Agnolotti ripieni al salame con sugo di pomodoro / Salame agnolotti with tomato sauce
Crepes natalizie / Christmas crepes
'Gnocchi' di farina di ceci ripieni di pistacchi, uvetta e rum / Garbanzo dumpling with pistachio, raisin and rum filling
Manti ai ceci / Chickpea parcels
Ravioli ai formaggi con salsa di zucca / Cheese ravioli with butternut squash sauce
Ravioli di magro con ragu' / Lean ravioli with ragu sauce
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Agnolotti ripieni al salame con sugo di pomodoro / Salame agnolotti with tomato sauce
I _almost_ forgot about the deadline of this month's 'Waiter there's something in my...' event. It's themed on 'dumplings', i.e. anything stuffed, and cooked by boiling, steaming or baking. I wanted to make ravioli, but I was thinking to make them with Nicola, and I couldn't arrange it for today. So, I decided to do something less Italian and more strange. I was inspired by the Indian Modak dumplings, sweet dumplings made with rice flour and a coconut and spices or coconut and raisin filling. Still, instead of rice flour, I used a mixture of garbanzo flour and regular wheat flour. I was curious to try a 'garbanzo dumpling', I never found any recipe for something like that! So, here is my creation:
'Gnocchi' di farina di ceci ripieni di pistacchi, uvetta e rum / Garbanzo dumpling with pistachio, raisin and rum filling
1/2 cup garbanzo flour
1/2 cup white wheat flour
1 pinch of salt
1 cup water
~2 tbsp butter
~2 tbsp turbinado sugar
1/2 cup roasted and shelled pistachios
2 tbsp raisin
1 tbsp rum
powder sugar and cinnamon for decoration
Prepare the filling: blend the pistachios, add the raisin, the sugar and 1 tsp butter. Warm in the microwave till the butter melts. Add rum and mix.
Prepare the dough: put some water in a pot, add the two flours, mixing to avoid clumping. Add the salt. Heat while stirring continuously. Add 1 tsp butter. Keep heating till the dough is of a somewhat workable consistency (neither too sticky nor too dry). Add flour if necessary.
Butter the palm of your left hand, place a ball of dough in it, flatten it, add some filling in the dough, and close the dough around it. When done with all the dumplings, place in a steamer and steam for ~10-15 minutes.
Place the dumpling on your serving plate. Melt the rest of the butter and pour it on top. Mix the powdered sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle on top. Eat warm or cold.
Lucas and I enjoyed them a lot! The garbanzo bean flour give them quite an unusual taste. The filling was especially good. Next time, I'll experiment with a different type of flour!
Come back here for a link to the roundup of the event... I'm really curious to see all the great recipes!
Also, stop by later if you want to see the Italian ravioli creation. I'll make them soon!!!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I have been interested in Bollywood movies for a while. Some time ago, I found Amit's website, and his wonderful reviews increased my level of interest. So, I asked him to suggest a few movies for me to watch, and he gave me very 'personalized' suggestions, based on the list of the movies I liked most in general. I found most of the movies he suggested on Netflix, and 'Dil Chahta Hai' ('The heart wants') was the first one I tried!
I'm happy I watched this movie. It's an interesting mixture of Bollywood style and western style, I think. As you can see from the picture, the actors are dressed and styled like in western style movies. But from time to time, they sing and dance like in the most typical Bollywood movies. Still, the dances are not traditional dances at all, and in any case, the musical parts are not many, and are often 'at the right place'. The story is nice - three close friends, discovering the meaning of friendship and love. In my opinion, though, the movie doesn't start very well (it seems a bit silly for the first 20 minutes), then it improves a lot and becomes very enjoyable, but the last few scenes are again at a lower quality level. The most interesting and unconventional love story ends in a somewhat trivial way, especially in the very last scene..
In any case, I did like the movie (and Lucas liked it too, amazingly enough) - it's a good movie if you want to relax and have fun for an evening, and some of the musics are actually really good... I keep singing 'Dil chahta hai' still now :) !
