christmas

All posts tagged christmas

HOLIDAY SEASON

Published December 24, 2013 by Tony

* CHRISTMAS IN NAPLES *

There is no city in the world that doesn’t celebrate Christmas with some Christmas decorations. Some European capitals or major cities like New York are a glitter of colors in this period. Without a doubt the richest cities where the Christmas spirit is more felt and experienced. Although Naples has never had this record and has never been a city richly decorated, this year I see some more light around the squares.

 

galleria Umberto   piazza borsa   piazza dei martiri

piazza trieste e trento   piazza triete e trento   corso umberto

via chiaia   via filangieri   via merliani

piazza dei martiri

ROCCOCO RECIPE

Published December 13, 2013 by Tony

ROCCOCO’

Neapolitan Roccocò

Another Neapolitan delight.
I’ve talked about Neapolitan Christmas’ desserts in the post “Neapolitan Sweets”, but I now want to say more about Roccoco, the most famous and typical sweet for us.

This sort of biscuit can’t lack in each Neapolitan home because is synonymous with Christmas, and marks the end of lunch during Christmas period.
A sweet that comes from patience and dedication of the Real convent of the Magdalene‘s sisters, which perhaps is due the first preparation of the Roccocò, whose oldest recipe seems to date back to 1320.
Their name probably is derived from the French word “rocaille“, due to their hardness and baroque round shape, like a rounded shell.
Their shape, color and flavor talk us of the past, because Roccocò are impenetrable sweets, hard, dry, prosperous and humble at the same time, but yet affectionate and flavorful in their donut shape.  A tradition by now!
These biscuits are more suitable for those who have solid teeth… unless you eat them some days later the preparation, or add some yeast and cook them for less time. Some prefer to soak them in wine or liquor.
Preparation that is pretty easy but needs some ingredients that might be difficult to find in your countries. Two of them are called “PISTO” and “VANILLINA”, products already prepared powder and sold in small sachets. The benefit to using a powdered product is that when you mix it directly into a batter or a cookie dough you get the straight flavor and, like vanilla extract, without it being diluted in the alcohol.

PISTOPISTO” is an important  ingredient that gives Roccocò their typical flavor. It is formed from a mixture of various spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coriander (cilantro) and dill. If you can not find the Neapolitan “Pisto”, you can prepare something similar by whisking together 10 cloves, a nutmeg half chopped, and half a stick of cinnamon; or mixing 2 grams nutmeg, 3 grams of cinnamon and 2 grams of cloves. I’d also add a teaspoon of anise liqueur, if you have it available.

vanillinaVANILLINA” is vanillin or vanilla extract. It is a mixture of several hundred different compounds in addition to vanillin. Artificial vanilla flavoring is a solution of pure vanillin, usually of synthetic origin. Today, artificial vanillin is made either from guaiacol or from lignin, a constituent of wood, which is a byproduct of the pulp industry. It’s used in very small quantity, like 1 gram (0,3 ounces) for a 500-600 grams cake (16-18 ounces). Failing that, you could use the vials with essence of rum, lemon, vanilla, bitter almond, butter-vanilla. Essences that you can find in some supermarket or drugstore.

INGREDIENTS

500 grams of flour (type “00”)
500 grams of sugar
300 grams of roasted almonds (you can add hazelnuts too)
7 grams of “pisto”
4-5 grams of ammonia (for food use)
1 or 2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla powder (nearly 1 gram )
A pinch of salt
1 fresh orange peel
2 clementines or tangerines’ peels
1 fresh lemon (grated rind)
250-350 grams of warm water
1 whole egg beaten, for brushing over the surface of the Roccocò.

[In the case that you have almonds not roasted, place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and cook them at 180° C (fan oven) for 10 minutes exactly. Then set aside to cool them.]

PREPARATION

On a work surface pour the flour, sugar, pisto and salt. Add the fruits’ peels  chopped in very small pieces, the grated lemon’s peel (you could replace them with small pieces of candied fruit), the vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa, ammonia and salt. Add at little a time the lukewarm water mixing with your hands the compound. Amalgamate everything well until you get a homogeneous and rather compact mixture. Knead until the dough comes off from surface and hands, becoming dry and consistent: I recommend you do not add more water than necessary.


