Life Uncorked: Mastroberardino Historia 2000

 

This weekend my husband, Nick, and I uncorked a bottle of Mastroberdadino Historia 2000, one of the wines we purchased at the Radici Resort and Spa in Mirabella Eclano, when my family visited there in July of 2009. Trust me, it is not often that we have an opportunity to drink a sixteen year old bottle a wine, and one that predates both of our children, Nicholas and Katherine.

The taste: steeped in history, rich, bold, and earthy, took us back in time to what is poistively one of my family’s fondest memories of the three years we spent living in Italy: a weekend at the Radici Spa & Resort.

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http://www.eileenslovak.com

This Family owned and run Winery has origins dating back to 1878, and is now in very capable hands of Vintner Piero Mastroberardino. We met Piero when we visited the resort back in 2009. The family, staff, and estate were both welcoming and exquisite. The resort encompassed everything we grew to love about Italy: history, fabulous wine, amazing cuisine and people who are passionate about their Italian culture, and want to share the experience with the world.

 

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Radici Resort & Spa
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Kat in front of the Golf Clubhouse at the Radici Resort & Spa

Seven years later, we still reflect fondly on the wine, food and accommodations and our experience that weekend, where we relaxed and dined like movie stars. Tucked away in the hills of Italy’s Campagnia region, this little gem is well worth the trip!

 

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Little golfers
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Pool at the Radici Resort & Spa
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Tee Time at the Radici Resort & Spa
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The grapes! http://www.eileenslovak.com
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Rolling Hills of Campagnia http://www.eileenslovak.com

My family and I were thankful to have experienced this amazing place. If you visit, please share your thoughts. Happy touring and tasting all! Thanks for reading!

The wine: http://www.mastroberardino.com/

The resort: http://www.mastroberardino.com/en/radici-resort/

 

 

Chocolate, Wine & Dying Anyway? May as well enjoy ourselves!

Here’s hoping you enjoyed some red wine and dark chocolate yesterday in honor of St. Valentine’s Day!

I know I did.

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Handmade chocolates wwww.eileenslovak.com

 

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Brunello di Montalcino Casanova di Neri 2006 http://www.eileenslovak.com

Like you, I chose to ignore reports like the the JAMA Network study Resveratrol Levels and All-Cause Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Adults which indicates there may after all, not be any real health benefits of consuming red wine and dark chocolate.

It was a lovely dream.

Based on this news will chocolate and red wine lovers cease our habits now that these guilty pleasures will not necessarily add years to our lives?

Unlikely.

There are still benefits that extend beyond the mere enjoyment wine and chocolate…like happiness.

The mood elevator Phenylethlamine a naturally occurring amine, best known as the “love drug” produced by our bodies when we fall in love is also found in chocolate. Some researchers say that if you crave chocolate or any other food, you may merely be deficient in one or more nutrients, vitamins or minerals like magnesium.

You could resolve this issue in the case of magnesium by eating seeds/nuts, green leafy vegetables or by taking a supplement. There is no need to turn to chocolate.

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http://www.eileenslovak.com

Do we drink red wine for its health benefits such as the presence of Polyphenols, U.S. National Library of Medicine as antioxidants? Or do we drink it because we like it and it makes us happy?

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My hubby in Tuscany! http://www.eileenslovak.com

My family lived in Italy for three years. Over which time we spent many a weekend in the Chianti region, where the JAMA study was conducted.

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“Enotcea” http://www.eileenslovak.com

Should we stop visiting wineries and frequenting chocolate festivals because these lovely tangibles have reverted to mere vices and are therefore unhealthy?

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Nick and Kat at Villa Matilde in Cellole, Italy http://www.eileenslovak.com

Link to Villa Matilde

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Chocolate Festival in Teano, Italy http://www.eileenslovak.com

After three years of traveling throughout Italy, I can verify by my own experience, the inherent joy of the Italian people. What I cannot do is prove that red wine and chocolate are the reasons for this happiness. It is a good theory, and one that scientists may consider for their next study.

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Me in Tuscany!!!! http://www.eileenslovak.com

Until then, cheers with chocolate on top!

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

Link to my E-Book!

 

Artistic in the District: Part Ten, from Ordinary, to Extraordinary

I have always been passionate about art. Unfortunately, when the almighty was handing out gifts, my bag was light on artistic talent but heavy on the creative writing side. No matter, I can still appreciate what I have and what I see.

 

Painted Dumpster in Assisi
Painted Dumpster in Assisi

 

And when an artist creates something exceptional from something very ordinary or even ugly, it is clear to me that beauty is all around us just waiting for us to see it with a fresh perspective.

