Monday, November 30, 2009

Pictures of Trinità del Monti church, Spanish Steps, Rome

The first two times I visited Rome on vacation, there was scaffolding covering this beautiful church.

A lot of people over look the church focusing on taking pictures of the incredible views. It's definitely worth a visit.

Construction was started by the French in 1495 to celebrate their successful invasion of Naples.

During the Napoleonic occupation of Rome, this church like many churches/villas had it's artwork stolen and taken to France. It was eventually returned.

There are several works by Daniele da Volterra. He was a pupil of Michelangelo. Da Volterra was later hired to paint clothes onto the nudes in the Sistine Chapel's The Last Judgement.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Flashback Friday – Donny Hathaway - "This Christmas"

Yes I know in America the day after Thanksgiving is "Black Friday", the biggest shopping day of the year.

I don't get it. Standing in line from 3:00 a.m.? People getting trampled to death over some bargains? I just don't think the season is about that.

To me the day after Thanksgiving means one thing....I can break out my Christmas music!!!!

This is one of my all time favorites. Don't even speak to me about that lame Chris Brown cover. Rest in peace Donny.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Record breaking weekend in Hollywood, fueled by women and girls

Not just New Moon, but The Blind Side and Precious are out performing expectations.

The next Hollywood exec who says women/girls don't go to the movies, needs find a new career. I'm so sick of hearing that any female driven movie that does well is a fluke.

We are over 51% of the population. Wake up Hollywood.

Numbers don't lie. Even older ladies (over 25 by Hollywood standards) came out over the weekend.

If you make movies people want to see, they will support them.

Now it would be nice if some of these movies were actually good. However, I get it's a business and Hollywood doesn't care about the quality of a hit like New Moon.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Still broke, still single but like Stevie "Not Going Worry 'bout A Thing"

This morning I went to an gallery opening curated by my friend's father-in-law. My friend's Italian wife asked me what was going on...I was glowing. She is not the only person who has asked me this question lately.

What the heck?

Seriously why the good mood? My financial situation is still beyond jacked up. The latest news from the WGA (Writers Guild of America) is not encouraging.

Yes it still sucks to be a female writer in Hollywood. And writers of color? bwahaha less than 6% of ALL films/TV shows. The numbers for women and minorities are declining. Part of the reason is the emphasis on comic book/tent poles movies and movies based on toys. Studios hire male writers for those films. There are male writers are known for writing female characters but the reverse? Not really.

Melissa Silverstein of the fantastic blog, Women and Hollywood, writes about the latest study HERE.

The balance in my bank account is declining, the dollar keeps sinking and Sarah Palin refuses to go away. Yet earlier today I was working out on the Appia Antica and caught myself, on more than one occasion, smiling to myself. I feel like I'm on drugs or something.

Man oh Manischewitz, I fear this "glowing" thing might have something to do with my crush. I guess that's the upside. It's better than looking tore up because you're depressed.

I see PDAs around me all the time here and I have to say I'm a little jealous. Not that I would be tonguing down my man in the middle of the street, but you know what I mean.

Looking at what is happening or not happening in my life I should be at the very least sad, if not alarmed!

Instead, I had an amazing weekend.

Saturday after Capoeira class I caught up with E. her husband (aka The Professor) and their baby. E. used to work in Hollywood too, but we met in Rome.

My classmates joined us and we were sitting on a terrace overlooking the city. I don't know if it was a post-Capoeira high, the mojito or the views but I felt this sense of everything is going to be okay. Things are going to work out.

I thought I'm really fortunate to live in this city, to have such great friends in my life, to have a family that supports me (emotionally and financially) and that I left L.A. before I before I reached the point of no return.

Stevie Wonder's INNERVISIONS has been listed on many a top album of all time lists and I agree.

I heard this song earlier today.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flashback Friday – Destiny's Child - "Say My Name"

Regardless how one might feel about Bey, you cannot deny this song from 2000 is very catchy. Love the bridge and the harmony.

While I hate the producer shout outs in the song (hello did people shout out Motown! Stax! Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! etc. back in the day?) this was the jam.

The original group was singing on this track and when the video came out there was a lot of controversy regarding why two of the members were kicked out.

Beyonce is a huge star now so I don't know if DC will ever reunite.

Have a great weekend. It's going to be GORGEOUS in Rome. I might have to take my Macbook and work outside.

Here is the VIDEO

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My own Top Chef challenge: Plantains

It's a little weird that in all the years I lived in L.A. I never cooked plantains. I'm sure there must be a market somewhere in the city that sells them. I never saw them at any of my farmer's market or in my local supermarket. I can't remember if Bristol Farms had them.

Yet I've seen them in Campo dei Fiori at the vendor we call the Bulgari of Campo because while his produce is beautiful and diverse, it's very, very expensive. You can also buy them at the Piazza Vittorio market and Prati's Trionfale market.

I was at the Trionfale market this morning and picked up a few. The vendor I went to has a great selection of Caribbean, Asian and African food. Some of fruits and vegetables I have never heard of.

