Florence, Italy

Florence | Firenze | The Best

We can officially say both of us have been to Florence, but separate times.  K was able to study abroad in this beautiful city during her junior year at UCSB.  Now T got to experience it for herself.  All those years k talked about how much she loved this city and T now knows why.  And for our readers – here is why:

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Day Trip to Siena, Italy

T.W.O. had the opportunity to take a day trip to Siena for business.  Short on time and unlucky weather, T. was able to see the famous square where the Palio takes place each year, have a proper lunch, tour the Duomo, wonder the small streets of the Tuscan town and most importantly get a gelato! Here are some snapshots from her adventure.

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Rome, Italy

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ROMA, ITALIA

Most recently, half of T.W.O. got to travel to Rome for work – first time for T and it won’t be the last! Though only one of us went, that didn’t mean K wasn’t there with her in spirit. Like always – an itinerary was set and restaurants were researched.  Here are some of the highlights of the trip!

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Coffee Gelato

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Envision this….you are walking down the streets in Firenze towards the Duomo and you want to satisfy your sweet tooth – no problem.  Turn the corner past The Oil Shoppe and there is a gelateria.  Only 2 euros for two scoops – perfect…thats change right!? What flavors shall you pick?  In this post, T.W.O. recreates the authentic Italian coffee gelato.  It’s very similar minus the cobble stone streets and the outstanding architecture.  Thats amore – lets travel to ITALIA!


Coffee Gelato

Ingredients:
– 5 egg yolks
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 1/2 cups whole milk
– 2 Tablespoon vanilla
– 1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water

Directions:
1. Whisk yolks in a large bowl until blended and fluffy.
2. Bring milk to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk hot milk into egg mixture; then whisk in espresso mixture and vanilla.
3. Return mixture to saucepan. Stir over medium heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 8 minutes (Be careful not to boil).
4. Refrigerate the custard until cold, about 3 hours.
5. Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
6. Freeze in covered container. For best results let is freeze for 24 hours.



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Margherita Pizza with Homemade Sauce

 

imageFriday Night Pizza Night with T.W.O. – yes its already that time again! This week, we are featuring a margherita pizza with home sauce. Don’t be intimidated – it’s a beginner’s recipe that tastes like a million dollars! Enjoy your pizza making!


Margherita Pizza with Homemade Sauce

Ingredients:

– 1 pizza dough
– 1 can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
– 2-3 cups fresh mozzarella, sliced
– 8 leaves basil
– 3 cloves garlic, diced
– 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
– 2 teaspoons garlic powder
– 2 teaspoons cornstarch
– Salt
– Pepper
– Flour
– Cornmeal

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 415°.
  2. Roll out pizza dough on a floured/cornmeal surface. Transfer to a greased cookie sheet.
  3. Pour the tomatoes in a bowl. Chop up the whole tomatoes into quarters.
  4. Add to a heated skillet lined with olive oil. Sprinkle in garlic powder, salt and pepper. Slowly add cornstarch after the sauce has reached a bowl. Reduce heat and stir consistently. The sauce should thicken. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the sauce to the top of the pizza dough. Top with garlic cloves. Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the garlic along with the fresh basil.
  6. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the pizza sit for 2-4 minutes. Cut and serve.

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Cheers to another great Friday Night Pizza Night!

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Hats Off to Traveling

If you haven’t already noticed, T.W.O. enjoys traveling.  And like most people, we usually get a souvenir  (well actually, we should say souvenirs) when we travel! One of those souvenirs has to be a hat. Yes – a hat.  It’s an item that we will wear the rest of our trip and get to bring it back home to the States.  Beach hat, winter hat, ball cap – doesn’t matter! Here are some of our favorite hats we got a long the way.

Costa Rica:

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The Caribbean:

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Lake McClure:

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Palm Springs/ Stagecoach:

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Tahoe:

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Angel Games:

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Italy:

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italy,germany 280Spain:

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barcelona-kay

Happy Travels!!!

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VJB Vineyards & Cellars

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Wine. Pizza Oven. Deli. Gelato. Music.  VJB Cellars has it all!  Not only is their wine delicious, the atmosphere in their piazza is excellent.  T.W.O. has been going to VJB for many years and takes all their visitors to this family-owned Kenwood winery.

Meet the Belmonte’s

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Vittorio, Henry and Maria Belmonte are the family members who started this winery.  Just about every weekend, you can see at least one of them roaming around the piazza.  Like every visit to VJB, Vittorio and the staff greet us with open arms, just as if we were family. When in Italy…or should I say VJB!

The Piazza

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The piazza is an open aired patio that is identical to the ones in a small, Italian town.  With a pizza kitchen on one end and long tables on the other, it is a great place to enjoy lunch and some wine on a beautiful day. The food is excellent.  Pizza, ribs, paninis and sandwiches are all made fresh to order.  T.W.O. highly suggests the traditional margarita pizza.  If you decide to go to VJB on the weekend, you can expect live music in the piazza.  Close your eyes and you will think you are in Italy!

The Deli

The deli has everything from cold meats, fresh salads, and cheese that you can order to go or to enjoy in the piazza.  Don’t forget to pick up some of Maria’s pasta sauce on the way out- it is delicious!

The Tasting Room + VJB Wines

Now to taste some delicious wines! Prosecco, Rose, Zinfandel, Montepulciano, Cabernet, Rosso Family Blend, Dante, Sangiovese and Barbara are some of the varietals you will see at VJB. Even though T.W.O. enjoys all of the wines at VJB, their favorites are the Barbara and the Dante.

Gelateria

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After an afternoon of live music, pizza and some great Italian wine- why not end it with some gelato! The dark chocolate is phenomenal!!

IMG_1965*This photo was taken on a previous trip to VJB with more of our family!

Cheers to VJB Cellars and a T.W.O. favorite winery.  Thank you to the Belmonte Family for welcoming our family to your winery and making us feel like we are at home every time!

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The Traveling T.W.O. Journal

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Travel journals have been around since the beginning of time. The pioneers kept journals while traveling to the West to document their hardships, sightings and experiences to the new unexplored land.  Many of these journals have been used to learn more about history and many were lost in the rough, leaving unanswered questions.  Today, T.W.O. has adapted the same concept with their travels around the world.

Before every big trip, T.W.O. buys a journal to document their memories and capture their favorite quotes and experiences. The journal selection process is important; you just can’t select a book with paper in it. Below are some requirements that are needed:

– Hard cover
– Memorable quote or picture on the front, depicting the trip
– Wire ring binding
– 70+ pages

The main idea of the travel journal is to write about each day’s activities so that you can remember everything years later. Hotel and restaurant names, shopping stores and city neighborhoods are all noted in the book.

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T.W.O. uses the travel journal to suggest places to friends and family traveling to the same destination.  The most important part of the book is the “scrapbook” section, which has restaurant business cards, post cards, wine bottle labels, maps and anything else that comes across the way during T.W.O.’s travels.  (There is even a smudge of chocolate from a croissant T.W.O. had in Paris in the travel journal!) Scotch tape is important to bring along so you can tape the items into the book that same day.

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At the end of the trip, T.W.O. recaps their favorite memories and quotes.  T.W.O. finds it important to document these experiences as soon as you can because as time goes own, details are forgotten.  And just like the pioneers, these journals will be passed to future generations.  From wagons, to cars, to trains to planes, we will see what the next century brings!

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Happy Travels!!!!T.W.O. signature