Rome: Day 3

Travelogue of our trip to Italy. This covers our third day in Rome when we covered the ancient parts of Rome, visiting the Colosseum, Capitoline Hill, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Our third day in Rome was what we consider to be the best. It focused on Ancient Rome.

We started the day early with a visit to the Colosseum which was good because the Colosseum got really crowded later. It was amazing to imagine the Colosseum in its glory days.

By the time we got done there, Michelle was getting sleepy, so we decided to go to Capitoline Hill. We spent entirely too much time at the Capitoline Museums and had lunch at the Caffe Capitolino.

Romulus and Remus with a wolf
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
In Capitoline Museum
In Capitoline Museum
In Capitoline Museum
In Capitoline Museum
View of Roman Forum
View of Roman Forum
 

Then we headed to the Roman Forum and wandered about the ruins. From there, we went up the Palatine Hill. This is where I sprained my ankle which I am still nursing. Strangely it didn’t hurt much, but it was quite swollen by night. Of course, I decided against curtailing my walking since that would have taken all the fun out of the vacation.

Back to the Colosseum, we decided to go to dinner at Ai Tre Scalini Restaurant nearby where no one spoke English but the food was good and cheap.

Most of the day’s photographs are on the map below under the fold.

Continue reading “Rome: Day 3”

ہفتہ بلاگستان: یوم کچن

معلوم نہیں یہ ہفتہ بلاگستان کب ختم ہو گا۔ فی الحال تو ہم دنبے کے اسٹو کی ایک اطالوی ترکیب کے ساتھ یومِ باورچی خانہ منا رہے ہیں۔

کھانے بنانے اور اچھے ریستوران جانے کے ہم شوقین ہیں اور کھانے بھی ہر قسم کے۔ مگر اگر فیورٹ کی بات ہو تو اطالوی کھانے سب سے زیادہ بناتا ہوں اور فرنچ میٹھے کی بات ہی کچھ اور ہے۔ اب ہفتہ بلاگستان کی چوتھی قسط کے لئے ایک ترکیب حاضر ہے۔

یہ ترکیب دنبے کے اسٹو کی ہے جو جدید اطالوی پکوان سے لی گئ ہے۔

اجزاء

  • اڑھائ پاونڈ بغیر ہڈی کے دنبے کے کندھے کا گوشت
  • چوتھائ کپ زیتون کا تیل
  • ایک چھوٹا پیاز باریک کٹا ہوا
  • لہسن کے دو ٹکڑے چھوٹے کٹے ہوئے
  • سیلیری کی ٹہنی باریک کٹی ہوئ
  • آدھا کپ مارسلا Marsala یا انگور کا جوس
  • دو بڑے چمچ آٹا
  • تین بڑے چمچ ٹماٹر کی پیسٹ
  • ڈیڑھ کپ چکن یا گوشت کی یخنی
  • نمک
  • معمولی سی cayenne pepper
  • چار گاجریں
  • ایک پاونڈ چھوٹے سفید پیاز
  • دو بڑے چمچ کٹا ہوا پارسلے

ترکیب

دنبے کے گوشت کو دو انچ کے کیوب کی شکل میں کاٹ لیں۔

تیل کو دیگچے میں گرم کریں اور اس میں ایک پیاز، لہسن اور سیلیری ڈال دیں۔ اسے چار پانچ منٹ کر براون کریں۔ پھر دنبے کا گوشت شامل کریں اور تیز آنچ پر پکائیں یہاں تک کہ گوشت کو رنگ آنے لگے۔ پھر آٹا تھوڑا تھوڑا کر کے گوشت پر ڈال دیں اور دیگچے میں چمچ ہلاتے رہیں۔ مارسلا یا جوس بھی شامل کریں اور اس وقت تک تیز آنچ پر پکاتے رہیں جب تک وہ تقریباً ختم نہ ہو جائے۔

ٹماٹر کی پیسٹ کو یخنی میں گھول لیں اور دیگچے میں شامل کر دیں۔ نمک اور مرچ حسبِ ذائقہ ڈال دیں۔ اب دیگچے پر ڈھکنا ڈال دیں مگر تھوڑا سا سائڈ پر۔ کچھ ہلکی آنچ پر ایک سے ڈیڑھ گھنٹے simmer کرنے دیں۔ کچھ دیر بعد دیگچے میں چمچ مار لیا کریں۔

جب گوشت پک رہا ہو اس دوران گاجروں کو آدھ انچ کے گول ٹکڑوں میں کاٹ لیں۔ پھر معمولی سے نمکین پانی میں انہیں ابالیں یہاں تک کہ وہ کچھ نرم ہو جائیں مگر بہت زیادہ نہیں۔

