Monday, 31 October 2011

(some) impressions of delicious Sicilian food...

One reason to love Sicily (and Italy) is for sure its cuisine! Once in Sicily there is a complete new culinary world to be discovered...A mix of European, Arabic and other influences melted in the Sicilian cooking pot and will let/make you lick your fingers...Let start with a plate of freshly grilled veggies and a plate of home-made pasta with fresh seafood! Or what about the trattoria del Pino in Palermo where our Friend Augostino brought us to have lunch like locals: some pasta with meat+potatoes and I enoyed yummy grilled fish...

Dont forget to try the local refreshing delight, no  not an ice-cream, but a "granita di limone"...and on the day after get some more clams ("cozze e vongole") :-) on pasta or just cooked in a big pot:-))) There is so much more to discover: the "arancini" (rice balls filled with meat or mozarella or both), the "caponata" (fried eggplant and onion with tomatoes)...but hey, I wont tell you all the secrets, go and spoil your eyes+stomach!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Autumn colours and quinces in Filstrof&Lorraine

Its again this colourful time of the year, when nature paints the world around us in all rainbow nuances and presents us with its treasures.
Orange pumpkins and golden apples, fresh pears and shiny yellow quinces-the autumn harvest is always a happy time...Quinces are really special nature gifts. Even if they resemble the apple and pear, their aroma and taste is completely different. I had enjoyed them in fresh pressed apple-quince-juice or in quince-gelee...Very exquisite fruit...some people even talk about it as the almost forgotten fruit...

I met also a cute field mouse...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Forest mushroom discovery walk in Utrechtse Heuvelrug/ Paddestoelentocht

On a perfect sunny autumn day, guided by two experienced musshroom experts, we went for a forest mushroom-seeing in the Dutch National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug. It is really amazing how many big, medium or really tiny mushrooms and sponges are growing there! With a hep of a mirror one could also examin the hidden part of the musshroom: the side under its hood:-)
The more beautful or exotic a mushroom look, the more dangerous and poisonous it is...You may see this on the pictures attached. The red-hood mushroom, known as the "fly agaric" (on third picture) and the round yellow balls on the ground, called "pigskin poison puffball" (poc below) are two good examples.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Jardins Fruitiers de Laquenexy in Moselle

The fruit garden next to Metz, known as the "Jardins Fruitiers de Laquenexy in Moselle" is just one of the gardens in the project "Jardins sans limits". With the different sorts of apples in the garden the mosaique on the first picture was built the first weekend of October 2011.
Between the fruit trees and vegetable garden one may also enjoy some decoration based on recycled old metals (such as the elphant and hippo on the picture above). The garden also offer courses for people intesreting to start do gardening.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

"Zelfpluk" in Olmenhorst, the organic apple-pear-garden next to Lisse

In the months September and October the organic fruit farm Olmenhorst opens its door four times a week to all apple- and pear-lovers. Elstar, Santana, Jonagold or Jonagored: its time for "zelfpluk" (collecting the fruits on your own, directly from the tree)! In the huge property at the border of the village Lisserboek one may test and buy also fresh pressed apple juice, have a stroll between the trees, enjoy an "appeltaartje" in the sun, visit the local cheese-farm or do some shopping at the biological supermarket....
A lot of beautiful butterflies like the farm  too...Some even posed kindly for a picture:-)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Streekmarkt Delftland 2011: local products&organic grapes in Druivenkwekerij Nieuw Tuinzight...

In the middle of the green-house-area of Midden-Delfland, inside an organic grape-green-house (druivenkwekerij Nieuw Tuinzight), a cozy market of local products took place today. Between the grapes still hanging and getting ripe one could try four sorts of local grapes.There were also other fruits and veggies from the area as well as cow and goat milk cheeses, flowers, honey and cakes decorated with grapes, local artists...
What a lovely way to discover some biological local producers and to see a green-house from inside. The market takes place for fifth time in a row, keep up this nice initiative!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Trapani: an impressive architecture and flair...

Trapani, the biggest city on the west coast of Sicily, is also called by the locals "city between two seas". Founded in the Bronze age, the city is still an important fishing port and a getaway to the nearby Egadi islands (Favignana, Levanzo and Maretimo). Next to the tuna-catching, also salt, marble and marsala-production as well as tourism support the local economy.
Plenty of buildings in the old town arefrom the later Medieval and early modern periods. The visitors stay stunned by its Baroque architecture. The nearby coast is lined up with salt ponds. On the way to them, just before the city a WWF-protected living area for birds is the home of lots of rosa flamingos...directly next to the busy street!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Fico d'India (the prickely pear) & pomegranate: common Sicilian fruits

One spot them all around: in the gardens, next to the road, in the wild. The big cactus bushes are very green and very prickly! Do not collect its fruits without gloves or without pincer...Thats why the fruit "ficho d'India" means in Italian "the fig of India" and has the English name "prickely pear" (while the German translate it as "Kaktusfeige"):-)
Of course if you want to taste them without the adventurious part of collecting them yourself there are plenty of locals selling them. In some fruit shops one may even find them already pilled off. In a Palermo trattoria, where locals have quick lunch I had a plate of three "fichi d india" lovely cleaned and ready to eat as a dessert! The one that look greener actually tasted even sweeter than the other two!
Another common for Sicilian and exotic for the rest of Europeans (at least for the colder countries) fruit is the pomegranate. These fruits were already open in the sun and some thursty birds had enjoyed almost all fruits of the tree below!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The salt road in Sicily: La via del sale

Via del Sale sicilia
On the Sicilian "Via del Sale" (Salt Road) from Trapani down to Marsala one drives next to small and big shiny-white mountains of sea salt...On some sunny days in September one may even sight the workers on the top of the salt! Around 10.000 tons of salt are produced here every year...Salt, one of the Sicilian economy's historical resources that was already very precious in the days of the Phoenicians, who were the first to bring some form of technology to its production. The favourable climatic circumstances in Sicily, such as high temperatures and a wind that increases evaporation, plus the shallowness of the water, creates a chessboard that ranges in colour from off-green to pink.
Via del Sale sicilia
A well refurbished Dutch-type windmill (over 500 years old) is located in the middle of the salt ponds and functions as a museum telling the story of this region. Inside the windmill, a complicated system of cogwheels and gears makes it possible to turn the cupola and the sails, exploiting the energy of the wind in order to grind the salt and channel the water. The scales can rotate at a speed of 20 km per hour and generate 120 horsepower; to drive the grindstone on the ground floor it is necessary to reach at least 30 to 40 horsepower...
Via del Sale sicilia
Via del Sale sicilia

Next to the museum and the salt pods, the curious visitors may take a boat tour in the lagune or go visit the island Motya, famous for its archeology treasures.