Let me start this post with an UPSIDE DOWN smile :( Okay now that I have that out of my system, lets focus on the title of this post: I Bought The $10 Mast Brothers Chocolate Bar, So Why Am I Not in Chocolate Heaven. What the hell is that suppose to mean right? Well, this is what it means. I sooooo badly wanted to LOVE, I mean butterflies in my belly, love this Chocolate Bar. Why why chocolate fairy did you still my joy!
Let me start at the beginning. I was in the big NYC for a little work and a whole lot of Loving (wishful thinking I know) a few weeks ago. I started off the visit by seeing my friend Dan, who has an office just around the corner from the newish Ace Hotel in Manhattan. Yeah, that cool hip salvation army looking hotel chain. The one out of Portland Oregon. It’s an awesome place and they even have a Portland styled espresso bar just off the main lobby of the Hotel. Since we were so close, we decided to make the Ace our morning espresso destination. Wow, it did not disappoint. The entire lobby is a wifi free hang out zone, featuring a completely black 40 foot ceiling with massive roman style white columns holding up the place.
I think I must have passed out. When I woke, there was a large chunk of this dry bitter bar still stuck to my tongue.
We headed into the espresso bar and order up a few soy cappuccinos. As I am paying for our brews, what quirky little thing catches my eye on the counter? The one and only Mast Brothers Chocolate Bars. I couldn’t believe it. I just wrote a post on the Mast Brothers a week or so before heading to NYC. The post included a few amazing videos about the two brothers and their dedication to the old world craft of chocolate making. Their Brooklyn based store in the videos looked like a mini chocolate heaven to me. So, seeing these Willy Wonka type bars right there, on the counter was just too much to resist, I grabbed one and told the barista, add this to my bill. First words out of his mouth were, are you sure, they are $10. The number echoed in my head. $10 Doooollllaaarrrssssss. Time seemed to stop. Everything was in slow motion. I could hear the hiss of the steam escaping the espresso machines, the slurping sound from all the hipsters sucking down their espressos and my own breath rushing out of my lungs… and then these words leaving my lips, of course, no problem, let me have it. And oh did he! $20 or so dollars later Dan and I strolled out with two espresso’s and my new shiny heaven in a bar of Mast Brothers Espresso Dark Chocolate.
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!!!
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.
I will say it again, Not Just The Best F@ckin Fruit In A Jar, not by a mile. Olives, in my opinion maybe the greatest fruit of all-time. Olives have been described in biblical and other historic texts and are often associated with good health, goodwill, happiness, and peace. In Greece you could actually be put to death for harming an olive tree, while over in Rome is was considered a highly “sexual” fruit, and used as an aphrodisiac. Romans would eat them by the hundreds in single sittings, and were also the first civilization credited for the perfection of olive oil by using a stone press. The more you study olives and their history the more you begin to see how amazing they truly are. I am not talking about your black olives in a can either, I mean REAL, big juicy ripe olives that are fresh and magical.
Most of you know from reading my stuff that I am a big fan of eliminating toxins and getting the toxic mucus out of your system. With olives you seriously hit the jackpot in accomplishing this. Olives have a greater ability than oranges to dissolve toxic mucus in the system, and that’s saying a lot, because oranges are actually great for that. According to Ragnar Berg’s table which lists different foods ability to bind with acids it shows olives having the highest propensity to do so, actually THREE TIMES GREATER than oranges. The higher a foods acid-binding ability, the better it is at dissolving toxic mucus and removing cooked food residues from the body. It turns out that the olive comes it at a rating of 30.56, with figs coming in at 27.81. There were no other foods on the list that even topped a score of 20. Oranges came in at 9.61 and it is considered one of the very best toxic mucus dissolvers. Olives are pretty powerful little fruits!
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…
This is crazy, how come I have never seen this site/video before. The WindowFarms project is a non-profit organization out of NYC, collaborating and designing gardens you hang in your window. They have over 13,000 members all working together to create new improved systems. This is so awesome, I am thinking even a plant killing dark monkie like me could get this right. Look how cute the founder is too. Right?