اب ایک الگ دیگچے میں پانی ابالیں۔ جب پانی ابلنے لگے تو اس میں چھوٹے چھوٹے پیاز ڈال دیں۔ کوئ آدھے منٹ بعد انہیں نکال کر انہیں چھیل لیں مگر ثابت ہی رہنے دیں۔ اب دوبارہ پانی ابالیں اور اس میں کچھ نمک ڈالیں۔ پھر اس میں یہ چھلے پیاز بھی ڈال دیں اور انہیں پندرہ سے بیس منٹ تک ابالیں۔ اس کے نتیجے میں پیاز کچھ حد تک نرم ہو جائیں گے۔

جب گوشت پک جائے تو اس میں یہ نرم گاجریں، پیاز اور پارسلے کے کٹے پتے ڈال دیں۔ اب ان سب کو گوشت کے ساتھ کوئ آٹھ دس منٹ پکائیں۔ جب کھانا تیار ہو گا تو دنبے کا گوشت انتہائ نرم ہو گا اور سالن گاڑھا اور گہرا سرخ رنگ کا ہو گا۔

اب اسے اطالوی بریڈ کے ساتھ خوب مزے لے کر کھائیں۔

Rome: Day 2

Travelogue of our trip to Italy. This covers our second day in Rome when we visited the Vatican and wandered about Rome.

On the second day, we got up a little late due to jetlag and lack of sleep on the plane. After breakfast, we took the bus to Vatican City. When we got to Saint Peter’s Square, we saw a really long line get into Saint Peter’s Basilica.

There were a number of tourist guides there and we decided to become part of one group tour of the Vatican. Usually we don’t like being part of a group tour since we like to do things at our own pace. We do often get the audio guides at museums. However, here we saved some time waiting in line. Also, if we had gone to the Vatican Museums by ourselves, we might have spent the whole day in there while the guide spent almost three hours with us in the museums. Did I mention that our tour guide was American?

First, we walked around Vatican City to go to the Vatican museums. At the end of the museum tour, we went into the Sistine Chapel. There, the security people were trying to get the tourists not to take pictures or talk loudly. Also, one had to have shoulders and knees covered. Since photography was not allowed, I did not take any photos of the Sistine Chapel frescoes by Michelangelo. After that, we went into Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Here are some photographs in Vatican City. More photos are on the map in the end.

Water Fountain
At Vatican Museums
Ceiling Vatican Museums
Sculpture
Painting on ceiling
Statue
A room
Statue
Statue
Floor
Ceiling
In Vatican Museums
Painting
Above door
Map room
Ceiling art
Ceiling art
Above door
Map of Venice
More art
Outside Sistine Chapel
In the Vatican
St Peters basilica
St Peters
Statue in St Peters
In St Peters
St Peter's Basilica
 

Then we went back to Rome to see the Pantheon. There was of course some delicious gelato near the Pantheon that we ate.

Our next stop was Piazza Navona, a city square with some beautiful fountains and architecture.

On our way back, Michelle wanted to play with the pigeons around the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. After some running after and watching pigeons, we had dinner at Trattoria Monti which had some great game food for very reasonable prices.

More photographs are on the map below under the fold.

Continue reading “Rome: Day 2”

Rome: Day 1

Travelogue of our trip to Italy. This covers the flight and our first day in Rome.

Before our trip to Italy, I decided to buy a new camera bag. I don’t like shoulder bags and backpacks are a hassle since every time you want to take a picture you have to take the backpack off, get the camera out and do the reverse after taking the shot. Therefore, I decided that a sling pack would be best. After looking at a few, I liked the Lowepro SlingShot 100AW. During our trip, I carried it on my back most of the time, but could easily slide it to the front to get the camera out or when it was too crowded and I was afraid of pickpockets. It was very comfortable on the back and reasonably comfortable on the front for short periods of time.

Lowepro SlingShot 100 AW

Usually when we need to travel by air, we park our car at the MARTA North Springs station and take the train to Hartsfield Jackson airport. Our flight to Rome was at 4:45pm. There was a time when I would always grab the window seat but now Michelle does that.

While domestic flights don’t have any food, some international flights have too much food. We had dinner. Then a few hours later, the flight attendants almost woke everyone up for some snacks and finally breakfast on Italian time.

We landed in Rome more than 9 hours later at 8:15am local time. Immigration was a breeze. I think the officer didn’t say one word, just stamped our passports. We collected our bags and got to the train station to take the Leonardo Express to Termini, the main train station in the city.

From Termini, we walked the 15 minutes to our hotel. Their check-in time was at 1:00pm, several hours away. So we left our bags there and decided to wander around the city.

