European Adventures: Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain

P1050415Buongiorno! Here’s another post on the Eternal City, and this time we explore two more famous sights – the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. I was really looking forward to visiting both of these places, and I was quite disappointed that both of them were under restoration. Well, I just have to go back to Rome another time!

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The Fontana di Trevi is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the considered by many as the most beautiful in the world. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome (TreviFountain.net). Even though the fountain was under restoration, there was still a place where tourists could throw in their coins. Of course, I didn’t pass up the chance to throw in a coin or two into the fountain. I want to go back to Rome and see the Fontana di Trevi!

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We also visited the Spanish Steps, another must see place in Rome. It is also known as “Scalina Spagna,” and it has an irregular butterfly design consisting of 138 steps placed in a mix of curves, straight flights, vistas and terraces. They connect the lower Piazza di Spagna with the upper piazza Trinita dei Monti, with its beautiful twin tower church dominating the skyline. (Rome on a Segway)

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We were also invited by my mom’s friend to eat at their place, and we happily obliged. They prepared a delicious and hearty Italian meal for us, serving us cheese, bread, fruits, pasta, roast beef, and wine. DSC02686They also brought us to a nearby gelato place, and I think we had the best gelato here! P1050397P1050408We also stopped by Pontificio Collegio Filippino, where Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle celebrated mass, in line with the Filipino Independence Day. It was great to be with Filipinos, we had a taste of home after weeks of traveling. P1050458DSC02691IMG_2891

Thank you to Tita Narcisa and her son Longines for the delicious lunch and for the warm welcome. Much thanks to Sister Pierette for accompanying us during our stay in Rome.

To read other posts on our European adventures, click on the following links:

 

European Adventures: Mediterranean Cruise

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Before I continue with our last destination (Civitavecchia for Rome) on this cruise, I’d like to share some of our photos aboard the ship. It was my first time to experience a cruise, and it really exceeded my expectations!

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If it weren’t for the sights awaiting at each destination, I could’ve stayed aboard the ship for a whole week and not get bored. There are multiple swimming pools, lounges, spa, sports facilities (table tennis, basketball, golf), a theater with live production shows, movie nights (with free popcorn) and other activities onboard.

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Oh, and did I mention the food? The food is divine! Aside from the reserved seats for dinner wherein we were served every night, the buffet is available all-throughout the day, there are restaurants and counters around the ship offering pizza, ice cream, burgers, hotdogs, etc, and 24-hour room service too!

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These are just some of the many plates we devoured during our week-long cruise. The food presentation is amazing!

Another amazing thing about being on a cruise was the view. Aside from the calming blue waters of the ocean, we also got the chance to see different ports and cities. We also witnessed beautiful sunsets.

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I really enjoyed my first time (and hopefully not the last!) aboard a cruise ship. It was like a dream, everything was perfect! Of course, what made the experience special and so much more memorable was the company of my family. I had so much fun bonding with them! I’d love to cruise in Glacier Bay, Alaska or North Sea, Europe next time. For now, I’ll just have to relive my memories of cruising in the Mediterranean.

To read other posts on our European adventures, click on the following links:

European Adventures: Barcelona (Day 3)

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So… this is the last post on the Barcelona (and Spain) leg of our European adventures! It was difficult to say ‘adios!’ to this beautiful city and country, because we had so much fun touring and appreciated everything about the place. Looking at the bright side, we had more cities to explore in the coming days!

We only had a few hours left on our last day, and we spent the morning packing our things. After our check out, we still had time to visit a nearby attraction – the Arc de Triomf.

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The “Arc de Triumph” was build as the entrance to the World Exposition in 1888. Around the arc, the emblem of Barcelona and the Spanish provinces had been affixed.

DSC01418IMG_5341We took a few photos and then proceeded to our last stop – the cruise terminal. Leaving Barcelona was difficult, but boarding a cruise ship was very exciting. It was my first time!DSC01427After our check-in, we boarded the cruise ship. Of course, we took a few photos to document the experience!DSC01434DSC01437Our ship’s name was Emerald Princess – very fancy! Upon entering the ship, we proceeded to the buffet to have our welcome lunch. The cruise was perfect for big eaters like my brothers and I – we had so many choices. Aside from the buffet which was available almost all day, we also had a sit-down dinner every night. There were also other restaurants available on deck, as well as pizza and ice cream! Oh and I almost forgot, room service for 24 hours. Food heaven!DSC01445DSC01444

The ship itself was beautiful, and it was so large. I just felt so grateful to be there! It was going to be an exciting week full of new experiences. Next stop, France!

To read other posts on our European adventures, click on the following:

Mini Chocolate-Dipped Doughnuts

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I’m back with another post! It’s been over a month since I last updated my blog and I can say that I truly missed baking/cooking/blogging! School has been keeping me busy and I really can’t find the time to update my blog. The Philippines, especially Luzon, has been experiencing horrible weather (heavy rains and floods) for about 3 days now, so our classes have been suspended since Monday. I am hoping and praying that the weather improves in the coming days and that everyone is safe!

