Gioia's Tiramisu

If you're searching for an incredible Italian dessert to make this summer, look no further. Today I came across a tiramisu recipe acquired during a family vacation in Chianti and I can't wait to share it with you! It's rich, refreshing and contains espresso. I urge you find these six ingredients and try it tonight - no oven required. 

I only made 1/2 the recipe, so my tiramisu has only one layer; my brothers and I were more than satisfied after devouring a few pieces!

Back in June of 2008 my family and I spent a week at Le Bonatte farm in Radda in Chianti. It is a lovely property about sixty kilometers south of Florence. That one hour drive along sickeningly windy roads is made even more dangerous by the breathtaking expanse of rolling hills and valleys draped in vineyards that beg you to drag your eyes away from the gray road. Che bella vista!

One afternoon our hostess Gioia came to the main house to offer us a cooking lesson, and by evening we had prepared a superb four course meal. That divine combination of fresh ingredients, simple recipes and tasty results... my memories are so vivid, even four years later. Fried zucchini blossoms and sardines for our appetizers, pasta made from scratch on the gorgeous marble kitchen table, and, of course, tiramisu. Buon appetito.

Gioia's Tiramisu Recipe (serves 8)


4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups mascarpone 
300-400g ladyfingers (depending on the desired proportion of cream to ladyfingers)
Coffee (strong coffee, Italian style - or espresso)
Cocoa powder (to be sifted on top)


1. Soak the ladyfingers in hot coffee (or put the ladyfingers in a container and pour the coffee over). Make sure the coffee is distributed evenly among the ladyfingers. [I placed each finger in one at a time, submerging them for 5 seconds apiece; any longer than that and they began to crumble and fall apart.]

2. Separate the egg yolks and beat them with the sugar. When ready fold in the mascarpone. 

3. Beat the egg whites until stiff. (You should be able to turn the bowl almost upside down and the whites should stay in the bowl. For best results the egg whites must be very cold. Adding a pinch of salt before beating might also help.) 

4. Fold slowly the egg yolk mixture into the stiff egg whites. 

5. In a round or rectangular pan put one layer of ladyfingers, one layer of creamy mixture, etc. Keep in the refrigerator for a few hours. Before serving sprinkle a very fine dust of cocoa powder on top. 

See Le Bonatte's website to have your own cooking lesson with Gioia Milani Landi, owner of Le Bonatte farm in Chianti. 

My Favorite Museums

Well, it's been almost four weeks since I completed my internship in Pitt's Study Abroad Office, and I really honestly miss the place, the people, everything about working there. There are few places where it's not only possible, but acceptable to spend an afternoon discussing, debating, and ranking the best museums in the world. In consideration of things like diversity and coherence of the collection, food, manageability and location, here are the museums that I advocated for:

Dylan's TOP 5 Museums
  1. Leopold Museum in Vienna 
  2. Philadelphia Art Museum
  3. Imperial War Museum in London
  4. Museu Nacional de Catalunya (MNAC) in Barcelona
  5. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City 
At the Tate Modern during my first trip to London
Honorable Mention:

Art museums like the Uffizi in Florence and the Louvre in Paris are indisputably some of the best in the world - yet for someone like me, who appreciates art but can't necessarily ingest/comprehend such enormous collections, they're just not manageable.

On the other hand, some of the museums that I have visited have been randomly fun and interesting but a bit too specific to make my list: these would be museums like the Museum of Childhood in London or the Museum of Hash, Marijuana, and Hemp in Amsterdam.

The museum that was the most unexpected success for me was the National Gallery at Veletrzni Palace in Prague. I'd definitely like to throw an honorable mention their way. 

Obviously there were many diverse museums to visit when I was living in London: the Freud Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Tate Modern and the National Gallery. In Provence curiosity pulled me into the Museum of Natural Science in Aix-en-Provence and even the Camargue Rice Museum. And because Pitt subsidizes the arts in Pittsburgh, students have free admission to all sorts of interesting museums - the Carnegie Museums, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory...

But at the end of the day, my Top 5 are untouched by any of the museums that I have seen (so far). My coworkers gave me some recommendations that they hope will challenge my Top 5. Their favorites are the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, the National Portraiture Gallery in Washington, DC and the Museo de la Memoria in Rosario, Argentina (a museum of political dictatorship and the dirty war). We'll just see about that! And hopefully soon, I feel that travel bug itching to have its way...

Off to the Races

The 82nd annual Radnor Hunt Horse Races, that is. A reason to masquerade as a prep, stroll around the well-manicured club hunting grounds, and drink all afternoon with many of Philadelphia society's best.