You should get a homogeneous and rather compact mixture.
Finally insert the almonds, distributing them evenly throughout the mixture, amalgamating it again if the case.
Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Meanwhile, roll up different parts of the compound to form long strips like snakes.  Cut each strip into several pieces about 15 cm long, and roll each to form a ring, no larger than 5-7 cm.

Flatten lightly them, to get small-sized donuts, and arrange them  -spaced apart – on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Brush their surface with the beaten egg and bake at 180° C. for NO MORE than  18-20 minutes. The right time they become “dark gold”. Extract them from the oven after that time! (These cookies become harder as the cooking time increases!) Note that they appear soft when warm, but begin to harden (how they gotta be) as they cool.

Here’s for some video

ROCCOCO’S PREPARATION
ROCCOCO’S PREPARATION

CHRISTMAS

Published December 6, 2013 by Tony

LETTERS TO SANTA

image

Christmas, time for gifts and evaluations.
In Italy, several say that Christmas is a celebration for children, but I’m not at all convinced.
Maybe because it represents Jesus’ birth, but also those who are not observant or true Catholic Christians are involved in its tender and compassionate atmosphere. Others say that they decorate the tree or make the crib because they have children at home, but underneath it all, the first to find pleasure in doing so are just ourselves, the adults.
Christmas and New Year are also holidays when family gets together, people have meal together or meet to exchange greetings.
A moment of aggregation, dialogue, openness.
In the end, everyone becomes better and, believers or not, the Christmas‘ purpose and true meaning is safe. Too bad it only happens once a year and lasts only a few days!
Whether it’s Befana or Santa Claus, this is also the period for toys to children.
Who have never written a letter to Santa Claus?
Italian children are always polite and respectful in their requests. As usual, they write to have been good kids and end the letter by saying : “I promise you that I will be more good in the future… “, in the hope to get the toys they want.
Usually, children write their letters to Santa with the help of parents or teachers, and many of them before puberty already are aware that it is only a childish thing.
In my day we were content with little, even a simple plastic gun became an important gift for us children, where Christmas was the only time to get a toy. Then, it was custom to hide gifts, so, early in the morning, we woke up excited and went in search of the package for the whole house.
I do not deny that when my son/dau were babies, I repeated this ritual.
In the night, before sending children to bed, we together put the socks hanging somewhere with their letters, and to pretend that Befana or Santa Claus found something to eat, I let a slice of cake with a drink nearby.
They are considered to be short-tempered and you have to treat them well!
Then we all went to bed. As soon as children had fallen asleep, I got up and carefully substitutive socks with colorful stockings filled with sweets, took off the cake’s slice, leaving a few crumbs here and there, emptied the glass, and then I hid the various toys in the room.
Needless to say that the next morning, they were the children to get up early, not in their shoes to see if Befana or Santa Claus had come.
Their astonishment at seeing the crumbs, empty glass and sparkling socks really is priceless!

The tenderness and naivety of children leaves you speechless.

After the first moments of perplexity, shown by their eyes wide open and sweet expression of wonder, the first gifts, the biggest, were sighted.
“Oh … mom, dad, look at that!”
And then opening the package to see what’s inside… another moment of surprise and wonder….
Really beautiful experiences you never forget.

                           inquiries  ladygaga

                             oryoudie  1_amazon

MY BEST WISHES

for a Happy and Saint Christmas to you all.

