Yeah... So my visa didn't work and I am now home. Not the happiest camper right now but everything happens for a reason. It's hard, so very hard, to see the reason in this one. But it's there, I just have to wait. I miss Italy and traveling and being on the go so much already. I knew the visa wasn't going to work about 6 days before I actually had to leave which left me very little time left to enjoy everything. It was a sudden shock for me since I had made plans to stay until June. It feels like Italy and work was ripped away from me just when I was beginning to get a feel for things. But I talked with Chef Sartini and he wants me to come back as soon as I can, which would be about 90 days from now because there is a bunch of logistical paperwork bullshit that only allows an American citizen to be in the EU for 90 days within a 6 month period. It's stupid if you ask me, but what can you do?

I must think positive. There is a reason why I was sent home. A reason I am here and I reason I am here now. As difficult as it is to understand a situation that seems impossible to understand, I must. Because life goes on. And Italy isn't going anywhere... It will be there 3 months from now, 6 months from now, 5 years from now. And before I even came back, I decided that I wanted to persue learning butchering and meats, whether it was back at Mozza or a butcher shop or wherever. So when I walked in to Mozza yesterday to surprise everyone, I talked with Chef Chris and told him my idea. He looked at me and told me that the Mozza butcher is leaving in 15 days and if I was serious about this idea, I could be the morning butcher for Mozza...

My life. My crazy life.

How does this happen to me? How does it somehow work out? And when it doesn't seem to work out, when it seems like its all taken away, it still works out. Somehow. I don't know. But is mylife and I live it everyday.

So of now, I will learn the art of butchery. In Los Angeles. For now. Who knows where I will be in 3 months or 6 months or 5 years. But I'm living now and that's all I know. And I hope for the best. And yesterday, I told Chef Chris, "you know what I really want to learn??" and he says "let me guess, everything?". Hahaha spot on Chris, spot on. (since I know you read this)




Food is on my mind a lotttt these days. I have always thought about food but lately, it's all I think about. And my mind is starting to mix and match recipes and techniques that ive learned, now that i feel i have some sort of very small "data base". But my thoughts are nowhere near organized...my mind is just brainstorming ideas and it's like a tangled web.

Maybe it's just my mood today or what I am secretly craving, but my mind keeps going back to the Champagneria that I went to in Barcelona. Can Paixano. So basic (only sandwiches, a few small dishes and champagne) but so spot on. Noisy, crowded, delicious and dirt cheap. It had great traditional food of the region and appealed to the surrounding community. I want nothing more than to be there right now. Like, right now right now. Eating a prosciutto and cheese sandwich, sipping on rose cava and taking in the atmosphere. Ahhh...


Break it down

Now that I have a moment of time, let's break it down.

A little of the Righi la Taverna Menu. Lets start with pastry since that is what I currently know most of.

First and foremost:

--Semifreddo al cioccolato fondente con cuore di mascarpone e salsa alle amarene con spuma di birra!!!! Oh my god. How is this possibile?? Its my dream dessert and executed perfectly. In English, it is basically chocolate gelato that is on the firmer side. We form two disks and sandwich mascarpone whipped cream in the middle. There is a sour cherry sauce drizzled on the plate, with a few marinated cherries as well and then, the best part, a beer foam!! Beer foam! It's chocolate. It's cherries. And it's beer. It's incredible. I think it's genius because it's ingredients people are familiar and comfortable with, making it very popular, and it's traditional (semifreddo) but is playful (beer foam). It's a party in your mouth, basically.

--Raviolo di mandorle e cassata su zuppetta d'arance. English: almond ricotta ravioli in an orango soup. I like this one because it takes a usually savory dish (Raviolo and pomodori or any sauce for that matter) and makes it a dessert. It also makes use of seasonal ingredients, oranges. The hot ravioli is filled with a ricotta, almond, chocolate, orange zest mixture and the orange soup (zest, fruit, and juice) is served cold. Pretty interesting if you ask me.

--Crema di fave con gelatino di crue di cioccolato. Another oh my god. Are you kidding me? English: fava bean purée with chocolate gelatine. Ok, stop one second before you judge it to quickly. This dish is one of my favorites. At first, The combination of fava bean and chocolate sounds crazy, in a bad way. But the purée is made sweet and blended completely smooth as silk. A few fava beans are left whole for texture. Then, there are 3 different chocolate gelatins: one milk chocolate, one semisweet and the other dark. The flavor is great!! The texture is completely smooth except for a few whole favas and the color contrast on the dish is incredible. I have a picture and it's beautiful: almost a neon green with shades of brown. Genius, again.

