is Bite This

And so, my life has shifted yet again from when I decided to start Bite This. I was in a state of transition and my only real focus was on nourishing my mind, body and soul with love and yummy food. I tend to do that. Cook a lot during those times. But now, I am in a completely different space. Literally! My point is that, with each passing day, my plate is getting fuller and fuller (yes, pun intended!) and the freedom that I used to have to write, to cook, to shoot a daily blog has changed. So I am here to let you all know that, the once ‘daily’ Bite This, will now become a weekly. This is my goal.

I would also like to change the way Bite This had originally started. I wanna put the word out to all you fabulous G peeps to say I want to Bite You! Ahem. I mean, I wanna be the facilitator in sharing your simple homemade recipes, local cafes/restaurants in your hood, organic products, farmers, stores, markets, basically anyone or anything that is conscious, sustainable, yummy, organic, local, healthy, fun, stylish, in other words “G” approved. Soooo submit your stuff to us and if we like it we will feature your post on Bite This each week!!

bite this brooklyn 07 Where Oh Where Is Bite This
bite this brooklyn 08 Where Oh Where Is Bite This

Oh and I guess this a good time to mention that the love I speak about just happens to be the Monkie who, not only has been taking all those wonderful food photographs for Bite This, he also happens to have started G Living as well…yes, I am talking about V Blak… I say this cause I got the inside scoop as to his likes and dislikes and so all I’m gonna say (in regards to your submissions) is that your pics have to look as slick as all those pretty pics on G living. If they don’t, no matter how fab it is, you ain’t gonna make the cut. What can I say, he’s a very visual guy….

Thanks again for reading and I look forward to seeing what you like to Bite…!

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What If Everything Is Perfect Just The Way It Is | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

aria roma postone 01b What If Everything Is Perfect Just The Way It Is | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals
Photographer: Aria Alpert

So, this is what happened. I am in Roma right now and, being that I am a foodie, I was taken to a hidden Italian slow food restaurant last night for a 9:30pm dinner. Which meant that we didn’t really eat until 10:30pm, much much later than I normally eat. But I was fine with it. I mean shit. I am in Roma for f-sake!

We started with a salted cod capriccio with black truffles and red onion dressed with lemon and amazing olive oil. Then we went on to have fried zucchini flowers and olives, then we split an order of anchovy, raisin, pine nut homemade tagliatelle pasta and then I ordered an onion flan and he had the rabbit.

Oh yes and washed it all down with a lovely crisp bottle of white wine. Oh and I forgot to mention the traditional Italian aperitivo we started off the evening with, at a bar overlooking the coliseum no less. I forgot what the aperitivio was called but it was a mix of campari, sweet vermouth and sparkling white wine. Bitter and very very strong. Definitely woke my jet-lagged ass right up! Anyway we ate and drank and all was delish and merry. Oh and very salty. A bit too salty but f-it I am in Roma remember.

What is my point at painting the picture of my eating and drinking…well first it’s fun and if you are anything like me I like to have a visual…but my main point is…I went to bed with a full belly and a warm fuzzy wine haze. Which, not only affected my not so sound sleep but I woke up feeling not rested and very salty. Puffy to be exact.

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The Salad | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

arial alperts italian journals thesalad 012 The Salad | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

It’s my last night here in Roma before I take to the train. Time just seems to go by smoothly here. There is a flow that has effortlessly slipped into my Roma life. Well, in my life in general but I am here now so…

Tomorrow, I am off to the town of Lecce, to attend, hopefully an amazing week long authentic Italian cooking school. Which happens to be in the Region of Puglia, right along the Adriatic Sea. Damn. I can’t believe this is my life. I have always been envious of those brave people taking trips like this, alone. And then, boom, here I am, doing it. Wow, how quickly your life can change if you choose to change it. Magic starts to sprinkle in and you suddenly find yourself in Italy. In ROMA!

This is also my first night without plans and I am hungry. A familiar loneliness crept in to my mind but thankfully quickly left. Aria, I said to myself, you are in Roma, get over yourself. No time to get depressed. No need to wallow. Get your ass up and out and explore the streets. Stumble upon a cute little café for dinner and embrace life. This moment. As is it is. Cause, remember the last post? I am here now. And it is perfect. And if it wasn’t, well, then, it would be different, right?