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ITALIAN CRIB

Published December 2, 2013 by Tony

NEAPOLITAN CRECHE

The word “presepe” or “presepio” (crib) comes from the Latin verb “praesepire” which means “fencing with hedge.” A term used only in Italy (and in Hungary) because it was introduced in Naples in the fourteenth century, when one Anjou’s descendant became king. The tradition, mainly Italian, can be dated back to St. Francesco of Assisi who, in 1223 in Greccio, created the first living representation of the Nativity. His representation cannot be considered a crib as we currently consider it, because it was just a cave with two real animals on the sides of a trough with straw.
Statues in Basilica of Santo Stefano -  photo by  Giovanni Lattanzi www.giovannilattanzi.itThe first example of carved nativity scene is preserved in the Basilica of Santo Stefano (in Bologna), the oldest known nativity scene in the world that consists of the thirteenth century’s statues by an anonymous sculptor from Bologna.
Soon this kind of symbolism was widely understood at all levels, especially within families, where the representation of Jesus’ birth, with statuettes and elements taken from the wild, became a rite.
In the fifteenth century it became common practice to place big statues in the churches,  tradition that also spread throughout the sixteenth century. Some of these ancient statues have survived, despite many thefts, and are still on display during Christmastime.
The use of the crib started to spread in the nobles houses in the form of  knick-knacks or real chapels, although the great development of carved crèches occurred in the eighteenth century, through three different and great traditions: Neapolitan cribs, cribs from Genoa and from Bologna. In the eighteenth century, in Naples even began a competition between families over who had the most beautiful and gorgeous crib: the nobles used a whole room for represent the nativity, with statues dressed with precious fabrics and jewelry.
Although among the various Italian regions, the crib diversified for cultural reasons, from these perspective, the Italian crib’s art only differentiates for different products and materials used to recreate the nativity. Traditionally, the crib in Genova was made with wood, with papier-mâché in Puglia, while in Sicily some typical products are added, like branches of orange and mandarin, and different materials such as coral, pearl and alabaster.
The Neapolitan crib  was characterized by statuettes made with terracotta, with the use of cork to recreate the setting. Later in time, the use of clay was reduced as a result of the overwhelming success of plastic figurines, which provided large scale production at a lower price.
CiccibaccoThe Neapolitan crib scene added other popular and anachronistic characters, such as taverns, street traders and typical rural houses. Sometimes these characters are symbolic,  such as for example the tavern represented “the bad”, and the character of “Ciccibacco”, who brings barrels with wine,  represented the “devil”.
The Neapolitan crib art has remained unchanged for centuries, becoming part of the Neapolitan Christmas traditions. Famous in Naples is “San Gregorio Armeno” street,  that offers a showcase of all the local cribs crafts. In addition, there are many museums (like San Martino Museum or the Royal Palace of Caserta), where
San Martino Museum historical or very old pieces are exposed.
The first nativity scene in Naples is mentioned in a document that talks about a nativity scene in the Church of St. Maria ‘s crib in 1025 . In Amalfi, according Particular of the crib in Royal Palace of Casertato various sources, already in 1324 there was a “crib’s chapel” in  Alagni’s house.
In 1340 Queen Sancha of Aragon (wife of Robert of Anjou) gave to the Poor Clares a crib for their new church, and today only a statue remains, visible in the museum of St. Martin. Other examples date back to 1478, with a crib of Pietro and Giovanni Alemanno of which we have received twelve statues, and the crib in marble of 1475 by Antonio Rossellino, visible in Sant’Anna dei Lombardi church . One of the clearest examples of Neapolitan crib is given by manufacturing clay with pieces dating back to the eighteenth century, exposed in the EllipticGiuseppe Sammartino's crib room of the Royal Palace in Caserta. In the eighteenth century, the Neapolitan nativity scene experienced its golden age, when from the churches, where it was a religious object of devotion, the crib became a tradition in each aristocrat’s house. Giuseppe Sammartino, perhaps the greatest Neapolitan sculptor of the eighteenth century, a skilled artist for terracotta figures, gave rise to the first school for cribs.
In 1787, Goethe describes the crib in his Italian Journey to Italy.

“That’s the time to talk about another entertainment that is characteristic of the Neapolitans, the crib […] they build a small stage, hut shaped, all adorned with trees and small evergreen trees , and there they put the Lady, the Child Jesus and all the characters, including those that hover in the air, sumptuously dressed for the festivity […] . But what gives the whole show a note of incomparable grace is the background in which the Vesuvius frames itself with its surroundings. »

Although Jesus was a poor family’s son, with our cribs, it is as if for we scarabattoloNeapolitans Jesus’ birth happens in a Naples’ street, in a narrow and dark alley, among taverns and bassi, where poverty reigns. The crib can be made by poor people too, with papier-mâché or bark, twigs and a few plastic small statuettes. Until a few decades ago, only a few people  decorated a tree for Christmas, considered more a cold symbol of northern traditions, and it was said that once you had prepared a crib, you had to adorn and show it every year to avoid a bad luck!
Our cribs, as a symbol of equality, became the ransom of a miserable existence. It conveys joy and sweetness, and gives faith to even those who have little.
Once, it was the custom to visit relatives and friends to see their new crib; cribs that although simple and cheap, many families did not throw away, but kept close in a glass or wood’s container called “scarabattola” (Neapolitan term not translatable). Thanks to these containers, we today can admire old cribs that, centuries later, have got a historical and artistic value.