We took the metro to Spagna and went to the Spanish Steps. We walked up the steps to the church, Trinità dei Monti and then on to Trevi Fountain which was surrounded by a couple of million tourists. Michelle tossed a few coins into the fountain and we got some gelato nearby at il Gelato di San Crispino.

By this time, Michelle had fallen asleep in her stroller, so we decided to see Galleria Doria Pamphilj, owned by a princely family. It was not fun to carry Michelle in the stroller up and down the steps, but the gallery had lots of nice paintings. I was a nice guy and didn’t take any photographs as they didn’t allow any.

Then we went to the 17th century Jesuit church, Sant’Ignazio. I must confess that I love churches. The architecture, the paintings and sculptures, everything fascinates me about these historic churches. That’s why a lot of the photographs in the map below are of this church.

With Michelle sleeping, we walked all the way back to the hotel. On the way we saw Piazza Venezia and the Vittorio Emanuele II monument there. Vittorio Emanuele was the first king when Italy was unified in the 19th century.

Michelle woke up near the end because it was hot. Fortunately, Rome has a lot of public drinking water fountains and most of them were marked on my GPS maps.

We checked in at the hotel and washed up. After some rest, we decided to go out for dinner. Of course, we forgot that nobody eats dinner at 6:30pm in Italy. So we ended up wandering around Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. When we went to Trattoria Monti, they were all booked up for the night. We made reservations for dinner the next night and decided to live it up at Agata e Romeo. The food was great and it cost more than €200 for two people (without drinks).

Photographs shown on a map of Rome follow.

Continue reading “Rome: Day 1”

Chattanooga

A fun day in Chattanooga to celebrate Michelle’s fourth birthday. Here are some photographs from the Tennessee aquarium and Tennessee river gorge.

For Michelle’s fourth birthday, we decided to take the day off and take her to Chattanooga, about 2 hours drive away.

Here are some photographs from the Tennessee Aquarium. We have been to the Georgia Aquarium lots of times and that is huge. Tennessee aquarium is smaller, nothing on the scale of the one in Atlanta, but I think children like it better. Michelle was running from one display to another and showing us all the marine life.

 

We also cruised the Tennessee River Gorge aboard a boat.

 

When we got off the boat, it had started raining. So we went to Hennen’s for dinner. Michelle was tired, but we had a nice dinner, followed by a chocolate cake and ice cream complete with candle on top to celebrate Michelle turning four.

Hilton Head

We went to the beach on memorial day weekend where we had a lot of fun and ate lots of great seafood.

As is our tradition, we went to the beach for the Memorial Day long weekend. This trip was to Hilton Head Island, SC.

We spent most of our time there on the beach. Michelle was very excited about getting into the water. The first day she spent most of the time in the ocean, but on the second day, it was very windy and the waves were much higher. She would go into the water and then run back when a wave crashed on the shore.

Here are some photographs.

A Bird
Birds flying
Wave crashing
Ocean
Waves
More waves
Beach 1
Beach 2
Waves
Riding the waves
Sunset
Pier
 

We had some great dinners there. At Truffles Grill, I had salmon with mango barbeque glaze which was heavenly. CQ’s the next night was pretty good too. We sat outside at Old Fort Pub where I had a very tasty Bouillabaisse.

Georgia Coast

On memorial day weekend, we drove to the Georgia coast. Brunswick, St Simons Island, and Jekyll Island were fun. Here are some photographs.

Last year on the memorial day weekend, we went to the Golden Isles of Georgia.

It was a good trip except for the fact that Michelle got very sick. Because of that, we had to cancel our plan of spending a day at Cumberland Island. Michelle also didn’t get to enjoy the beach despite her love of the ocean and sand. Plus we had to return a day early.

We spent most of our time wandering around Brunswich, St Simons Island and Jekyll Island. On the last day, we also visited St Marys, where we were supposed to take a ferry to go to Cumberland Island, but didn’t because of Michelle not feeling well.

Unqualified Offerings had sung high praises of Jack’s Famous Wood-Cooked Bar-B-Q in Woodbine, GA. So we drove there for dinner one day. My friends were disappointed to see the shack. Their barbecue was good, but I like Fat matt’s rib shack here in Atlanta better.

Anyway, here are some photographs.

Continue reading “Georgia Coast”

Lemon Tart

While I am getting ready for the superbowl, here is the recipe for another French dessert that I made for Thanksgiving. Lemon Tart is easy to make and very tasty. I strongly recommend making the pastry shell yourself too.

While I am baking some cookies for the superbowl party we are going to, here is my Lemon Tart recipe that I made for Thanksgiving.

