Sunday, October 20, 2013

Howe Street Stairs Workout

After living on Capitol Hill for almost 4 years I finally embraced the Howe Street Stairs. I start on the 10th and go down to Lakeview Blvd E and back 5 times, which takes me about 25 minutes.  Map link is here. I counted about 260-270 stairs. Great quick cardio workout outside.

Pan Fried Trout

Recently I have been buying trout, filleting and pan frying it. It is quick and makes for a nice meal.


2 trout fillets
Olive Oil


Drench trout in flour. Salt on both sides to taste. On medium heat pan fry trout in olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) skin side down first for about 2 minutes until skin starts getting brown and crispy. Flip the trout and cook another 2-3 minutes until trout is done. Take off the heat. Serve with a salad, vegetables and/or favorite starch. I served it with arugula tomato salad, braised eggplant with tomatoes and black rice with shrimp and zucchini.

Black Rice with Shrimp and Zucchini

While in Italy I had black rice with shrimp and zucchini and thought it would be a nice dish to make at home. I brought a few pounds of black rice with me back to the U.S. But you can buy it at most high end grocery stores in Seattle or online. Below is the recipe I used - it is very simple. The hardest part is to cook the rice.


1 cup of black rice
2.5 cups of water
1 cup of cooked small shrimp
2 or 3 small zucchini, chopped

Olive Oil
Fresh parsley


1. Rinse rice in cold water before cooking. Combine rice, water, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and let rice cook for about 45-50 minutes stirring and checking to make sure it is not burning. I tasted it to make sure the rice was cooked.

2. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. One medium heat fry zucchini until it starts to get brown, then cover, turn heat to low and let cook for another 15 minutes or until it is done.

3. Combine rice, shrimp and zucchini in a big bowl. Taste for salt. Garnish with finely chopped parsley. It is also good cold.

Italy in September - Part V Pompeii and Pizza in Naples

While on Amalfi Coast we took a one day trip to Pompeii. We drove our Fiat there. Drive was slow because of the windy roads. There was a parking lot right next to the ruins. Visit to Pompeii Ruins took us about 2 hours and we used Rick Steves' offered route to explore this ancient city.

Walking among the ruins is breathtaking. You cannot help but feel transported back in time when this used to be a lively city. It is amazing how well preserved ruins are. Few pictures below.

We walked passed the living rooms with painted windows on the walls, bathhouses, brick ovens, Egyptian temple, brothel, fast food joints.

Another interesting attraction is stray dogs that seem to be chilaxing everywhere.

After visiting Pompeii we decided to take a train to Naples for the Neapolitan pizza. We chose to leave our car parked near Pompeii Ruins and take a train to Naples. Train Station Pompeii Scavi is conveniently located next to the Ruins. Train ride was 40 minutes and cost less than 5 euro per person. It is a commuter train called Circumvesuviana.

Train ride is an experience as well. The outside has graffiti, inside is crowded with teenagers and workers coming from/to the suburbs, views include slums outside of Naples. Train Station area was dirty and full of street merchants selling fake Fendi and LV bags and sunglasses.

We walked to L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele - recommended by Rick Steves and by Eat, Pray, Love. We got there around 2 p.m. and saw a huge crowd outside. You can do a take out but we decided to take a ticket and wait for a table. The wait was about 1 and 40 minutes, which also included 30 minutes to be served inside. We just got there at a bad time - shift change.

There is a system in how they serve their customers. They let people in, take orders and then make everyone's pizza. Each pizza is in the oven no more than 2 minutes. There is a menu on a wall and they serve only two kinds of pizza: Margherita and Marinara.

Pizza had a distinct flavor but nothing mind blowing. Most people eat it with a fork and a knife. Pizza is 4-5 euro depending on how much topping you have. We had two pizzas, water and a beer for 12 euro - cheap eat!!!! And most importantly mission of tasting real Neapolitan Pizza in Naples is accomplished.

We walked back to the train station and took a 5 p.m. train back to Pompeii, left Pompeii around 6 p.m. and got back to Praiano after 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Influences of Italian Vacation at home - Bruschetta and Porcinis

While on vacation in Italy I got into a habit of eating bruschetta. I love tomatoes with salt and olive oil and having that bread soak up the tomato juice. There is nothing complicated about making bruschetta - chop fresh, firm tomatoes, add just a little bit of finely chopped fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt, mix and put over toasted or grilled white bread. Yes, white bread - hope my trainer Matt is not reading this. Wholewheat will work too.

In Italy salads are served without a dressing. You are given balsamic vinegar and olive oil on a side to add as much or as little as you want. Good habit to have.

Last night I also fried fresh porcinis that I got at the U-district farmers market. I used the same recipe as when I fry chanterelles - shallot, salt and olive oil. They came out delicious! The porcinis we had in Italy were roasted but I like my mushrooms to be well cooked so they are not spongy.

Roasting Romanesco Cauliflower

More and more I see romanesco cauliflower in the stores and farmers markets. It looks cool - spiky, green. Last weekend I bought few of them to cook. I decided to roast it the same way as I do regular cauliflower.

The recipe is simple - slice cauliflower into thin enough pieces that still hold together at a stem, spray generously with an oil spray (or use regular olive oil), roast at 425F for about 50 minutes to an hour turning once. In the end it turned out good but I still like regular cauliflower more because it has a sweeter taste.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Italy in September - Part IV Hiking Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods) on Amalfi Coast

You know the feeling like you had the best day in your life. This is how I felt that Friday when we hiked the Path of the Gods trail from Praiano to Positano. We started out at our Hotel Onda Verde and went uphill through the town of Praiano passing the houses, gardens, stores and churches.

Slowly we left the town and stunning views of Amalfi Coast and Positano opened up.

While hiking we heard the birds sing and church bells ring. Along the way we saw grapes, fig and olive trees.

The hike continued on and on. 

We took hotel's recommendation and stopped for lunch at La Tagliata in Positano. It could not have come at a better time. After hiking for 3.5 hours we were ready for a nice meal. There was no printed menu but we were offered a light lunch. We started with a large antipasto - cured meats, mozzarella, tomatoes, marinated eggplant, sauteed spinach, peas, chickpeas, eggplant parmesan, beans and few more items. This was followed by pasta and dessert, which included shots of limoncello. All the dishes looked like they were ready for a photo shoot for the Saveur Magazine. Judge yourself. The cost for all this plus a beer, water and coffee was 50 euro for two. For me this was the best meal during the whole trip.

We still had about another hour plus to go down to the Positano town. Once there we stopped at a ceramics store and bought few bowls.

From Positano we took a local bus back to our hotel in Praiano. You really have to push your way to get on a bus. They run infrequently and are packed with tourists and locals.