Just like beer tastes better in a proper glass than a can, and cappuccino tastes better in a ceramic cup than a paper cup, it’s no surprise that Japanese noodles taste better served in a proper, handcrafted noodle bowl.
As soon as we received these new donburi (bowls for noodles or rice) from Koito Pottery in Japan, we knew we’d have to give them a try. That night we whipped up some ramen noodles (NOT made from scratch – that is not something that can be whipped up), and it was honestly the best quick-made ramen we had at home. The next day I made some tofu-tamago-toji-don (stir-fried tofu and spinach encapsulated in a fluffly egg-omelette-type thing, served over rice), and again, the bowls somehow turned it into a fancier, tastier version of this rather basic meal.
So yes, these noodle/rice bowls are magic. The blue-black coloring – a unique characteristic of the pottery made by Dai at Koito Pottery – enhances the visual appeal of the food it contains. The not-so-smooth texture gives you a tactile experience of the wabi-sabi concept. Each bowl is one-of-a-kind, a product of a 100% manual process that requires steady, expert hands and decades of experience.
Last night we had some left-over tempura (thanks, mom!) so naturally, we had tempura udon. I was ready to dig in when I remembered at the last second to snap a photo – so let it be known that taking this photo delayed me attacking my bowl of udon! But boy, was it delicious. I don’t know when I can enjoy a hot bowl of udon in Japan, but at least with these bowls, I can have a little taste of Japan at home, anytime I wish.
As a kid and recent immigrant to the US, I remember being teased by a classmate because “you people eat raw meat!” As a kindergartner, I must have been offended by his derogatory tone – but what I remember more clearly is my amazement at how misinformed he was. “Are all Americans this ignorant?,” I wondered.
Thinking about it now, that kid was probably referring to our consumption of raw fish … something that was probably considered barbaric by the average American way back then. But fast forward a few decades … and my bets are on the grown-up, hippy version of that kid being a “woke”, proud, self-proclaimed lover of sushi. I supposed we have come a long way in cultural acceptance, at least in the food – or foodie – sphere.
Cod roe pasta is not something new to the Italian menu, but the Japanese version of it has such a wonderful mix of flavors that it’s become a popular item on the Japanese menu. Butter and soy sauce is truly a match made in heaven, and the addition of the cod roe elevates the umami to a whole new level. This pasta is incredibly simple to make – yes, you can prepare the sauce while the pasta is boiling – and requires just a handful of ingredients. If you can get your hands on some tarako (Japanese salted cod roe), the flavor-to-effort ratio is off the charts!
One pack of dry spaghetti (1 lb)
Two sacks(?) of tarako (Japanese salted pollock roe) – or mentaiko (spicy version)
1/3 Cup milk (I used whole milk)
1 tsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp butter
Cut nori (dried seaweed) – optional
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water – keep it al dente, and reserve some pasta water
While the pasta is cooking, mix the tarako, milk and soy sauce in a small bowl
When the pasta is ready, drain and toss with butter
Mix the tarako sauce into the pasta, add pasta water (1/2 Cup or more, to desired consistency)
Sprinkle with cut nori and enjoy!!
I know it’s only 10am, but I am already looking forward to my lunch … leftovers!
With the new Spring/Summer 2018 collection, Il Bisonte introduced a lot of new Italian leather handbags. These will of course appeal to the ladies, but thankfully, there are plenty of new mens/unisex bags as well. Take the new CAMAIORE series, for example. By combining nylon and cotton, they’ve come up with a technical fabric that is more durable and resilient, and pleasing to the touch. One such product is a travel bag that can be folded up when not in use.
Because seriously: how many times have you gone on vacation, only to come back with overweight suitcases or having had to buy an extra luggage to carry all the souvenirs home? Well, if you throw one of these into your suitcase, problem solved. It’s light-weight, doesn’t take up a ton of space, and you still don’t have to give up your sense of style with this handsome technical fabric travel bag (with Italian leather trim, I might add)!
