My sister in law and I just returned from Venice, Italy where we spent a few days before boarding a cruise on the Aegean Sea with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
We had a wonderful time and since we had both been in Venice several times, I decided to explore some places I’ve not been before.
I’ve tried making it to Morano and Burano on more than one trip, but it just never worked out the way I wanted. This time it was on my top list of priorities. I booked a tour ahead of our arrival on Viator.
One of the highlights of our time on Burano was our guide’s recommendation of a jam packed gelato and shop that is filled with Italian food products and souvenirs.
Oh my goodness! The gelato is amazing!!
I spotted a flavor that I have never seen! Bellini flavored gelato! I had to try it, after all Bellinis are Venice, aren’t they?! My first taste of a real drink made with sparkling wine and white fleshed peaches was at Harry’s Bar in Venice.
The next time you are in Burano, I highly recommend going to Gelato Artigianale! It’s the only place I’ve ever seen Bellini gelato!
The same little shop also carries speciality pastas, limoncello and other Italian products that would make perfect souvenirs!
Wow! I can’t tell y’all how amazed and humbled we are about the awards and accolades we’ve been receiving lately concerning our restaurant! We wanted to be sure to Thank y’all!
Texas Highway Magazine, the official travel magazine of the state of Texas, named my pies third best in the state! What an honor!! I came in behind two cafes with a long tradition of having some of the best pies for longer than I’ve been alive! I’ll take being the newbie in this prestigious group. They also named The Coffee Shop Cafe one of the 40 Best Small Town Cafe’s in Texas! Crazy awesome, huh!?
Then, the restaurant was was given a readers choice award by Waco Today Magazine for having the best breakfast in Waco! Y’all, if you haven’t come out to The Coffee Shop Cafe for breakfast, you are really missing out! We serve breakfast all day and on weekend mornings we have a totally amazing breakfast buffet! All sorts of eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, pancakes, gravy, fruit and lots more. My favorite, migas, are on the buffet too. It’s over at 10:45 AM on Saturday and Sunday, so come early and hungry!
We want to Thank all our friends and customers for voting for us! Without you, we wouldn’t be where we are today!
We also had a really fun honor when the producers from HGTV’s show, Fixer Upper stopped by and filmed part of our decorations for their Christmas special featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines new bed and breakfast in town, Magnolia House. How fun to see a quick flash of our restaurant on their show! Of course, it went by so fast that if you hadn’t ever been to the restaurant before you would have never even known where it was filmed! Haha! Still super cool for Donald and I and for our regular customers that spotted us! We appreciate all of their business with us too. Lots of wonderful people!
There’s just nothing better than Classic Pumpkin Pie
As the temperature drops, fall means pie to me. Pumpkin pie in particular! I’ll admit, it’s one of my weaknesses. It’s a vegetable, after all! Right?
Our forefathers may not have had this classic at the first Thanksgiving, but I don’t know many tables that it does not grace now a days!
This recipe is adapted from the back of every can Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin. It’s the best I’ve ever eaten. There’s no reason to mess with a classic.
By the way, I only use Libby’s. Did you know that most other brands aren’t even real pumpkin? They are actually another type of squash. Check the label to be sure before you buy that store brand to be sure.
I’m sharing the easy pie crust recipe my Grandmother Duty taught me many years ago. I know, I should have added a few more ‘manys,’ but who’s counting anymore? Not me!
Really, it’s easy to make pie crust from scratch. Give it a try!
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz) Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz) evaporated milk
1 unbaked deep dish pie crust
Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl mix sugar and spices together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add the can of pumpkin and sugar/spice mixture to eggs and stir until well blended. Shake can of evaporated vigorously before opening, then add to pumpkin mixture. Stir until well blended and smooth.
Pour custard mixture into pie crust.
Place on baking sheet and then into your preheated oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake an additional 40-50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for at least two hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
My Grandmother’s Pie Crust
One crust for 9 inch pie
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
3 tablespoons cold water
Sift flour and salt together. (I just use a wire whisk to blend and fluff the flour. The air mixed into the flour makes a lighter crust.)
Cut in shortening with a pastry blender, until size of small peas. Sprinkle water over mixture, while tossing quickly with fork, until particles stick together. Form into smooth ball.