CHRISTMAS GIFTS IDEA

Published December 8, 2011 by Tony

CHRISTMAS GIFTS


Because of austerity, this year we all will spend less for Christmas gifts, and to help you in the choice I have selected some not-too-much-expensive gifts (Under $100) just to give you an idea without emptying your wallets. Find again the taste of the simplicity and medium things.

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41TNSBq4F5L._SL500_AA300_ Steve Jobs [Hard cover]
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and sparingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
Price Approx.: $17
You can find it on: Amazon.com

 

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A pair of Swiper Gloves
Yes, the digital-friendly kind. But these are compatible with all smartphones. In other words: seriously useful.
Price Approx.: $44 You can find it on: dcshoes.com



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The Practice Club: Momentus Speed Whoosh

This new trainer, from a company known for its practice gear, uses a plastic ball that effectively replicates the experience of actually hitting one. It’s pretty fun, especially during the holidays, when you can’t actually go outside. It also happens to be the only club you can really give someone without knowing their bag.

Price Approx: $80

You can find it on: Amazon.com

hbz-UNDER100-gift-guide-MW-Polka-102711-mdn-5778772
Polka Dots

Madewell sweater

You can find it on: $75

You can find it on:madewell.com

 
hbz-UNDER100-gift-guide-ann-taylor-loft-hat-102711-mdn-17166347
Haute Hat

Price Approx.: $55

You can find it on: loft.com

 
hbz-UNDER100-gift-guide-coach-102711-mdn-83866301
Sparkle and Shine Coach pouch

Price Approx.: $98

You can find it on: coach.com

hbz-UNDER100-gift-guide-Aurelie-102611-mdn-88478415
All Wrapped Up

Aurelie Bidermann bracelet

Price Approx.: $95

You can find it on: net-a-porter.com

hbz-gift-guide-ear_muffs-mdn-88254723
Matching Set Calvin Klein earmuffs

Price Approx.: $40 and $70

You can find it on: calvinklein.com

hbz-gift-guide-A1950738V11RCHNLS_A1-mdn-56292282

Game On

Diane von Furstenberg ping pong set

Price Approx.: $95

You can find it on: dvf.com

hbz-beauty-gift-guide-dior-brush-set-102511-mdn-36707020

Makeup Essential Dior Mini Brush Set

Price Approx.: $62

You can find it on: dior.com

under-25-gifts-6-mdn
Rumba Time “Broadway” Watch

Give your most trend-conscious friends a head start for next season — these vivid, lightweight watches are the perfect way to incorporate the bold hues and acid brights that will be immensely popular come spring.

Price Approx.: $20

You can find it on: rumbatime.com

under-25-gifts-8-mdn
Topshop Smoke and Mirrors Eye Palette

Getting the perfect smokey eye is not an easy task, but thanks to Topshop, all of the tools you need are in this easy Smoke & Mirrors palette. Plus, you can show off your sultry new look at all of the season’s parties!

Price Approx.: $25

You can find it on: us.topshop.com

details Italian Wines Sampler

Take an exciting wine journey through Italy’s wine regions with six exciting and exotic wines made by the country’s finest producers. Six (6) 50ml bottles.

Price Approx.: $27,99

You can find it on: tastingroom.com

gift-mary-kay-perfume-1-1210-mdn
Mary Kay Thinking of You Eau de Parfum

Total teen-girl blissdom: a flirty fragrance packaged with a keepsake charm.

Price Approx.: $30

You can find it on: marykay.com

gift-green-vest-1-1210-mdn
Appaman Kid’s Vest

Spot your tot on the playground in a snap.

Price Approx.: $49

You can find it on: lilswanky.com

11860

Moka Express 3 Cup Espresso Maker

With all the expensive espresso makers sold around the world, native Italians prefer espresso from stovetop espresso makers and more Italians use Bialetti for their stovetop.

Price Approx.: $25

You can find it on: cutleryandmore.com

 515yBDnJdUL._SL210_ Playhut Thomas Tank Play VehiclePrice Approx.: $39.99

You can find it on: toysrus.com


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LeapFrog My Own Leaptop – Violet
From LeapFrog

Price Approx.: $20

You can find it on: leapfrog.com

 

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Nikon COOLPIX L24

MP Digital Camera with 3.6x NIKKOR Optical Zoom Lens and 3-Inch LCD

Price Approx.: $88.95

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Invicta Men’s 8932 Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Watch

Price Approx.: $46

You can find it on: endless.com

 
 

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