Italy Category

(food)porn ed. 2012 – Part 1

Sometimes (no oftentimes), food elicits strong passions, sensations, convulsions, and funny noises, so no wonder the phrase “food porn” was coined. And I freely admit I’m guilty of allowing food to affect me in these ways, whether it be glistening candied pork shoulder or a moelleux au chocolat that’s been forked open on an ivory plate. Of course, this has led to some embarrassing situations for myself (and my husband) whilst in restaurants and other venerable eating destinations, when food porn has triggered enthusiastic squeals of delight or moans of gratitude from my mouth.

See what I mean? You’re blushing aren’t you?

OK, I’ll stop and get to the point already. I’ve collected some of the most foodgasmic moments I’ve had in the past year, not to make you uncomfortable, but to help inspire your own culinary adventures (pleasures) to come.

…darn it! There I go again!

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Note: View full pictures without captions here!

Breakfast, Brunch, Tea
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Sandwiches
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Asian Eats
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Meat Dishes
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Seafood
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Italian Eats
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Bites
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Sweets
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An EDD-ters Tour of Italy – La Finale e arrivederci!

One bullet train later, I had to blink several times before it sank in that we were back where our culinary tour de forza began. One afternoon and night left in this magical country.

What can I say? I was bummed!

We decided to visit Piazza Navona on our last afternoon in Rome. The air was slightly cool and damp, and a creeping melancholy gave me quite a chill. Good thing there were plenty of roasted chestnut vendors about to fill the air with nutty sweetness.

So the big question now was where to have our final meal? Where could we find the culinary closure we’d need to sustain us for the long journey home?

Like divine inspiration from Neptune himself, a craving for fettucine al tartufo d’Andrea aroused my appetite. Trattoria d’Andrea – homey, delicious, comforting, authentic – answered the call.

In the meantime, it was impossible not to grab a snack at a small pizzeria on our way back to the hotel. Homemade pork sausage and straight-up tomato basil between chewy, lightly cheesy, crispy pizza dough. How can something so simple be so darn unbelievable!

At Trattoria d’Andrea, we started with antipasto vegetale – eggplant, zucchini, cipollini onions – generously flavored with garlic, tomato and breadcrumbs. The antipasto italiana was fresh and comfortingly salty sweet.

Although the house fettucini was my must-have dish, Jordan opted for the ravioli bolognese. Slightly tart and meaty ragu on chewy cheese-stuffed pillows.

By excellent fortune, before my truffle fettucini arrived, they mistakenly brought a fettucine con porcini by accident. Oh no! What to do?

Andrea also recommended a especiale di pollo which was a braised chicken with tomatoes. Fall-off-the bone tenderness in a sweet, sumptuous sauce. Beautiful.

It was such a wonderful meal and it encapsulated so much of the soulful impact Italy has had on me. The country appreciates people, art, food, and simply life itself. And this philosophy is intermingled with all my memories.

I’m so glad I was able to share some of my fondest memories with you all, and I hope they inspire you to visit Italy as well! I know I’ll be back!

But for now…

Arrivederci!

An EDD-ter’s Tour of Italy: Venice

After desperately navigating a mega-riot of cars at the bus terminal in Venice, and saying a fond farewell to our trusty rental car, we met our guide Takayo who took us to our hotel.

Honestly, I have absolutely no idea how we would have ever done it without her. Venice was by far the hardest city to navigate without walking in circles, triangles and rectangles first. If it wasn’t for its supreme charm and romantic waterways, it could feel like trying to find your way out of an M.C. Escher drawing.

Make no mistake that Venice is a tourist town and the prices for everything from Carnival masks to fish charged by the kilogram make it one of the most expensive places to visit in Italy. But its fascinating history as a hub for trade and politics seep deep into its ancient walls, streets, and wood piles upon which this city stays afloat. And you feel it.

One of the highlights of my time in Venice was visiting the Rialto Fish Market – a place where it seems you’re walking underwater while swaths of sea colors dance around you.

Cuttlefish or squid ink pasta is one of the most famous dishes from Venice. Our very well-read guide Mr. Sabino tipped us off to a local joint called Rosticceria Gislon which supposedly had an excellent Spaghettini Nero and other tipico dishes without the ridiculous prices.

Downstairs was an open a la carte trattoria with hot and cold dishes (it was extremely difficult not to try each one!) and upstairs was their sit-down restaurant. We opted for the restaurant so we could rest a bit and get a little down time from the throngs of customers downstairs.

Feast your eyes!

Seafood was the star in every one of the dishes we tried. Even the mozzarella en carroza acciughe or fried cheese sandwich with anchovy delightfully punched you in the face with the incredible briny flavors swimming through the gooey crispiness of the cheese and bread.

Spaghettini Nero
The squid was as tender as braised abalone and the sauce had an intense seafood flavor that was also sweet, almost chocolatey. While eating this, I knew I’d never find its equal in the States.

Scampi
Simply boiled shrimp with lemon. Crisp meaty refreshing nibbles.

Spaghetti acciughe
Sweet soft onions, fruity olive oil, and anchovies offered well-rounded mouthful after mouthful of comfort with every bite.

Fritte di frutta di mare
Very lightly fried in extra virgin olive oil. This isn’t your Long John Silver’s fried fish platter. Those little fish and shrimp heads had so much incredible flavor!

Sure Venice is a tourist town with its tourist trappings.

But by nightfall, it was impossible not fall in love with its people, culture, history, and food. And hey, if you’ve got your honey to spend it with, it truly feels like you’re starring in your own romantic movie.

Awwww. 🙂

An EDD-ter’s Tour of Italy – Bologna

Historically a hotbed for free thinking and modern intellectual ideals, Bologna hasn’t changed much in many ways. Its young energetic inhabitants continuously pump a frenetic energy through this dynamic city, and its unique orange brick and terracotta architecture provide a kind of parchment upon which a living history is written day to day.

We spent the morning walking around the neighborhoods surrounding the Piazza Maggiore, but as we only had time for a quick stop before having to head out to Venice, we set our sights on finding a great place for a bowl of spaghetti bolognese.

Trattoria di Pietro is a small unassuming restaurant that feels comfortingly claustrophobic like your grandma’s house while at the same time, macho and masculine like an old school mafioso hangout. Was it the stuffed wild boar at the front of the restaurant or the table of four well dressed gentleman sharing a huge platter of grilled meats? Shrug. Either way, we knew were in for a no-nonsense rustic hearty meal.

Spaghetti bolognese
This dish deserves the fame it’s garnered across the world. Simple, rustic, hearty, bursting with flavor, and perfectly executed.

Stinco di maiale alla Pietro
As if the pasta wasn’t filling enough, I could not resist the roasted pork hocks and potatoes. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the pig and these wise guys were well seasoned, roasted with juniper, and as tender as just-baked cake.

The only problem was trying to finish everything on my plate and convince my waistband it could stretch a bit farther; and not fall asleep on the drive to Venice.

Although, either way, it would be a beautiful death.

Next up: On the Venice-front