Plantains are extremely popular in the Caribbean. My dad used to buy then in the City and they are perfect thing to eat with jerk chicken, or beans and rice.

Super easy to make all you need are plantains (the "browner" the better/sweeter), oil and a pan.

Fry the sliced plantains in the oil on med/high heat until they get a little crispy around the edges. Put then on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Some people like to sprinkle brown sugar on top. I leave the sugar off for side dishes but would put some on if I'm using the dish as a dessert.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Gorgeous day - some pics from Gianicolo Hill

We're having a a run of beautiful weather.

Instead of the constant cold and wet weather we had last November, it's been warm and partly sunny.

I went on a run up to to Gianicolo Hill. I have written about one of my favorite fountains located there.

The views of Rome are incredible from the hill.

Here are some pictures I took a while ago.

Not sure what time the puppet show starts but it's very popular.

The statue of Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva di Garibaldi (aka Anita Garibaldi) above her tomb. She was the Brazilian born wife of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi. Her statue has her holding a gun and a baby. She fought along side her husband and died while pregnant with their fifth child during the Retreat from Rome.

A cannonball that was found during renovations of this church. This area was the scene of vicious bloody battles between the French and Italian revolutionaries fighting for Italy's freedom.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flashback Friday - Sonny Rollins - "My One And Only Love"

The Rome Jazz Festival started this week. I went to see Sonny Rollins at the Auditorium Parco della Musica. Sonny is a musical legend. To see him out still touring at 79 is incredible.

He has played with GIANTS, Monk, Coltrane, Blakey, Davis. It's bizarre to me that jazz, an unique American art form, is more appreciated abroad especially in Europe and Asia. Why is that?

At the end of this amazing show, the crowd went nuts with a prolonged standing ovation. It went on forever.

When it comes to jazz I definitely lean toward the saxophonists, like Rollins, Coltrane and Gordon. I love the sound of the tenor sax. Along with the cello and piano, it's of my favorite instruments.

I listen to music everyday. I don't know if I would be so passionate about it if I had not been exposed to so much music from my dad, his friends and the music programs in my schools.

I lucked out my NYC public elementary school had art and music. This was pre-budget cuts.

Then we moved to a NYC suburb where in fourth grade I started flute lessons, in school. In high school I was told there were too many flutes in the concert and marching bands. I was switched to alto sax and tenor sax. Mind you I (my parents) did not have to pay for two brand new, very expensive saxophones. They were provided by the school.

My tiny high school believed it was important to pay for football uniforms AND band instruments.

I wasn't talented enough to be in our jazz band. They were outrageous talented and to this day still remember Joe Montini's sax solos.

I really miss playing music.

If Sonny Rollins is touring near you, run and buy a ticket. He can barely walk across the stage but once he starts playing, you forget he's almost 80.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guest Post - Merging Cultures: Three Ways to Share Your New Culture With Your Old Family

Today's Guest blogger (my first!) is one of my favorite people, the lovely Cherrye.

Like me, Cherrye is an American living in Italy. She lives in Calabria with her husband, where they own a B&B.

Cherrye's a very talented writer (it runs in her family) and I loved meeting her and Peppe earlier this year. I felt kinda bad for him because Cherrye and I like to talk. Uhmm, a lot. ha

Her advice below is on point. Here's a link to her blog, My Bella Vita.

Merging Cultures: Three Ways to Share Your New Culture With Your Old Family

"I remember feeling like a kid on a candy-crazed high during my first trip to Europe. I loved each new place more than the last and I couldn’t wait to get home and share these experiences with my family.

I wanted to take them to the top of the Eiffel Tower with me, share some homemade pistachio gelato with them and splash them with a bit of Nessie’s water from her near-frozen loch.

When I got home I was surprised to learn they didn’t care to climb to the top of Notre Dame and watching The Sound of Music was as close to Salzburg as they cared to get.

I didn’t get it.

I continued to travel and would report home with mom’s magnet, they’d look at pictures and that was that.
But when I moved to Italy it all changed.

No, it wasn’t them-it was me. I changed my approach to sharing and discussing my new culture and whatdoyouknow, they were hooked on Italy, too.

Here are three ways you can share your new culture with your old friends and family back home.

1. The Way to a Man (and your mom’s) Heart
… is still through food.

When I go to Texas I make a point of taking fun Calabrian ingredients they don’t normally eat back home. Sometimes it is limoncello, other times it is traditional Italian Christmas candy and often it is a new pasta recipe or homemade dessert idea they wouldn’t have tried on their own.

2. Education as a Weapon
Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. So why not start with your family?

When I started reporting on what I’d learned about Italy, the history of the buildings they were seeing in photos and how Italians do things differently than we do back home-my family started listening.

It wasn’t enough for them to just look at pictures. Once they understood the history and could appreciate the background, they understood why I love this country.

3. Lasting Impressions

If you are intent on sharing your new culture with your family, then take them gifts they can’t get in the states. For example, my mother now proudly displays La Befana
every year with her Christmas decorations and she uses her Italian porcelain salad tongs every time she serves dinner.

