Wednesday, December 19, 2012


  We leave for Rome in less than a week, and I haven't even gotten around to writing anything about Milan yet. So I'm going to try to sum it up in one blog post. If I had to describe Milan in one word, that word would be: disappointing. For those of you thinking I'm crazy to say this, in my defense I will say that 2 other people have given me the exact same appraisal of Milan: 'It's just another city'. One woman was German, one British, and they didn't know each other. I have to say I agree with them, however!
If you love shopping then obviously Milan is the place for you (although most of the stores I saw there were chains that could be found anywhere else in the world). If you love Italian food and culture, then try another city. Not that Milan doesn't have its fair share of art, museums, etc, but I'd have to say that the food was good at best, nothing outstanding. And it's so hard to see the ever-so-famous Last Supper that you either have to pay an insane price or reserve your tickets months in advance (or both). I'm not saying the Last Supper is the only quality piece of art in the city, but if you're touring Milan then you're more than likely going to want to see this famous masterpiece if at all possible.
 The fact that it rained our entire weekend there probably didn't help my appraisal of the city, but here are a few highlights from our little getaway.
  Milan's Duomo is beautiful. Of course it is: it's the Duomo! And one of the largest in Italy, I think. Didn't really do my homework for this trip unfortunately. Just beware the scammers outside in the piazza: guys will try to give you some birdseed and get you to hold your arms up for the (dirty!) pigeons. They then offer to take a picture on your camera of you feeding said nasty birds. Not really sure what they plan on doing at that point other than picking your pockets or charging you for taking a photo. In any case, if they force the seed on you, drop it and go!
 For our first dinner (and our only formal/expensive/sit-down dinner) in Milan, we ate at Nerino Dieci Trattoria, one of the top-rated restaurants in the city. Good service, home-made beer, very eye-pleasing food...but I can't say that our meal was the best ever. Tasty, maybe, but there was no one dish that I specifically remember, either. (Whereas I'm still craving some ribollita from Florence!). For the price, I was expecting some gastronomical treats, but what we got was average food made to look beautiful.
 Also, while the service was very attentive and everyone was pleasant to us, it was quite obvious near the end of our meal that our waitress was quietly being told off by the manager because she hadn't cleared a small plate from our table. We'd asked her to leave it for Keila (who was sleeping in her stroller), and while I could see that she was explaining this fact to the manager, there were still lots of annoyed gestures on his part about the whole thing. Kind of ruined the meal for me. The waitress came back and never mentioned a word about the plate, but if it was such a big deal they could've at least been polite enough to discuss it in private instead going at it in full view of us and other diners. I'd still recommend trying it if you're in Milan and want good service (even if they are a bit TOO attentive when it comes to clearing plates), but it just doesn't compare to food in Florence or upper-class Venetian restaurants.
  Sweets: we ate some gelato at Gelateria Rinomata, and also had gelato and cake at Chocolat. The gelato at Rinomata was pretty good, although a bit too sugary for my taste. Apparently they've held onto their original recipe for years, and the inside is quaintly old-fashioned, too. I'd stop by again if we were in the area.
 Chocolat has great dark chocolate cakes, and their hazelnut dark chocolate gelato was top-notch, too. Keila loved the regular chocolate gelato, but I don't think she's too picky! The cafe interior is very trendy and relaxing at the same time. It seemed to have a good mix of clientele, too. Would defintely return there again.
  And, that's it for Milan! We're glad we went but likely won't return. It was a nice weekend getaway but I wouldn't bother going for longer unless you really want to shop or tour some museums.

  Nerino Dieci Trattoria in Milan: Via Nerino 10, 20123
  Gelateria Rinomata: Ripa Porta Ticinese | Angolo Viale Gorizia
 Chocolat in Milan: Via Boccaccio 9, 20121

                    Nerino in Milan: Lovely atmosphere, staff, and presentation. Now if only they'd spice up the food a notch or two!

                                  Rinomata Gelateria: Quaint gelateria with good service and quality gelato

                       Great chocolate cake from Chocolat Milan

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Keila is 25 Months Today!

Where did the past month go? I could've sworn we had just finished celebrating Keila's second birthday. Now it's already going on Christmas and she's 25 months old. Here's what my little girl has been up to in the past month:
 1. Keila's language skills continue to improve at an astronomical rate, although still mostly in English. She's consistently repeating 2 or 3 words at a time now when I talk to her, instead of just one. Keila also LOVES singing and can go through a verse or two of 'Santa Claus is Coming To Town'. Japanese still needs some work, and Keila apparently recognizes that it's not English, or at least not what Mommy speaks, as she told Yuki this morning (when he was trying to count with her). 'No! Momma count! Dada no!" Clever girl. But we definitely need to ramp up the Japanese whenever Daddy is home.
 2. Another molar is working its way through! 1.5 teeth to go....
 3. Sleep is still hit or miss. I'm going to continue to blame that on the teething issues....and pray that it gets better once they're finally in!
 4. Keila's newest favorite activities include: playing 'Supergirl' (having Mom or Dad lift her up in the air), 'swimming' (flailing on her tummy while in her crib), and throwing any and all food she doesn't like. First 2, cute. Last one, not so much. Throwing has calmed down a bit since she's realized that Mommy will take away ALL the food until she stops throwing things.
 5. Still basically potty trained (with a few accidents here and there). I think this category is officially done with!
 6. Once again forgot to check weight and height. She seems pretty average for height, and last time she was playing on the scale I think she was 12.9 kilos. Keila is growing out of her clothes pretty quickly, so we're not too worried about her growth progress.
  That's all until 2013!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Product Reviews: Lindt Excellence Wasabi Dark Chocolate Bar, and Cadbury Snow Bites

  Quick review for 2 impulse-buys from the store yesterday: Lindt Excellence Wasabi Dark Chocolate bar, and Cadbury Snow Bites.
 The first one: Lindt tends to make decent supermarket-level chocolate, so I figured that I might as well try their wasabi flavor and see how it fared. Verdict??? They did surprisingly well! While the blurb on the back of the package declares that it's the 'finest dark chocolate, subtly flavoured with wasabi', I wouldn't say that the wasabi taste is 'subtle' at all. Which is fine by me, but be forewarned if you're sensitive to spice. What you get really is a lovely dark chocolate sensation, followed by the sudden spice and heat of wasabi. Wonderful!!! Perhaps my only complaint is that the bar has a minimum of 47% cocoa solids. This definitely meets the European minimum requirements of 35% cocoa solids for a 'dark chocolate' label, but being the chocolate snob that I am, something around 60% or so would probably still be sweet enough to balance out the wasabi but provide more of a chocolate kick.
  Next up: Cadbury Snow Bites. Have these things been around for years and I've just never noticed them? I know they haven't been for sale in America, but perhaps they were out with the Christmas treats here in the UK last year and I just overlooked them. In any case, I'm going to go ahead and review them and hope I'm not discussing a holiday staple as if it's something entirely novel.
 The front of the Snow Bites package reads: 'Cadbury milk chocolate balls surrounded in a crispy white dusted shell'. Which is exactly what you get. If you're American and have never seen these things, imagine the Cadbury milk chocolate candy-coasted mini Easter eggs and you'll have a pretty good idea. Only these have a white powered sugary dust outside the shell. Not sure why they're call Snow Bites instead of Snow Balls, but they are at least bite-size. Not bad, not life changing, definitely Cadbury. I'd buy them again if I wanted a cheap sugar rush and some added vegetable fat in my chocolate.

      Lindt Excellence Wasabi Dark Chocolate Bar

           Seasonal product:  Cadbury Snow Bites

               2 and 1/2 Cadbury Snow Bites