I made this bread in two variations: using rolled oat flakes, and oat flour. I think I prefer the first.. I'll try to write down the recipes here, although I made them 'by eye' (I tried to measure what I was adding the second time, for the oat flour version, but it's always hard to keep exact track. So please forgive me if the doses are not super precise.. in any case, I don't think it can come out bad, considering I made it twice in this inaccurate way and it was good every time).
These recipes are dedicated to Amit!
Pane integrale con orzo e segale (Oat and rye whole bread)
2 cups lukewarm water
2 tsp yeast + 1 tsp sugar
2 cups oat flour
2 cups rye flour
2 cups whole weat flour
~1 tbsp salt
Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add 1 tsp sugar, mix and let rest for ~5 min. Add the flours to the water/yeast mixture, mixing after every addition. Start working it with your hands when possible. Add salt. Knead the dough for ~7-10 minutes, adding whole weat flour if it's too sticky. This dough will not become as elastic as a regular white bread dough, because none of the flours you've added contain a high lever of gluten (which is what makes the dough elastic). So, don't worry about it.. Let the dough rest for at least one hour (better two), then divide it in two or three shapes (depending on how big you want them) and put them on your baking pan. I wouldn't recommend cutting the dough with deep incisions ob the surface (like you can do with the regular bread), because this dough isn't elastic and the cuts will look bad on it (found out by experience...).
Let the loaves rest for another hour, then bake at 400 F for ~30 minutes. To have a more crunchy crust, leave a pot with water inside the oven while you cook the bread. Once cooked, remove the bread from the baking pan and put it to cool down on a rack.
Variazione con fiocchi di orzo (Variation with rolled oat flakes)
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp yeast + 1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups rolled oat and hot water to cover them
2 cups rye flour
~3 cups wheat flour
The dough and the procedure are very similar to the ones above. The difference is that instead of oat flour, you use oat flakes. Place the flakes in a bowl and cover them with how water. Let this mixture rest for ~15 min. Dissolve the yeast in water and add sugar as described above. Add the soaked oat flakes and all the flours and proceed as described above. You may need more or less wheat flour (depending on the brand, they can adsorb more or less water). This dough seemed to be more elastic, maybe because there was more wheat flour. As before, knead, wait, divide into shapes. If you want, in this case, you can make some not too deep incisions on the surface of this dough (it's elastic enough for them). Bake and cool down as described above.
I already mentioned that I stopped having cereals for breakfast - so now I have healthy homemade bread and homemade jam with my tea and milk... unless there is some crostata or any other sweet bread or cookies leftover. :)
Peaches are in season now, and I like them. So why not make a peach jam?
Marmellata di pesche (Peach jam)
It's super simple: pit and cut the peaches in small chunks. Add as much sugar as you want, in an amount varying to half to the same weight of the peaches you are using. I don't like too sweet things, so I was closer to the lower limit. Put the peach and sugar mixture in a pot on low heat and let cook covered for ~2 hrs, or until thick enough. I added a sprinkle of cinnamon for flavor, while the peaches were cooking. Blend with an immersion blender to make homogenous. I like to leave a few pieces in, though.
In the picture, the jam is served on my homemade oat and rye flour bread. I promised the recipe of this bread to Amit a long time ago, so I'll finally write it in the next post!
I have SO many things to post about - I haven't had any time in a while, and I was barely keeping up with the 'necessary' posts.. so I'll start with something I meant to write in a long time, i.e. one of my favorite desserts: crostata!
The main characteristic of crostata is the crunchy and yet buttery consistency of the outside ('crosta' means 'crust). Traditionally, it has only a layer of jam on top, although you can in principle put anything on it. In summertime, the fruity version is so wonderful - it's my favorite birthday 'cake' (see the post here for crostata di frutta).
Here you can see Crostata al limone (Lemon crostata), with my homemade lemon jelly
The recipe for it is in the 'Read more' section.