If you are wondering whether I have suddenly developed an interest in American Football, no I haven’t. I sometimes watch a game on TV if I have nothing better to do and have been to a few Tech college football games as well. But watching the superbowl is just an excuse to hang out with friends and eat junk food. While we are on the topic of the Superbowl, can anyone please tell me why the game lasts three times longer than it should.

Coming back to the lemon tart, I have made it with store-bought pie shell as well as made the shell myself and I strongly recommend that you make the pastry shell using recipe below.

This recipe is adapted from Simple French Desserts.

Pastry Dough Shell

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla. Sift the flour and salt into the butter mixture and beat at low speed just until a soft dough forms.
  2. Pat the dough into a disk. Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle between two sheets of plastic wrap.
  3. Remove the top sheet of the plastic wrap and invert the pastry circle into the tart pan. Gently ease the pastry into the shell without stretching the dough. Remove the plastic wrap and roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim the excess dough. Use a fork to generously prick the bottom of the pastry shell.
  4. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. When it is chilled, freeze it for a few hours (or up to a week).

Lemon Tart

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pastry dough shell from above
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Fill a large skillet full with warm water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
  3. In a medium stainless steel bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs, and yolks and whisk until smooth. Add the softened butter. The mixture will now have a curdled appearance.
  4. Place the bowl in the simmering water and stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon for 9-10 minutes, i.e. until the mixture is thick and smooth, with a soft, pudding-like texture.
  5. Remove the bowl from the hot water and pour the lemon cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the pastry shell.
  6. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, i.e. until the filling is set but not browned.

Cool it and enjoy!

Coeur à la Crème

Here is the recipe for Coeur à la Crème. It is easy to make and turns out great.

For Thanksgiving, I made dessert. Here is one recipe. I got it from Simple French Desserts. I have made some minor changes in the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup plain organic yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fresh raspberries for garnish
  • Raspberry Coulis (recipe)
  1. Stir the cream and 1/3 cup of the sugar together in a large bowl. Beat (I use an electric mixer) the sweetened cream until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Continue beating, adding the remaining 1/3 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, until the whites form stiff, glossy peaks. Fold the cream mixture and beaten egg whites into the yogurt. Fold in the vanilla.
  3. Line a large sieve with a double thickness of damp cheesecloth, allowing the excess to hang over the edge.
  4. Fill a bowl with the cream mixture. Set the sieve over the bowl to drain. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  5. Unwrap and invert the bowl onto a serving plate. Remove the cheesecloth. Surround the coeur à la crème with Raspberry Coulis and a few fresh raspberries.

That’s it. It is easy to make and tastes great. You can ask Wayfarer if you don’t believe me.

درجن

آج ہماری شادی کی بارہویں سالگرہ ہے۔ اسے منانے آج ہم سٹیک کھانے گئے اور سینما میں فلم دیکھی۔ فلم کا موضوع بھی محبت تھا اور میری آج کی پوسٹ کا بھی یہی موضوع ہے۔

درجن سال بہت ہوتے ہیں۔ بارہ سالوں میں دنیا بدل جاتی ہے۔ کہاں میں ایک 23 سالہ نوجوان تھا جو واہ کینٹ میں رہتا تھا اور کہاں اب 12 سال بعد شادی‌شدہ اور ایک بیٹی کا باپ اٹلانٹا میں۔

ایک شخص کے ساتھ 12 سال گزارنا بڑی بات ہے۔ ان سالوں میں محبت بھی بڑھتی ہے اور لڑائیاں بھی ہوتی ہیں۔ آپ ایک دوسرے کو مکمل طور پر جان لیتے ہیں جیسے کوئی اور نہیں جانتا۔

جب میں نے عنبر کے ساتھ اس سفر کا آغاز آج سے ٹھیک بارہ سال پہلے یکم دسمبر 1994 کو کیا تھا تو اندازہ بھی نہیں تھا کہ ان منزلوں سے بھی گزر ہو گا۔ سمجھتے تھے کہ ہمیں محبت ہے مگر شاید رائی برابر بھی پتا نہ تھا۔

آج اپنی شادی کی سالگرہ منانے ہم بونز ریستوران گئے جہاں کا سٹیک بہت مشہور ہے۔ واقعی بہت مزا آیا۔ اس کے بعد ہم کافی عرصہ بعد سینما میں فلم دیکھنے گئے۔ ارادہ تو جیمز بانڈ کی Casino Royaleدیکھنے کا تھا مگر دیکھی The Fountain۔ محبت، زندگی، موت اور روحانیت کی یہ کہانی معلوم نہیں آج کے دن کے لئے مناسب تھی یا نہیں مگر ہمیں کافی مزا آیا۔