Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Knitting Contrisstmas: Day 9: Ivonne- Creampuffs In Venice

Ivonne, thank you so much for joining Knitting Contrisstmas this year! I have to tell you how very much I enjoy your blog “Cream Puffs in Venice”. It is an absolute treat for the soul! I used the term "foodie" with Ivonne, not one of her favorites, I beg her forgiveness perhaps it is too much food tv or mainstream press!

KC: When did you get started with “Cream Puffs” and what is the significance of the title? (I know the answer but readers may not, at least at first!)

I started Cream Puffs in Venice in December 2005. The title is significant because I was inspired by a book called “A Thousand Days in Venice” written by Marlena De Blasi. In the book, there are many scenes where the author and her husband share pastries in and around Venice. And I just thought that it would be so amazing to be sitting in Venice enjoying an espresso and a pastry. And that’s now my blog name was born!

KC: Is there a typical Cream Puff blog reader? Are your readers from all over the (hungry) world?

I think a regular Cream Puffs in Venice reader is someone who loves baking, first and foremost, as the majority of my blogging is baking-related. I think he or she is someone who enjoys food in general and who loves to be in the kitchen or perhaps wants to be in the kitchen more. I have been fortunate enough to be contacted by people from all over the world who’ve told me that they enjoy my blog which is an absolutely incredible thrill for me!

KC: What is your background? Are you a total foodie? Do you work in the food industry professionally?

My cultural background is Italian but I’m Canadian (and proudly so). I grew up in a large, loving family that managed to thrive in a new country but also maintain bonds with Italy. While I don’t really like the term foodie, I’d have to say that I would probably fall into that category as food is probably my greatest passion after my family and friends. Not a day goes by that I don’t dream about baking something or other. I do not work in the food industry, although I do sell some of my baked goods on the side.

KC: Did you have a vision for where you are now?

In terms of my blog, I would say that I didn’t. When I first started it, I was just happy to learn how to publish a post and take a picture with a digital camera! I’m not what you would call “technically literate”. What I did know is that I wanted my blog to be a happy place where I could freely express my passion for baking and I feel very confident in saying that I’ve achieved that.

KC: Was anyone or any blog your inspiration?

I’m a big fan of the blog Chocolate & Zucchini – it’s the first blog that I ever read. It was definitely a huge influence and it prompted me to take a greater interest in blogging.

KC: Your links of fellow foodie blogs is extensive and wonderful! How did you find them all?

I found my fellow food bloggers mainly through visiting their blogs. Over the years the number of incredible food bloggers out there has grown enormously!

KC: I am crazy for your gorgeous (and drool making) photography Ivonne! You always make me hungry! How did you perfect the foodie photography?

Thanks for the compliment but I don’t know if I’d call anything about my food photography “perfect”. I didn’t even own a camera before I started food blogging. Then in May 2005 I bought a digital camera (a now very outdated digital camera) and just taught myself how to use it. By visiting other blogs and studying what sorts of photos I liked, I sort of trained myself to create the same types of photos at home. The biggest tips that I learned were to use the macro function on my camera and to turn off the flash and try to photograph in natural light. While I don’t spend a lot of time taking pictures nor do I fuss a lot over styling, I do try to make an effort to use a pretty plate and/or utensils to present what I make. When in doubt, my motto is to “Snap the pic in the pan.” In other words, taking a picture of something just cooked or baked is guaranteed success. Who can resist hot food???

KC: What is your favorite creative pastime?

I would say that my favourite creative passtimes are baking and reading cookbooks. I take great pleasure in trying new recipes and I’m constantly inspired by studying baking.

KC: Do you think that women, especially creative women still feel compelled to try to squeeze it all in?