Foe ease in rolling out pastry, wrap dough in waxed paper and allow to chill in refrigerator. Lightly roll pastry into circle one inch larger than pie pan. Lift loosely into pie pan. Pat out air. Fold edges under and crimp.
Prick entire crust throughly before baking. This prevents bubbles and excess shrinkage. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and fill.
A simple, fun way to dress up a pie is to use a shaped pastry cutter with a plunger that you lightly press into your rolled out crust. They come in lots of designs, but my favorites are leaves. Very versatile.
Just cut the shapes out with the plunger. Place on a non stick baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. When cooled, add them any way you’d like on top of your pumpkin pie. Be creative!
Is this one of your favorite fall pies too? Do you do something really creative with your pumpkin pie? Share your thoughts below and photos if you have them! I’d love to see yours!
When you make your final payment, just leave an open balance of $100.00 and we will take care of it! Super Simple! Venice is a city not to be missed! One of my favorite places in the world!
Go Ahead is working on our group phone/tablet site so our tour consultant, Emily, told me to pass along her direct line in case anyone would like any information at all since it still isn’t working. Her number is 617 6191516 and you can give her my name, Valerie Citrano or our group tour number 68796229. The site seems to be working on my laptop and desk top computer. Hope you are able to go with us! It will be a lot of fun!
You are invited!
We will be holding a short meeting this Saturday, October 17, 2015 at our restaurant, The Coffee Shop Cafe in McGregor, Texas to talk about our trip to Italy next May! It will begin at 2:00 and last till about 3:30.
If you can’t make it this Saturday, you can still sign up to go with us! It does not matter where in the world you live, you can meet up and join our small group! Learn more about out trip right here on my blog where you can also click over to our Go Ahead Tours web page
I am so excited to be able to share Italy with you! It’s an experience that you won’t want to miss!
A side trip I’d love to take you on to Florence if you’d like.
Our Italy 2016 group tour web site where you can view the itinerary, the base price and choose the options you’d like to add on like the extension in Venice, extra excursions and to price your airfare from your nearest airport. Just click here and begin dreaming of Italy: Go Ahead Tours: Coffee Shop Travel Club
Turino is our first stop on our Food & Wine: Northern Italy and the Italian Riviera small group tour in May. We will be treated to a tour of this beautiful city and still have plenty of time to explore on our own.
Many people say that Turin matches the beauty of Paris. Even so, it hadn’t really been on my list of places to visit, that is until I read a press release from the Holy See’s office in the Vatican.
In 2010 there was a special exhibition of the Shroud of Turin. This was extremely unusual. The shroud is historically only brought out for showing once every ten years and even then it is very difficult to get into the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to see it.
Growing up and through the years, I had read several books about the shroud, the Templar Priests and the scientific communities fascination with studying this 14 foot piece of cloth whom some believe covered the body of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. I’ll admit, it absolutely fascinates me too. Is it real or is it one of the best forgeries ever known to man? Either way, I wanted to see it for myself.
Pope Benedict XVI was set to go to Turin and view the shroud along with holding a mass in the city’s center. I had applied for media credentials from the Vatican several years earlier, before our first trip to Rome, and had photographed Pope John Paul II. So, I gave the press office a call and secured credentials and passes for myself and my husband to to go to the shroud’s limited viewing. The same day that I had read that press release, I had credentials, passes to see the shroud and had booked our flights to go to Turin, Italy!!!
That’s how we ended up spending a week in Italy’s ‘Paris.’ Beautiful Turino.
The city center, with its beautiful buildings and statues were enchanting. Walking there in the evenings felt like walking through the movie, The Da Vinci Code. I expected to run into Tom Hanks around every corner.
This trip, I really want to take a tour of the palace. There were just too many pilgrims in town on our last visit. The line was terribly long! Glad we will have another chance to see Turin again!
A Chocoholic’s dream
At breakfast our first morning at our hotel, we chatted with a couple who were there not to see the Pope or the shroud. They had come from England for Turin’s famous chocolate. Oh my goodness! Yes, chocolate! Come to find out, there were shops after shops with lovely, delicious CHOCOLATES! And they happily give out samples on small silver trays!
Donald never met a chocolate he didn’t like! This was heaven on earth. There was also the thickest hot chocolate that we had ever drank and come to find out, Nutella is manufactured in Turin!