Credit: Clarita82 at Flickr

What other ideas do you have for sharing your new culture with your family and friends back home?"

Cherrye Moore is a freelance writer and B&B owner living in Calabria, Italy. She writes for aAffordable Calling Cards where they sell prepaid calling cards to Italy, and about living and traveling in Calabria on her site, My Bella Vita.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My blogversary

I cannot believe it's been four years.

To be honest, I'm not sure if I would be writing or living in Italy had I not started this blog.

A lot has changed since then, for the better.

I've "met" so many incredible people thanks to this blog.

A huge GRAZIE to everyone who takes the time to read my posts on Italy, film/hollywood, food, fashion, life and my rants on random subjects.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Perfect burgers in Rome?

I can't say as I haven't had one there yet but I can say the Chicken Fajitas are the bomb! Great fries as well too.

The menu is "American" type fare. Burgers, Fries, Wings, Nachos etc.

I'm not sure what the crowd will be like during the winter but this summer it was a great place to go on Tuesday and Thursday nights for drinks. Excellent drinks, very good DJ.

Crowd is Italian with a few expats sprinkled about. I'm surprised there aren't more Americans given the menu and how close it is to Campo/Piazza Navona. One friend had a theory that it's too pricey for the college crowd.

TPB has one of the best Ladies Room. ABBA's "Dancing Queen" plays while a disco ball spins. Hilarious.

Here is the website

Friday, November 06, 2009

Flashback Friday – The unrequited love edition - Eric Clapton "Layla" and Marvin Gaye "I Want You"

A good friend told me she was head over heels for a guy she met. The good news, she could still have those feelings, the bad news, she could still have those feelings.

She went through a tough divorce a few years ago. So while she's glad to have some romantic feeling back in her life, unrequited love, let's be honest, sucks. It doesn't matter if you're 16 or 60.

She's a screenwriter as well. Most of the writers I know are expressive and/or in tune with their emotions, very raw, close to the surface. Doesn't matter if they are screenwriters, novelist or songwriters, male or female.

There's a downside to this. While it can be helpful in writing, it can be rough for "real" life. Of course one doesn't have to be a creative person to get "twirly" about someone. I have another friend who's going through the roller-coaster thing right now. At least she's dating the guy. My friend's crush has no idea.

All I'm going to say is I'm in the middle of the same BS now and it's not cool. I'm working on a script dealing with some similar issues so I try to channel some of my twirly energy into it.

I must be a glutton for punishment because why am I listening to all these love songs? Why? Why? Why?! Damn you Sade and Maxwell.

You'd think watching GOODFELLAS, a gansta flick, I would safe but one of the best montages in film is set to the instrumental section of "Layla." Poor Eric.

Have a great weekend. I will be working and thinking about the object of my affection.

Marvin, as always, brings it in this song. The emotion, everything. Madonna working with Massive Attack did a great cover of this.

Lyrics "I Want You"
I want you the right way
I want you
But I want you to want me too
Want you to want me,baby
Just like I want you

I give you all the love I want in return sweet darlin'
But half a love is all I feel
It's too bad,It's just too sad
You don't want me now
But I'm gonna change your mind
Someway,somehow,oh baby


This one way love is just a fantasy, oh sugar
To share is precious, pure and fair
Don't play with something you should cherish for life,oh baby
Don't you wanna care
Aint it lonely out there


Lyrics "Layla"

What do you do when you get lonely
and nobody's waiting by your side?
You've been running and hiding much too long.
You know it's just your foolish pride.

Chorus: Layla, you got me on my knees.
Layla, i'm begging darlin' please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind?

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
You turned my whole world upside down.


Let's make the best of the situation,
Before I finally go insane.
Please don't say we'll never find a way,
Or tell me all my love's in vain.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My own Top Chef challenge: Fennel

Along with trying to rely less on recipes, I'm also trying to cook with new ingredients. I have never cooked fennel before.

While this vegetable is not that popular in the States, it's huge here. You see it everywhere.

I saw chef Giada de Laurentiis cooked with it several times on her Food Network show when I lived in America.

I was at the market and on a whim I bought some.

I made her Roast Fennel with Parmesan.

This dish is so easy (I used slightly less olive oil) and absolutely delicious. The salty cheese works well with the sweet fennel. I will make this one over and over again and next time I might add some pancetta.

With such a simple dish the quality of the ingredients must be excellent.

You can find this recipe in Giada's fantastic cookbook "Giada's Family Dinners".

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 fennel bulbs, cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices, fronds reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then with the Parmesan. Drizzle with the oil. Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 teaspoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.

Not only does it taste good, it's a pretty dish. I forgot to sprinkle the fronds over it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Randomissimo - Am I the only American who has never had a flu shot?

I've reading and hearing a lot about the Swine Flu vaccine.

As a child I went to the pediatrician every year for a check up. My mom was a nurse. Yet I never had a flu shot. In L.A. it seemed everyone I knew would get a shot for the season.

Should I get one? Do you? Why or why not?