EMILIANO & JAEHEE
emiliano@lacasapark.com  917 406 2854
jaehee@lacasapark.com  917 373 1548
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IMG_3653Giovinazzo by night. A view from a locale, Ecclesia.

Now it  has been already 2 years since Emi and I had visited beautiful Puglia. First encounter with Mamma Lucia and her gorgeous Bocconotti, Love at first sight in Poligano, Endless night wonder at Giovinazzo, pretty white city Ostuni, exotic distinctive Puglia’s architecture : Trulli at Albero BelloSo much beauties in so little time then, it definitely made us want to come back to Puglia to see more. And here we are back to explore down further south through Lecce and on. Stay tuned for “The next Toscana of Italy”, Puglia!

IMG_3674Sweet moment. Truly it is an “Open” bar  with a view of the port behind. After a day of long lunch with Beppe’s family, running in the park and the gorgeous dinner filled with plenty of fresh Riccotta di Bufala at the piazza of Giovinazzo, here we are stopping by for some cocktails and friends. The bar is located on the tip of fort at historical town and it’s elevated location gives you plenty of cool sea breeze and  amazing view to the town.

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IMG_3669Beppe and Emi

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IMG_3685The time goes by, it get’s more lively. The music is going and people are dancing. Kids are running around and everything is just cool.

IMG_3679There are enough of sitting and lounging area and you can also have some food here as well. Gael fell asleep on a chair…

IMG_3668Gaetano. He’s a friend of Beppe and the owner of this cool bar, Eclessia.

IMG_3700Walking the night away. The breeze tingles you around.. It’s so perfect!

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IMG_3635The lively piazza of Giovinazzo. It’s almost like a Christmas here! There are many little festivals throughout many cities and towns of Italy this time around. Notte Bianca, Sagre… Tonight, there was a parade of people in historical costumes through the town of Giovinazzo.

IMG_3632Streets are blocked from the cars and literally everyone is out and about!

IMG_3638Made through a big crowd and waiting for a dinner!

IMG_3643Spec and Ricotta salata. Wait for the next one!

IMG_3644Fresh Riccota of Bufala. ( Buffalo in English)  This melts in your mouth. Sssso light! So milky! So smooth but not dense. Airy, fresh and just delicious!

IMG_3648Gael loves anchovy and olives. So Italian he is. Cheese~!

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Nite Nite….!

IMG_2385Peaking through the lush Pine bush at Cala Violina, Maremma, Italy

You juts fall in love at the first sight! What can I say. She’s this perfectly sized cozy little bay hidden behind beautiful Campo di Girasole, the Sunflower field from the main road. It costs you walking about 1.5 km to get to the actual beach once you get to the main parking lot which city runs. Only 250 cars are allowed in that parking lot which means about only little more than 1000 people can be allowed on the beach. Actual walking isn’t too bad and it’s all worth it. Apart from this beautiful crystal clear water of the bay, but also impressively lush pine bush is another reason why you want to be there. Beautiful cool shade that Pine bush makes is a perfect lunch spot and relaxing and it makes Cala Violina to be the ideal day trip destination!

Cala Violina is situated in Gulf of Follonica which is the heart of Natural reserve of Bandite di Scarlino as you can sense it from controlled parking lot and the amount of the cars that are allowed in there is pretty much untouched.  There’s saying floating around where the name of this bay had come from. It say when you walk upon the sand , it emits musical notes like the sound of a violin..? Hmmm…  Not sure if that is true, but Cala Violina is a definitely unspoiled cutest little bay you feel like you are detached from the rest of the world. If you are happened to be in Maremma, You shouldn’t miss this little beautiful spot!

IMG_2425Driving through the Sunflower field of Cala Violina. So beautiful!

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IMG_2428I love you Sunflowers!

IMG_2388Access to the beach!  And I am absolutely loving the grand scene of pine bush! So gorgeous!

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IMG_2392You can totally bring your cooler filled with all the goodies but remember you need to walk about 1.5 km to get to the beach from the designated Parking lot to access the beach. There are many picnic tables under the Pine filed once you get to the beach where you can get out from the sun and relax a bit having your lunch. Otherwise, you can also order good sandwiches and salad from the one and only food truck, ” Cala Violina” below!

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IMG_2396Getting closer!

IMG_2399Yeah Baby! Crystal clear water and white sand. Water is amazing!

