Hotel Living


We have a beautiful hotel situated in San Gregorio, Catania. The Italian family that runs it has had it in the family since the sweet old man was just a small boy. There are orchards of oranges, lemons, avocadoes, grapefruit, olive trees, and tons of flowers like calla lilies. The stone buildings are over grown with greenery and you can see the sea from the patio. The shower is sent from heaven, nothing more comforting than a nice hot shower after a long day. The windows are the old latched kind that you can open and have the Italian breeze come through. The weather has been quite cold, freezing in fact, that I’ve kept a heater by my bed. The craziest thing about living in a hotel is learning how to eat.

This past weekend they had a Vitamix instruction on base at the NEX. We went twice and saw it and kind of fell in love with it. The food was also great! She was making soups, ice creams, and smoothies all in a few minutes. We ended up buying one (don’t even get me started on how expensive it is) but we knew it was totally worth it. The first successful thing I made was broccoli and cheese soup. Granted, I didn’t think about the fact that I was putting in raw onion and garlic so needless to say it was a bit spicy. It was so much better than pizza which we had eaten practically every day. The blender actually gets the soup hot. We also bought a little “George Foreman” grill, a juicer, and the hotel came with a kettle for hot water. We also splurged on a powder blue yeti to keep more things cold. The hotel gave us two mini fridges but they pretty much just hold the beer. I’m learning to use my imagination but I can definitely say I am ready for a kitchen of my own.

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attempting broccoli and cheese soup
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first time using the grill, the chicken wasn’t so great
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Eating our meal in the “lobby” of the hotel
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zucchini with prosciutto
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Finished Product
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Is it weird to make soup in a blender? Not when you are desperate!

Each morning the hotel has a breakfast with coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, pastries, pies, cheese and meats, and all kinds of homemade jams.  The oranges that they use are actually blood oranges. Our guide Dino told us that when the oranges are grown during the cold weather they take on this red color which actually looks like the orange is bleeding. Its got an amazing sweet taste and I would prefer it over the regular.

 

 

When we have the time or get lucky, we go out for dinner. The first nights that we had a guide with us, he took us two restaurants. The first was a gluten free pizza place. Railroad ties were used as steps up to this quaint little stone building with wood beams. Though we can never read the menu, Dino helped us order. I haven’t been feeling great lately and its rare you find soup. Luckily this place was known for their mixed bean soup and it was lovely!

 

The next time we went to a beautiful little place though I cannot recall the name. This restaurant usually requires reservations which Dino made for us. When you walk in there is shelves of wines and liquors for sale. To the side was a huge display of fresh fish, squid, clams, and all sorts of sea life.

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pistachio gnocchi pasta
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tired since dinner starts at 8pm
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happy about his pasta!

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bruschetta
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bean soup
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the best oven friend potatoes and veggies!

 

We let Dino order because again, I don’t understand much except for “pasta and pomodoro”. We had bruschetta to start and then 1st course was a perfect penne pasta with tomato sauce. It was the best I have ever had. The kids had alfredo and it was pretty great too. The second course for me (because I stay away from fishy items usually) was a pistachio cream sauce with gnocchi. Oh it was delicious and I could barely finish I was already so full! My husband and Dino got some sort of pasta with squid ink on the bottom. Now, I watch top chef and if you remember that 2nd runner up just made squid ink grits that the judges just loved. So obviously it’s supposed to be good. Though it didnt have a fishy taste it was amazing from the little bite I had.

 

I’m sure you probably have said once or twice, “I could live in Italy and just eat Pizza/pasta everyday of my life!” I can tell you with certainty that no matter what you say, you will not be able to eat pasta and pizza everyday and not get bored. I crave ANYTHING else. Chinese, Indian, Mexican, or just plain home cooking.  We have finally found some suggestion and there is actually all of these things here, just a bit harder to find. I’m anxious to try the ONE Indian place here which serves my favorite, butter chicken.

 

Typically eating at restaurants or to-go food is my favorite because I don’t have to cook, but like I said previously I just can’t handle another slice of pizza. We bought all these gadgets and while I have had a few successes, I still cant get a egg hard boiled or actually warm up anything. The other day I texted my husband and said “Why on earth did we not just buy a microwave??” I’m still baffled as to why that never crossed my mind, but because our hotel stay may be even longer, I’m going to get one. I could do all sorts of things with a microwave!

 

The vitamix has been pretty awesome, smoothies are wonderful when we have ice and even soups. I made a broccoli and cheese soup that was pretty great except for the fact that I didn’t think about the fact that the onion and garlic wasn’t actually cooked so it was rather spicy. I also made a corn soup that was pretty great. Just the other day I surprised my husband with a rotisserie chicken from the commissary. We also had a salad. It was pretty much the best dinner we have had since arriving. A few days ago I went to the commissary and just stocked up on snack foods and things to make sandwiches. I’m pretty much giving up on the idea of making a real meal. A week ago when we first bought the little grill, I made grilled chicken and zucchini. The chicken tasted kind of slimy… It just wasn’t good but I was grateful for something other than pizza or pasta.

Our “kitchen” is located in our kid’s bedroom right beside the bathroom. Its less than ideal. The awesome cooler doesn’t really stay cold since the ice melts pretty quickly.

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tortellini
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homemade tomato sauce
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before we had a vitamix, we had velvet to go cups
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fruit!
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our new baby blue yeti

I read a bunch of awesome tips on how to cook in a hotel room. Too bad the stuff they used isn’t that common in a European hotel room such as an iron and a coffee maker. {Ah, how I miss coffee.} Our sink is the bathroom sink and at times when Im washing our dishes near the toilet, I have a moment where I feel like I’m going crazy!

We are adjusting as best we can and what I have realized is that there will be an end to the hotel living. For now, dinners are a cup of noodles, lunch is a sandwich, and breakfast will be sweet pastries…

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fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil salad
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How you cook waffles when you have no toaster
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fresh Italian oranges
hotel living
our dining room table…
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