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Vatican City ….. and two birthdays

Christ, our Saviour was born today and around the world Christians celebrate His birth.

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There has never been a time that Jo and I would visit Italy without having a few days break in the Eternal City, known as Rome! But today I am not taking you on a journey through this breathtaking city, but to another city – Vatican City!

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On 17th December was also the birthday of our Holy Father, Pope Francisco (Pope Francis), who was born in 1936 in Buenos Aires/Argentina.

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Amongst many other things the Holy Father is also known for his great fondness for the traditional music of Argentina.

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A long time ago I was given an LP recording of the complete “Misa Criolla” (loosely translated: Creole Mass) by its composer Ariel Ramirez when I lived for 3 happy years in Trinidad/W.I. But I have to confess, that in my ignorance in those young days  I did not think for a moment that I would enjoy or even play “church music” that often, but …. as soon as I heard the voices of ‘Los Fronterizos’ I was hooked.

Navidad Nuestra. Ariel Ramírez, Los Fronterizos, Jaime Torres y Domingo Cura. 1967

The voices, the instruments, the harmony and the joy in their performance took me over and for literally years this record became one of my precious ones – it manages to stir up a lot of emotions in me.

So, could I find a better group to say musically “Happy Birthday Holy Father from my family” – no, in my opinion I could not!

And so, here ends my little musical journey around the world for today. Hope you still enjoying this.

Carina
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Vatican City… …. und zwei Geburtstage.

Christus unser Retter wurde heute geboren und um die ganze Welt feiern Christen seine Geburt.

Da war nie eine Reise nach Italien ohne dass Jo und ich nicht fuer einige Tage in die Ewige Stadt, die als Rom bekannt ist, kamen. Aber heute will ich Euch nicht auf eine kleine Reise durch diese atemberaubende Stadt nehmen, aber in eine andere Stadt – Vatikan Stadt!

Am 17. Dezember war auch der Geburtstag unseres Heiligen Vaters, Pabst Francisco (Pabst Francis) der im Jahre 1936 in Buenos Aires/Argentinien geboren war.
Abgesehen von vielen anderen Dingen ist der Heilige Vater auch fuer seine grosse Vorliebe fuer traditionelle argentinische Musik bekannt.

Vor einer langen Zeit bekam ich eine LP Platte mit der kompletten “Misa Criolla” (frei uebersetzt: Creolische Messe) komponiert von Ariel Ramirez geschenkt. Ich lebte damals fuer 3 sehr glueckliche Jahre in Trinidad/W.I. Aber ich muss hier eingestehen, dass damals in meiner jugendlichen  Unerfahrenheit ich nie fuer einen Moment daran dachte, dass ich diese music moegen wuerde oder sogar diese “Kirchenmusik” oft spielen wuerde, aber …. sobald ich die Stimmen von “Los Fronterizos” hoerte war ich eingefangen.

Die Stimmen, die Instrumente, die Harmonie und die Freude in ihrem singen und spielen haben mich total eingefangen und fuer echt viele Jahre wurde diese Aufnahme einer meiner liebsten – sie wuehlt eine ganze Menge Emotionen in mir wach.

So, konnte ich deshalb eine bessere Gruppe finden um musikalisch “Happy Birthday Heiliger Vater, from my family” zu sagen – nein, meines Erachtens konnte ich das nicht!

Und so, hier endet meine kleine musikalische Reise um die Welt fuer heute. Hoffentlich geniesst Ihr sie noch.

Carina

Assisi – and “….. a channel of Peace”

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There is a saying ‘… that no journey to Italy would be complete without a visit to the renowned town of Assisi, the home of St. Francis of Assisi in the province of Perugia in the Umbria region’– and we agree !

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Having visited this place once before, Jo and I decided to take our younger daughter Andrea to Assisi as part of her “….come and see part of Europe before entering College” trip; in preparation of her studies to become an architect.

As always we stayed for a month in our rented flat in Florence, a perfect base for taking a number of enjoyable day trips to various places in the region, like Lucca, Sienna, Pisa, Fieselo,…….