--Passatelli al cacao con latte al rhum e croccante di nocciole. Again, this takes a usually savory dish and makes it a dessert. I also love this because passatelli is a very traditional pasta made in the Emilia Romagna region: it is a fresly made, very soft noodle, traditionally served in brodo(broth). But here, it is made into a chocolate version, served over a white chocolate rum soup/sauce topped with hazelnut brittle. Sooooo good. Playful take on tradition and savory. Creative and delicious.

Those are my top favorite desserts. The others are of course good but I had to deconstruct my favorites for you. :) plus, I'm proud to say that I can now make all of the above listed items! I've never worked pastry before in my life and honestly wasn't interested in it either. But after working it for a month, I have a new appreciation for the art and technique. And it's also good to know how to do a little of everything. Be well rounded right? Yes. That's it for now... I'll write about antipasti and primi next.


You're welcome. Again.

So this morning, I walk in to work and see a large white box with black stuff smeared on it. By the looks of it and from experience, I know what's in that box and I pray to god that it's not me that has to deal with it. It's near the sink with a couple trash buckets, a pairing knife and scissors... I know what that means. It's a large box of seppia (cuttlefish) that needs to get broken down and cleaned. But this box is bigger than the other times. It's a lot of cuttlefish... So I try to find something to make me look busy so I'm not chosen to clean ink and snot out of jelly like creatures.

No such luck. " Ashley, come over here and bring your towel". Shit.

From 830am to about 2 pm, I broke down and cleaned cuttlefish. I don't think it has ever taken me that long... But it was a lot of fish AND I was told that the fresher they are, the more difficult they are to clean. I guess it's good to know that Righi serves really fresh seppia. Because from trying to skin and gut and rinse seppia, it took me about 5 hours (I had a lunch break) to clean these damn things! It's hard enough just holding one in your hand, trying to decide which piece is what because it looks like a slimy white jelly blob and i have to seperate the pieces: eggs, head/shell thing, fins on the shell thing, tentacle legs, and another part I have no idea what it is. I also I have a trash bucket that gets filled with the eyes that I've gouged out with my thumbs, this bright orange brown liver looking thing (if seppia has a liver), and all the useless snot that is hidden in every crevice. All the skin gets thrown in the trash bucket too, which is similar to a stretchy slimy snake skin.

I don't know about you, but seppia seems like a useless creature. Yeah sure, it tastes great and the ink is pretty cool when it's used for black rice or black pasta. But the time, labor, and useless parts make seppia stupid. Yeah, stupid. I do not have a better word other than stupid, and now I sound like a child. Haha. But do me a favor and just google image "seppia" and imagine that and their insides all over your hands and arms for 5 hours.




God, there is so much I want to say right now and yet, I still don't have the time. Work here is my life. I wake up and work, get a break, and then work until I sleep at night. I don't know how the Italians do it but work is literally their life. I can do it now because I know it's temporary... But I could not do this forever. For sure. I want to write about the kitchen and food and what I'm doing and seeing and tasting so bad but I just never have time! I look like a hot mess. I'm lucky if I sleep five hours. I'm also lucky if I get to Skype my family. Usually, I have time or wifi for a short 5 minute fb chat. And just an update: my apartment stopped having hot air and hot water a few weeks ago and since, I've been sleeping on someone's couch and then finally moved in to the apartment next door. also, that date I went on when I first got here actually ended up going very well and is still going well :)))) a few bouquets of flowers and some home cooked Italian meals go a longggg way. Thanks Ricky! ;)

I would love more than anything to sit and type everything I'm thinking and feeling. And eating. But there is too much to do now and not enough time. I'm afraid my in depth menu breakdown of Righi and other places is just going to have to wait to a more available time. Sometime soon, I promise :) Oh do I promise. Sooner than you think


You're welcome

It's been awhile since I wrote and although I have much to say, I don't have a lot of time. But I will leave you all with this lovely comment:

If I have to clean the ink and snot gelly out of a bucket of squid and then peel the ridiculously difficult skin off one more time, I might just throw up.