This is an interesting question. To be very honest, beyond my career, I don’t have a lot of true responsibilities. I’m not married nor do I have children. There are certainly a lot more accomplished women than me out there who could probably answer this better than I can. Here’s my take on it. I was lucky enough to be raised in a family where I had wonderful female and male role models. However, there’s no question in my mind that the women in my family are at the centre of the family structure. And they certainly make it seem like there’s nothing they can’t do. They work, they study, they cook, they clean, they raise kids, they care for each other and their families and they somehow always seem to find the time to do this. So definitely I think that as women, there’s probably a desire or perhaps a certain pressure to do it all. But hey … obviously we’re good at it!

KC: I’ve been asking everyone this Contrisstmas if when they create, do they do it for the love of the process or for the end result. Where are you on this spectrum? Do you cook for the process or the tasty finale?

Another great question. For me, when it comes to Christmas (or Contrisstmas!) creativity, it’s a 50/50 per cent process. At Christmas time, we usually make a lot of very traditional food items and this means lots of time in the kitchen with my mother. I have come to increasingly appreciate and look forward to these moments because they truly are precious. At the same time, once we’ve made all our goodies, sharing them with people makes all the work worth it. At other times of the year, my answer would probably be a bit different. I’m probably more interested in the end result than the actual process. In the end, I’d say I’m a tasty finale kind of girl because then I get to sit and enjoy all the hard work!

KC: I know that you are of Italian decent, what cuisine is your favorite

Hands down … Italian.

KC: Can I take that further and ask what your favorite dish is?

This is a tough one. I’d have to say that a good plate of pasta is at the top of my list but I also have to say that some of my mother’s cooking ranks right up there: her minestrone, her polenta with cod, her lasagna … I could go on …

KC: Do you knit, crochet or quilt?

I’ve tried many times over the years to learn how to knit and crochet without much success. More recently, I have picked up knitting again. While I’m far from mastering it, I’m hoping to improve my skills.

KC: What are you currently knitting Ivonne?

I'm currently (trying) to knit a scarf!

KC: Are there traditions do you practice around the holidays? (cultural, food, etc)

Most of our holiday traditions are centred around food preparation. There are certain foods that we make every year at the holidays like pitti which are cookies filled with a fig mixture and Olive Ascolane which are olives stuffed with a meat filling. In terms of celebrating we always spend Christmas Eve at my uncle’s house where we have a meal consisting entirely of fish and seafood. My own personal holiday tradition is that once we get home after celebrating Christmas Eve, we open our gifts and then I put on my pajamas and watch “A Christmas Carol” (the Alastair Sims version).

KC: If you had a magic wand or perhaps a Genie in the bottle, where would you like “Cream Puffs in Venice” to go?

Well if I could wave a wand and have anything come my way in terms of Cream Puffs in Venice I guess I’d say that I’d like the blog to continue to focus on the beautiful art of baking. I’d like it to become an even better-looking blog if only that Genie could send me a Digital SLR and camera lessons! And hey … if it could go into the realm of a Cream Puffs in Venice cookbook … that would be a dream come true!

KC: What is happening in 2009 for Ivonne?

Right off the bat, 2009 will bring the joy of finally seeing a new site for The Daring Bakers (it’s actually being launched in December). This new site will include many exciting things that I can’t say much about right now as it’s still a surprise, but hopefully you’ll visit. In 2009 I’m also hoping to continue to develop my little home baking endeavour where I bake for people. I’m also hoping that 2009 will bring another trip to Italy where I can visit my family. But mostly, I hope 2009 brings more personal development, good health for all those that I love and many beautiful moments to share with family and friends.

KC: Thank you SO much Ivonne, it was a lovely pleasure! I know we'll all be tuned in to Cream Puffs in Venice for every delicious installment! Happy Holidays!


Melissa Morgan-Oakes said...

oh yum....

creampuff said...


Thanks so much for the honour!

Anonymous said...

What a joy to read! I've been following your blog for months and am always so impressed with your work. I wish you continued success with Cream Puffs in Venice and with your newest endeavor. I'm excited for you...trust me, I'll be along for the ride; this is such a joy.

Thanks to KC for her lovely site, too. Maybe, just maybe, I'll pick up some needles and try once again.