Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese anyone?

Although the feeling at the moment is predominantly based on India and I have been cooking some Indian Dishes like Chicken Korma and Onion Bhaji lately (kind of to get me back into the Indian way of food), today we decided to do some simple, but always delicious Spaghetti Bolognese!

There are a hundred and one ways how to do your spaghetti bolognese, but this is the way we do it and the way we like it ...... home made style :)

• Get yourself some good quality Spaghetti, Italian brands for me are the preferred!
• Add water in a pot, add salt and a drop of olive oil and get the bugger to a boil.

• Until the water is getting to a boil chop some onions & garlic and prepare your minced beef (please make sure its not frozen like a brick else it get clumpy!).

• Put some olive oil in a pan and push up the heat! When this is ready sizzle those onions and garlic and you may add two chillies for some added punch! When the onions are starting to brown (not burn!) add the minced beef and get it cooking.




• In the meantime the water should have boiled - add the Pasta and take the timing so you have it 'al Dente"

• When the meat is cooked add the tomato sauce and leave to simmer.


• Now its time for the secret ingredient - Bovril! Melt one Bovril cube in some hot water and add to the sauce for some nice beefy taste!

• When the pasta is ready - ensure its done and after draining add to the sauce and mix well!

And there you are! Your Spaghetti Bolognese is ready to serve and be devoured!

Buon Apetito!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The quit smoking saga

I have to admit - after writing the previous post about quitting smoking I had a relapse and I am smoking again. Honestly I can understand how I can be so weak, its just a roll of paper with tabacco inside!! Yes it might be the nicotine or anything else they put inside, but I couldn't take the craving away. Guess the only way to do it is to go to the desert for a week, no cigarettes and stay there like that if I freak out I just have the sand and some creatures to endure my nagging! Well we wait and see....

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Quitting Smoking...... Not easy......At all!!

Finally I decided to quite smoking and I can say upfront its not easy at all! Its not the fact of the nicotine deficiency that bothers me as the cravings are there but I can get over them - its the actual habit of having those 5 minutes on your own (or in company) of a cigarette.

In fact, strangely enough I ended up thinking "what will I do when I am watching TV? When I am waiting for someone?" Guess the "habit" is more that of using the cigarette as something to do and an excuse to walk out of the office for those 5 minutes.

Coffee seems to help to get you off the craving minute, but I guess its more a question of will power. Honestly I really want to do this and I bet there are many of you out there that are making it their daily goal to stop smoking altogether - I do understand your struggle - its not easy but its not impossible since a lot did it so guess we can too!

These are some help sites you can use maybe - but I believe the only one that can help is yourself!

Ex-Smokers Eu 

Quit

American Cancer Society


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Steps forward - it all happens through your phone!

Well seems that it's really the phone era and with every second I actually believe there is no doubt about it.

Some time ago we were simply amazed that we could text one another, then simply flabbergasted that we could send a photo via mms - now nothing seems special anymore as everything is happening through our phones.

In the past days I actually tried an app called twonky beam. It's a simple app which enables you to watch movies from YouTube, Vimeo and other online video channels on your tv via your tv netbox. I found myself, with my girlfriend stuck on the sofa for an hour watching YouTube clips we had already watched, but which we thought looked really cool on a 42 inch screen.

And that is just one of the many things we can do with our phones and many a time simply take for-granted. Like writing this blog for instance! It wasn't done on a pc but on an iPhone and surely this I couldn't do with my Nokia 5100 or whatever it was - with it's green light screen and dodgy ringtones. (Mind you those phones were tough! Try slamming an iPhone down 2 flights of stairs and see what happens!).

But anyway - progress is in the hands of the phone and as its already showing we will soon be able to control our lights at home, put on the washing machine, start up the oven etc with a tap and a slide. I just hope our kids won't start calling a phone or a tablet mum and dad!!!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Siracusa - a trip to remember

I always wanted to travel to Sicily by boat, a medium size boat I mean not a passenger liner and when the opportunity came some two weeks ago I immediately accepted, but also froze.

I love the sea and anything to do with the sea, boats, sailing, snorkelling, diving, fishing etc., but I also have a deep respect towards this massive liquid body and sometimes also a bit of fear. I learnt from one of my diving instructors that there is nothing wrong to be afraid, "sometimes if you are not slightly scared that will be the beginning of your demise", he used to say. 

