LTH Home

Honeymoon in Italy: Rome, Amalfi, Florence phto essay (long)

Honeymoon in Italy: Rome, Amalfi, Florence phto essay (long)
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
  • Honeymoon in Italy: Rome, Amalfi, Florence phto essay (long)

    Post #1 - July 10th, 2009, 4:05 pm
    Post #1 - July 10th, 2009, 4:05 pm Post #1 - July 10th, 2009, 4:05 pm
    Hey LTH - I don't often post here but I browse all the time for recommendations and used the several threads on eating in Italy to research before our trip. Thanks so much to all those who gave advice - we definitely used quite a bit of it as you'll see in the rather long post that follows. I originally wrote this in a journal book during our train rides in between cities, but typed it up when we got back and added the pictures. Hope you enjoy.


    Italian Food Blog Entry 1: Rome


    The meals we ate in Rome were inconsistent to a degree, but overall good. We really only ate one "great" meal along with a few "okay" meals.

    The first cuisine we sampled after waking up at 2pm on Tuesday was corner store pizza, a block from our hotel. The place was called "Pizza House," and advertised "Hot Pizza, Cold Drinks, Italian Specialty #1 Pizza"
    Score!! A hotel only a block away from the #1 pizza joint in all of Rome? Thank you, Easytobook.com! We split a slice, cut rectangularly and sold by the gram with a large, thin slice of salami on it. Pretty damn good actually. Hot, greasy, topped with cured meat - just like I like my men.

    Image



    Dinner that night was based on survival, and not taste - as we desperately needed sustenance after a long day of walking in the grueling Roman sun. We found a place near the Jewish Ghetto, a few blocks from Piazza Venezia. Here we go! My first taste of highly anticipated Italian gnocchi. I decided to go with the meat sauce. Hmmm...whats this? Hard? Chewy?...and a sauce, very familiar....Denty Moore? Boyardee? the hell!? The gnocchi I get from Target is better than this crap. What a let down. The bruschetta was actually rather memorable - shaved salty prosciutto and thick gooey mozzarella.

    Image

    Clean plate club!

    Image


    Day Two: Good Lord, find me some of this phenomenal Italian cooking that everyone raves about! How many more meals must I endure before I experience gourmet Italian bliss? At least one more, would be the answer. We spent a good half hour in search of a place I'd read about on here: Cacio e Pepe, something in the vicinity northeast of the Vatican, where I was to have a veritable orgasm of pasta carbonera. But after said 30 minutes of searching, our feet were tired, our belly's empty, and our new wives totally pissed off at us. Corner pizza, it would have to be. We tried one w/ potato topping and one w/ prosciutto. Pretty good, I guess. Taste's like yesterdays.
    At night, we walked across Ponte Cisto and Isola Tiber (a bridge, and then island in the middle of the Tiber river) to the neighborhood of Trastevere. After 15 min of searching for another LTH rec, Dar Poeta, we finally found it (yay!) and were seated inside (boo!) b/c of the long weight to dine al fresco. We didn't even really want pizza again so we got right back up and went to the first place w/ a menu we liked on Via La Scala called (get this) La Scala. Would this random, average looking Trattoria be the meal I had been waiting for? I wasn't optimistic. Antipasti was first (not primi, at it's name would indicate - thats actually the pasta course) and we chose the most interesting thing on the menu: Potato souffle with asparagus, bacon and ewe's milk cheese. All those awesome words - this had to be it, right? YES! HOLY SHIT! FIREWORKS! A frigging explosion of awesome flavors in my mouth. Fresh, juicy asparagus (I dont even like asparagus!), rich, salty hearty, CUBED bacon, and sharp, tasty cheese from a (an?) ewe that was likely milked by Saint Peter himself all combined to make the best appetizer I've ever had.

    Move over, Chili's awesome blossom.

    Did I mention there were also potatoes? And fresh, tasty, pita-like foccacia, brushed w/ olive oil and rosemary (for dippin'!).

    Image


    But it didnt end there. Ohhh no. Time to try gnocchi again. This time in a cream sauce, w/ smoked, melted mozzarella and shaved black truffles. This, simply put, was the best pasta dish I've ever had (move over, Olive Garden manicotti?). The gnocchi didn't even need the extra stuff on it. It was fresh and soft and melted right in my mouth. But the cream and mozz and truffles? Heaven. If I'm ever on death row, I'm pretty sure this would be my last meal. And all from an unassuming little place on a side street in Trastavere.
    Oh, and Lauren had some lobster thing she really liked.

    Image

    Image


    Day 3: A Tale of Two Carboneras.

    Back when I was 23, I worked at an Italian place near Madison that served a carbonera dish of fettuccine noodles, alfredo, bacon and peas. I loved it. Here, every time I see the dish on a menu, its described as: spaghetti, egg & bacon. Online pictures of it had me swooning so it was time to break from my all gnocchi, all pizza diet to try something new. Something with more bacon. We found a nice enough looking place near the Spanish Steps after an awesome, enlightening morning at Galleria Borghese.
    The description of my carbonera should have been thus: Spaghetti, EGGGGGG (egg), bacon fat. Imagine, if you will, a plate of pasta that someone accidentally dropped Egg Drop Soup onto and that was this dish. Sound disgusting? It wasn't, actually - it was pretty decent, further cementing my theory that you can add Chinese food to anything and it wont be bad. Where do I sign up for calzones stuffed with Gen Tzo's chicken?