Whilst visiting the Basilica we came across a number of musical recordings on CD by Friar Alessandro (“The voice of Assisi” as he is known).

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A man so very talented and gifted with the most incredible powerful tenor voice.

Please listen to just these two videos with titles so befitting for todays troubled world we live in.

“Make me a channel of your peace”

And ‘Amazing Grace” from his album “Voice of Peace”.

After I had just finish writing this piece the electricity went off – again!!!! Which gave me a good excuse to have a hopefully short brake.

I later switched on the TV – Deutsche Welle to keep up to date with my old ‘home country’ and to my tremendous surprise I heard the voice of Friar Alessandro singing Haendels “Ave Maria” in Assisi. Sadly I only caught this program “The Saint and the Pope” (the Mexican tenor Rolando Vallazon investigates Francis) at the very end, but …… talk of coincidences!!!

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As always I wish you, my friends, a peaceful Advent.

Carina

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Assisi ….and “A channel of Peace”

Da gibt es einen Spruch der sagt: “….keine Reise nach Italien ist komplett ohne die bekannte Stadt von Assisi zu besuchen, die Geburtstadt von St. Francis von Assisi, in der Provinz Perugia in der Region von Umbria – und wir stimmen dem zu!

Wir hatten diesen Ort schon einmal besucht aber Jo und ich entschlossen uns unsere juengere Tochter Andrea nach Assisi zu nehmen als “…komm’ und sehe Europa bevor Du aufs College gehst um Architektur zu studieren” trip.

Wir wohnten fuer einen ganzen Monat wie ueblich in unserem gemieteten Appartment in Florenz, eine perfekte Basis fuer unsere taeglichen Ausfluege in die Umgebung wie z.B. Lucca, Sienna, Pisa, Fiesolo …..

Waehrend unseres Besuchs der Basilika fanden wir eine Reihe von musikalischen Aufnahmen auf CD’s von Friar Alessandro ( “die Stimme von Assisi” als er genannt wird)

Er ist ein Mann mit einem unwahrscheinlichen Talent und einer Gottesgabe – sein kraftvoller Tenor.

Bitte hoert Euch heute nur diese zwei kurze video’s an deren Titel so passend sind fuer die heutige beaengstige Zeit in der wir leben.

Nachdem ich gerade diesen Beitrag hier fertig hatte, ging unsere Electricitaet mal wieder weg, fuer mich eine gute Entschuldigung schnell eine kurze Pause einzulegen.

Und als ich spaeterden Fernseher einschaltete – Deutsche Welle, um auf dem laufenden zu bleiben, was aus meiner alten Heimat kommt, hoerte ich zu meiner grossen Ueberraschung die Stimme von Friar Alessandro, der Haendels “Ave Maria” in Assisi sang. Leider hatte ich dieses Program ziemlich am Ende erwischt; “Der Heilige und der Pabst” (der mexikanische Tenor Rolando Villazon untersucht Francis )…… sprecht mal von Zufall !!!

Und wie immer, liebe Freunde, wuensche ich Euch einen schoenen friedlichen Advent.

Carina

Milano – and a Christmas Concert with José Carreras

The first time I visited Milan, the metropolis in Italy’s northern Lombardy region, was when I was in my early 20th – for a photoshoot for AGFA ! Followed by an invitation to join some friends I had met there for Christmas that year. Of course I went, I always loved to see “how the other side lived (i.e. celebrated) “. This was also the first time I sampled their famous traditional Christmas cake Panettone

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Panettone, traditional Christmas cake.

When I left Milan I carried with me, for an ‘Italian Dinner Party’ back home, an additional suitcase filled with all the ‘goodies’ I was introduced to, which I purchased in that gourmet haven called Peck in Via Spadari . But more about this in another blog.

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But, not only was I introduced to Peck and the cuisine of Milano but even more importantly to the world-famous opera house La Scala

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where I saw (also for the first time) Le Nozze di Figaro
Over the following years we were fortunate enough to see many famous opera houses and concert halls, but sadly we were never able to see José Carreras on stage – timing was always wrong.