A really nice variation on the crostata theme is crostata with nuts in the dough. I was inspired by Fiordizucca to make this Crostata con mandorle coperta con marmellata di albicocche fatta in casa e cioccolato (Almond crostata covered with homemade peach jam and chocolate)
The recipe is also in the 'Read more' section.
I want to point out that making crostata is one of the easiest things you can try to do. Just make it a few times and you'll know exactly how much sugar you really want (maybe you can vary depending on the sweetness of the jam), how much butter you like in it, and you can experiment all different toppings. But really, if you don't have time and you want something quick and good for your guests, the simple traditional version with jam can never fail. :)
Crostata tradizionale (traditional crostata)
300 g flour (2 1/2 cups)
200 g sugar (1 cup)
100 g butter (1/2 cup)
~2 tbsp milk
Soften the butter. Mix the flour and the sugar and add the butter in. Add as little milk as possible to make the dough workable. Some recipes use more butter and don't add any milk at all. Work it with your hands, as little as possible. Let the dough rest in the fridge for ~20 minutes. Take ~2/3 of the dough and spread it on a buttered and floured baking pan, from the center to the borders. When you get to the borders, spread it a little bit on them (in 'vertical'). Make rolls (~1/3" in diameter, and as long as you need) with the rest of the dough, and use some to create the real borders. Spread the jam of your choice on the dough. Use the rest of the rolls to decorate. Bake at 400 deg for 20-30 min (it depends on how thick you spread the dough). Sometimes the crostata tends to grow a little bit in the oven, whereas you want it to be flat. So if it happens, gently tap on the inflated parts with a spoon while the crostata is still warm, and flatten it. Serve cold.
Crostata con mandorle coperta con marmellata di pesche fatta in casa e cioccolato (Crostata with almonds covered with homemade peach jam and chocolate)
This variation was inspired by this wonderful recipe by Fiordizucca (she had amaretti cookies and real peaches instead of jam in her version).
Use the same dough as before, but substitute 1/3 of the flour with the same amount of ground almonds. Use the same procedure to make the dough.
While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: beat one egg with 2/3 cup sugar, then add 1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened). Add also ~2/3 cup peach jam. Mix in ~2 tbsp flour, to thicken. Spread on the crostata dough and proceed as with the traditional crostata for assembly and baking.
Are you curious about how to make the peach jam? It's really easy, I'll write it in the next post.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Yeeeh!!! It's time for the first roundup of 'Fresh Produce of the Month' themed on lemons for this first time. I'm SO happy: I received many entries, all of them gorgeous! I really want to try to make at least a few of them.. So, let's not waste any more time, and let the show start!
Susan from Porcini Chronicles: Lemon Basil Flan
She says she was inspired by a chef she tasted the recipes of in a small hotel. Following his example of using unusual ingredient pairs, she prepares this flan: "In this flan recipe, I substitute the deep, rich flavor of burned sugar caramel with the bright flavors and colors of lemon and basil."
Sukanya from Hot n' Sweet Bowl: Lemon Cookies with Lemon Glaze
Sukanya loves eating cookies all the time, and her jar was empty.. the cookies "were calling me for a refill since a long time.....Its time now!...."
Meeta at What's for Lunch Honey: Fresh Ginger and Tangy Lemon Ice Cream
She is inspired by David Lebovitz's recipe from "The perfect scoop", attracted by the idea of having ginger in an ice cream, and the combination with lemon was delicious: "In my opinion, lemons and ginger go so perfectly together and combining them in an ice cream is soooo ingenious."
Ruth from Once Upon A Feast:
Even though Ruth never saw a lemon tree growing around where she has lived, she uses lemons in many of her favorite recipes.. and so she shares with us three great recipes with chicken and lemon: "I thought I would just share a few of my favorite lemony chicken recipes......"
Nora B. from Life's Smorgasbord: Zesty torta di ricotta
Nora prepares a cake/pie inspired by the Italian 'Pastiera napoletana' and by another Sicilian dessert recipe. Pastiera is one of my favorite Italian desserts! "The result is a crispy pie-like crust, a moist, lemony filling and a cake-like base."