    Image


    Anyway decent does not = great. And in Italy, for me anyway,not great = disappointing. Lauren had a Neapolitan style pizza with prosciutto that was actually a well above average take on it. Oh, the place was called "Angel Of the World" or something equally pompous.

    Image


    After a nap (Lauren) back at our hotel and an educational trip to the National Museum of Rome, we were off for a dinner with my very old friend and 1993 Freshman Homecoming Date. Can you imagine making plans w/ someone you haven't seen in 11 years as your paths cross in the middle of freaking Italy? Thanks, Facebook!
    Their hotel was near Campo D'Fiori, and since Rick Steves (our guidebook extraordinaire) recommended a place there called "La Carbonera," we braved the 10-15 minutes wait (it was after 10pm!) and sat at a lovely table outside on the piazza - incredible atmosphere.
    It was here that we had our first taste of Italian wine. Now, I've always hated red wine. I find it dry and bitter with its only benefits being heartburn, purple teeth, and an almost certain hangover. But I decided that I would go here with an open mind about wine and so I did. Totally worth it. We ordered a giant carafe of house vino rosso and it was pretty damn good. Sweet, flavorful and most importantly went down very easily. Will it replace beer as my favorite alcoholic beverage? Shit, no. But I will enjoy drinking it from here on out (as long as I'm in Italy).
    The carbonera here was MUCH better and more along the lines of what I expected (except for the smallish portion size). Penne noodles, egg-y sauce - as opposed to saucey egg, and nice thick pieces of bacon. Not life changing like last night's gnocchi but delicious nonetheless. And you'd be hard pressed to find a better outdoor dining atmosphere than Campo D'Fiori.


    Italian Food Entry #2: The Amalfi Coast

    While breathtakingly beautiful, the Amalfi Coast is quite the tourist destination, so expecting an incredible meal here seems akin to finding world class dining at the Rainforest Cafe at Rehobeth beach. For instance, most places around Sorrento (where we're based) have cheeseburgers on their menus. But we must eat, and therefore I must blog, non-electronically, of course.

    Day One: Lunch was a plate of pesto fettuccine (although it was really papardelle), seafood risotto for Lauren and whole wheat swimming in chopped garlic and olive oil, or as they call it in Italian "garlic bread." Decent fettuccine (papardelle) though, considering we were eating at the Sorrento port, or "porto" before leaving for the Island of Capri.

    Image

    Image


    For dinner, we followed TripAdvisors advice and headed to Ristorante Moonlight. Easy to find due to the THREE signs pointing us to it on the 1/2 kilometer walk to it from our hotel. Greeted in English, we were sat right away in a beautiful outdoor garden. We ordered a bottle of house vino rosso (see, I'm already a connoisseur) and two different antipasti. Before any of that arrived, however, they served us what is apparently an ancient southern Italian staple: little fried balls of dough. I'd had little fried balls of dough before at such Madison, WI trattorias as Jade Garden and China Wok, but these were FAR superior. My antipasi was a variety of salumi: pancetta, speck (bacon), beef carpaccio, all circling around my 2nd sampling of ewe's milk cheese or as the locals (and now me, since I know the name for it) call it: pecorino!

    Image

    So delicious. Lauren had a caprese salad with some of the freshest, tastiest tomato and mozz yet.

    Image

    Not having had any gnocchi in nearly 48 hours, I ordered it in gorgonzola for dinner. Far better than night 1, but it didn't hold a candle to night 2. Sure as hell looks good though, dont it?

    Image
    I think Lauren had seafood risotto again...jeez who orders the same thing over and over?

    Image

    Because of some promotion with our hotel, we both got to try a small glass of the region's famed "limoncello" made from southern Italys bevy of lemons. I would describe this liquid as 1,000 crushed lemonheads and 2 liters of vodka shrunk down into a tiny double shot glass via that machine from Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

    Image
    Neither of us finished it.

    Image

    Day 2 in the south actually started with some breakfast picked up on the way to the Circumvensuvia Train to Pompeii: a croissant, filled with nutella spread and topped with powdered sugar. Whatever dog excrement tastes like, this was its exact opposite. A pastry that could help you travel back in time or climb a mountain, which ironically were exactly the next two things that we did (Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius).

    I wont spend much time on dinner that night as the calzone and lasagna in Sorrento weren't anything you couldn't find just as good versions of in the US. Lauren actually really liked her lasagna but now seems like a good time to mention that her palate isn't nearly as advanced as mine. (Oh yeah, what's a palate?).
    We did, however, end the day with some nutella flavored gelatto to bookend our day spent in 79 AD in chocolate awesomeness.

    Day 3 found us on a bus taking the VERY wind-y and VERY high up path around the peninsula to Positano, described by something I read as the "gem" of the Amalfi Coast. I've also heard Old Town Gaithersburg described as the "gem" of Gaithersburg but I digress. Positano actually did surpass Sorrento in terms of beautiful vistas, as its almost completely built into the side of several cliffs.