So what I was scared of? Well for starters I was given the task to get familiar with the GPS system, of which I knew nothing about and to learn how to use it to navigate to the desired port and that in itself was quite a responsibility. Next was the fact that I was going to be with two other people (my father and my brother in law to be), whom although I know quite well, I had never spent so much time and in such close quarters with…..so obviously one has some anticipation no? 

The departure day arrived real quick and after struggling to come to my senses at 430am with the help of some subtle threats from Gabi (my girlfriend) and the obvious third cup of coffee I was ready to go. 

Engines on, gps set all systems check go! The sea was amazingly calm and it gave us opportunity to speed up fast towards our target. One thing that amazed me is how fast Malta disappeared out of sight! For sometime it was just water and sky, then the first huge cargo ships started appearing crossing the Mediterranean as it is their custom. As we were staring at those metal islands something stirred the mirror like waters in front of us.... Dolphins! My dream came true! There they were leaping out of the water like feathers in the wind. We saw them twice during the journey, but I will never stop being amazed to see these wonderful creatures. 

After about two hours Sicily was visible (to my relief that I planned the gps correctly!!) and we were off towards the port of Siracusa. On arrival inside the open port we headed towards the Marina and whilst refuelling we cleared all the formalities and berthed in the place reserved for us. All in place and after a refreshing shower stop it was time to explore. 

Even though it was 11am and was quite hot, we decided to go to the huge church of Santa Maria dell Lachrime, which for me is quite an amazing modern monument - although some might differ in opinion.



After the visit and some more going round in Ortigia the old city of Siracusa, we got ourselves a car and prepared for the evening. The evening out was marked with one main ingredient - food and more food - but this seems to be the norm when three guys are on their own on holiday in Sicily - as this carried on for the rest of the stay! 

The next day (obviously after breakfast) we went to get our car and started off to Riposto to view the Marina - a really nice place with a huge Marina indeed. After this long drive and brief visit we decided to head towards "La Gola dell'Alcantara". I had never been there and it was worth all the drive and all the steps to get to it. Its a place where lots of people gather to swim in the Alcantara river. The water is freezing cold and it was such a healthy relief to jump in. After this refreshing stop it was time for Matthew to visit Taormina so we headed up to the hill city. But the heat had the better of us all and after some time strolling around we decided to slowly (just saying) drive back.




On the last day we thought to go to some other sea side villages and I opted to take the lot to Acitrezza for a fish lunch - it was amazing and I recommend it to anyone visiting these parts to pay a visit to this place! After what seemed to be a never ending lunch we went to St.Maria Della Scala, a tiny sea side village with a beautiful port. Satisfied (and bellies too full) we drove our little Cinquecento to be on time to return it to the rental company.




The next morning it was time to return back and this time the sea wanted to show a bit it's other side. With quite a big swell we went out of the port and headed toward the foot of Sicily and then towards Malta. North East wind gave us a tail wind helping a bit in the push, but had to keep a limited speed due to the swell which went increasing as time went by. 

Nevertheless we arrived back safe and sound, with a baggage of memories and a wonderful experience to share! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sea Rescue

Yesterday I witnessed for the first time a sea rescue by Helicopter. A 7 year old girl who had developed critical complications after the boat she was on sunk off Mellieha in Malta. More details about this unfortunate incident here.

Although I do not know who the people on the stricken boat were I would really like to thank all the people involved in the rescue.... THANK YOU! You do an amazing job and sometime we lack to even show appreciation for all the great efforts you do on a daily basis!!

Here is a short clip of yesterday's rescue - I apologise for the quality but it was taken using my cell phone on another boat and zoomed in (stupidly enough), but surely it shows the great bravery of the people performing the rescue! Thanks again!




Helicopter leaving scene with girl on board 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Istanbul - a real Turkish Delight

Honestly Turkey was never at a high place on my traveling wish list, but when the opportunity came to visit Istanbul for a few days I went with it. With every place one is going to visit for the first time come the stereotypes - the suggestions from friends and family who visited the country before. Take the advise and trash their fears! People seem to have an obsession with making people Fear a place and then say "but overall it's nice and interesting". Thank you I say with my new list of "what can go wrong" items. The taxi driver will con you or fiddle with the meter, the people are not nice and unfriendly, the hotels are small and filthy etc etc.

