Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Fourth Week

Lets start this post off with a positive statement. I hate Mosquitoes. They suck, and for some reason they exist on living in Italy along with me. Every morning I wake up covered in bites, each one swollen and itchy. What a pain. Also, I some how lost my bottle of Cetaphile soap, so now I have to wash up using lesser soaps, and not feeling as clean as I like in the morning.

But in other news,Marrisa, Justin and I thought up a new "Iron Chef"-like challenge, where we all cook different food each week, but we have to use one similar - obscure- ingredient. This past week, we cooked with oranges. Justin and I made different chicken dishes and Marissa made zucchini in a pan with some other veggies. For both dishes the oranges were a welcome and awesome addition to the meal. Tomorrow, we are going to try with Pomegranates.

So, I am sure you are all sitting at the edge of your seats now, wondering how my weekend excursion to Ikea was. Well, let me tell you now. It was awesome. Me, Justin, Marissa, and our other friend Anjali went. We had plates of Meatballs - well, Justin and I did, Marissa had the salmon. It was so good. Then Justin and I bought scented candles - 'cause our living room smells weird - and then we took the free shuttle back to downtown Florence. On the ride back, I found a park with a nice lake to hang out in, and I went the other day just to sit and relax. I like breaking routine a bit because then everything stays interesting.

I made a realy good sandwich at home a couple of days ago. I bought fresh baguette, turkey, and Peccorino cheese, and when I put it all together in the baguette with red pepper, it was one of the tastiest sandwiches I had ever had. Then my writing teacher, recommended me a place to go for lunch today, that makes sandwiches. Since I can't order well enough in Italian yet, I just let the sandwich man put whatever he wanted between my grilled Panini bread. And It was delicious.

He put:ground seasoned meat, eggplant, tomato, toasted panini bread, zucchini (roasted), and some toppings and sauces that i cant translate from Italian to English, but one was called viagra, and some grilled mushrooms, salt and olive oil (maybe I forgot something else).

But we all rearranged the living room yesterday, which was nice, because it was terribly out of order before. Now it still is kind of obnoxious, but you can see out of the window now when you sit on the couch, instead of staring at a wall. That's nice I suppose. Its going to get to cold to eat outside soon, so I'm sure we'll make the living room, more livable before then.

The other night Millie's friend had us over for dinner. She also lives in Florence and has a delightful dog named Jasmine who was rather black lab looking. She made us really good food, steak, vegetables, and pasta. All stuff I like to eat. It was a very good meal, and it was nice having something homecooked - that I didn't have to make myself for once.

Tomorrow we're going to go to Bologna, and I finally get to eat Bolognese sauce on my pasta in the city it was created in. It had best be superb. Other than that, nothing much has changed lately. I think I might feel a cold coming on, so that means it's time to drink lots of water, I guess.

Seems like everyone is getting sick. (That's a good sentence to end a post all about food on, right?)

I'm off to get another one of those tasty sandwiches now.

Ciao. Chow.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Third Week

Hey Everyone,

So.... I was going to upload pictures today but the school building was shut so I had to go to an Internet Cafe so once again.... no pictures (I bet you're thinking "he hasn't taken any and is just covering for it" - but I have). So, for the time being, I hope you have good imaginations, 'cause it's time to use them.

First. I hate Italian keyboards soley for the fact that nothing is where it should (pardon my ethnocentrism) be. So this means I have to type like a total moron unless I spend five minutes on every sentance. Yuck. Also it took me about 10 mins to find the "'" so When I wrote a sentance "well, we'll go..." it came out "well, well go...". Hopefully they figure it out.

But enough of ranting about keyboards and making excuses for not showing anyone pictures. Let me tell you more about Italy.

Well, over the past weekend, we spent a day going to the Sea. I don't remember what it was called, but we had to take a 2 hour train ride to get there and another 2 hour train ride to get back. It was nice though. The sand was smoother than I have ever felt, and the water was so warm you could just walk in. A cool thing was that there was a sandbar where we were you so you could walk out about 50ft before the water got higher than chest-height. No waves either, so it would really be a perfect place for a game of volleyball or something.

The downside was that there was SO MUCH red seaweed building up on the break that you had to walk through it (and god knows what else) up to your calves for about 5 or 6 feet before exiting into the perfect clear sea. Gross. Then there were crabs crawling under the sand near your feet and there were plently of lil' jelly fish in the water too. So I got out. It also cost 3 euros to be on the beach and EVERY 10 seconds differnet guys and gals would walk up and pester you to get you to buy swim suits and get massages. I was wearing a swimsuit. Why would I buy another??