At Radnor Hunt, the yearly theme is a challenge to patrons. Awards are given for the most creative tailgates and outrageous hats. Last year the theme was "The Great American Novel," and this year: "Islands Big and Small." I found Treasure Island, Hawaii, Great Britain, and the Galapagos, and the winner was Fantasy Island (I have family members who serve on the panel of judges and they were completely charmed by it). 

I watched the first steeplechase race from my preferred perch on the swing on the hilltop by the clubhouse. They were off to a worrisome start with riders thrown at jumps and errant ponies trotting around the track; more than half of the jockeys were dismounted before the finish. I think we were all anxious to see more successful races later on! Here are some photos from Saturday afternoon:

In all my preppy glory with the obligatory hat, pearls, and Lily Pulitzer linen dress; with friends Misty and Marc and sister Amanda

Samples for the tailgate judges!

Ba-dum... ba-dum, ba-dum... 
["Two notes, and you've created a villain!" - Jack Black in the Holiday]

My beautiful neighbors, a couple of ladies getting their sugar fix!

Group photo of the tailgate winners - congratulations, folks! 

 The carriage parade

A candid shot of my race day crew ;)

Poolside Pancakes

A few well-deserved pancakes, stuffed with strawberries from our own garden. Mmmm!

the egg was my stepfather's request

The pancakes were delicious; chewy and fluffy and just sweet enough with the berries inside. I feel compelled to share this recipe with the world! Pancake recipe from Gina Homolka of Skinnytaste:


2 cups wheat flour (I used regular bleached flour for 1 1/2 cups and wheat flour for the remainder)
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups + 2 tbsp fat-free milk
2 tsp vanilla


Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. 
Add wet ingredients and mix well (but don't over-mix). 
Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Grease your skillet with cooking spray or butter, then pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter. Add fruit, chocolate chips, chopped nuts - whatever you fancy - to the batter, or to the pancakes once they start to bubble on the griddle. 
Flip, repeat, serve, enjoy!

A Personal Mission

Since graduating from Pitt last week I've moved back into my old room in my old house in my hometown. Before unpacking, I decided to go through all of the drawers and boxes and shelves to find room where it could be made or spared for the great mass of clothes, shoes, and books that I had acquired over time. 

In a printing paper box in the back of my closet I found schoolwork from freshman year, and laying on top was a handwritten page that began"I PROMISE." I looked more carefully and saw that this was an assigment from my freshman programs course; we were asked to write "a mission statement for your life."

What I read inspired me, reminded me of who I was when I began that journey, and surprised me because it holds absolutely true today. So I'll share it in the hopes that my life mission statement will remind you of your own. 
"I PROMISE to live independently, creatively, and youthfully. To be open to change, to be inspired often, to value integrity, loyalty, ambition, kindness, and fairness. I promise to learn constantly and forgive often. I promise to do what I want fearlessly, and to live in a way that will surround me with good karma. I promise to have hope. I promise to love passionately. I promise to cherish those I love and to embrace life fully. In difficult situations, I promise to be strong, brave, and resilient. I promise to never stop trying." 

Slow Food, Local Food

This morning I went to a plant sale at Rushton Farm.
[Delchester Road, Willistown Township]

Every year my mom and I go to buy seedlings for our vegetable garden. Today we picked up raven zucchini, early girl tomatoes and red rubin basil plants to diversify things a bit.

The truly great thing about Rushton is that this is an organic community farm. Individuals and families can rent a row in the garden and visit it once or twice week to maintain it and eventually to harvest their produce. Not only does it make a wonderful family project, there's something to be said for eating food you've personally grown. No pesticides or herbicides are used and there is an emphasis on sustainable agriculture and responsible land stewardship. The farm and the garden program are part of the Willistown Conservation Trust. 

Dreaming in Color

I just signed up for the COLOR ME RAD 5K, which comes to Philadelphia on Sunday June 17th.

Admittedly, I am not the greatest runner. But that hasn't stopped me in the past - last year I was able to finish two races: the annual Firemen's 5K in Ventnor, NJ (officially known as the Kenny Wayland Memorial Run) and ZTA's 5K for Breast Cancer in West Chester, PA (see below).

Me, my brother and my mom post-race. One woman was wearing a shirt that read across the chest: "Yes, they're fake. The real ones tried to kill me." That was a highlight.

So if you need a reason to get in shape, if you want to raise money for the Special Olympics, or if you just want to be covered in rainbow chalk as you struggle to the finish line after running upwards of three miles, COME JOIN ME for a run in Fairmount Park! This should get interesting...

Lunch at the Florist's Shop

Ham & brie croissant for me, quiche lorraine for sister, garden salad and cappuccino for mom, delicious all around. Very decent coffee and all bread/pastries by art of bread georges perrier.

Where: Valley Forge Flowers in Wayne, PA