Until next time :)



Today has been weird. No other words to describe it. But it hasn't been too far off from all my other days which brings me to believe my life is weird. Non lo so. But I got to work at 830, as always, having slept for about 5 or 6 hours, as always, after I worked the previous day for about 13 hours, as always. Betty and I started the day the same, her making the dough for bread and me setting up and writing our to do list. I went downstairs and back up countless times as always...the kitchen is on the third floor and the walk in fridge is on the first with an elevator used only to carry ingredients and equipment. The multiple trips up and down 3 floors is no biggie for me anymore and I've trained myself to go fast enough to beat the elevator anyways (if I skip steps and briskly walk through the bar, I win). I made recipes that I've made before here: moscato poached pears, piadina, crackers, cioccolato gelatina... But I still ask Betty for help every so often because I don't want to screw up anything.(it's an internal battle really- if I ask for help, I admit to not knowing or remembering what she has already shown me but if I dont ask for help, I risk doing it wrong and having to start over. Both are bad) I consider myself a fast learner but the combination of not understanding Italian directions, reading Italian recipes, and making food and pastries I've never made before to begin with because I've never worked pastry kinda slows me down! My ability to memorize recipes/ingredient names isn't as good and I admit to not remembering a lot of what Betty shows me Bless her heart, I know she has shown me a lot of things over and over. She has patience I wish I had.

But today, a comment was made about me not remembering anything. And I've heard her say this before but today, it didn't sit very well. Maybe I'm being sensitive or the little sleep day after day is catching up but in my mind, I'm working my ass off. I'm doing the best I can,always, and I'm totally doing a bunch of shit I've never done before. The comment oozed in to my mind as "it's not good enough" and I couldn't just brush it off this time. And during service, I got corrected/scolded, as usual, for things that I know better of. Do you know how frustrating it is to make such stupid stupid errors (plate 15 salads when I was clearly told 11, or make something completely different because 'pasta frolla' and 'pasta sfoglia' sound pretty much the same in my mind) because the directions are not computing in my head and its not what im used to? Everyday, I have people get frustrated with me, and I understand their frustration. But then after I fix the ridiculously stupid error for the millionth time, I can't even explain myself, like why I thought pasta frolla sounded like pasta sfoglia or why I can't count to 11. I don't have the words and they don't have the time to wait for me to get my Italian/English dictionary and try to form a sentence. So I just keep going. Head down, and go.

And after the fist service today, I was cleaning the dough mixer thing and I guess I dazed off because I heard Betty ask " are you ok?" and I was so deep in thought, it caught me off guard. Betty could tell something was up and she said "your family? Your home? Your work? Los Angeles?" and I lost it. I couldn't hold it together. And if there is one thing I can't stand, its crying in front of people. So I went to the bathroom, shut the door, and just stood there against the wall with my eyes closed. Tears streaming down my face, I stood in the bathroom stall until vivid images of all my comforts stopped. Because the truth is, its everything. It's the challenge and the beauty of my current life. I've held it together for this long and today, that felt like every other day, was my tipping point. It's like someone poking your arm over and over and over until you snap. Today, unexpectedly, I snapped and I found myself, in a bathroom, telling myself to get it together. When I walked out, Betty was standing there. And then she spoke to me, all in Italian. And I kid you not, I understood every word. She told me that it's ok to be upset because what I'm doing is difficult. I'm working a station I've never worked before and trying to perfect recipes that took her 5 years to understand. She said I don't understand Italian but she sees me watching and tasting and listening and feeling everything. She said the work itself is different but that when it comes to service and speed and soul, it's the same no matter where you go. And she hugged me and said that I was doing a good job. And walked away.


I stared at myself in the mirror and then told myself to get my ass back in that kitchen. Who cares how many stupid mistakes I make? Who cares how many times I get scolded for the same thing? Because after everything Betty said, my mind heard "I understand", and that's all I needed.

I have my only break today from 3-6 but i asked danilo if I could go in early to help with staff meal. Because I know that will make me feel better. Cooking is like a sick relationship. Haha. It can be so evil and draining and take up all your time... But when you're apart, it's all you think about and find ways of seeing each other. I should enjoy my break, since rest is scarce. But right now, nothing would make me feel more happy than to cook. I cook all day for six days a week and the only way I really enjoy my down time is cooking. Go figure

It reminds me of when Gato, a chef at Mozza, told me during one of my worst services (that I'll NEVER forget) "never stop moving. Keep going."



Sudden realization today while eating #274829101 squacquerone, rucola, prosciutto piadina sandwich:

What the HELL am I going to do when I leave here and no longer have instant access to incredible food?! Doesn't matter where I go, I'll be away from fresh Piadina and fresh Stracchino and Squacquerone di San Patrignano, my all time favorite food and current obsession!!! Oh my god! I can get my hands on fresh arugula and pay a hefty price for prosciutto... And its a good thing I learned how to make piadina at work. But fresh stracchino or squacquerone???? Nothing compares, especially the squacquerone from san patrignano. I'm doomed. Done for. Finished.

