Thursday, March 29, 2012

our dear pixo & mexican food take 2

Hello everyone!
Just wanted to share the adventurous weekend that Jordan and I had!! On Saturday, Jordan woke up early to hop on a bus and head to Palermo for the young elephants football game! After being on the bus for 3 hours, they arrived at the stadium - an old decrepid baseball field that looked like it hadn't been used in years. Since Palermo doesn't have an adult team, their adults play on their 'young' team. This means that our 16,17, & 18 year olds were playing against 25, 30, and 30+ year olds . . . a disadvantage to say the least. When Jordan called to tell me about the game, him and Nate thought it would be funny to tell me they won - I got really excited - until I heard that they had really lost 69-0. . . womp, womp, womp. After the game, the team had a 3 hour bus ride back, complete with the young guys serenading Nate with love songs haha. When the boys got back they showered and we all headed out to Mercadi - one of our favorite clubs that we've talked about before. Nate's love interest was there so it made for a very interesting night. On Sunday we had a pretty lazy day. We had left our car at Nate's house in Aci Trezza so we had no means of transportation. We also had no Euros on our phones and neither did Nate which meant we couldn't get ahold of each other. After several facebook messages, skype attempts, and finally a google call, we got ahold of Nate. He came and picked us up and took us back to his house to pick up our car! Hooray! Jordan and I decided that since it was a pretty chill day, we'd try out a mexican food restaurant that we had seen a couple weeks before. This is where the real adventure begins . . .

We left our apartment at around 9 pm to head to 'Carlito's'. We decided to drive instead of walk because it was a bit of a ways away from our apartment. Before we could head to the restaurant, however, we had to stop at the bancomat to get some money. The bancomat that we stopped at was in a rather sketchy area of town so Jordan and I both got out of the car and I played lookout while he worked the atm. After we got our money we headed back to our car 'the pixo' and tried to start it . . . nothing. After multiple more tries, we decided to pop the hood and see if we could figure out the problem (because we're both so car savvy haha). Jordan looked under the hood first while I tried to start the car. After my first attempt all I could hear was Jordan laughing really hard. He told me 'I needed to see this' so I got out and looked under the hood while he tried to start the car. The engine was literally shaking, sputtering, and generally not looking very engine-like. 
 After many tries, we decided that it was time to give up. We called one of the Italian players, Christian, who handed the phone to the manager, Davide, and told him our dilemma. He told us to make sure the car was parked in a safe place and that we would worry about it tomorrow. After we hung up the phone, I got behind the wheel and the hubs pushed our dear pixo into a parking lot about 20 feet away. After the car was safely in a parking spot, we decided what the heck, might as well head to the mexican restaurant for dinner anyway! And now Jordan will take it from here . . .