    Image


    A beautiful wine garden overlooking one of the narrow, winding roads would be the setting for our classiest meal yet: sandwiches that came with with a packet of Kraft mayo, red wine that reminded me why I don't like red wine and an un-bussed table next to us being pecked at by an ominous looking gang of pigeons. I called the big one "Bitey"

    Image

    A rainy afternoon forced us to leave Positano early, this time in an expensive-ass hired car (due to my newly developed High Anxiety) and our awesome driver, Poppi, recommended a place nearby our hotel for pizza. Imagine our chagrin when we couldnt find pizza anywhere on the menu!! Imagine our double chagrin when just seconds after ordering other menu items, we saw delicious looking pizza after delicious looking pizza leave the kitchen destined for other peoples tables!! Were the pizza pages ripped out of our menu books like pages of a secret diary and sent to Indiana Jones' father in Germany? Was pizza only available through a secret menu a la "In N Out Burger?" We'll probably never know. But it did give me a chance to finally scarf down some much needed protein: a meat sampler!

    Image

    Steak, sausage, a pork chop, lamb, and not a carb to be found among them. The only thing worth writing home (or in this blog) about was the sausage, which was friggin stupendous. Oh! I almost forgot the inclusion of the little fried balls of dough and panchetta & mozzarella at the beginning of the meal - all of which were awesome. Shaved meats, cheese and LFBoD - all are excellent in this region. Lauren had some crab pasta, which she noted was "tasty."

    A quick anticdote from our lunch in Positano:

    Peeing costs money here. Usually just .50 euros, but that's like 70 cents American!! Anyway, because they're apparently not technologically advanced enough to have developed the "pay toilet," its someones job to sit by the bathroom and collect your money (and give a receipt! Can you imagine a scenario where I try to return the urine I left? "See man? I've got proof!"). Anyway, a teen-aged Italian, wearing clothes clearly given to him by a cousin who starred in an off-broadway production of Grease accepted my money.

    Him: Whey-re you from?
    Me: America
    Him: Whey-re!? Whey-re?!
    Me: Oh, uh - Chicago.
    Him: Ah! Boools...Boools...Michael Jordan.
    Me: Yes, that's right - the Chicago Bulls.
    Him: Boh-stohn Celtic FOUR - Boools THREE! HA!!

    And that's the story of how a teen-aged bathroom money collector in Positano talked shit to me about a basketball team that I don't even root for.

    Christ, I hate Boston fans.


    Italian Food Blog Entry #3: Florence

    The first meal of our 4 nights in Firenze actually starts in a town in Amalfi called "Piano di Sorrento." We had made reservations the previous night to take an early morning tour of a very small, local, family run cheese factory called "Michelangelo"
    Image

    See?

    A guy from the factory picked us up from the hotel wearing a Homer Simpson t-shirt so we immediately got excited. After a 10 min "transfer" (Italians say the darndest things) to Pd Sorrento, we were treated to some red wine (yes, at 9:30am), olives, and conversation with our lovely tour guide (and the daughter of the owner), Sara. In order to keep the factory room sanitary, we had to wear little white train conductor hats, green ponchos, and big blue paper socks over our shoes. So as you can imagine, we looked awesome. Actually, you dont have to imagine it:

    Image
    Image


    The tour started in the back of the noisy room where Sara's cousin boils milk in a huge vat with an enzyme called "Rennet" (I think) that congeals the milk into curds so said cousin can separate said congealed milk from the whey.

    Image

    After shaping the curds into a long play-doh like brick,

    Image

    boiling hot water is added as a machine churns (thus, cooking it) the solution into a big, sticky glob of gooey, juicey, Led Zeppeliny (in that it was awesome) mozzarella.

    Image
    Image

    The rest of the tour is a bit hazy as from that point forward, I was intoxicated by the INCREDIBLE smell of the freshest cheese imaginable. Lauren and I got to make our own mozz braids and Sara's uncle (pictured above)gave us ratings (Lauren:7, me: 6 - you be the judge).
    Image

    out of cheese made the old fashioned way - without any machines. Sara's dad used to add boiling water to the cheese himself and do the churning by hand. Like this:

    Image

    At the end of the tour, we were treated to a sampling of 6 different cheeses, all of which were outstanding, but the plain mozz stood out b/c of the pure freshness (it was only 2 hours old) and it just oozed out cheese juice, or as the Italians call it "milk."

    Image

    And on the subsequent ride to Florence

    Image


    Workin' on my train cheese!

    It was raining upon our arrival in Florence so we ate indoors at a Rick Steves recommendation "Trattoria del Giorgio" on the near west side of town, mainly due to its 2 course+wine+water for only 12 euro per person! offer. Very tradition Tuscan cooking (or so I'm told), my primi was ravioli in butter and sage (delicious) and secondi was scallopini or "veal" (I only found out that this was veal, not scallops after the food arrived) with a heaping side of "fagioli" or "beans" or "what I'm going to start calling my brother when I get home."
    Image
    Image

    Tuscan dishes are known for being very simple and I think this meal was a great example of that. Nothing fancy, just good homemade cooking. Lauren had tortellini bolognese and a beef and artichoke dish (top picture) that was very plain. Plainly delicious!! Eh? Eh? Yeeaaaah.