If you’re already familiar with Il Bisonte, the bag is consistent with their high quality in both craftsmanship and materials. If you are new to the brand, I encourage you to read all about Wanny di Filippo and how Il Bisonte became world-renowned for the quality and timeless beauty of their products.
You may recall that we went to Pitti in January, but what you do not remember for sure is that I bought a pair of frames from Peroni while I was there.
Because they were so stylish and the only ones in the world to be made of hardened leather. Take a look:
And why am I telling you now?
Because my sight has declined to the point that I really needed progressive lenses. So I went to the optometrist at Kaiser Permanente, had a lovely chat with the optometrist, then another with the expert in mounting frames and BOOM now I have two pairs of glasses. One is the Peroni one and another for every day use.
The expert was very nice but she was not sure that the lab could fit the lenses because leather is not a material they have ever worked with before. That was better than the response that another lab gave me months ago: “absolutely impossible.” I had to ask her to try and that if it was not going to work I would buy another frame. She made a visible note of my promise and said: “they will be ready in three weeks.”
Much to my surprise they were ready yesterday, after basically 4 business days. I never thought that I would be this excited about getting a pair of glasses, but the nuisance of putting on and off my reading glasses was really starting to get to me. I took my wife with me and then, as a reward, we went to eat ramen at Orenchi–critically known as one of the top ramen shops in the area.
Why would I mention Orenchi?
Just to give you something that compares to these Peroni frames. Just like their ramen is super delicious, but served in a hole-in-the-wall spartan setting, these frames are super cool, but not your lightest or most comfortable.
If you are willing to pay the price and love these frames, get in touch with me and I can see if I can bring some in for you.
I have seen many coin purses in my life. Many of them made by very experienced and skilled artisans. Then I saw the FERRO and understood what could be accomplished when you set out to make the best possible coin purse.
After years of wondering whether our customers would pay more to get the best coin purse in the world, we finally decided to show you what we think is the best coin purse in the world and let you decide if it is for you. You should first read about who Peroni is.
I think that the first goal was: “it has to work perfectly, every time.” I put all my change in the FERRO to test it, I closed it, and right there I was sold: this coin purse is designed to stay closed with ease! Next, “is it easy to open?” Yes, easy enough with the pull tab and the amount of force required is the same every time. Next, “do the coins come out of the purse and gather in the cover?” Definitely yes. Even though I had a lot of coins they all gathered in the cover and did not fall out. The coin purse hard edges give me the feeling that it will always operate like this and I can rely on it.
As I was testing the FERRO I could not help but notice how smooth and pleasant the leather was. I am a fan of vacchetta leather, which is very genuine and somewhat raw, but to accomplish this kind of precision in a product you need leather that is smooth and precise. You too will be able to smell and feel the unmistakable artistry of Florentine leather craftsmanship. Quality leather and Italian craftsmanship can be found in other products. What makes the FERRO coin purse stand out is its design. Using a single piece of leather and 37 production steps, the FERRO does not use any stitching.
So pick one up. I doubt that you will see anything else quite like it.
Before I started working at Marcopoloni I had visited their website numerous times, browsing through the different bags, impressed by the wide variety of styles. I was always intrigued by the Campomaggi bags, rugged with the perfect “already worn-in” look. I never took the plunge and purchased a bag though as I had become jaded to the whole online shopping idea, with previous purchases from other online retailers not quite living up to the perfectly photo-shopped pictures on their websites. It was so disappointing to receive the shipping box I had been excitedly anticipating only to discover the item I ordered looked nothing like I was expecting or the quality was poor. So I just kept browsing….
Flash forward to five months ago, when I came to work for Marcopoloni and was personally introduced to the Campomaggi bags that I had admired from afar. It was love at first sight, and smell.
As my desk is located in the Campomaggi warehouse, the first thing I noticed about these bags was their unique scent. It’s hard to describe, but they have a rich, slightly fruity, buttery smell that is different from any other leather products I have been around. It’s not overwhelming, but just strong enough to remind you that your bag is a Campomaggi. They should really think about making air fresheners, I’d love my car to smell like a Campomaggi bag.