Pizza Files: Mexican food pt. 2 - Carlito's Cantina
So after all that, we have to make the decision, 'do we turn around and walk back and eat somewhere closer to our house, or go try and find Carlito's?'.. Even though it will be about another 15 minute walk and we don't know exactly where it is, we decide that after all this misfortune, we FS need some mexican food to cheer up and set the world right again. We continue onward in the general direction, I am the guide, and my trusty sidekick is Mrs. Amberly Lake. After a few wrong turns and and a little extra exercise, we decide to ask for some help. So after we walk up to another restaurant only to ask for directions to the local mexcian ristorante, we get angrily pointed in the right direction and find our spot a few blocks over. Once we get inside, we have high hopes because of the true mexican/tex-mex motif of the restaurant... and cause we saw chips and salsa on the way to our table. The salsa had a surprisingly good taste even though it had the look and texture of tomato soup. The menu was translated (another good sign), but there were probably about 100 grammatical mistakes (not a good sign because it means they are still Italians trying to learn how to cook mexican food). After thoroughly looking over the menu and getting a bunch of cheap laughs (jalapenos = 'mexican spicy peppers' over here), we decided to order some queso and margaritas. The problem with queso over here, is that because they don't have cheddar cheese and are so used to melted cheese looking like what you would get on a normal pizza, that is basically what you are served in a bowl with tortillas cut into chip form. So the next time you eat a pizza, imagine scooping all that cheese off, throwing it in a bowl, stirring it up a bit, and then giving it to someone without any real type of dipping utensil to get said 'queso' out of the bowl. I swear to god you could just bring over Velveta and cans of Rotel, make the simplest form of queso, and your mexican restaurant would already has a colossal leg up on any other competition. After the queso, came the margaritas... yikes. I don't know whether it's a taste thing or if limes just aren't easy to get here, but their standard house margs are lemon flavored. Yes, you read that right, lemon margaritas. Only its not lemonade tasting, its just all the bitter and tasteless flavors of the lemon served in margarita form. Almost as disappointing as the flavor of the marg, was that I was served in a leaky glass. So by the end of the night I looked like a 3 year old who couldn't keep from spilling all over his place mat... awesome. After that ordeal, it was finally time to eat. I had the beef fajitas with a side of black beans ( you have to order and pay extra for your sides such as rice, beans etc which I found very strange), and Amberly had the appetizer sampler (flautas, nachos, quesadillas, and onion rings). The fajitas were tasty and although the portion size was for that of a small child, I was happy with the meal. Amberly's food was also pretty good except for the onion rings, which when translated to Italian apparently means a fried red pepper with cheese... strange but good. If I had to rank Carlito's on a scale of 1-10 (1 being 'Yogi & Boo Boo's' and 10 being 'El Patio' in Houston) I would probably only give it a 4. Having said that, it was still good to eat some mexican food and enjoy a change up from our usual diet of pasta, chicken, or pizza. BTW,  If anyone wants be business partners, I'm looking for investors to help with the launch of Amberly and I's mexican food restaurant  over here that will no doubt put all these other hacks out of business and will be very successful... just a thought. After dinner wrapped up we decided to walk back by the pixo and try to start it one last time before we left it for dead. nd as luck would have it, the old girl sputtered to life and hung on just long enough for us to drive home. All in all, it was a ridiculous, but fun night... untill I had to wake up the next morning and push our car (uphill) to the local gas station. That's it for now, back to back days of blogging and our 3rd in 4 days... WE'RE BACK!!!




JL & AL

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Pizza Files: Game 2 mini recap and Game 3 preview

Sorry about the delay folks. I should be better about blogging after a loss, but being sick and a lazy bye week made for the perfect storm of non blogging. But we did do some fun stuff on the bye week and had another go at a different 'mexican food' restaurant, so those blogs will be going up soon.

Game 2: Ancona Dolphins vs. Catania Elephants



Game 2 was our first home game which was infinitely better than having to wake up at 5AM and fly to our destination and then play. Ancona is a high octane spread offense with an American QB that has been there for 3 years, so they have a good system in place and have great chemistry. We had some problems defensively that led to a quick 35-7 defecit. After that we rebounded with a Kick off return for a TD and a INT return for a TD on the ensuing play to put us back to a 34-21 halftime defecit. The Elephants came out with a better defensive effort in the 2nd half allowing only 3 points , but it was too little too late and we ended up losing to the Dolphins 37-27.  The first loss of the year was humbling, but after a bye week to get back to the basics, We are ready for the upcoming game this week as we travel to play the Bologna Doves on Sunday. Here is a shorts clip from the Ancona game that led to the QB temporarily leaving the game with a concussion. I'll let you figure out for yourself who delivered the hit...
video

Stay tuned for more frequent blogs coming soon... I swear I'm not kidding this time

JL

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lately

Hello everyone!
We have been very bad bloggers lately! I'm so sorry! Since this past week was a by-week for Jordan, we pretty much took that time to hang out and take a break! We found a new website called projectfreetv.com so we've been catching up on some of our favorite shows . . . The Office, Jersey Shore, CSI, . . . the list goes on! One of our American friends, Eric, has had his two brothers in town for the past week. We've spent a lot of time getting to know Kyle and Martin, and showing them around our wonderful little island. A trip to Taormina, aranchinis, gelato, and of course . . . pasta and pizza! haha. No night is complete without at least one Italian dish!
Unfortunately, Jordan's team lost their last game against the Ancona Dolphins :(
Good news is . . . the next game is this Sunday in Bologna! Another adventure for us to have! We are hoping to spend the night/a day or two in Bologna after the game and see the sights and do a bit of exploring! We've heard great things about the city and we'd really like to experience as much of Italy/Sicily as we can in these short 5 1/2 months!