Currently depressed. I better eat all the piadina sandwiches I can now while I'm still here. :)

And you think I'm joking...


The person I want to meet

Today= 2 months since I left home. Due mese fa. Hands down, thee LONGEST two months of my life. And I know I'm like a broken record when I say that I cannot express in words how much I've learned. Not even the quantity, but the quality of information- I've learned qualities that I will use forever and they are qualities that separate me from the rest. I've learned to be extremely in tune with my instincts and how I feel. I've also learned to take risks because no matter the outcome, it builds character. I've learned that it's ok to allow myself to feel every emotion because being numb is no way to live (I really hope a few certain people read that one). I've learned to dream...really really dream. And then live. I've learned to live no matter how scary it can be. I wrote ash an email about my doubts and fears and here was her response:

"you are living it up. You are conquering fears people don't DARE to imagine. And hey, you decided to take charge of your life- I think 90% of the time it's tough and rough when someone makes that choice. You are doing things people only dream of. Ash, you broke your box. Take a look at the pieces- the first thing you'll see is the chaos, destruction, disorder and mere outlines of what used to be. Ok, now close your eyes, kneel down and start feeling. Now step away and build the frame you want or maybe not do anything but linger in the broken pieces. Initially, they were broken pieces. Terror, but in a good way. They are broken for a moment before you realize it's still the same pieces, just in a different configuration and probably one FAR more interesting, more interesting to yourself. Same you in a new light. Let it marinate and reveal yourself to you- patience."

Smart girl, that Ashleigh!! Great metaphor. Because I feel completely out of place and yet, I'm trusting in that. I'm trusting in something that feels so utterly foreign and different. Trusting. And I find myself trusting that this foreign situation is beautiful and good. I would say I don't know why I am trusting it, but that would be a lie. I do know why: I am trusting in this foreign situation because I KNOW the me on the other side is waiting. I'm running a marathon now to greet myself on the other side. The me on the other side has been to hell and back, been humbled beyond what I thought was possible, and has lived in a way I never thought I could. I doubted myself. I said I could do this adventure because I wanted to so badly and dreamt about it, but I never thought it would actually happen. I want to meet the me that I dreamt about. And through this situation, trusting in what seems obscured, I WILL get to meet the me of my dreams. The me that I doubted and the me I never thought would actually happen. I get to meet her and even better, be her. Not just shake her hand... But actually live in the body of someone who existed in my dreams. THAT is the reason I trust in the unknown, the obsurd, the awkward, unfitting, difficult and mysterious. The me on the other side is the me of my dreams.

Be the person you want to meet


Journal game

Forgive me if this entry is confusing. It has a point, I promise :)

Aside from our blogs, Ashleigh and I both have been writing journals. The blogs are for family and friends and to share our experiences with the public but our journals are where all the good stuff is and are very very personal. If you ask either of us, these journals will never be seen by anyone other than ourselves. They hold all the secrets, information, and deepest thoughts. I think we would both agree that only SOME excerpts are ok to share from our journals. We both learned that when traveling, your journal is your best friend and ooooh boy, if my journal could talk, I would be in big trouble.

So back about a month ago, February 1st to be exact, Ashleigh and I were leaving Barcelona and headed for Rome. Although we were stoked about going to Italy, the land of food, we were both completely heartbroken about leaving Barcelona; we fell in love with the atmosphere, the people, and didn't want to leave. The morning of February 1st, ash and I sat in a coffee shop in Barcelona and reminisced about our trip so far, laughed and even shed a few tears. It was a moment of realization for the both of us: Where we started, what had happen, and how we were forever changed. Remembering everything from our lunch back in October when we initially imagined a European adventure to then, February 1st, having experienced the most incredible things and situations, ALL of which (positive and negative) will be fondly remembered.

Sitting in the coffee shop, February 1st, feeling a little blue, I told Ashleigh to open her journal to a random page and read line #6, no matter what it said. Hesitant (probaly from all the dirty secrets;) ), she did and oddly enough, it was EXACTLY what she needed to hear. It was like she was speaking to herself from the past. She picked a random page for me and I read it out loud as well. Again, the line that I had written myself was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. Feeling so incredibly connected with our surroundings and feeling like we were exactly where we were suppose to be at that moment, we took time to write in our journals at the coffee shop. Some of my writing:

"Listen and feel. Trust in what's around you. It's suppose to happen. A quote from Rilke 'sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from foreign matter; so one must help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and break out with it, for that is its progress'. Be your own doctor and heal yourself."