So much more
Turin was the home of the winter Olympics in 2006, is the home of Fiat and Alfa Romero Automobiles and is situated near the Alps. It is only a 40 minute train ride from Milan.
To learn more about Turin, it’s history and architecture, visit Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turin
So now we are going back to the jewel that is Turin and I couldn’t be happier! More on our trip to Italy in May of 2016. Booking will be closing soon!!
Is there a food that sometimes you lay awake at night and dream about? A dish that you’ve had that you compare all others that you try in different restaurants to?
Well, thats what the Spaghetti Carbonara at Ciro & Sons in Florence, Italy is to me. My dream plate of food. One of the best things I’ve ever eaten!
Have you ever tried Spaghetti Carbonara? My first time to try this luscious dish was at Ciro & Sons on our very first visit to Italy. I had never even heard of it before! I still can’t believe I had missed out for most of my life! Sigh!
After a really long day of traveling by train from Paris we checked into our hotel and I’ll tell ya, we were starving! Enough of the cheese crackers and fruit gummies! We were ready for some good Italian food! We set out walking and stumbled across this quaint, very Italian eatery at the end of the block. My husband and I were seated at a long family style table and immediately brought bread and garlic marinated olives which were exceptional! Garlic. Olives. Olive oil. What a simple idea! Yes, I’ve copied it over and over at home for the last fifteen years!
Then we were brought our pasta. My husband ordered his favorite, Pesto Spaghetti, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Then he tried my dish of carbonara and he was in love too! Love at first bite.
Bacon and eggs. Thats basically, in American terms, what carbonara is. Of course, in the heart of Tuscany, Bacon and eggs holds a whole new meaning. Here it is local pancetta, garlic, locally grown and pressed olive oil and farm raised eggs which are expertly blended into a creamy sauce covering freshly made, perfectly cooked pasta. Al dente Perfection! Who needs tomato sauce?
But they have tomato sauce too. Their pizza is out of this world. That oven is hot!
I’ve been back countless times over the years. One August, we had taken my youngest daughter with us to Italy and made Florence our home base. I rented a little apartment on the same street as the restaurant and planned to enjoy as many meals as we could while there. How disappointing it was that they were closed for their vacation all of August! Lots of businesses in Europe close during August for their vacations! My bad! I know now. Now you do too! Don’t go to Europe in August. Ciro and Sons will not be open. Too bad we can’t close our own restaurant for a whole month and travel! Our customers wouldn’t like that one bit and neither would our employees! Oh well.
On my last trip to Italy, I planned a stop in Florence just to take my sister to Ciro and Sons. They were open. I made sure to check on their Facebook page. It was wonderful. I was so happy. My sister loved it too. Just like me, she began comparing their pasta to others we tried along our travels. One nice version we both tried while in Nice, France (catch the pun?) was good but just did not make the cut. It was good though.
We will be going again next May, 2016. I’m taking a group this time. I’m planning on making a special diversion on our trip to Ciro and Sons. Must share the love. Now… where will we park that tour bus?
We can’t travel to Florence every time I dream of Carbonara. Obviously. One day I turned on Oprah’s TV show and she had Tom Cruise on as a guest. To my absolute amazement, he did a cooking segment and made his favorite recipe. Thats right! Pasta carbonara. We both have good taste. Now. I make my best friend Tom’s favorite pasta dish. We are friends, right? We must be since we love it so much. Definitely worth jumping up and down on a couch for!
In a frying pan, combine 1/2 inch of olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, one chopped onion and the Italian bacon cut into small squares. Let simmer for about a half-hour, being careful not to let the oil get to a boiling point.
In a bowl, beat 4 eggs with lots of salt and fresh ground pepper.
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Cook both packages of spaghetti until al dente, drain and immediately add egg mixture to pasta. The eggs are actually cooked by the pasta. (Make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked before proceeding.) Stir the egg mixture until it is well mixed. Pour in the mixture from the frying pan and stir. Finish with the Parmesan cheese and serve!
Makes 4 servings
So, what are some of the best things you’ve ever eaten?
I may be known for baking some of the best made from scratch pies in the state of Texas, but did you know I've been a professional photographer for about 40 years now? Yikes!! That's a long time!! This blog is about combining my love of food, photos and traveling. I invite you to come along on my journey!