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IMG_2511The young Italian at Sunset Cafe, Marina di Pisa, Italy

“Aperitivo” in Italy is one loaded  word  which describes layers of Italian culture in only 8 letters.  Relaxed mind, food and socializing. “Happy Hour” wouldn’t quite justify what Aperitivo does. People take time on Aperitivo. Especially the Young Italian. You will go to dinner after but you get to nibble on some real good appetizers.  All the local places will serve nice range of complimentary snacks along your order of drinks. Mostly like in a buffet style. They will serve all sort of things like riso freddo (rice salad), pastas, dips and cheese, olives, fruits, nuts and even cold cuts if you are in better places.  So actually drinks come bit more expensive but you also get great deal of nice nibbles.

But this is not the only reason why Aperitivo works differently from Happy Hour.  I think it’s the mind set. The mentality. Peace in your mind. Aperitivo is a Nice Stylish Break after a long day at work or even all day of playing at the beach if it happens to be the nice hot summer weekend.  You have taken a refreshing shower already and put on a clean outfit after the day of whatever that was and you step out of the house with recharged body and soul. And you are ready to mingle now. A sweet one. You meet up and plan for the dinner or even for the night or whatever next thing is. You catch up sipping on glass of prosecco or delicious cocktails with friends and family. It’s really a nice time. Life feels real good here. There will be good music there some times even the live one.  Any hot new Aperitivo spot is a definitely a good deal to talk about.

Especially when it comes to one just like the ” Sunset Cafe”  in Marina di Pisa!

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IMG_2464A good friend, Alino with Emi catching up at the bar.  Alino is an amazing hair stylist. He did my hair for our wedding!

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IMG_2486A few private areas for gatherings.  They will set up a separate appetizer bar for you.

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A sexy Summer evening at Marina di Pisa.

Do not miss it!

mercatocentrale-pgnCentral Market of Livorno over the main canal of the city, Italy.

The market is open everyday except Sunday and 5 entrances of the market lead you into the main food hall where there are richest greens, meat, dairies, coffee, bread & pastries, pasta an fish that surely inspire you to think about to whip up some delicious dishes! We love going to Mercato Centrale di Livorno right after our usual Italian breakfast ( cappuccino and typical Italian pastries! ) for a fun stroll and a few ideas for our nice and long lunches and dinners for everyday. The market happens inside of the main building that was built back in late 19th century in splendid example of public Art Nouveau style, and also the outside of the building where there are ton of fruit and vegetable vendors in this square called, Piazza Cavalloti.

You can find pretty much everything and anything that Italians do eat daily in the markets! The freshest produce from such simple yet perfectly ripped tomatoes, lush and impressive zucchini flowers to lightly fry up to the perfection, and especially the “Fish and Seafood” is the true highlight of the Livorno market as Livorno is considered as one of the most important top 3 ports in Italy.

Here I like to share mainly the  2 parts of the market as these are our usual biggest interest: Vegetable market in Piazza Cavalloti and the Fish and Seafood section of the indoor market.

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IMG_1638Fiori di Zucca! ( The Zucchini flowers) The simple delicacy of Italy. Everyone prepares it differently. But as Livia, my mother in law always taught me, you do not overdo Zucchinis. They carry this delicate subtle flavor. Our favorite way will be dip it in the simple dry flower then dunk it in the egg wash, fry it up for like 30 seconds and when they are out just sprinkle some salt to taste. That ‘s the best way!  Aren’t those flowers so gorgeous?  There a few different kinds. Take a look at couple pics below.

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IMG_1655White Zucchini flowers. Those long Zucchini as your arm! from Sicily. Yes size of your arms!

IMG_1649Sweet and delicate wild berries from the bush. These berries are small as your baby finger nail.

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IMG_1641Fabulously fat porcinis! Just slice them up and grill them on the low flame with touch of olive oil and salt. Che Buoni!

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IMG_1651This is a kind of green beans. Better than the French beans! Sweeter and more tender.

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IMG_1680Our favorite kind. Vongole Veraci. Yes that Vongole for your linguini with white white and garlic sauce. Yum!

IMG_1689Baccala, Cod.

IMG_1672All the local fish from the mare di Livorno. The kinds like to hang out near the rocky area. Which mean more those thin fish bone but also has more flavor.

IMG_1673Skinned head on whole Gattucci. If you know how to eat fish, you want the head on while you cook it. The simple rule here. More parts of the fish=more flavor.