    Day two featured a looong morning (Medici-Ricardi Palace, the Acadamia, and a serial killer museum next to our hotel) so after the HUGE disappointment of finding the highly recommended sandwich shop "Antico Noe" closed, we made our way back to the San Lorenzo market for triply recommended (Alison, Bobbi's friend, Rick Steves) restaurant - Trattoria Za-Za with some very nice outdoor seating in the middle of the Piazza. We split a cheese plate appetizer (mainly so I could eat more pecorino) and then I had my first taste of "cinghale" - wild boar, in a papardelle pasta.

    Image

    Pretty good - a little thicker and chewier than ground beef - almost brisketish and very fresh, toothsome papardelle. Laurens ravioli in bolognese was also pretty good, but I was a little surprised that EVERYONE recommended this place.

    After a short nap (Lauren) and a walk via the Ponte Vecchio (disappointing) to the peaceful shade of the Boboli Gardens, we went to dinner someplace fancy: Osteria dell'Olio. This place was recommended by Matt's friend Kate and located only a few blocks from the hotel, on a small side street just west of the Duomo. I didn't realize just how fancy it was until the wine list showed up boasting bottles in the 3-4000 euro range. But, no matter, they also had one for 21 euros that I ordered much to our waiter's chagrin.

    We split a seafood salad appetizer

    Image

    a primi of duck fettucine

    Image

    and a secondi of the famous bistecca alla fiorentina

    Image

    First the duck fettucine: BOY F*&^$%G HOWDY! Second best pasta of the trip, I-tell-you-what, complete with gnocchi-like fireworks. It came in a creamy, buttery sauce that wasn't TOO much of either, topped with shaved truffles and melted cheese (romano? I cant remember). The duck had been smoked and sliced into thin, prosciutto-like rounds, surrounding the pasta. Although we were splitting the dish, Lauren's worry about what it might do to her stomach allowed me to devour about 3/4 of it. Did I marry the right girl or what?

    Next, bistecca alla fiorentina - a steak dish (t-bone) sold by the (hundred) gram at almost every restaurant we saw in Florence. They serve it on a hot plate, table side, with roasted potatoes that are out of this world. The steak itself was thick, incredibly tender, and cooked to a PERFECT medium rare. But not particularly flavorful, and at 4.50 euro per etta (100 grams)....cmon! But I was glad to be able to try it at least once and partially got what all the fuss was about. We also met a couple at the table next to us from Cleveland who lived almost exactly by my old apt there. Unfortunately (for all four of us) they turned out to be vapid douches, so we decided not to hang out with them. Plus it was well past midnight and a good two hours past Lauren's bed time. Oh yeah, the 21 euro bottle of red wine? Still better than anything I've had in the states. Then again, I know very little about red wine.

    Day 3 in Florence wasn't spent in Florence at all, actually but instead traveling through Tuscany via tour bus with our Italian tour guide Jeremy who's fondness of saying the phrase "ok people, we are arrived" despite an otherwise excellent grasp of the English language didn't go more than 10 minutes without being mocked/imitated by me.

    We started the day in the mid evil, tower filled town of San Gimignano where we stopped into a local sandwich/deli stop to order some sandwiches for lunch.

    I ordered a sandwich consisting purely of regional specialties: thinly sliced cinghale, pecorino, and pesto.

    Image

    We shot this photo of the sandwich in the shade, lest you be blinded by its awesomeness.

    I gotta say - if you're traveling in Italy on a tight budget, sandwiches are the way to go! Cheap, huge, and full of flavor. The bread in Florence is infamous for lacking any flavor whatsoever due primarily to being cooked with a lack of salt. But the texture of it is absolutely perfect. Very crunchy and flaky on the outside, soft and chewy in the middle. Its made that way so that it can take on the flavor or whatever sauce you're sopping up with it. So fill it with a combination of 2 or more tasty sandwich ingredients and watch out!

    Here's a pizza in Sienna that we didnt eat.

    Image

    Here are some friendly fellows in Sienna that we didnt eat with:

    Image

    After our tour through Sienna and a wine tasting in Chianti, we made our way back to Florence, and headed directly for the hotel to sneak in a little nap (Lauren). And then, off to the south side of the Arno River


    Image

    mmm, that's good Arno!


    again for a restaurant that Laurens parents made sure we knew about - they even gave us its business card - Trattoria Pandemonio. Due to the unfortunate picture incident on the way back, I cant seem to find any pictures of it - but there's proof below that we were there.
    Image

    The place was beautiful - set in a wonderful garden behind the restaurant, and the friendliest owners you'll ever met. We had two pastas - a pesto/tomato papardelle (wait, I found another picture)
    Image


    and a cheesy shrimp risotto that was SO good and rich, that we didn't even care that there wasn't any discernible shrimp in it. We were also the only people there speaking English, which was a nice change from the rest of Florence - we actually felt like we were in a foreign country, and not an American college campus.


    Day 4, and our last full day in Florence. Better make it a good one, culinary-wise of course. We started our day off at the Florence Science museum. Unfortunately, a lot of it was closed for repairs but we did get to learn about what a badass Gallelio was. Alas, he has very little, if anything to do with food - so onward we'll march.


    And that onward turned out to be the best sandwich I'd had since....well, yesterday. But this one was even better - we'd decided to take another chance on Anticoe Noe (highly recommended, but unfortunately closed the last time we went there).
    Holy worthwhile Batman!!