Anupama from Food-n-more: A delicious summer cooler
Lemon, ginger and orange are the main ingredients of this delicious summer drink that Anupama prepares: "You could say this combination of ingredients was discovered quite by chance by my mother one day as she set about making the ordinary nimbu pani or serbat as we call it in Marathi."
Pip from Pip in the city: Lemony Buttery Bites
Marce fuses together a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's book and one from Pierre Herme's collection, to create this tart version of a lemon meringue pie, with no meringue: "this tart made my wishes come true. It´s a softer, creamier variation of the lemon curd with no meringue. "
Marta (i.e., me!) from An Italian in The US: Limoncello and Marmellata di Limoni
With the lemons I found at my friend's house in LA, I made a ton of different recipes. I shared this lemon jam and the limoncello drink for the Fresh Produce of the Month event.. Limoncello had a great success! "Making limoncello seems like a hard task, because it takes a long time for it to be done. But mostly, it's just waiting time.. so just be patient, and start tomorrow!!!"
And to finish, I need to add that my mom wants to take part to this event!!
I'm really honored and happy :) She sent me a recipe for 'Faraona con salvia e limone', which is what her mom (my grandma) makes in special occasions. I can witness that it's delicious. Faraona is a bird that I'm not sure if it's easy to find outside Italy. In English it's called 'Guinea fowl'. It's bigger than a chicken, but its flesh is tastier. This recipe suggests baking it with lemon and sage. I'll write it down both in Italian and in English in the 'Read more' part of this post. Grazie, mamma!!!!!!!
There we are, this is the summary for this first event! I'm really happy about it.. there is a collection of great recipes! So great to know and be friend with other food bloggers. I hope everyone enjoyed this event as much as I did :)
For next month, the fresh produce is going to be... Apricots! Here in California, they are already in full season. Travelling back from Yosemite to Berkeley, I saw lots of stands of people selling their super local produces, and apricots were among the most common fruits I could find. I was really happy when I tried some of them, they tasted similar to those I used to have in Italy.. we had two great apricot trees in the backyard of our house in the moutains, and they were often loaded with fruits! So, for me, apricot represents the fruit of the summer, and lots of nice memories.
There are plenty of interesting recipes involving apricots: desserts of every possible type, and even meat, for example, in Indian cuisine! So, I'm really curious to see what you will come up with!
The deadline will be in about one month: July 26th. So, make sure to send me the links to your recipes at chemcookit at gmail dot com.. please put a link to this announcement in your post, and if you like it, add the logo:
(This wonderful image of the apricots on the tree is taken from Wikipedia)
Faraona alla salvia e limone - ricetta di Nonna Giovanna
Prendi una faraona di circa 1kg (anche 1,5 va bene, non di piu' perche' sarebbe troppo grassa), puliscila bene dentro, poi passala interiormente con un po' di olio misto con sale e pepe. Poi riempi la faraona con una grossa manciata di salvia (devi proprio riempirla con la salvia, non solo mettere qualche foglia) e infine comprimi dentro un bel limone intero (con tutta la buccia), possibilmente naturale; chiudi il buco cucendolo con un po’ di filo. Spruzzala con un po' di sale e pepe anche all'esterno. Fa' rosolare la faraona a fuoco vivace in una teglia con burro e olio. Continua poi la cottura in teglia coperta a fuoco basso, girandola ogni tanto, per circa 1 ora e mezza. Se la vuoi piu' asciutta, puoi continuare la cottura in
forno, a bassa temperatura (130 gradi) per circa due ore, bagnando di tanto in tanto con un po' di brodo e con il sugo che colerà dalla cottura. A cottura ultimata taglia la faraona, restringi il fondo e spargilo sui pezzi di faraona. E' squisita e profumatissima! Inoltre la salvia e' proprio di stagione.