Then, feeling inspired, Ashleigh and I traded journals and wrote each other a note on a random page, promising not to read it until we were actually using/writing on that page. We made this promise because we knew that when we eventually got to that random page, reading each others note would be exactly what we needed to hear in that moment.

So guess what I stumbled upon today? And guess what it was that felt so good to read? :) ash wrote a Rilke quote, one of my favorites:

"And your doubt may become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become critical. Ask it... Why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perplexed and embarrassed perhaps, or perhaps rebellious. But don't give in... And the day will arrive when from a destroyer it will become one of your best workers- perhaps the cleverest of all that are building at your life."

Beautiful. Simply beautiful. And I have no other words except thank you Ashleigh. She knew that writing that on this page of my journal in Barcelona on February 1st would find me well early on March 3rd in San Marino, just after asking my parents when things are suppose to get easier. Thank you Ashleigh. And because of stumbling upon this, it made me go back to the page in my journal on February 1st and re read everything from that day. I told myself then to trust in my surroundings and here I am now, telling myself the same thing.

Full circle moment



I'm at that stage at work right now where I can basically do nothing right. My newness has worn off and they aren't as forgiving for the mistakes I make. It's extremely frustrating because I KNOW I can do the job and I KNOW I'm not an idiot... But I make stupid mistakes because I can't understand what they are asking me to do. I feel like some people are still being patient with me and understanding about the language thing, but others are becoming less patient. The last two days in particular have been challenging and I can feel the frustration of others towards me. It's a sucky feeling. If I could only express to them that I really am trying, I'm not an idiot and I if I could understand the directions asked of me, all of this would be better. Ahhhh!!

It's a very humbling experience to not be able to explain or defend myself. It's teaching me a lot about handling situations in general. Since I am not able to defend myself clearly, I stand back and take the criticism or blame even though I KNOW better or that it wasn't even my fault. I sit back and I take it. Everytime. Because I don't know the words or have the capability to defend myself. Its humbling to say the least but also eye opening because I realized that sometimes saying absolutely nothing or accepting the criticism regardless of how I feel is better than anything I cold possibly say. Sometimes, it's better to just keep my mouth shut. And its not until the frustration subsides that I see this. I look back and think of all the things I could have said and thank god I just kept my trap shut. Sometimes, it's jot worth the argument. And at the end of all this, they may or may not misjudge me and see me as an idiot, they may or may not see me as slow or inexperienced, but they sure as hell will never see me as someone who argues or talks back. I'll be the person that always nodded their head, accepted the situation and kept going. I'm hoping thos phase dies out soon because it's wearing on me. To always be wrong, or too slow, or making dumb mistakes that I know better of but can't seem to overcome.

On a positive note, aside from work, living here is pretty cool. It's a different way of life and really sets my priorities in order. I have no tv, wifi on rare occassons and nothing but work and sleep to fill my day. My favorite thing to do now is walk to work for my second shift, listen to Ray Lamontagne on my iPod, and watch the most beautiful sunset as I hike the mountain to the kitchen. Il tramonto é sempre molto bello. Bellissimo!!! It's always breathtakingly orange and red and it always sets just beyond the landscape of incredibly beautiful white rolling hills (now somewhat green because the snow is melting). :) I feel like I live in a bubble. I am so out of touch with current events, I didn't know it was march 1st or that yesterday was leap year. I have no idea what is going on in LA and only know about my work here. Everyday, I only know my to-do list. That's it. Haha it's a little strange getting used to, if I'll ever get used to it but I must admit, it's a nice change. To only know about what's going on in front of me. I couldn't live like this forever, but for now, it's nice. I'm extremely focused on what I'm learning, I suppose. It's like my culinary school since I never went.

When I don't work, I walk 20 minutes one way to do laundry. Im definitely asking someone to drive me next time since San Marino is a town on a hill. I also drink beer, learn traditional Italian pasta dishes, and learn italian bad words in the car when ALWAYS lost with Riccardo. Hahaha he is my neighbor, coworker, and a genuinely honest and generous person. I also go to the nearby town of Rimini to have amazing pizza (made with fresh leavening, a huge difference) with Danilo (linguine), Betty (fresca mama), and Sergio (palline). Their nicknames developed somehow instantly and stuck. :) San Marino is feeling more and more comfortable as I get in to the swing of things. My Italian speaking seems like its taking the longest time but I suppose that's just me being impatient. Everyone keeps telling me that it gets better and I can't wait any longer for that to happen. Haha ahhhhh!!!

Anyways, I'm done drooling over the most beautiful man in the world at this cafe and need to put my iPod on, walk to work and watch the sunset. Ciao!