Another blog will be coming soon about our adventures this weekend. Pictures will be included, I promise! Miss you all!

Arrivederci

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sands & Lauren visit!

Oh my goodness . . . where to even begin?! This week has been so crazy and so much fun! My mom and my wonderful friend, Lauren came to visit us here in Catania! We picked them up from the airport on Sunday morning and from there, the adventures began! Their hotel was right down the street from our apartment so meeting up every day was super easy! These girls weren't just here to see Catania . . . these girls wanted to travel and see it all! Unfortunately for them, however, I was a little sickie for most of the week! They were super sweet to me and threw me daily pity parties - what are moms and friends for?! We traveled to Taormina to shop and see the Greek amphitheatre (which was incredible), we traveled to Palermo (and now know we never need to go back), we traveled to Trapani (a very beautiful and clean city where we stayed in a super shady hotel), we traveled to Marsala to taste Pellegrino wine and visit the salt pans, and we traveled back to Taormina to shop some more and taste canolis! Whew . . . what a fun time! Lots of time in the car, lots of cappucinos, lots of walking, lots of good italian food, and LOTS of delicious wine! I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful mom and friend . . . Sicily is a heck of a long way to travel, people!! Thanks you two for being so great! Can't wait for our next visitors to come! Here are some pictures from our adventures!


Jordan and me in front of the sea in Aci Trezza. The waves were super big . . . there was a 'hurricane' as the Italians called it the day before! Legend has it that Cyclops threw these 3 rocks at Odysseus in The Odyssey

Me and my bestie standing in front of the Ionian Sea in Taormina, Sicily! The water is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS! Can't wait to come here in the summertime!

Lauren & Sands standing in the Greek amphitheatre in Taormina! This is where they used to have gladiator fights, plays, and 'fake' naval battles complete with water! Look at that view!  

Me and my hubby standing under one of the arches in what used to be the backstage area of the Greek amphitheatre in Taormina

 Tasting wine in the Pellegrino winery in Marsala, Sicily! Our tour guide/tasting host spoke a little bit of English and she was full of information! The wine was different than anything we'd ever tasted before! We even got a backstage preview of the wine aging in the barrels!

 Jordan loving the salt pans in Marsala! :) These really were so cool! They funnel sea water into small, shallow troughs and wait for the dry breezes and scorching sun to evaporate the water and leave the sea salt! I wish we could've seen them shoveling salt!  

 Me and my love sitting in front of the ancient Greek temple in Segesta, Sicily! This temple was built sometime in the late 5th Century BC. It was quite an unbelievable sight!

The restaurant where we took mom & Lauren! It's just around the corner from our apartment and the inside is filled with walls of wine and liquor bottles! The shelves behind Lauren and Jordan in this picture are just a small taste of what the rest of the restaurant looks like! There was also a small jazz band playing during our dinner! Can't wait to go back! 

Well, that's all for now! Game recap coming soon!
Ciao Ciao

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pizza Files: Eating Greedy! Game 1 recap



HE’S BACK!!  Sorry for the delay in the game recap, Amberly and I have been happily playing host to Amberly’s mom and her friend Lauren. We spent the last few days driving all over Sicily to see some sights, but you will see all that good stuff in another post, it’s time to talk some football.