The construction and quality of the bags makes Campomaggi really stand out to me. The leather is soft, yet just by looking at it, you can tell that it is top notch. You can feel from the weight of the bag that is it solidly made, and the rivets and buckles are heavy duty and made to last. But the thing that I most love about Campomaggi is how the distressing and dyeing can affect the look of each and every bag. As the leather is distressed after the bag is put together, each bag becomes truly unique, there is nothing cookie cutter about Campomaggi. Two “Espresso” colored bags can be two totally different shades of brown, and one bag can have beautiful variations of color across its body. One thing that impresses me about Marcopoloni is their insistence in making sure that their customers can see every single Campomaggi bag that is available for purchase. By taking the time to photograph and post each bag, Marcopoloni gives the customer shopping on the website the unique experience of being able to pick out the exact bag they would like.
I know from personal experience that there is just the right bag out there. As I walked in the warehouse everyday, the DOLCI bucket bag kept calling out to me as a bag I’d love to own. I was deciding between the Cognac or Espresso color, but I wasn’t quite sold yet. Until the day we received DOLCI Cognac #6. There was something about that particular bag that made me say “yep, that’s the one”, some slight variation in the color or cut of the woven leather that made it stand out.
Now that I’ve spent so much time around the Campomaggi brand, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one online, as I know the quality would be exactly what I would expect. Although I would only buy it from Marcopoloni.com 🙂
Last summer, while playing my weekly co-ed recreational soccer game, I got an email. It was from a company called Il Bisonte, reaching out because they thought that our philosophy of preserving the way of the artisan would be a good match for their products. While we receive a lot of business solicitations along the lines of “trendy leather bags, very cheap price!”, it’s rare to get a thoughtful email from someone offering products that are in tune with what we are about. I showed the photos of their products to my teammates and received immediate positive feedback, so I hurried home to share the excitement with Daniele, slowly allowing myself to become cautiously optimistic about this brand.
Fast forward 9 months and here we are, proudly carrying a selection of these Florentine leather goods ranging from business card holders to tote bags. With the long-anticipated arrival of the Spring/Summer collection at the end of the month, our catalog will more than double – expanding into categories such as backpacks, weekenders, coin purses and key cases. In the meantime, we have quickly developed an admiration for Il Bisonte’s philosophy of creating high-quality, minimalist leather goods, where the amazing quality of the vegetable-tanned Tuscan vacchetta leather takes center stage. Yes, for me, it’s the leather – it’s always been about the leather. I was pretty much sold the moment I laid eyes on this before and after comparison showing just how gracefully Il Bisonte products age:
I immediately invested in the large Il Bisonte logo tote (shown above) and am looking forward to watching the leather deepen in color and acquire that wonderful patina over the years. If you Google “Il Bisonte”, it’s not hard to find fans worldwide boasting about their “20-yr old handbag” or “30-yr old key case” – and I absolutely love that.
Pitti is a wonderful show for us at Marcopoloni because handmade and unique high-quality products abound. The boat-loads of style, like it or not, are infectious and even I try to look my best, and even a little stylish.
One person who, instead, has style in his DNA is Marco Campomaggi. The Campomaggi booth stands out at Pitti as his style is rich and is already in touch with the wishes of the audience (it is not so far out that it gives you pause and then some). It is amazing to me to see how many and how quickly people jump on board the Campomaggi wagon. For those of us already familiar with Campomaggi, a new collection is always rich of surprises and interesting new twists. I personally was very happy with the new collection as it improved existing themes and introduced new ones that made me decide to try them. This doesn’t always happen when a new collection is introduced.
As we walked into the booth, we were welcomed by a new version of the Dolci that featured etched patterns some of which were gold plated. The etching is done by a machine but the gold plating is done by hand as is the placement of the studs, which have become ornate and, quite simply, pretty (see picture above).