 

Copper Pot Sculpture In Paris
Copper Pot Sculpture In Paris

Ordinary items, re-purposed, become works of art, simply by combining them, changes the shape, size and scale of the original singular item into something new. The way a sculpture catches the light, the way it calls your eye to move around it, is all part of the exchange between artist and viewer.

A Marching Band in Paris
A Marching Band in Paris

Color, perspective, shadow and light, these elements play and dance around objects and human subjects, creating a scene which only lasts a second. Blink and you will miss it.

Bits of Tile/Beach Combing in Vietri, Italy
Bits of Tile/Beach Combing in Vietri, Italy

On the shoreline, waves take fractured tile bits, turning them until the edges are soft and smooth as stone. Found again by a beach comber who crafts them into stunning mosaics, tabletops and wall designs.

Vietri, Italy 2009
Vietri, Italy 2009

A sunrise, a flower, a mountain range, it is easy to see the beauty nature provides. Man has to work a little harder to compete, but I think we do just fine. With imagination, talent, gifts, resources, and place combined we create!

Thanks for reading and keep creating!

 

 

Artistic in the District: Part Seven, A Strong Second Act!

"Sunflowers" by Lisa Deiranieh
“Sunflowers” by Lisa Deiranieh

 

If you have ever dreamed of becoming an artist, it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing. Creating art is a wonderful hobby even if it never consumes your life, it can enhance your daily existence.

As a former account executive, turned stay-at-home mom, turned writer, I know all about second acts and third acts. Actually, I’m still juggling all three, but this is the female dilemma. We pick up new jobs but never put any down.

A woman with a gift for juggling:

As I often ‘struggle with the juggle’ and drop the pins more often than I care to admit, I am forever in awe of my girlfriends who make ‘doing it all’ look so effortless, like my dear friend, Lisa Deiranieh. Lisa, a native of Southern California often says “God put us on opposite sides of the country because he feared what would happen if we ever got together.” Well, God must have averted his eyes long enough for us to simultaneously end up in Naples, Italy, at least for a spell. We had some good times, struggling to speak Italian (only me!) and some amazing day trip adventures where we literally stuck a pin in the map and went off in search of what was there.

On the ferry to Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples, Italy.
On the ferry to Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples, Italy.

Heading home with heavy heart:

I caught Lisa in the process of packing out to leave Naples, but she was gracious enough to fit in a quick interview first. Lisa, a Senior Staff Sonographer at US Navy Hospital Naples, Italy and full-time wife and mother of two is also an artist. Three years ago, Lisa’s husband, Dave, gave her the gift of lifetime, painting lessons with “Gigi”, Luigi Wanvestraut, a well-known Neapolitan artist.

The lessons were only supposed to last a few weeks, but as we spoke, Lisa was fixing dinner and preparing to go paint at the studio, still under Gigi’s guidance. Over the past three years Lisa has painted almost a dozen paintings. Which is amazing considering each one takes between thirty and forty hours to create. She paints with oil, which requires a longer curing time and a process involving layers of paint often applied with a spatula. Planning out your design is necessary but the result is a three-dimensional work of art.

Painting by Lisa Deiranieh
Painting by Lisa Deiranieh

 

“I want to learn the physical properties of how to make something look real,” Lisa says. Although very different from her day job, Lisa’s background working with patients in the hospital and sonographic imagery may help her to see things differently and in way that she is able to translate beautifully onto the canvas.

Image From: printsofgrace.blogspot.com

 

“I think…how can I do this?” she says. Learning Gigi’s painting technique, Lisa studies how objects appear in space as circles or squares as well as the spaces around them. “It begins with a sketch and then you layer in, dark and light and then hone in on your subject,” she says.

Inspiration:

As if living in Italy is not inspiration enough! Next to painting, Lisa, Dave and their two children have traveled as much and as often as possible throughout Europe and the Middle East. Inspired by a poster she saw in Ronda, Spain, Lisa created this painting of a bull and bullfighter.

Painting by Lisa Deiranieh
Painting by Lisa Deiranieh

 

She especially admires artists from the 1930’s and the work of the Italian masters seen at the Capodimonte Museum. Lisa’s other passions are cooking and wine! She has taken cooking classes in Tuscany with friends on multiple occasions and loves to share what she has learned.

"Stefania with Wine Glass" by Lisa Deiranieh
“Stefania with Wine Glass” by Lisa Deiranieh

 

Together we enjoyed many meals and glasses of exceptional Italian wine. I look forward to the return of family Deiranieh, when we will at least be on the same continent and in a slightly nearer timezone.