A little info/history on the Milano Seamen’s stadium… Both The Beatles and Led Zeppelin have played concerts there, in fact, this stadium was the last show the entire group of Led Zeppelin played together… gnutes. Now, for those of you that have ever played on the hallowed grounds of Darrell Tully stadium pre face lift, you know how bad original Astroturf can be to play on. Well that pales in comparison to how bad this field was. On top of a solid slab of concrete was a ¼ inch thick turf carpet, when it was laid down 30 years ago… now it’s about half that. So we were basically playing on carpeted concrete... I love Italy.
      After a rousing performance of the Italian national anthem by a supremely talented singer (cough), we were all set to start the IFL season. We received the opening kickoff, and after a few cuts and the stiff arm shown at the beginning, we had the ball down to the 1 (I know, embarrassing to get caught at the 1). After one offensive play we were up 6-0 with the extra point to come. Now, it might seem trivial to talk about extra points, but while Italians are good athletes and can play some football, some of the finer points (such as special teams play) are often overlooked oversees. Having said that, we obviously missed our extra point attempt. After some good kick coverage by the Elephants, the Seamen were ready to start their first drive. After a few run plays and a short past for a first down, The Seamen tried to stretch the field with a deep corner to their American receiver on the weak side, but didn’t anticipate #2 to come from the strong side and undercut the pass for the 1st INT of the game. We failed to capitalize on the TO, and after a decent punt by yours truly, the Seamen were back on O. A few plays later, the Seamen fired back with a long pass for a TD, 7-6 Seamen. The Elephant’s offense roared back to life and drove down for a TD and capitalized on the extra point thanks to kicker/RB extraordinaire Nate “Pistolero” Kmic, 13-7 Elephants. After the kickoff and a few negative plays, the Seamen were facing a 3rd and long. Because of the obvious passing down, we sent a blitz that rattled the American QB and he ended up floating a pass over his slot receiver and right into my arms. We were able to drive all the way down to the 10yd line, but failed to punch it in and turned the ball over on downs. Once they got the ball back, the Seamen started chunking it all over the field, and were having success, until #2 undercut a pass to the TE on a post. More redzone blues for the Elephants as we drove all the way to the 12 and then threw a pick in the back of the endzone. The Seamen finally got back on track and drove down the field quickly, mostly through the air to their American on the outside, for a score. Seeing a weakness in their field goal unit, I shot through the left B gap and blocked the EP, only to have it bounce right to their wing, who picked it up and ran it in for a 2pt conversion… joke to me. A short 3 plays later, the Seamen intercepted an out route and returned the ball down to our 10. 2 plays produced nothing, until they hit their receiver on a wheel route in the corner of the endzone , just over the outstretched hands of the Pistolero. EP good, 22-13 Seamen at half.
       We made some timely adjustments at halftime on both sides of the ball and came out firing on all cylinders in the 2nd half. After a quick 3 and out, our offense had the ball back and marched right down the field for a quick score. The next 2 drives played out almost identically and before they knew what hit them, we had gone up 44-22 thanks to some good D and American QB Eric Marty finding his rhythm. From there on out it was a defenseless game as neither team could have stopped a runaway train even if they had Denzel Washington and that other guy from the new Star Trek movie on their team. The offense, led by Marty and clock killin’ Kmic salted away the game and The Elephants held on for a 51-35 win to start the 2012 IFL season.  I ended up with 10 Tacs , 1 TFL, 3 INTs, 1 blocked kick, 2 rec for 25 yards, and a really sore body. All in all, not a bad way to start a career over here in Italy on concrete ‘turf’. This week we play the Ancona Dolphins in our home opener on Sunday.  They are a spread team that like to throw about 50 times a game so I should have plenty of opporunities for more pics, or some big hits.
Defense lining up to stop the seamen
They are 100% serious with this banner...

The soreness of playing on concrete has set in… Eric is a QB though so he doesn’t have to worry about things like being tired, or sore. He just throws a football around and smiles like an idiot
Special thanks to my wife and the Elephants #1 fan, Amberly Lake, for literally being our only fan on our side of the stands and cheering us on while taking these awesome pics you see. She was keeling it.