IMG_1661Here the real Scampi! Peeps, bigger size shrimp is Not scampi. They are two different thing. Scampi is absolutely more angular with spiky and harder shell. The meat is sweeter and juicier than shrimp. And they are more expensive and tastier. Best way to eat? Go CRUDO. Shell it carefully, drizzle of  extra olive oil and squeeze of fresh lemon. No salt is needed as they are well seasoned already from the salt of the ocean itself.

IMG_1674Baby cuttle fish.  You can deep fry, stir fry or pasta sauce it!  Expensive! See it’s 25 Euro for 1 Kg!

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IMG_1663Array of salad, sotto olio ( things sitting in oil), cured with lemon and garlic. Take them home by the weight as usual.

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IMG_1692It’s like sort of salami of octopus.

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IMG_1683An old style coffee bar inside the market. But notice that modern stool!

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IMG_1658More individual fish vendors on trucks parked right outside of the market.

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IMG_1713OK. We are back home now and making a quick lunch for the day!!  Rinse the scampi and drain the water.

IMG_1881First dish. Scampi Crudo with Oilve oil and Lemon.

IMG_1716Gather all the heads of Scampi and quick fire on the sauce pan with tomato, garlic, olive oil, shot of white wine and fresh sage. You can simply suck on the heads or this makes the best pasta sauce. Penne or Spaghetti. The hair on this hand is Emi’s. Ha-ha!

IMG_1717You can cover it on low heat and simmer it like 15 minutes. It’s a killer!

IMG_1715Zigge. Maybe the smallest shellfish on Earth. Size of your thumb nail. Gael’s favorite! Wash them, hot oil with garlic, Italian parsley and fresh black pepper. No salt needed.

IMG_1730When the shell is all open and the color of all comes turns bit more intense , they are ready to it. They are like potato chips of Shellfish. DELICIOUS!! Pop them in!

IMG_1742Gael fooling with Granpa’s mafia glasses while we are cooking!

Buon Apetito!!!

IMG_1750Home sweet Home at Vale Benedetta, Andrea’s garden, Livorno, Italy

We had left for Italy on Gael’s Birthday this time, so auntie Suzy and uncle Andrea were throwing a birthday party for Gael where Andrea lives. Vale Benedettta. A small village where there’s much history of Casarosa’s family as a few generations have lived there and now Emi has a small country home and Emi’s big brother Andrea actually resides right below Emi’s country home daily. Emi and I had married at this small church in Vale Benedetta 12 years ago and I definitely feel like this is a home at heart for the family even though we only get to come up to Vale Benedetta only a few times a year. But I feel the root of the family history here somehow.  As usual it would be either Emi’s or Andrea’s. We rotate 2 homes and we get together time to time with all family and it would be usually lots of home cooked food and enjoying typical Italian style family conversation sitting out in al fresco by peach trees if it was at Emi’s or by a small fish pond if it was at Andrea’s.

It’s so good to be back home with Emi’s family!!  Especially to celebrate Gael’s big 8th birthday together!!!

IMG_1765Andrea’s festive entrance. The man who worked his entire life in the ocean sure chose the right decor. The world’s flags. The typical ones for the yacht clubs and ports. I always enjoy seeing Andrea’s particular love for the ocean in his life.

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IMG_1752Denny So grown up now!

IMG_1779Suzy’s fresh pesto: rucola, cherry tomato, black olives, almond, basil, garlic…. Delicious!

IMG_1797Uncle Giorgio and me!

IMG_1790Andrea and Giorgio working on a grill.

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IMG_1793The familiar running around of Gael in and out of Andrea’s home. The lush pines, the dark green door, warm yellow washed wall of Emi’s home behind. Aaaaahhhh!

IMG_1766Merlino, Denny’s dog but really Giorgio’s I believe. Right, Suzy..? Haha!

IMG_1800As it get’s darker, Andrea’s garden starts get really shinning.  So pretty…

IMG_1818Andrea.

IMG_1744Suzy holding one of her cake she made for Gael. Delicious. Suzy also had made a Cheese cake with runny chocolate icing on top. Yum!!

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Now watch the family singing!!

IMG_1814Suzy’s gift, The Soccer shoes!!!

IMG_1830Grandpa the director!

IMG_1817Emi, Chiara and Andrea Jr.

IMG_1811Ahhh Happy Gael!

Grazie a tutti per una belissima festa per Gael!!!!!!!!

Ti vogliamo sempre sempre bene!!