Guinea fowl with sage and lemon - Grandma Giovanna's recipe
Take a 1-1.5 kg guinea fowl (or chicken, I suppose, if you can't find the guinea fowl), remove the interiors, clean it, and spread some olive oil, salt and pepper inside. Stuff the fowl with sage (really stuff it, not just a few leaves), then add a whole lemon inside, too (including the peel, so use an organic lemon). Close the hole in the fowl by sawing it a little. Sprinkle salt and pepper also outside. Then, heat up a little olive oil and butter in a tall pan, and 'roast' the fowl in it for ~10 min at high heat, turning it every once in a while. Then, close the lid of the pan, and keep cooking it at lower heat for ~1 hour, turning it from time to time. Alternatively, you can continue to cook the fowl in the oven, for ~2 hours, at low heat (270 F) making sure to sprinkle some of its own juices and some broth on the exterior part of the chicken every now and then. When it's done, cut the chicken into pieces, thicken the sauce by heating it some more, and sprinkle the sauce on the meat. It's delicious, and moreover, sage is in season too!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
The Fresh Produce of the Month event deadline is getting close! I set it as tomorrow, Sunday 19th, but since I won't have time to write the roundup till the weekend after, I decided to postpone the deadline to next Friday, June 22nd. Please send in more entries of your lemon-centered recipes!
Click here for more details about the rules.
I've been super busy this past week, and I didn't even have time to post about this really cool 'event' that we organized last weekend! My friend Andrea who lives in Berkeley also loves to cook and we've been thinking about organizing something for a while. So last weekend we decided to invite a bunch of people over at his place and have a 'Pasta workshop'!
The idea was to make tagliatelle and trofie ourselves, and prepare three different sauces.. whoever wanted to come help was welcome. My Japanese friends Keisuke, Miako and their lovely son came from the very beginning and were some of the most supportive fans of our pasta!
Making pasta for 25 people turned out to be tiring but fun! And the result was really delicious. I was very happy, also because I never made any of that pasta before. Below is a little summary of what we did and the recipes.
We prepared two different types of tagliatelle - one with sapphron in the dough and one with mushroom water in it, because we wanted to give them a little flavor that would go well with the sauce we were planning on making.
Tagliatelle is an egg rich pasta, so don't be surprised for how many eggs you have to put in the dough! It's going to be enough for a lot of servings, anyway.
We also made trofie, which is a type of pasta typical of Liguria, always hand made, and mostly eaten with pesto.
Dough for tagliatelle:
2.6 lb flour
2 tbsp water
Make a 'volcano' with the flour on a big and clean working surface, break the eggs in the volcano hole and start mixing them together with the dough, kneading them in. You should add as little water as possible to this dough, to make it workable. Then you should work it for at least 10 minutes, until it becomes softer and elastic.
Note: to make the sapphron taqliatelle, dissolve 1/2 tsp sapphron in the water, and to make the mushroom flavored tagliatelle, use water where you boiled dry porcini mushrooms instead.
When you're done, wrap the dough in plastic foil and let it rest for one hour.
Dough for trofie:
2.4 lb flour
2 cups water more or less
2 tbsp salt
Mix all the ingredients and knead for at least ten minutes. Add water if necessary. When done, wrap in plastic foil and let it rest for one hour.
Preparation of tagliatelle:
You need a pasta machine like my wonderful 'La Novecento Torino', which belonged to my greatgrandmother, or a more modern and fancy one. :)
This machine can make very thin sheets of flour like this one:
You have to devide the dough into small flat 'squares', and then pass them through
the machine many times decreasing the width of the slit they go through every time.
You probably shouldn't get to the point of having such long pieces like the one I showed in the picture above, but that was for fun. :)
It's very helpful if you have someone like Luisa with you :)
She was passing me the pieces in the right order, so we could go much faster, and decrease the slit width only every few pieces of dough.
Once you have your dough sheets of the right thickness (i.e., for tagliatelle, the smallest setting I had on the machine), you can add the cutting attachment to the machine and start the real fun part: actually making the tagliatelle!
When you pass the dough through the sharp rolls, the tagliatelle come out.. it's such a wonderful view!
Suggestion: add some flour on the dough before cutting it, and sprinkle more flour on the tagliatelle just made. Set them on a large tray so they don't stack on each other, otherwise they will clump and they won't be as good.