Since I have no classes, I decided to test the doughnut maker that my mom bought. It makes 7 mini doughnuts per batch. I searched for an online recipe and found this. The taste isn’t exactly the same as store-bought doughnuts since the recipe does not call for yeast. Nonetheless, they’re delicious!

Mini Doughnuts

(makes 28 doughnuts)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125 g butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients – butter, egg and milk and beat until mixture is thick, smooth and creamy.
  3. Pre-heat the doughnut maker for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Spoon 2 teaspoons of the mixture evenly into each mould. Close the lid.
  5. Cook for 3 minutes or until the doughnuts are golden brown and soft to touch.
  6. Carefully remove the doughnuts and cool for a few minutes.

My mom made a chocolate sauce to dip the doughnuts in using cocoa powder, sugar and a little bit of flour. Thanks Mama!

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Pesto

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Pesto. Delicious, easy to make and you can adjust it to suit your taste. For a basic pesto, you will need fresh basil, pine nuts (or walnuts), garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. There are a lot of recipes available online, like this. You can use pesto for a lot of things – pasta, chicken, bread, pizza, etc.

We had chicken pesto pasta made with spinach fettuccine for dinner. Here are some photos:

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Bicolandia Part 1

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Last April, my mom, two brothers and I traveled to the Bicol region. Our destination – Legazpi City!

We woke up early morning to catch our flight from Manila to Legazpi. When we arrived at the Legazpi Airport, the first thing that greeted us was none other than the Mayon Volcano! The cabin crew told us to refrain from taking pictures along the tarmac of the airport, and they were right. The whole time we were in Legazpi, Mayon never left our sight!

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The view just outside our room. Majestic Mayon indeed.

We stayed at The Oriental and just outside our room, we can see the beautiful Mayon Volcano. After we checked in, we took pictures with the majestic Mayon right away. It’s a good thing that we did, because that was the only time during our stay that the sky was clear and there were no clouds blocking the volcano’s tip. It was a great sight to see – Mayon’s perfectly shaped cone! Our room was also in the same floor as the infinity pool, which was awesome.

ImageThe infinity pool at The Oriental 

ImageBigg’s Diner in Legazpi, Albay

We were treated to lunch at Bigg’s Diner, said to be the biggest food chain in Bicol. They serve American cuisine with Filipino influences. I ordered Baby Back Ribs, which was served with java rice and mixed vegetables. I think it was good, especially for the affordable price. (PhP 220) The only letdown was the service in this restaurant. It was slow considering that it was a fast food restaurant and the crew seemed to be overwhelmed with the number of customers.

ImageBaby Back Ribs served with java rice and mixed vegetables

After taking a quick rest, we went on an adventure like no other – riding ATVs!

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I actually rode an ATV with my brother instead of going for the one-seater vehicle. It was definitely a fun experience and I would be willing to repeat it again!

ImageEven while riding an ATV, you can still see Mount Mayon!

ImageDinner at Alvi’s Albay Cafe

After riding on ATVs, our next stop was Alvi’s Albay Cafe where we had a delicious dinner! The place is actually the ancestral house of the Imperial family, known in politics. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take pictures of the food they served because we were so hungry. The food was great and I will definitely dine here if I ever visit Albay again.

During this trip, we also went to Caramoan, Camarines Sur. I will write about it in another post!

Until we meet again, Legazpi.

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Baked Macaroni

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Here’s my first blog post about food! So last night, I made baked macaroni for dinner. My brothers and I love this dish so I thought it would be nice to make this for us!

I followed La Kusina’s Baked Macaroni Recipe, making only a few changes. It’s pretty easy to make!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 pack/400 grams of macaroni 
  • cheese (as much as you’d like)

Red Sauce:

  • ½ kg ground beef
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 pieces laurel leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • cheese
  • cooking oil

White Sauce:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 ½ cup chicken stock (I used water with chicken broth cubes)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup

Directions:

1. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. Usually it’s around 10-11 minutes. I actually used penne pasta for this dish.

2. In a pan, sauté the garlic and onion.

3. Add the ground beef to the pan. Optional: You may also add sweet ham or bacon.

4. Mix in the tomato sauce, ketchup, and laurel leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the sauce thickens.

5. Mix the red sauce with the cooked macaroni.

6. To cook the white sauce, melt the butter in a separate pan.

7. Add the flour and allow to cook. Mix in the milk, chicken stock and cream of mushroom.

8. Let the sauce thicken.

9. To assemble, place the macaroni (already mixed with the red sauce) in the baking dish. Pour the white sauce over it, completely covering the macaroni. Top it with as much grated cheese as you would like.

10. Place it inside a preheated oven with a temperature of 350˚F and bake it for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

ImageCooking the pasta

ImageRed sauce

ImageWhite sauce

ImagePenne pasta mixed with the red sauce

ImageAssembling the baked macaroni (with the help of our yaya)

ImageAssembled! Now ready to go inside the oven.

ImageInside the oven for 20-30 minutes

ImageThe finished product!

ImageA serving of baked macaroni