So I go walking, feeling the gentle warm breeze guiding me along the cobblestone street and the fresh Roman blisters on the bottom of my feet growing with each stride. It’s already 8:30pm and I seem to be falling right into the late dinner schedule here perfectly too. What do I want…hmmmm…a nice big crisp salad. Greens. Dark. Bitter greens. Simply, that is all I want.

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My Sensuous Italian Journey Is Now But A Memory | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

memories of italy Aria italian journey 01a My Sensuous Italian Journey Is Now But A Memory | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: V Blak

As the saying goes, you have to repeat your actions, your issues, over and over and f-ing over again until you finally get IT. Until IT, the lesson, sinks into your being fully and completely and you have your AH HA moment. And it’s not until that moment of awakening you realize, all those moments before…the struggling…the suffering…was worth it. Was worth it because now you know. Now you FINALLY know what you want and what you don’t ever want to repeat again. And all those struggles, painful as they may be, make the awakening that much sweeter.

The ever changing, ever present, ever lasting obstacles of life deliciously presented to us all the time. Knocking on our doors to see if we see them, hear them and if so how we react to them. To see if we have changed, grown or need another repeating. And make sure you don’t get too comfortable in your accomplishments of conquering challenges cause the next challenge is right around the corner so you better be ready. Makes life interesting, though. Always exciting. Always shifting. That is, if you choose to see it. Explore it. Embrace it. I am doing just that these days. Have been really for the past 4 months. Embracing with fearless courage and excitement and sometimes patience (I’m working on that one…heee heee) my obstacle rich journey. Finally, interested in excavating why and how and what I do over and over and over again. And ultimately, realizing I have a choice if I want to continue doing what ever it is I choose to continue or not.

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Last Day Of Cooking School | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

lastdayofschool Aria italian journey 01 Last Day Of Cooking School | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

Last day of cooking school. If I was rocking more sleep (4 hrs last night) these days I would be feeling a bit better but I have not been able to get my beauty sleep this past week. And I am not one to have trouble sleeping soundly. Normally I am out like a light within minutes from my head touching that pillow. But, unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case here. It must be a combination of the haunted B&B I am staying at, the fact that the air conditioning unit in my room is right above my bed so the condensation from the heat f-ing drips on my head when I finally do fall asleep waking my ass back up, the insane amount of mosquito bites all around my right angle, the espressos (yes that is plural!), eating late and drinking like a f-ing alky. Ha! I wouldn’t change a thing though. It’s been wonderfully imbalanced and oh so wonderfully perfect. It’s important to shake things up a bit.

And so today we, of course, are ending this glorious week with a….FISH LUNCH! Oh yeah. Bring back those ‘shit’ eaters. I’m ready…Huh.

We go to the fish market and get the fish. Sticky. Fish markets are very very very stinky! But Silverstro reassures me that the fish were just caught and killed within the hour. ‘Great’, I say with a smile, ‘I’m gonna wait outside’.

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Authentic Italian Cooking In Lecce | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

Aria italian journey cooking school 03 Authentic Italian Cooking In Lecce | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

If ever you have dreamed, as I have, about doing what I am doing, I could not recommend this school enough. I have begun my delightfully authentic incredibly charming cooking school here in Lecce, which is named with utter perfection, The Awaiting Table.

First you must, read all about them on their website awaitingtable.com and then, if the school moves you as much as it did me, get your ass on a plane and come here. It’s time. If not now, when. This has been my motto as of late and that is exactly why I am here. Happy and beautifully blissed out in Italia!

Silverstro, the charming creator and chef and wine extraordinaire, welcomed me with the open arms of an old friend I haven’t seen in years because he decided to move to Italy. He’s passionate and fun and loves, not only a lot of amazing food and incredible wine, but also his authentic appreciation for the Italian culture is contagious and I find myself feeling like a local, integrated into this lovely town of Lecce.
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