    Image

    Roasted pork, pecorino (obviously) and peppered, chopped eggplant...I think this was the #8. Gigantic, cheap, and an encyclopedia of tastes all on one sandwich. And just look at that bread! I may only eat sandwiches the next time I'm here. Why don't people talk about this more?


    We hiked out to Piazzale Michelangelo in the afternoon/early evening, which doesn't have anything to do with food again, but I'm gonna include a picture anyway, because...man, look at that.

    Image

    Plus, I got to fulfill a life-long dream of drinking Duff beer:

    Image

    Why, in the name of capitalism, don't they have this in the states? Honestly? Anyone?

    For dinner, we went back to the area east and south of the duomo (near Antico Noe). The first place we tried going to was expensive and had a long wait and I cant remember the name of it, but here's a picture of Bruce Springsteen with it's owner:

    Image

    And also Chevy Chase:

    Image

    Two things are for certain: celebrities love this guy. And that guy loves necklaces.

    So we went a little further south and west to a place widely recommended - Aqua el Due. Sure, it didn't have quite the celeb power of the first place, but shit, John Cusack loved it!

    Image

    Per yet another LTH recommendation, we had the tasting platter for 2. The pastas ranged from good to excellent, but I'll post a picture of the best one. What else? The gnocchi:

    Image

    In gorgonzola, this was almost as good as the dish in Rome. So what is it, exactly? I'd heard about the gnocchi "melting in your mouth" in Italy but quite unfortunately only sampled that texture twice. How do they do it, and how come only some of them do it and MUCH more importantly, what do we have to do to replicate that over here? If nothing else, where can I find more of it the next time I'm in Italy. I would seriously eat ONLY gnocchi on a trip to Italy if I knew that every kind would be that kind. Hopefully I can find out before I return.

    Last but not least, we shared the famous blueberry steak. An extremely tender filet, Lauren especially was shocked by how good this was. Thank you LTH, I would have never known this dish existed since I have no idea what the Italian word for "blueberry" is, nor would I have thought it sounded appetizing. But good lord, was it ever!

    Image

    Just look at that. There's no way to really explain how those two flavors could blend together so well, but they truly did. I'm pretty sure I licked up the remaining sauce directly from the plate when the filet was done.

    Before going back to Rome the next day, we headed over to the indoor San Lorenzo market. Famous for its food, as opposed to the outdoor market which is famous its fake designer clothes and handbags. This place was as enjoyable for its vast array of appetizing cheeses as it was for its vast array of unappetizing parts of the cow that we dont generally eat in the US.

    Cheese heaven:

    Image

    Now, courtesy of the food council, please help yourself to this tripe!
    Image


    Mom, can I have a second helping of cow face?

    Image

    Back in Rome - how fantastic that I happened to be wearing my Hot Dougs shirt this day:

    Image


    Dinner in Rome that night was interesting to say the least. We searched for, and surprisingly easily found Dar Buffetto - a Roman pizza place that's gotten high marks via various internet sources. What we didn't know was that Italy's version of the soup Nazi owns this place, and runs it like a total a-hole. I'll explain.

    We sat down at a table outside, as it was a lovely night and the last one of our honeymoon. Each table had six seats, and it was clear that people were eating communally, so we sat down (after asking a waiter if we could) on the outside of a table where another couple was eating on the inside. But not for long. The same waiter came over to us, and explained in very broken english that he'd like us to move to middle seats at another table. Of course, we didnt want to, as we'd be rather squished in those circumstances, so we politely declined. Not 30 seconds later, the owner came over - sweaty and PISSED. He banged on the table and screamed at us in Italian and pointed to the other seats. No thanks, I said - we're going to sit here. He furiously took the paper tablecloth off of our table and pointed at the exit. Well, what the hell was I supposed to do now? I had seen a picture online of the pizza, pretty similar to this one:

    Image

    and dammit, I wanted that! Lauren demanded we leave. "What about your dignity!?" she inquired? Clearly, I'd traded that in a long time ago for a chance at the above. So what could we do? We went inside. We sat down and for most of the meal (which was pretty damn good), my view wasnt quite as good as it had been outside.

    But she stuck it out, god bless her and dinner conversation revolved around how we couldnt wait to get back to the greater New York/New Jersey area, where people treat you with some common courtesy!


    So that's pretty much it. Some great pastas, pizzas, meats, vegetables, sandwiches, and views. And some crappy to average food too. But it didnt seem to matter whether our restaurant decisions had been previously informed or not, as the best meal of the trip happened on a whim. Married life started off about as great as you could ask for though, and even though we never threw a coin in Trevi Fountain, I've got a feeling we'll be back.

    Image
    Last edited by Commbrkdwn on April 9th, 2013, 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - July 12th, 2009, 11:53 am
    Post #2 - July 12th, 2009, 11:53 am Post #2 - July 12th, 2009, 11:53 am
    Ah, someday, maybe, I'll get to go to Italy ...

    Loved the pictures and the trip report!
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #3 - July 12th, 2009, 12:46 pm
    Post #3 - July 12th, 2009, 12:46 pm Post #3 - July 12th, 2009, 12:46 pm
    Wonderful post! Looks like an amazing trip. I've been thinking lately that I'd like to get back to Italy, but this post definitely bumps that wish higher up on the list.