Well on arrival at Istanbul's international airport we were greeted with quite an organised and very clear arrivals lounge. Got through passport control (which I suggest you have the Visa organised before arrival in Istanbul so that you don't waste time waiting to have the documents done there) and got our luggage and out. Changing money was simple as 1,2,3 whilst getting a taxi was even quicker and in less than 30 minutes we were at our hotel - ( maybe we were lucky we had no problems with the driver trying to get more money on the fare)

After check-in and a Friendly chat with the receptionist who after offering the usual tourist packaged tours, he also helped us on our exact location on the map and other ways how to get about using the metro. (again maybe we found an angel here - a helpful Turk! Not like what we read or heard !)

Immediately we set to explore in my opinion the best way is the simplest way - on foot! Getting oriented was not difficult at all and we easily found our way to central areas like the grand bazaar and after quite some hours going around we opted to venture further out towards the New mosque area and the site of the spice bazaar.





Now here is one simple observation. These places attract tourists, so it's obvious that they become full of touts and some 'pushy' salesmen, so when you go into one of these so called 'tourist traps' don't complain, you knew about it!!!

If, like us, you like the genuine local shops, get away from the tourist track and venture in local market areas. Simple way of knowing you are in the right place? Few people speak good English and they might be also a bit weary about you entering their shops. Overall it was a really nice experience and met lots of people just in the first hours of being their which really gave us a good impression of the country.



Dining is simply great and no Turkish food is not just Kebab - there's a lot more to it - but I must say having a taste for lamb helps as its quite a staple meat round here and they prepare it in most amazing ways!
During our stay we dined in several different places from a simple kebab corner shop to an amazing ottoman style restaurant, with decorated domed ceilings and a great view of the spice bazaar. All were amazing except for a small incident in which the lamb on my "Turkish pizza" (which is basically bread with lamb and sauce on it) was not cooked well so I refrained to eat. This happened after being in an area with not much of a dining choice on the first eve and after the restaurant we headed to look for in heavy rain was no where to be found although highly hailed on "lonely planet" and easily found within a mosque complex.







The mornings commence (quite early at 5am) with the morning prayers and then again at 6am, so for non- Muslims this might be a bit strange or even annoying since in Istanbul a mosque is always close at hand. I am not Muslim, but this didn't bother me at all - more so it made me think of it as something really nice ( kind of soothing).




Sight seeing is quite boring for me, but still essential, so a visit to the usual tourist destinations are a must. Hagia Sofia, the blue mosque - which is simply a spectacular monument, which in my opinion tourist need to treat with more respect than just removing their shoes before entering- the Bosporus, grand and spice bazaar etc. Also it's great to visit other places, such as other mosques in which less tourists tend to venture, respect the customs and the place and sit at the back and absorb the atmosphere - guess that was one great peaceful experience for both of us!





Other must do's in Turkey are the Hamam - the traditional Turkish baths. We chose to go to one of istanbul's oldest at Cemberlitas and although it not exactly cheap for the traditional bath (€30 per person), the service was great, the place was really clean and the experience was unique. Entering the hot marble room is a bit intimidating at first, but they let you relax and build a sweat before one of the bath hands/ masseurs calls you for the process to commence with a straight forward "you come!". After your bath, simply relax with a glass of chay (tea) and forget your worries for those few minutes that seem a lifetime.

Also trying out the Nargile lounges is a cool and relaxed idea. Tucked away in a small alley way off the main road to Cemberlitas, one can find a whole bunch of these water-pipe cafes. It's a great way of meeting locals and fellow travellers and make new friends even though you might never see them again in you life, it's a great way to share experiences or practise a language over an apple flavoured pipe and sublime Turkish tea. 


The weather at this time of year was quite chilly and actually we had one day of snow, which for us Maltese was great, although after the first half hour of easy walking in the snow the cold started to kick in and so had to seek refuge but all in all it was great as the sun always smiled down for some occasional moments and the interiors of every shop or restaurant are well heated so don't worry about the weather!


I can say I did love Istanbul and it is a place worth visiting indeed, with a lot of history, culture and friendly smiles.  I think this was another experience which gets me more and more drawn to the East, which I feel has so much to offer to all the five sense and maybe even the 6th sense. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New site for artist Alfred Camilleri

Finally managed to find the time to finish my dad's website - a gallery of his Limestone sculpture works. The link is www.maltalimestone.com - let me know what you think :)