Then the week went nicely. I met up with a friend who I haven't seen since high school, and classes have been good. I really like creative writing and book arts. In cinema history we watched the american re-make of the italian film (L'ultimo bacci) that we had seen the week before, which was called "The Last Kiss" and starred Zach Braff. While I like him as an actor - the film was AWFUL.

I found out that bars have happy hour all-you-can-eat buffets for really cheap, and on the days I don't feel like cooking, i've been going to those, where I can pay 5euro and then eat tons and tons of mediocere sandwiches to my hearts content. I went to one the other day that advertised plates of sushi for the buffet. The first plate was 6euro and every addition plate (of about 6 pieces) was 1 euro after that. Great deal. Wierd sushi though. It was the chefs first time making it and each roll had things like cooked chicken, cooked egg, cooked salmon, and so on. It was alright though.

For my week break I have decided to go to Barcelona with my cousin Jesse. My roomate from back at USC, jose, might join and other people say they are going as well so maybe we'll all meet up and trek up the tiny, cramped, and unfinished stairwell of the Sagrada Familia (sp?) together. Next weekend, while everyone is off at octoberfest, my roomate, Justin, and I are going to go to Bolgna (sp?) and eat bolognaise. Cause thats where it comes from. I hope the quality is as good as I expect.

I want to start going to more places every weekend, visit friends and family and such all over the place and just have a generally good time. Its much cheaper to go to Europe when you're in Europe already, so to say "ehhh, I'll do it next time, would be completly absurd". Looks like 1'll have to deal with buying things (aka plane tickets) that are over 60 bucks for once. Blargh.

I did laundry today (finally) and hung all my clothes out the window to dry. It went well, but now I have a pair of Jeans hanging outside, which will probably take ages. I like doing laundry by hand, even though we have a tiny machine, and it's much cheaper than 4 bucks a load like it is at USC.

I've also been drawing a lot lately, which is good, because I severely slacked over the summer. I am about at the level I was before, and I have finally tried my hand at drawing faces that aren't looking straight ahead. The dramatic, excited, bear I drew turned out well. Ill post a picture if I can.

Well, thats all for today. I'm off to IKEA now, as mentioned in my previous post, so I can check out a new section of Florence and get some meatballs. I wonder if the quality of Swedish food improves the closer you are to Sweden. I will rate and then tell you how it compares to the one in my house. If I go to Sweden, I'll have to go to an IKEA there and report.

Boy, I feel like a food critic.

- Ezra

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Second Week

Hey All!

So, now the second week has passed, and once again I forgot to bring my camera to upload more pictures. Sorry bout that.

So this week classes went by quite smoothly. I like all my teachers, and I am very excited to get things rolling. In Italian, I was the only kid in the class, but then they moved the time slot an hour forward so that we could include one more student from New York. The class is really fun, we spend all our time talking about where we are from and learning various things, but the only requirement is that we speak only in Italian (the teacher helps us out a lot obviously...). I've made it a rule not to speak English in the supermarket, and yesterday I went and ordered stuff and cuts of meat and cheese all in Italian and was successful! It is very fulfilling to learn to speak another language in the country. The only mistake I made as asking for 50g of Provalone instead of 50kg, and the woman freaked out thinking I wanted more cheese than anyone could ever possible want.

Animation class is cool as well. All the students from USC who came to SACI and one other student are in it, and our teacher is a friendly person who is teaching us how to do traditional type animation in Flash, which is a program I have wanted to learn but have never been able to figure out.

Book arts is awesome because we are making books, and as I write this post I am finishing up a new sketch book to use (it's also an assignment), and its cool being able to sew my own binding. I think I may make most of my notebooks from now on. We are going to learn to make about 20 different kinds of books or something like that.

In Italian Cinema we watched "L'ultimo baccio" (The Last Kiss), which was remade poorly in the US a couple of years ago. I thought it was a really good film. It was not really anything we are going to learn about - simple for enjoyment - so we'll see how I enjoy the rest of the class. I hope I will though. My teacher was the editor for 'Weekend at Bernies', "Godfather part 3," and a bunch of other Francis Ford Kopolla movies, so she knows her stuff.