Also, this blogging was done from the living room of our apartment now the we finally have internet. So expect alot more frequency in the posts and some great pics/stories of our travels this week with Sands and Lauren.

Ciao tutti,
JL






Friday, March 9, 2012

Joyce's Pub

Hi everyone!
I forgot to let you guys in on a few developments! We finally got our 1 free meal a day from the team! WHOO HOOOOOOOO!!!!! We couldn't be more excited! The place is pretty close to our house and it's called Joyce's Pub! To get in you have to ring a little bell and they buzz you in - talk about security! Nate, Jordan, Eric, Coach Jag, and I get one free meal a day (always dinner for us) from this lovely restaurant! We can order pizza, pasta, or paninis! I can't even tell you how good our meals here have been! The first night I ordered gnocchi with a four cheese sauce. The next night, pizza with spicy salami, onions, and cheese! My last two dishes have been pasta (tomato sauce with eggplant and various spices) and they have been so incredibly delicious!!!!! Here's a pic of the boys at dinner


Also, I forgot to inform everyone that the young elephants football team played their first football game against Messina last Saturday! I was on hand to watch the game and enjoy the beautiful, sunny day! The team plays at the CUS which is the field at the University of Catania. This is where Jordan's team will play their games as well! The field is pretty nice and on a sunny day, it makes the perfect tanning spot :) The boys played a great game! They went into double overtime and ended up losing by only 1 point! Check out the view of the field complete with Mt. Etna in the background! 



Arrivederci :) 

Taormina

Hello all!
I couldn't wait to blog about the trip that we took to Taormina, Sicily yesterday! Jordan and the boys went to work out in the morning and then we went to Nate & Eric's house in Acitrezza to meet up. We all piled in the car (Eric, Jordan, Nate, Lance & Laura (Eric's friends who were visiting) and me (in the trunk!)) It's about a 45 minute drive from Catania to Taormina and it's one of the most beautiful drives I've ever been on! The mountains, the vineyards, the green hills . . . so gorgeous! When we got to Taormina we parked and headed out to tour the city. It's a very quaint town right on the sea in northern Sicily. We walked around taking pictures, stopping at souvenir shops, and stopping for a bite to eat. It is one of the coolest places I have ever been to! The town is adorable, the water is so blue, and the views are breathtaking! We can't wait to come back in the summertime and hit the beach! Hope you enjoy some of my favorite pics from the trip!







Ciao for now :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

city sidewalks

Andddd we're back! Sorry about the long delay! Just wanted to get you guys up to speed on what's been happening here in Catania! Jordan's game is coming up this Saturday in Milan and I get to fly over there with the team and see it! I'm so very excited! Also, my mom and wonderful friend, Lauren, are coming to visit us on Sunday! Hooray! This weekend will be full of fun! The weather has been wonderful lately . . . until today! It's currently storming and quite chilly outside! Summer can't get here soon enough!

For this blog post, I'll share some pictures and some stories from our walk around the city with Nate and Eric.

Here we are with the one and only George W! We found him on an Italian photobooth in the middle of the city!

 Here are the boys in front of a fountain in the middle of a piazza near our house! Very pretty! If you look in the background you can see the date spelled out with rocks and grass. How cool is that?!

Here are the boys in front of Mt. Etna! It's so neat that it's so near our house!

The ruins of what was once the 'colloseum' of Catania! Just like the colloseum in Rome! You can even walk down the stairs and venture around the ruins!  

This is the inside of the church of St. Agata! It's really beautiful and quite large! There was a service going on while we were inside - complete with a children's choir!

The famous 'elephant statue' in the middle of the city! Hence where the Catania Elephants got their name!

This is the outside of the church of St. Agata! Super ornate and very very beautiful!

That's all for now! Jordan's coming to pick me up from the bookstore since it's pouring down rain outside! The power went off a little bit ago so I think it's best to get home quickly! Sorry for the delay and I promise that we will write again soon! Can't wait for you to hear about our upcoming adventures!

Ciao, ciao, ciao