This is how fast we were moving them around on the tray to avoid them clumping:
And this is the tray with the sapphron tagliatelle ready to be cooked:
Preparation of trofie:
Another group of us was making trofie. Trofie don't require and particular instrumentation, just a lot of patient friends. :)
(Elif and Vardha at work)
To make trofie, you have to take tiny pieces of dough and roll them either between your fingers or on the table, and obtain those funny little worms that you see in front of Elif above.
Of course now you're only half way done. Good pasta is nothing if you don't have a good sauce. For tagliatelle, we chose to make a zucchini sauce and a mushroom sauce, and trofie go traditionally with pesto. So here are the recipes for the sauces:
10 small white zucchini
1 white onion
1/2 lb small tomatoes (romanitas)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sapphron
~3 tsp salt
Cut the onion and the zucchini in small pieces, heat up the olive oil. Sautee the zucchini for a while. Add the sapphron dissolved in water. Add salt. Cover with a lid and let it cook for ~15 min. At the end, add the tomatoes cut in half. Sautee for a few more minutes, add salt, and it's ready to pour on the pasta.
Porcini mushroom sauce
3 porcini mushrooms
1 lb brown mushrooms
6 small shallots
White wine and mushroom water to cook
Gently scrape the mushroom surface to remove all the dirt. Remove the parts that are too soft. Cut the mushrooms in thin slices and cook them in a little olive oil, on low heat, adding some salt. Add the shallots finely cut, sautee them with the mushrooms for ~5 minutes, then add ~1/2 cup total white wine and mushroom water if you still have some from the dough and let it cook covered for 5-10 more minutes. Pour on the pasta and add some finely cut parseley before serving.
Traditional pesto sauce
This is the recipe for traditional pesto from Liguria. Anywhere else you won't find the green beans and potatoes with pesto. But it's a really nice addition, you should definitely try it.
1 lb green beans
6 small yellow potatoes
1 big bunch basil
1/2 cup pinenuts
4 cloves garlic
a chunk of pecorino (size depending on how much you like it)
Cut the green beans and the onions in small pieces. Cook them in salted boiling water for ~10 min. Drain and cool down with cold water and set aside. In a blender, finely chop basil, pinenuts, pecorino, garlic. Take out of the blender and add enough olive oil to cover well. If you didn't add much pecorino, you may have to add some salt. When the pasta is ready, mix the basil mix and the beans and potato mix with it. Serve hot with trofie for a real Liguria dish.
All the pasta must be cooked in a lot of salted boiling water, turning from time to time to avoid clumping. Tagliatelle take only ~ 3 minutes, whereas trofie take a bit longer. Trofie will start floating after a while, but they'll need to cook a little longer before they're done.
Nicola took care of this part:
When the pasta is cooked, mix with the sauce immediately and serve as soon as possible.
Here is Andrea serving the first pasta that came out:
And here are the final creations!
Tagliatelle con zafferano e zucchini (Sapphron and zucchini tagliatelle):
Tagliatelle ai funghi porcini (Porcini mushroom tagliatelle)
Trofie al pesto
Every time we brought one of these bowls out, they were completely finished in the first 5 minutes. Everyone was really impressed - it's not that common to have fresh pasta here! And to be honest, I was also really impressed. I never made it before, and it was absolutely delicious!
I'm submitting this entry to the "Presto pasta nights" hosted by my friend Ruth at Once Upon a Feast, although the whole pasta making wasn't presto at all: we started at 4.30 pm and we were eating at 8 pm.. but it was a meal for 25 people, starting from scratch! If you buy your pasta, making the sauces I described above is really fast indeed.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
I have been silent all the past week, and didn't even participate to the weekly Presto Pasta or post on my 'spiritual blog', because we had special guests! Lucas's parents came to visit us, and we went with them to Yosemite Park for three days. I absolutely loved it. I was amazed, I wouldn't have ever expected anything like that. I thought we were going to see some trees... and yeah, there were trees, but what trees! And how many other wonderful landscapes and creatures.. I'll summarize the visit in this post, but you can click here to see all my pictures.
