Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eating Italy


I know that this blog primarily covers food in San Diego and SoCal…but I recently went to Italy, and of course, all I could think about was the food! Pastas, pizzas, salads and steaks, oh my! I really could not pin down just one restaurant that was amazing, so I’m just going to do a recap of what we ate where (we went to Florence, Rome, and Venice).

I’ll just begin at the beginning – Rome! The trick with Italian restaurants is that they tend to be a little hidden. Most of the very visible places, much like here, are tourist traps serving re-heated pizzas that are best avoided. I’m glad that we followed Full Passport’s advice and searched for our restaurants in alleys. The first night, I just had to get a delicious caprese salad followed by Fusilli bologna. It sounds simple, but this pasta dish was so rich and comforting. Coupled with too many glasses of local red wine, this dinner was incredible. Followed by a rich chocolate gelato, this made for a wonderful first night in Italy.

I would say that mostly, stay with pastas, pizzas, and seafood in Rome. The cuisine is mostly Southern Italian, but there are certainly elements of the North in Roman kitchens. On one of our last nights in Rome, I had the grilled squid served with a tapenade of black olives that was simply amazing in all of its spicy saltiness.

Other highlights from Rome were the amazing bruschettas that we had, with fresh, rich tomatoes, the house wines (!), and the gelato! Gelato stands are everywhere in Italian cities, and every flavor was delicious. My particular favorites were melon (cantelope) and vanilla-sour cherry. Yum.

Our next stop on the trip was Firenze – Florence. Florence was hands down my favorite stop on our trip. It is a very small place, but contains a lot of culture and beauty. I could have spent an extra day or two in Florence. It is relaxing without being boring. And the food! If you are a vegetarian, I would not recommend Florentine cuisine, as the main staple is meat! Dark meats – beef, dark poultry, rabbit, and boar. I happily ate my way through the entire food chain (not really). Each dining experience in Florence was absolutely sublime. Pappa al pomodoro soup, roast beef, steak, veal (I know…not something that I usually eat!), and delicious salads so that we didn’t feel too gluttonous. Trattoria la Burrasca and Il Latini (I know that it’s a Rachael Ray favorite) were the two best meals that I had in Italy, hands down. Considering that the region has some of the best wines in the world (Brunello, anyone?), AND an American-style diner (you know that we had to try it!) made Firenze a place that I could revisit again and again.











Our final stop on the tour of Italy was Venice. Admittedly, I only spent the day here, but the food in Venice was…not as good as Rome and Florence. Venice, while beautiful and resplendent in its culture and history, is well, sort of commercial. Commercial as in an ad for champagne hanging over a 2,000-year-old building. Ah, well, I guess that everyone’s in debt these days. The mainstay for Venetian cooking is seafood, primarily served over polenta or squid-ink pasta. I think that if we had more than the two days there, we would have found better food, but Venice is a city in which it is easy to get lost due to the winding corridors (remember, no roads!), and so good food was a bit more challenging. However, as far as breathtaking photographs and beautiful architecture, Venice was a photographer’s dream.

October 12, 2011 / by / 2 Comments
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