As we explored the booth we saw a men’s briefcase in finely crackled that was much more attractive than a similar leather style from the past, padded nylon bags that looked great and light for travelling, new bag sizes that fit specific needs from a larger Dolci to a toiletries bag and eyeglasses cases. A line with studs on a woven leather pattern with strips about two inches wide (this looked gorgeous but heavy, heavier than the usual Campomaggi heavy), bags with black military badges on black leather that finally looked attractive (we skipped the first run of military badges), a new lineup of backpacks all with features that make sense, and more. One interesting development is the interchangeable straps for some of the bags. I tried changing a few straps on a bag and they really changed the look: great idea.
Without more photos I realize that this is just a teaser. But you don’t really want too many details since the collection won’t appear until August. However, please do get in contact with us as we are already accepting pre-orders.
This was the first time for us to go to Pitti. But we had seen plenty of reports showing men at the edge of fashion posing for pictures outside the medieval fortress (Fortezza da Basso) that hosts the event. It is really quite interesting to watch, because among the colorful coats, shoes, sunglasses, hats, and beards lie some true gems of style worth following. The rest is a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that “de gustibus…” (old Latin saying meaning “of tastes…” you cannot comment).
Then, far more subdued, are scores of impeccably dressed men who appear to be tending to important business and can careless if they are photographed. They certainly made me feel like I could use a little extra style.
These were my thoughts when we got to the Peroni booth. We saw a much more sober display that was proud to show new prototypes to be introduced later this year. As we entered the booth we began to realize that the Peroni catalog can be had to fit almost any style: the color selection seems to cover the entire spectrum… And then wow! It was then that I fell in love with something new: hardened hide eyeglasses in blue and yellow.
I haven’t given them a name yet, but they will for sure become part of the Marcopoloni catalog. I tried them on and after a few adjustments they started fitting on my head and they stopped sliding down my nose. I absolutely loved them and I bought a pair (against all rules) because I had to have them right away. Now that I have a frame I will finally go to the optometrist
Now I am the only one at the show with THESE cool glasses. I wear them with the default glass that doesn’t help me read at all, and love it. I posted the picture on Instagram and Facebook and sat there admiring it while a few likes trickled in (I have a very small audience). I know. This does not sound like me, it is vain and narcissistic. But let me feel young with the confidence of the middle-aged man: it is a wonderful feeling.
I have not blogged in a very long time. But, since I decided to seek a contract position as a software developer, I have been extremely focused on that and it involved a lot of preparation. After I got MongoDB Developer certification and after I completed my study of Node.js, I was ready to interview.
In Silicon Valley there is an over-abundance of programming jobs, and I was lucky to have a lot of opportunities. Ultimately, Cisco Systems turned out to be the best match and that is where I have been since the middle of August.
Cisco is on the other side of town and I am lucky to live close to the light rail that drops me off right in front of my Cisco building. So I have a solid 45 minutes each way to tend to business, whether it be personal, Marcopoloni, or Cisco. So today, after almost two months into my new routine, I decided to return to writing, hopefully on a more regular basis.
So life is a lot more hectic now and I don’t have as much direct contact with all the beautiful creations that we bring in. But Marcopoloni is also my essence (not just Emi’s) and I want to remain close to it.
You might be able to imagine that I have adorned my cubicle with Marcopoloni ware. As I go to work every day I always have an Antartidee desk clock on my desk, along with my Murano glass tumbler and my Kissa Koito pottery cappuccino cup. The computer goes in a Santarelli briefcase, I always use my Snaplink keychain, my Nicola, and a belt from either Dionigi or Campomaggi.
Today I am also wearing my Stupendo ankle boots and my Maledetti Toscani leather jacket. I am surrounded by Marcopoloni stuff and rightfully so: I love it. But when I get to work I stand out like a sore thumb. Not in a good or bad way: people have different interests, at least on the surface. There are people who love Italian wine, people who roast their own coffee, people who bike to work, and people who have their lunch delivered through Uber: all things that I am glad to share.
I am missing a decent wall hook. A hook that hangs from the cubicle partitions would make me very happy. I would use two: one for my bag and one for my coat. I will ask our friends at Antartidee because you never know, it might have a market.
There you have it. This is how I am rolling right now. I still keep in touch with my customers so feel free to drop me an e-mail!