    Oh -- and by the way -- eggs, bacon, olive oil, and cheese is the correct way to make carbonara. The whole Alfredo sauce thing is very American. (I've been to Alfredo's in Rome, and even Alfredo doesn't use Alfredo sauce, but it's definitely never used on carbonara. So what you got was real carbonara. I've got a recipe, if you'd like to make it at home.)
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #4 - July 13th, 2009, 5:38 pm
    Post #4 - July 13th, 2009, 5:38 pm Post #4 - July 13th, 2009, 5:38 pm
    Does that t-shirt really say "Please: I Collect Underpants" ? :lol:

    Thanks for the trip report!
  • Post #5 - July 14th, 2009, 12:02 am
    Post #5 - July 14th, 2009, 12:02 am Post #5 - July 14th, 2009, 12:02 am
    Actually, its

    Phase I: Collect Underpants

    Its an old, and relatively obscure South Park reference
  • Post #6 - July 14th, 2009, 10:23 am
    Post #6 - July 14th, 2009, 10:23 am Post #6 - July 14th, 2009, 10:23 am
    Cynthia wrote:Wonderful post! Looks like an amazing trip. I've been thinking lately that I'd like to get back to Italy, but this post definitely bumps that wish higher up on the list.

    Oh -- and by the way -- eggs, bacon, olive oil, and cheese is the correct way to make carbonara. The whole Alfredo sauce thing is very American. (I've been to Alfredo's in Rome, and even Alfredo doesn't use Alfredo sauce, but it's definitely never used on carbonara. So what you got was real carbonara. I've got a recipe, if you'd like to make it at home.)



    Sort of... I have never seen "real" Carbonara that has scrambled egg in it. The more traditional versions use gunachale and essentially temper the egg into the moisture from the pasta and the ground cheese. If it turns into egg drop soup, you failed to temper it properly.
  • Post #7 - July 14th, 2009, 10:39 am
    Post #7 - July 14th, 2009, 10:39 am Post #7 - July 14th, 2009, 10:39 am
    Cynthia wrote:Oh -- and by the way -- eggs, bacon, olive oil, and cheese is the correct way to make carbonara. The whole Alfredo sauce thing is very American. (I've been to Alfredo's in Rome, and even Alfredo doesn't use Alfredo sauce, but it's definitely never used on carbonara. So what you got was real carbonara. I've got a recipe, if you'd like to make it at home.)


    Did you see the May (Real Italy) issue of Saveur? They had a real nice piece on Fettuccine Alfredo with some vintage pictures of Alfredo himself making the dish tableside. They also included a tutorial on making the dish in the same manner as in the restaurant. Of course, this has nothing to do the carbonara, which is a completely different dish as you pointed out.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #8 - July 14th, 2009, 3:54 pm
    Post #8 - July 14th, 2009, 3:54 pm Post #8 - July 14th, 2009, 3:54 pm
    Lovely post - looks like you two had a wonderful honeymoon. I wish you many happy returns of this time!
  • Post #9 - July 14th, 2009, 6:03 pm
    Post #9 - July 14th, 2009, 6:03 pm Post #9 - July 14th, 2009, 6:03 pm
    Stagger wrote:
    Cynthia wrote:Wonderful post! Looks like an amazing trip. I've been thinking lately that I'd like to get back to Italy, but this post definitely bumps that wish higher up on the list.

    Oh -- and by the way -- eggs, bacon, olive oil, and cheese is the correct way to make carbonara. The whole Alfredo sauce thing is very American. (I've been to Alfredo's in Rome, and even Alfredo doesn't use Alfredo sauce, but it's definitely never used on carbonara. So what you got was real carbonara. I've got a recipe, if you'd like to make it at home.)



    Sort of... I have never seen "real" Carbonara that has scrambled egg in it. The more traditional versions use gunachale and essentially temper the egg into the moisture from the pasta and the ground cheese. If it turns into egg drop soup, you failed to temper it properly.


    Of course. I was actually not commenting on the egg drop soup comparison, but rather on the mention that all menus listed it as including eggs and bacon, rather than "alfredo sauce."
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #10 - July 14th, 2009, 6:13 pm
    Post #10 - July 14th, 2009, 6:13 pm Post #10 - July 14th, 2009, 6:13 pm
    stevez wrote:
    Cynthia wrote:Oh -- and by the way -- eggs, bacon, olive oil, and cheese is the correct way to make carbonara. The whole Alfredo sauce thing is very American. (I've been to Alfredo's in Rome, and even Alfredo doesn't use Alfredo sauce, but it's definitely never used on carbonara. So what you got was real carbonara. I've got a recipe, if you'd like to make it at home.)


    Did you see the May (Real Italy) issue of Saveur? They had a real nice piece on Fettuccine Alfredo with some vintage pictures of Alfredo himself making the dish tableside. They also included a tutorial on making the dish in the same manner as in the restaurant. Of course, this has nothing to do the carbonara, which is a completely different dish as you pointed out.


