Giotto, architect

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it: a simple way to lose weight and be healthier. Welcome to Ayah who is now Following.

Giotto di Bondone was either the last artist of the Medieval/Gothic era or the first artist of the Renaissance. While he is mostly known as a master painter of frescos, one of his most visible creations is an architectural marvel in Firenze/Florence: the campanile of Santa Maria del Fiore. There are many churches and chapels in Firenze, but the cathedral is Santa Maria, so it was designed to dwarf all the others. When it was time to build a bell tower, the City called on one of its best artists: Giotto. The foundation for the tower was laid on July 18, 1334, long after the church was begun in 1296. Giotto designed a structure 15 meters square and 84 meters high. The plan is as if five blocks were set on top of each other: the bottom ones shorter than the ones on top, culminating in the highest and tallest ‘block’, the one with the tall windows. Each block has a different theme: ‘Universal Order and the Story of Redemption’ are shown in bas relief carvings on the bottom block. This is the only one that was completed by the time Giotto died in 1337. The work was completed by subsequent artists, who generally stuck to Giotto’s plan. The 2nd story is decorated with statues of Biblical prophets and patriarchs. The remaining stories have windows with Gothic arches, completed between 1348 an 1359 by Francesco Talenti. Giotto understood perspective better than most of his contemporaries. Each story is slightly wider than the layer below it. That way, the tower does not appear to taper as it rises. This gives it a solidity which is countered by the airy windows. Talenti deviated from Giotto’s plan by replacing a terminal spire with a balconied platform, frequented by sight-seers after climbing 400+ steps. The building is clad with white, red, and green marble, chosen by Giotto to match the near-by Baptistry of Saint John, built between 1059 and 1128. I used to think that the colored marble was too ‘busy’ for my taste, but I have come to enjoy the Gothic love of color and decoration. The campanile is a visual feast and a tribute to the artistry of Ser Giotto.

Tuscans, like Giotto, enjoyed mushrooms, so our mushroom-egg combination would please them. The pate with which it is made is worth the effort of finding/buying the mushrooms. Parma, the source of Parmesan cheese, also has a worthy Baptistry, begun in 1196. Perhaps Giotto visited there, since he worked all over Northern Italy in his lifetime. If you are planning a trip to Firenze, and you have 3 or more days to spend there, I highly recommend the Firenze Card, which gets you to the head of the line for several locations and gives you free entry to most everything for one pre-paid fee.

Mushroom Pate Bake: 151 calories 10.4 g fat 1 g fiber 8.7 g protein 6.7 g carbs [5.4 g Complex] 71 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beveragesPB GF Mushrooms and walnuts make an amazing spread. With eggs and a tad of bleu cheese, they yield a spectacular breakfast.

1 two-oz egg ½ oz mushroom pate** ¼ oz bleu cheese ¼ c blueberries  Optional: 5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 calories]   Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water

**Wild Mushroom Pate: 1 oz = 70 calories 7 g fat 0.5 g fiber 1 g protein 1.5 g carbs 7.8 mg Calcium From Inn at Saint Peter’s, this recipe is splendid as a spread on bread and as an ingredient.

Makes ~1½ cupsPreheat oven to 350 F /175 C 

1 cup walnuts Spread walnuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toast 10 mins, until fragrant and lightly browned.
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup unsalted butter
In a saute pan, cook shallots in butter over medium heat until translucent.
¼# chantrelle mushrooms
¼# meadow mushrooms
¼# agaricus or other mushroom
1 Tbsp roasted garlic puree OR 2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbsp fresh thyme 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
Chop mushrooms and herbs.Add these and cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Toasted walnuts 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil Run nuts and oil in a blender/food processor until mixture forms a thick paste. 
Add cooked mushroom mixture, and process to desired texture.
Pack into well-oiled ramekins or bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate a few hours or overnight or freeze.

Whisk the eggs with the pate and bleu cheese. Pour into an oven-proof dish which has been spritzed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes. Plate with the berries and savor the mushrooms.

Fish Parmigiana: 279 calories 8 g fat 5 g fiber 31.5 g protein 17.4 g carbs 337 mg Calcium  PB Crunchy and flavorful: a real treat from the Canadian Cheese Board. Doubles or triples easily.

2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour  1 egg white + a little water 3 Tbsp fresh bread crumbs 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated 3 oz firm white fish filets, such as tilapia ¼ cup crushed tomatoes 1 tsp capers lemon zest + basil leaves 1 oz mozzerella cheese, grated or sliced 3 oz green beans

Set the oven at 400 F. Combine flour, salt, and pepper on a plate. Whisk egg white with a little water in a soup plate. Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan on a plate. Roll the fish in the flour, then roll it in the egg white, then roll it in the crumbs/cheese. Lay the fish on a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover your baking dish. Spray the fish with non-sick spray and bake 5-7 minutes. Turn the fish over and bake 5-7 minutes. Combine tomatoes, capers, zest, and basil. Spoon on top of the fish, then top with mozzerella. If you have any remaining crumbs/Parmesan, sprinkle that on the mozzerella. Return the fish to the oven and bake about 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Plate with the green beans for a delicious night en Italia.

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