Last but not least, Creative Writing, once again seems to be awesome. The teacher is a really fun guy with a phd and we are pretty much allowed to write whatever we want and bring it in for critique. I'm working on a story already, so I'm going to bring that in to get it work-shopped into something great.

We've been cooking lots of food left and right, and finally cleaned the kitched (with mop) yesterday. Justin (my roommate) is an ex-assistant chef, and he cooks up the most insanely awesome seafood dishes (even thought I'm not a seafood fan). And I made some breaded chicken the other day, and a tomato sauce for some more ravioli. Its nice to cook with wine for once, because it really adds an interesting flavor to my food.

Me and my friend Matt have been going out for night walks all around Florence to explore and we have found some cool stuff and places. Still trying to find a Japanese food place that isn't more expensive than a house in Malibu on the beach. Going to clubs and such has been interesting though because on the dance floors theres lots of creepy Italian dudes who kind of walk up and begin to dance awkwardly with any girls in the group and then all the guys have to move over and shut them out until they walk away. It's kinda weird.

Other than that all is fun. I'm making plans of various places to go in the next few weekends, friends to visit and places to see. I think tomorrow I am going to catch the free shuttle to IKEA to get a plate of meatballs. That should be tasty.

I'm sure other stuff that is interesting has happened but I can't think of it all right now. Gotta do my laundry later.

- Ezra!

Making Books for Book Arts! I made a Sketchbook!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The First Week


So here is what I’ve done in the past few days. This will be slightly summed up and I didn’t take enough pictures, but Ill take more in the future (at least I’ll try).

Well my Mom and I caught the train up from Rome and after meeting up with her friend, we spent the day walking around Florence, checking out the Duomo, several other cool things, and of course – eating Pizza and Gelato – which is indeed yummy here (as it should be)!

Then after waking up on move in day and having a decent breakfast at the hotel (I have to admit, I am not a fan of most European Hotel Breakfasts… too much ham and not enough of anything else) I caught a 7 minute taxi ride and went down the street to my school SACI, where I checked in and got my keys. Then I walked to the apartment and was amazed (Its gigantic – Pictures will follow when I can upload them properly).

My roommates are Justin and Justine – both from Malta, Mellie from Australia, and Marissa from Southern California as well. They are all nice and very fun people to live with. We live directly across the street from the Academia, which is the museum that holds Michelangelo’s “The David”.

After checking out SACI and having an orientation and small reception (they promised food – but it wasn’t substantial) we went to the Central Market which is a place where you can buy your meat fresh, same goes for produce, fish, and pasta. Spending only 4 euros I was able to buy enough food to make a huge plate of Ravioli with Basil and a Bolognaise sauce. I made up the recipe on the spot, but it turned out quite good – I wish I had taken a picture.

I put: Ground beef (that I cooked in olive oil before hand with celery and green onions) in a basic tomato (with no pre-added flavor) sauce. Then I mixed it all together and added some cream. Then I mixed it with the ravioli I bought fresh from the market as well, and it was very good!

I’ve been making turkey sandwiches everyday for lunch (buying lots of turkey and bread) to save money, and making big meals for desert. Tonight I’m making a thinly sliced steak with salad on it (my cousin Albert can tell you what it’s called ;)) and Ill let you know how it goes. I also made myself an egg salad sandwich today and that was good as well.

Besides trying to make food, I’ve met a lot of people in the program and they are all very nice, and we’ve been going out and around the town often looking for something to do. For instance, the other night we climbed to the Piazza di Michelangelo, and looked over the city at night and it was incredible.

Tomorrow classes start, so I suppose Ill try to get a better nights sleep than I have done previously. I’m excited, and I hope they are good. In a couple of weeks, I am hoping to meet up with my cousin Jesse and my friend from school back home, Jose, and hopefully we’ll all do something interesting and worth writing about! If I’ve taken pictures since I’ve written this (since I do it in advance) , Ill post them now. If not – talk to you all soon and hope all is well!

I took pictures, I jsut have not uploaded them yet.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hello From Florence!

Hello Everyone!

This is the blog that I shall write about my semester abroad in Florence on! Ill post pictures, recipes I make or eat, and general fun stories I suppose. Classes start tomorrow, and I am at an internet cafe right now without much time left so this post is short.

Instead of writing everything I've done so far,I'm posting a few pics from Rome with my Mom before getting here. Check them out! There are plenty more to upload, but it takes a while, so When I have the internet in my apartment Ill put up more pictures and tell you about my first few days so far!