IMG_0160Feb 13, the Sunday, 41st Street and 7th Avenue, Times Square.  Mubarak is out!  And Italy, Now it’s your turn!  Isn’t it such a powerful thing? Wanting to change and wanting to make it right. It was a small group here in NYC, but every Piazza in Italy was filled and gathered by millions and millions of people of Italy.  Especially Women to change it and end it. It’s the TIME!!!

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Here Check out Italy standing up:

Milan

Roma

Napoli

Firenze

Pisa

And the rest of the nation!

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Ahhh Che  Bella Firenze…!

I have wondered around Effetto Venezia so many times yet it still does add ‘It’ to good time in Italy for me. I mean the whole night out thing in al fresco under the stars and bumping into friends in Livorno is also something.  The canals are really nothing like ones in Venice yet still has ton of charm especially at night time with beautiful lighting and hustle bustle people hanging out eating, drinking and checking out open markets and all. You will see people in traditional costumes strolling around and you will see good old Italian snack carts and Granita ( hand shaved ice with flavored sweet syrup), Cotton candy and whatever that would be. Here come stroll the canals of Livorno and the week long night festival, Effetto Venezia.

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IMG_0076Hihi, mommy,, hihi Gael…

IMG_0001Zuchero Filato, Threaded Sugar= the Cotton Candy! You know the Pre packed one is just not the same! I remember the moment that magic happens when the cotton candy man drops a spoonful of sugar into his thing and it disappears then comes to a life as this cloud like or spider net like consistency and you go like ” Wowoooo, look at that!!  You know what I mean?!!!

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IMG_0003Yeeeeeeeah!

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IMG_0097The hand shaved ice with sweet syrup, Granita. It’s very popular summer snack in Italy. yum!

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The night goes on till 3:00 in the morning… People are dancing on the street and night market’s packed by people and it’s a beautiful summer night in Livorno…!

IMG_0098It’s all about making up some time up with Gael and we are having many great little moments together and another year of Effetto Venezia  in Livorno (a week long of important festival of performance, night market, food, art and people to celebrate the canals that remind Venice in Livorno) is just happening right now! And this time, Gael and I are determined to get on the Ferri’s Wheel! Hey, He’s a big 7 and I’m also about to be 38 so we both are big enough to do this and most of all our reunite in Italy after 2 weeks of not seeing each others, it’s a perfect thing to do together!

IMG_0100Bright orange lights and pink cars are just festive as the Effetto Venezia! And We are going to have good old hand made cotton candy for a after ride treat! So excite!!! Hand in hand, we are in the line for our exciting ride!

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IMG_0063No worries… Gael’s right next to me holding my arms tight! We are going up!!!

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IMG_0030Now watch Gael! Ohhh he’s scared and also excite!

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We got on it 3 times in a row and had much much laughs together!!

I missed you so much Gael, mommy loves you…!

It doesn’t matter either I just landed or it has been like 2 years, Italy always feels like home. Italy IS my home.  Including my mom’s house in Korea, or 5 star over the top amazing Park Hyatt in Seoul or my own home in Brooklyn last 2 week, I had the best sleep here in Livorno in my in-law’s humble home.  I have this terrible jet leg from last 2 weeks of city hopping in Asia and New York, but I finally had real descent sleep here in Italy.

After 2 days of feeling like a zombie, now I finally feel like myself again, and after delicious Mediterranean well salted grilled fish and a big bowl of arugula salad, We are heading out to our little secret spot,  “Scogli the smooth rocky hill” for a peaceful afternoon at our home, Livorno.

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IMG_0185Livorno got it all in terms of swimming spots from typical sand beaches with all the facilities like warm shower and tennis court, more exotic beaches like “Torre Mozza” where you need to walk along the longest trail of pine bush, white water beach ” Vada” or tucked in little natural rocky pools along the cliffs of coast line of Livorno. They all got their own charm and different taste.  Today here we are at the rocky side where we can have all the relaxing afternoon with quiet sun and warm smooth rocks to lie down.

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IMG_0171The water is crystal clear here with ton of sea creatures like Sea Urchin, Baby crabs, fish, star fish and anything else you can imagine. You can see Gael goes nuts over anything that moves under the water or over the rocks! It’s the best real wild life education for Gael.

IMG_0126The rock is so nurturing. It’s so so warm after refreshing swimming in the pool. The nature is the mother. Here me and Gael… and Emi enjoying the sun…

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IMG_0186Over 40 hours of flight last 2 weeks, I felt fragile and much tired… Fresh salt water and amazing sun over the bed of smooth rock in Livorno WAS the exact thing I needed. Feeling much recharged. Love you home…!

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