    Sorry I missed that issue. When I was a kid, we went many times during two different trips to Rome. I loved Alfredo's -- with the huge marble frieze over the door of Alfredo standing in a Roman chariot, reins in one hand, plate of fettuccine in the other, as well as the autographed photos of movie stars and politicians covering the walls. (Sophia Loren's was signed, "From Italy's other hot dish.") If you ordered crepes for dessert, the lights would go out, the band would strike up a tune, and Alfredo would come racing out of the kitchen with a platter swimming with flaming brandy, which he would pour in fiery cascades from the large serving spoon in his hand. He was a good cook, but he was a great showman. He told us that he invented fettucine Alfredo when his wife was pregnant, because it was the only thing she could keep down. Alfredo loved my dad, he wrote him poems about how "Bernini should sculpt the king of fettuccine." Corny, but perfect for the era and the place. I have a photo of Alfredo sitting with me, with a huge tangle of dry fettuccine raised to his mouth. The fettuccine at Alfredo's is better than anything you've had in the US, and very much worthy of the solid gold fork and spoon given him by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

    As for carbonara, I learned to make that from other people we met in Rome -- though most of the history I know of the dish comes from LTH poster Antonius, who lectured on it at Culinary Historians.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #11 - July 14th, 2011, 5:25 pm
    Post #11 - July 14th, 2011, 5:25 pm Post #11 - July 14th, 2011, 5:25 pm
    I couldn't find a thread dedicated to Florence, so I guess this one will do.

    From Venice my wife and I moved onto Florence.

    Trattoria Mario
    Pictured: Beef Stew
    Image

    It's not often that we eat at the same restaurant more than once during a trip, but everything about Mario's was exception-worthy. The menu changes daily and it benefits from being located right next to the market. The inside is loud and crowded, particularly since you're likely to share a table with another party. Given that it's written up in all the guide books, we figured it would be over-run with tourists, but it was at least 50% locals if not more. It makes sense since the food is home-style Tuscan fare, deliciously prepared, and affordable. There really were not any misses at the two lunches we enjoyed there. Highlights included the tender and rich beef stew, rigatoni with a meaty ragu, roasted rabbit, and a side of perfectly toothsome cannellini beans served with fruity olive oil. The oil was so good that we purchased a bottle on the way out. For dessert they serve cantuccini con vin santo which are biscotti-like biscuits that you dip in amber wine. Mario's is at the top of our list if we ever return to Florence.

    http://trattoria-mario.com/

    Nerbone
    Pictured: Panino al Lampredotto (tripe sandwich)
    Image

    Inside the Mercato Centrale is a famous sandwich stand called Nerbone that serves up a mean tripe sandwich. The tripe is from the cow's fourth stomach which I suppose lends it its unique chewy texture. It's boiled with onions, tomatoes, and celery and served with a spicy red sauce. While the sandwich from the famous Nerbone was terrific, I enjoyed the sandwich I had from the cart just outside of the market even more. This is a must try when you're in Florence.

    Unfortunately our dinners weren't as good as our grazings in and around the market. However we were able to order some well prepared classic Tuscan dishes.

    Osteria Cinghiale Bianco
    Pictured: Ribollita
    Image

    I had read that Michael Carlson considers Osteria Cinghiale Bianco his most memorable meal. Unfortunately we found it mostly forgettable, though certainly not bad. By far the highlight of the meal was the ribollita (a soup made with bread and beans, literally "reboiled") which was smokey, earthy, and hearty. We had three different ribollitas on our trip to Florence, and this was the best by a mile. We also ordered a lardo which was fine but not great and a wild boar stew that was salty and lacked the deep flavors we were hoping for from their signature dish (the beef stew at Mario's, which was pretty similar, was far better at half the price).

    http://www.cinghialebianco.it/

    Il Parione
    Pictured: Bistecca alla Fiorentina
    Image

    We told our hotel to get us a reservation at the much lauded Trattoria Sostanza (famous for their Bistecca alla Fiorentina), but unfortunately when we showed up our reservation wasn't on the books. So we walked to the nearest hotel and asked for a recommendation on where to get a great steak. The concierge sent us to Il Parione, which was a gigantic rip off. Everything was pretty lackluster, but they actually did put out a damn good steak, even if it cost an arm and a leg. I don't recommend going there to get steak in Florence, but I do recommend getting a reservation to somewhere that does it right. They like their steaks rare, they don't even ask, and I can get behind that.

    Il Parione
    http://www.parione.net/

    Trattoria Sostanza
    Via Porcellana 25r

    Gelateria Neri

    The best gelato we had in Florence was from Gelateria Neri. They specialize in unique, more gourmet flavors like balsamic vinegar and saffron. We went with gorgonzola which balanced sweet, creamy, and bitter flavors in a remarkably appetizing way. Great stuff.

    Gelateria Neri
    Via dei Neri, 22
    Florence

    The last leg of our trip was in Rome
  • Post #12 - August 29th, 2016, 9:55 pm
    Post #12 - August 29th, 2016, 9:55 pm Post #12 - August 29th, 2016, 9:55 pm
    Any recent visitors to the area? Suggestions for restaurants in Sorrento and Ravello would be especially helpful.

    Oh, also: Anyone know of any trustworthy/not horribly expensive drivers in the area? We have to get from Ravello to Naples before a 6am flight leaving that am.

    Thanks.
  • Post #13 - August 30th, 2016, 11:16 am
    Post #13 - August 30th, 2016, 11:16 am Post #13 - August 30th, 2016, 11:16 am
    Assuming you want value, good food, and local color: In Sorrento I was happy with Bagni Delfina on the Marina Grande (a mile walk, maybe, from Piazza Tasso) and l'Antica Trattoria.