At present Lisa’s artwork is not for sale, but she is considering selling prints or giclées, a process of digitally scanning original paintings and printing them onto canvas. “I can’t sell them. I’m too attached to them,” Lisa says. “They’re my babies!”

I thank you for reading and wish you all the best of luck in discovering your own second acts!

Links: Capodimonte Museum

 

Photo Blogs Speak a Thousand Words

Beach in Scotland www.eileenslovak.com
Beach in Scotland
http://www.eileenslovak.com

I was reading a post by Om Malik about the preference for long verses short posts.  It started me thinking about what catches my eye when scrolling my blog reader.  Sometimes it’s completely random and based on mood. Sometimes I’m captured by a good title.  But, usually, it’s a great photo that draws me in.  Which makes me wonder, why am I so lazy about adding photo’s to my own posts?

It’s not for a lack of photos, I have thousands; including some terrific shots of Europe. But then, there’s so much that’s photo worthy in Europe, it’s almost impossible to take a bad picture.  I’m dropping a few of my favorites in here…see what you think.

Boats in Ischia, Italy www.eileenslovak.com
Boats in Ischia, Italy
http://www.eileenslovak.com

So…what makes a photo interesting or intriguing?  Is it the mood or feeling it inspires?

Statue in Paris www.eileenslovak.com
Statue in Paris
http://www.eileenslovak.com

Does it invoke curiosity or introspection?

Band playing for runners in Paris www.eileenslovak.com
Band playing for runners in Paris
http://www.eileenslovak.com

Is it unique, artful, skillful or comical?

Self Portrait, Paris, France www.eileenslovak.com
Self Portrait, Paris, France
http://www.eileenslovak.com

The rhyme or reason of my photo ‘likes’ is tricky to define:

I do favor flower photos, not in a Georgia O’Keeffe sort of way, just vibrant close-ups, with the amazing detail nature provides.

I admire animals, but I’m getting bored with cats and dogs anything else is infinitely more interesting, even farm animals.  That might seem common to some.  But for me, they provide a sense of peace in a pastoral setting.

Foal, Matera, Italy www.eileenslovak.com
Foal, Matera, Italy
http://www.eileenslovak.com

Anything shot in black and white gets me every time.

I’m also wild about awesome landscapes, trees, the moon, water and certain insects.  Like I said, it’s hard to narrow it down.  The fascination of a photo may lie in the viewers desire to imagine what the photographer was thinking when he/she took a particular shot and whether or not that translates through the photograph.

Bavaria www.eileenslovak.com
Bavaria
http://www.eileenslovak.com

Oh and of course…there’s the incredible edibles!

Italian Pasty www.eileenslovak.com
Italian Pasty
http://www.eileenslovak.com
Shop Window in Modena www.eileenslovak.com
Shop Window in Modena
http://www.eileenslovak.com
Tuscan Cheeses www.eileenslovak.com
Tuscan Cheeses
http://www.eileenslovak.com

With so many excellent photo blogs out there, I began to wonder why I’m stingy with the like button?  Can’t I like as many blogs or photos as I would like to?

My new favorites are the nicely paired poem and photo combo, as in these two blogs:  The Source of Inspiration and The Wanderer, check them out if you get a chance.

 

 

You might just want to stop and sit awhile with some photo blogs:

Café in Cetona, Italy www.eileenslovak.com
Café in Cetona, Italy
http://www.eileenslovak.com

Or put on a sweater…

England www.eileenslovak.com
England
www.eileenslovak.com

In the very least if an image makes the viewer smile;  that should be enough, now shouldn’t it?

Locks of Love Salerno, Italy www.eileenslovak.com
Locks of Love
Salerno, Italy
http://www.eileenslovak.com

Holy Places: Assisi

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Assisi at Dawn, http://www.eileenslovak.com

Of all of the places I traveled during a three year expanse living in Italy, Assisi stands out as one of the most holy.  I expected to feel this way about Rome and I did up to a point, but tourism, vendors and the overall commercialization of Vatican City left me feeling a bit deflated, which is not to say I didn’t appreciate the wonders of it all. 

Assisi on the other hand, remains unspoiled, perhaps because you need to work harder to get there and those seeking out this serene, peaceful place, generally go for holy reasons.  I am thrilled to have been blessed with the opportunity to visit some of the lesser traveled cities and towns in this exquisite country and was never disappointed by the beauty I found. 

This is a photographic journey.  Since I rarely sleep, I was able to capture the silence of dawn. 

I hope you enjoy it!    

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Red Scooter, Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com
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Fresco, Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com
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Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com
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Dove, Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com
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Assisi, http://www.eileenslovak.com