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Carreras in Andrea Chénier, La Scala, 1985 (Wikipedia)

Above Christmas Concert 2000 Milano (with Orchestra Sinfonica Dell’ Emilia Romagna “Arturo Toscanini”) took place at the Basilica Di S. Ambrogio

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(Pic. Source: milanofree.it)

For that reason I have chosen him today as my Milan video – hoping very much he will give you as much pleasure as he constantly gives us.

Carina
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Das erste mal als ich nach Mailand , in die Metropole in Italiens noerdlicher Region von Lombardy, kam war ich ungefaehr mitte zwanzig – fuer Photoaufnahmen fuer AGFA. Dem folgte eine Weihnachts Einladung von einigen Freunden die ich dort kennengelernt hatte. Natuerlich flog ich rueber, ich mochte es immer sehr zu sehen wie andere lebten und feierten. Dies war auch das erste mal, dass ich den beruehmten traditionellen Weihnachtskuchen ‘Panettone’ probierte.

Als ich Mailand verliess trug ich einen zusaetzlichen Koffer, fuer eine ‘Italienische Dinner Party’ die ich dann zuhause gab, mit all’ den leckeren Schleckereien die ich hier kennen gelernt hatte. Alles kaufte ich in dem Gourmet Himmel PECK in Via Spadari. Aber mehr ueber dies in einem anderen Blog.
Aber ich wurde nicht nur mit Peck und deren Koestlichkeiten bekannt gemacht aber viel wichtiger mit dem weltberuehmten Opernhaus La Scala, wo ich (ebenfalls zum ersten mal) Le Nozze di Figaro/Die Hochzeit des Figaro erlebte.

In den folgenden Jahren hatten wir das Glueck viele beruehmte Opernhaeuser und Konzerthallen zu besuchen, aber leider konnten wir nie Jose Carreras auf der Buehne erleben – irgendwie hatte es nie geklappt.

Und das ist der Grund warum ich ihn heute als mein Mailand video gewaehlt habe – und hoffentlich wird er Euch auch so viel Freude bereiten wie uns immer.
(Dies ist meine eigene “freie” Uebersetzung).

Happy Easter …..

…. From Bangkok, to all my blogging friends wherever you are in the world.
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Paschal Lamb . as seen in Florence/Italy
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The blessed palm leaf (from the Assumption Cathedral, Bangkok)
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White stone egg from Burma (can you make out the carved details on it?)
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White KPM Rabbit with Quails eggs in our house
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China Easter eggs on display in Florence/Italy
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Easter bunny in our house – what a load to carry

Carina

(© Photos: Carina-Joseph Sebastine/Manningtree Archive)

Risotto Primavera alla Cipriani

-Cipriani’s Spring Risotto-

With many of you starting to send out posts about the first signs of spring, which I sadly cannot do since I live in a tropical climate, I like to take you with me instead on a short journey ‘down memory lane’ to the beautiful city of Venice.

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One of the domes of the Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Many many years ago a number of our international friends and I had a very noisy, and I confess, slightly boozy, but, oh so enjoyable Lunch at the world famous Harry’s Bar in Venice.

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…..preparing our Bellinis

In fact it was one of those wonderful impromptu get-togethers one really cannot organise – they just happen!! And certainly nobody wants them to end quickly.

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(Andrea outside Harry’s Bar)

The original plan that day was for all of us to meet at “Harry’s”, have refreshments and take Cipriani’s own boat out to the Island of Torcello to their beautiful and romantic Locanda – one of those wonderful little honeymoon locations , where we all were going to have lunch. But, one way or the other, we never made it to Torcello that day but remained in Venice until closing time! I of course now cannot, by the best will in the world, remember what each and everyone had ordered that day, except I do remember, that I had “Risotto primavera” (Spring Risotto) making use of many of the vegetables grown near the Locanda on Torcello. This dish was created and recommended to me by Arrigo Cipriani himself – so how could I refuse? It was a dish so divine, that I never, with all my travels around the world, have forgotten the smell and taste of this exceptional Risotto. He very kindly gave me permission to use this recipe in my own blog or book. And before I forget let me tell you – this dish is really very easy to prepare, so do not be put off by the length of the ingredients list. I hope that you enjoy this risotto as much as I did then and in fact once again only two days ago when I tried to recreate this for my post here.