The windowfarms project approaches environmental innovation through web 2.0 crowdsourcing and a method called R&D-I-Y (research and develop it yourself). Big Science’s R&D industry is not always free to take the most expedient environmental approach. It must assume that consumers will not make big changes. Its organizational structure tends toward infrastructure-heavy mass solutions. A distributed network of individuals sharing information can implement a wide variety of designs that accommodate specific local needs and implement them locally. Ordinary people can bring about innovative green ideas and popularize them quickly. Web theorists like Clay Shirky claim that this capacity to “organize without hierarchical organization” will be a fundamental shift in our society brought about by the web over the coming decades.
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… :)
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!
On our menu it’s actually called the Pumpkinseed and Herb Salad, but otherwise referred to by me as my favorite breakfast salad. I wake up craving this salad. And yes, it’s meant to fix me. I started eating this specific green mix because I was told that I probably need more of the sexy mineral zinc in my system, among other things. I haven’t been feeling well (at all) so this salad is part of my healing plan. My books are all about how raw food makes you feel amazing. I used to feel amazing. Why do I now feel like shit? And how can I admit that? (Doing it now). More on the healing plan as soon as I can find more time to write about it. Back to zinc. Pumpkinseeds happen to be very high in zinc. And so my love affair with pumpkinseeds has been rekindled.
Years ago in another (not raw) restaurant, I put a pumpkinseed salad on the menu: lolo rosso and red oak lettuces, shaved bosc pear, shaved pecorino, toasted salted pumpkinseeds and pumpkinseed lemon dressing. While I love delicate fluffy greens like lolo rosso and red oak, what I really can’t get enough of are kale and herbs. I could eat bathtubs of kale.
So, I started making myself this salad at the restaurant. Kale plus a bunch of parsley leaves, cilantro leaves, and torn mint leaves. Add hempseeds (full of omega-3’s… good for so many reasons!). Then toss the whole thing in a dressing made of pumpkinseed oil and lemon juice, and plenty of salt (ideally Himalayan crystal salt). You can also use a mix of olive (or other) oil with the pumpkinseed oil since the flavor is strong, and good quality raw organic pumpkinseed oil happens to be super expensive. (ours comes from Austria, raw and organic). I love maxium pumpkinseed flavor so I use just that oil and lemon (and salt). Top this green pile with a handful of pumpkinseed macadamia parmesan.
What did I tell you! People around the world do like me, I mean G Living. I just came across another blog giving us a rave review. The Vegan Healthy Happy Life site has a list of the Best Vegan Blogs and they even have a graphic of dancing veggies with names above their heads. Guess who’s name is above the 3rd veggie (the cucumber), yes that is right, G LIVING. All you drone-freezer heads are now seeing just how popular, your dark monkie really is. There is one question I have for Kathy, the woman who created the list. Why number 18? Shouldn’t we be number one? Really, I think that is where we should be.
Number 18: G Living Just discovered this modern, chic, video, trend-infused site. New fave.
Searching for the Best Vegan Blogs on the web? Look no further. I’ve researched, scrolled and scoured the web for the best vegan blogs. Top Favorites – these are the websites I personally visit reguarily for a number of reasons. If you don’t see your site here and honestly think it should be please reach out to me – the web is vast and I have not seen every single vegan site (though I DO try!)
See, new fave! Bam.. We are on a roll now. It only took, hmmmm 5 years, but hey who is counting. :)
Beach weather is finally here and the best way to cool down is to strip down. But what about your stomach? Just as you reach for that bikini (or speedos) that has been stuffed in the back of your drawer, you may find yourself unnerved by a panicked assessment of your neglected core muscles. Yet the thought of doing hundreds of boring and painful crunches is probably even more dreadful.
Good news! You don’t have to do any crunches or sit-ups to get beautiful sleek abs and a strong healthy core. There are many exercises that engage the core indirectly and are effective and fun. One of my favorites is the plank pose in yoga. There are many variations of the plank. To increase the intensity and target the abdominal muscles, try this modified plank exercise with a leg lift on a stability ball: Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos