Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma

Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma

Ryan, Sami, and I cooked our breakfast in our Modena hostel before leaving for Parma. We prepared our giant cheese-filled tortelloni from the market with pesto; cheesy-noodles with pesto; grape tomatoes; sausage; bread; peaches; and tea – and everything was exquisitely delicious.

The three of us returned the car and then took the train to Parma, which cost just €7 or so and took 20 minutes. The Parma train station was nothing like I remembered from 2008, with so many new shops and structures. We tried to find a left-luggage area, but in the renovation, the left-luggage lockers were gone. He went to buy his train ticket to Milan for later that day, but the train was sold out and so he had to leave on the train that left in just 15 minutes! We sat in the train station cafe, eating lusciously fluffy lemon and coffee cream-ices (not ice cream, though) until his train arrived. Then, once again, it was just Ryan and me.

Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma

The two of us walked to old town Parma, and found the Saturday bazaar in full swing, where vendors sold cheap shoes and boxes of bras. We walked in the heat by the field opposite the Mrs Napoleon museum that Tomiko and I had visited back in 2008. It was now getting to be lunchtime, so we found a little degustation restaurant that served horse meat (and was just two blocks away from the horse butcher). We sat inside the air-conditioned bistro, underneath a couple dozen Parma hams hanging in the rafters.

Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano in ParmaParma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma

We ordered the local Lambrusco wine, a sparkling red wine served chilled, that Mr Caselli said helps to wash down the fatty Emilia-Romagna meals. Ryan and I split a salad with purple chicory, arugula, tomatoes, anchovies, and chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – absolutely delicious! After the salad, I was tempted by all those Parma hams hanging above our heads, and the fact that we were in Parma, and that I was no longer vegetarian, so Ryan and I shared a charcuterie board of Parma ham (prosciutto crudo de Parma), aged 30 months. It was sliced very thinly and was so buttery soft – the meat and fat almost had the same texture, with a salty, porky, umami flavour. We slowly ate it up, savouring every bite, and I was now satisfied.

Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma

The bistro was small, with just a few tables, but was full of locals that were on their lunch break. You know you’ve found a good restaurant when you’re surrounded by Italians!

Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma

After our lunch, we continued to wander the streets, but Parma was eerily empty and many of the stores were closed, and the market had ended too. We rested our feet at a gelateria where Ryan got something fruity and I got scoops of stracciatella and tiramisu gelato, and we sat on a bench outside the gelateria and watched people go by. When we were well-rested, we walked back to the station and got a train back to Modena, where we stayed the night before leaving for Bologna the next day.

Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano in ParmaParma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma

Meinhilde's Signature, Kiku Corner

DIY: Cozy Cowl with Night Sky Applique

This cashmere cowl is the third installment of my re-purposing cashmere sweater project. The first two can be found here and here. When I first saw this sweater on my thrifting trip my first thought was to make a cowl, however it ended up being the hardest project to design. Not because I had no options but the opposite! My Pinterest page is brimming with possibilities but there were just so many options!

I finally decided on using a shimmery leather scrap I found at my favourite craft supplies store (they have a huge leather ends bin at the back of the store).

Continue reading →

Good Eats in Modena

Modena

Ryan, Sami, and I fetched our car and drove off to Modena, leaving La Spezia and Cinque Terre behind.

Sami drove while Ryan navigated over the winding hills and valleys until we got to the Emilia-Romagna region. We were in a rush, trying to get to the Pagani factory four our 11 am tour in English. I loved driving through the countryside, and saw cranes and a hare off in the fields. We got to Pagani only 15 minutes late, but they allowed us to join the tour. We stood in the factory itself, where they make the cars by hand, just 40 per year (up from just 20 per year in their old, smaller factory). Mr Pagani is also Mr Carbon Fibre, with what seems to be the whole car out of carbon fibre. Even in the main lobby, carbon fibre tiles were set into the floor. The tour guide said that the base price was €1.3 million for some models, with the sky the limit due to customers’ customization – the top price was somewhere near €3 million! Owners will sometimes have to ship their cars to the factory to be serviced, and some even store their cars at the factory. The factory itself was pristine, and there was a section behind windows where the workers layer the carbon fibre pieces and mold them with heat – if there is any imperfection, the part is destroyed.

PaganiPagani Pagani

We stayed a while after the tour, looking at the cars in the showroom, one of which was the car #5 of just 5 made. There was an Italian family that had ‘Supplier’ passes instead of our ‘Visitor’ passes, and they were talking to some middle-aged short guy – Mr Pagani himself! We awkwardly stared at him before we left. As we got into our car outside, he waved at us from his bicycle as he pedaled away. We freaked out. Then after we made 2 turns to get to Modena, we saw him again in front of us, and Sami was careful not to hit him, since he wasn’t wearing a helmet!

Continue reading →

DIY: McCall’s M7313 Knit Dress

McCall's M7313 Knit Dress

McCall’s M7313 is a knit dress that I sewed out of a brushed cotton knit fabric. It was the second time I sewed with knits, so I felt it went better than my first. I used a grey-beige knit with a floral print, and it is a really soft and cozy fabric.

McCall's M7313 Knit Dress

To achieve a sharp hem, I added strips of knit stay tape to the hems of the sleeves and skirts. I also added it to the shoulders to prevent them from stretching out.

I sewed a size 16 bodice and skirt in view D. The only alteration I added was lengthening the bodice by one inch. I’m glad I did, since now it hits at my waist; I think the dress would look like an empire-waist if I had left it as-is.

Continue reading →

Rum Crème Brûlée

Rum Crème Brûlée

Kiku Corner is on a crème brûlée roll, and for our dad’s birthday I made another version: rum crème brûlée. Instead of the plain vanilla or maple-flavoured crème brûlées of the past year, this time I used brown sugar and Kraken dark spiced rum to give the creamy dessert a Caribbean twist.
Rum Crème Brûlée

I’m more and more getting the hang of using the blowtorch. Once again, crème brûlée is quite easy to make if you’ve got a blowtorch at hand. The custard is easily mixed together and then baked in a water bath, which helps keep the custard at an even temperature. This allows for a bit of baking wiggle room so that the custard doesn’t curdle into scrambled eggs.

Rum Crème Brûlée

The crème brûlée can be prepared and baked a day or two in advance; just caramelize the sugar at the last minute. If you leave the sugar crust for too long, it will melt and turn into more of a crème caramel.
Rum Crème Brûlée  Continue reading →