We left on Sunday around 10.30 in the morning. On our way, we passed by this amazing field of windmills, which I thought were worth a picture:
We arrived around 3.30 to El Portal, the little town before Yosemite where we had our hotel (we stopped for lunch in Merced, in a nice Mexican restaurant). So, before dinner, we still had time to go for a walk, and see our first fall: Bridal Veil Falls.
Yosemite is well-known for its falls: they all derive from the melting of the snow and of the glaciers, and so they have a nice flow only between March and June-July, more or less. The ones we saw were all amazingly beautiful.
Another thing that hit me favourably was that there are paths for every level of difficulty. For example, getting to the base of Bridal Veil Falls is so easy that even a wheel chair can arrive. And at the same time, there are people who do rock climbing on El Capitan, this huge block or granite:
Before dinner, we stopped by this little 'beach' along the river that crosses the valley. The water was so transparent, and the atmosphere was peaceful and breath taking, close to the sunset.
For dinner, we met Jim's friend, Sam. He invited us to the Restaurant that's at the Yosemite Lodge. It's a very nice place.. since this is also a food blog, I have to post a picture of the Tuna Steak that I had:
Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of our Creme Brulee, which was absolutely delicious.. now I want to try to make it myself. :)
It was a very pleasant evening, I really enjoyed meeting Sam. He knows everything about Yosemite, and he brought us to see Yosemite Falls by night, which was quite an experience. Especially at night, you really feel how powerful the water is, and moves a lot of air, which creates a cold wind.
The day after, we went to the Mariposa Grove, where there are some of the oldest sequoia trees in the world. It's a long drive to get there, but the views are very pretty. This is a place where we stopped, and could see the valley with the Bridal Veil falls:
And just to show at least one picture of us, here we are:
During the drive, we also caught a sight of this graceful creature:
At the Mariposa Grove, again, there are many loops with various levels of difficulty, and even a small train if someone really doesn't want to walk.
The trees are a spectacle hard to imagine. Sequoia trees can live thousands of years. They fall when the roots are too old to bear the weight of the whole tree.
Just in case the dimensions weren't clear, here is Jim as a reference. :)
These next trees are called 'The bachelor and the three graces' - a family of giants. :)
Here they are, again, against the sky.
But this is the tree that really filled me with awe: the Grizzly Giant.
This tree is estimated to be 2700 years old. Its branches are as big as trees, and they fold downward because of their own weight. It's a gigantic creature, the power of which can be felt by approaching it. It's amazing to think that it was born from a very tiny seed.
We left the grove and had lunch at one of the tables close to the Wawona hotel (one of the very expensive hotels that are in Yosemite). I love picnics in the park!
We had a friend at lunch with us:
:) In the afternoon, we drove all the way up to Glacier Point. Again, one can drive and have just an easy walk around the point, like we did, but it's also possible to hike 4 miles all the way up from the valley, like Sam did. :) So, we had it easy (which was probably good for my knees..), and could enjoy with not much effort wonderful views such as these:
Vernal (low) and Nevada (top) falls
The Half Dome.
Yosemite falls (upper and lower), the valley, and the hanging rock.
Another view of the valley, and the steep side of the Half Dome.
And what do you think of this picture? :)
And here is another small creature:
On the last day, we did the most challenging hike, to Vernal Falls. Lucas and I arrived almost to the top (not quite, also because we wanted to test my knees on less than all the 700 steps that we needed to climb to get to the top). The fall is gorgeous, and being so close to it was a powerful experience. Imagine to hear the loud noise of the water falling down, and getting all wet with the cold droplets hitting you.
And what a wonder! When the sun was shining, we saw many raimbows, everywhere, created by the light and the water.
This was our last hike. We left, with the strong desire of coming back soon and visit some more of this huge park. In fact, we saw just a very corner of it.. We also want to go for more challenging hikes, all the way up to Nevada Falls, for example. Hopefully this will happen soon!