For: 6
For the spring vegetables you need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
250 g of shiitake mushrooms; thinly sliced (I used button mushrooms)
3 small artichokes, thinly sliced (were not available)
1 tsp onion, finely chopped
4 small zucchini, diced (I used green ones)
12 asparagus spears cut into short lengths
1 large slice of red capsicum, cut into pieces
1 small leek, white part only, cut into short lengths
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Risotto you need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
150 g risotto rice (I used Arborio)
1.5 l chicken stock
40 g butter
3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Salt and pepper

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To prepare the vegetables: heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then remove it from the pan and discard. Add the artichokes and cook for 8-10 minutes, then add the onion and cook for a further 2 minutes. Finally, add the Zucchinis (courgettes), asparagus, red pepper and leek, increase the heat to high and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

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To prepare the Risotto: heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes. Stirring the rice, lower the heat, add about 120 ml of the stock and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Gradually add more stock as each addition is absorbed. After about 15 minutes, when the risotto is half-cooked, add the vegetables and continue to cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the rice is tender and creamy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For a softer risotto stir in a few more tablespoons of stock.
Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

And the next time Jo and I are in Venice, maybe we find the time to once again enjoy Cipriani’s splendid hospitality.

Ciao Carina

The Beauties of Stresa/Lago Maggiore

Today my friends, I will not bother you with too much text – just a very small visual feast for your eyes (so I hope).

The Peacock, India’s national bird.  Look how proud and majestic he sits here, seemingly without any care in the world, showing off his magnificent plumage for all to see. He was quite in a receptive mood when I was trying to take his pictures – I was able to get pretty close to him, nearly able to touch him. But, all my sweet talking was in vein, he was not prepared to open his feathers and display for us and my camera the famous ‘peacock fan’; and of course I was not one to complain, having been able to get this shot of him.

He was such a good bird, he allowed us to stay with him for quite some time, taking pictures occasionally.  And somehow we had this feeling, that he knew that we came from far away, the land of his ancestors  – and suddenly, out of the corner of my eyes I saw this most magnificent creature strutting across the lawn only a couple of meters away from us, it’s long tail feathers making a slight swishing sound, which must have caught my attention in the first place, I think – it was THE WHITE PEACOCK. But unlike his blue ‘cousin’ this one here was extremely shy – very happy to parade proudly up and down in front of us, seemingly urging us to take pictures like at a photo shoot, but not confident enough to allow us really close.

Neither Jo nor I had ever seen this kind of bird before. The beauty of this peacock literally took my breath away. Having seen so much beauty on that one day, we soon said good bye to the beautiful Park of the famous Villa Pallavicino, just outside Stresa on Lake Maggiore, which is literally a paradise of flowers and animals.

The Park was originally the idea of the Neapolitan statesman Ruggero Bonghi, who fell in love with Lake Maggiore and decided in1855 to purchase the land and build a small house for himself. In 1862 the family of the Marquises of Pallavicino acquired the property and began to improve it, extending the grounds, building drives suitable for carriages, embellishing the park with statues and transforming the modest house into the opulent 19th century Neoclassical mansion which still graces the hillside.

In 1952 Marchioness Luisa Pallavicino completed the family project with the addition of a zoo with animals from every corner of the globe. I was introduced to the Marchesa in the early 70s by a close Italian friend of mine who was a cousin of the Marchesa. She was such a charming and gracious lady who personally and proudly showed me around, introducing me to nearly every animal she had in her beloved parco, before we sat down in the cooling shade of one of the many magnificent Cypresses where we enjoyed our tea overlooking the picture postcard view of the Lago Maggiore. Sadly I only met her once again before her death in 1992 in Rome. So I was very happy of being able to visit once again after such a long time. Another time I will take you around a bit more.

Ciao, Carina

(Photos: CS/Manningtree Archive)