    Ravello is a pretty sleepy place, but with magnificent views. Restaurants are OK, but nothing "gotta go." For a decent bite, Cumpà Cosimo is just fine. For a bit more money with a great view, da Salvatore would be my choice. If you're leaving town and willing to go east along the coast, Acqua Pazza in Cetara (12 miles away) is terrific. A bit further on is Vietri if you're interested in ceramics.

    Can't help with a driver, but your hotel probably can arrange one. Google tells us it's an hour and 10 minutes from Ravello to Capodichino via A3/E45. I'd seriously consider heading to Naples the night before, spend the night at Hotel Piazza Bellini, and have one last pizza a couple blocks away on Via dei Tribunali at Sorbillo or Di Matteo. It's 15 minutes in a cab from Hotel Bellini to the airport early in the morning.
  • Post #14 - August 30th, 2016, 1:53 pm
    Post #14 - August 30th, 2016, 1:53 pm Post #14 - August 30th, 2016, 1:53 pm
    Choey wrote:Assuming you want value, good food, and local color: In Sorrento I was happy with Bagni Delfina on the Marina Grande (a mile walk, maybe, from Piazza Tasso) and l'Antica Trattoria.

    Ravello is a pretty sleepy place, but with magnificent views. Restaurants are OK, but nothing "gotta go." For a decent bite, Cumpà Cosimo is just fine. For a bit more money with a great view, da Salvatore would be my choice. If you're leaving town and willing to go east along the coast, Acqua Pazza in Cetara (12 miles away) is terrific. A bit further on is Vietri if you're interested in ceramics.



    Thanks for these recs. We're hq'ed in Ravello for two nights, but will definitely want to leave for a meal or two, so all recommendations in the vicinity of Ravello are welcome. We'll also leave the night before our return flight out of Naples--and be sure to say Ciao to Italia with some pizza.
  • Post #15 - August 31st, 2016, 10:59 am
    Post #15 - August 31st, 2016, 10:59 am Post #15 - August 31st, 2016, 10:59 am
    Near Ravello, Amalfi is definitely worth touring. Da Gemma is totally fine, if very touristy, though I'd pick Eolo or Taverna degli Apostoli instead. Atrani is an old town that doesn't get the tourist love so is worth seeing if only for that. A'Paranza or Ristorante Savo are both good. I mostly avoid Positano, but liked la Tagliata and il Ritrovo in Montepertuso on the road above Positano. You might want to cab rather than driving back down after a bit of wine. Buon divertimento.
  • Post #16 - October 22nd, 2016, 9:55 am
    Post #16 - October 22nd, 2016, 9:55 am Post #16 - October 22nd, 2016, 9:55 am
    We will be back at it in Italy for 11 nights in late winter, my wife & my 3rd trip in six years after not setting foot abroad until well into our fifties. Very interesting traveling in the off-season--except on weekends, one rarely has to deal with crowds or queues at restaurants and most historical attractions, truly a beautiful thing. In fact, most of our deal is with how late they have dinner, 8:00 at the earliest. But I will adapt...

    This time it will be an apartment overlooking Rome's Campo de' Fiori market for six nights, then a B&B down in Sorrento for five. What do I want to eat? Well, past experience (and my digestive system) has informed me that 3 restaurant meals a day--no matter how good--is too much. So we're planning on shopping each day at the market in Rome for fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, breads and honey to stash in our fridge for breakfasts, lunches & on-the-road picnics. We did this last year in Florence to great success, shopping at the Mercato Centrale for provisions to be brought back to our apartment.

    But specific dishes? In Rome six years ago, I had a transcendent bucatini alla Amatriciana at Da Giggetto in the Jewish Ghetto, which I found out later contains only five ingredients: San Marzano tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, guanciale, olive oil and crushed red pepper. Might try that again. But also there are also the Roman dishes of cacio e pepe and spaghetti alla Carbonara to tackle. Post here with any firsthand experiences of either of these creations at favorite haunts in Rome if you would.

    The cuisine of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast--and I'd include Salerno in there as well--is more seafood-based, and I'd like to try tasting preparations of sea urchin, which I understand is plentiful in the waters around these parts but takes a deft hand to do correctly, also cuttlefish if the mood strikes me. Anything else I should be seeking out?

    Of course, a trip report will follow. Ciao!
  • Post #17 - December 26th, 2020, 8:48 pm
    Post #17 - December 26th, 2020, 8:48 pm Post #17 - December 26th, 2020, 8:48 pm
    Mallards, goats, snails, wine: Archaeologists dig up a fast-food spot in Pompeii

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-w ... story.html
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #18 - December 29th, 2020, 8:15 am
    Post #18 - December 29th, 2020, 8:15 am Post #18 - December 29th, 2020, 8:15 am
    Dave148 wrote:Mallards, goats, snails, wine: Archaeologists dig up a fast-food spot in Pompeii

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-w ... story.html


    Methinks that there's some marketing at play here. The last time we were there our guide stopped at one of these and gave a spiel about how this was a precursor of fast food stalls and even listed the types of food that were typically prepared for customers, so I think it's a very nuanced "discovery".

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more