Truffles

The Wonderful Foods of Italy

There is a lot to say about the food of Italy and its all good. Except for very touristy places, the food is fresh, well prepared and delicious. Italians love their food and so does the rest of the world. You may think you know Italian cooking because you eat in Italian restaurants in England or America or your parents were Italian but it is not the same as what is served in Italy.

Italy’s restaurants serve local fresh foods usually organic. The dishes are simple but extremely tasty. It may be a simply cooked meat or fish over a grill fire or a pasta cooked al dente with a wonderful sauce or fresh vegetables. You can eat well in any non touristy ristorante or Trattoria. These places pride themselves in the food they prepare and serve.

Come with us as we talk about the different foods around Italy. It is not just pasta and pizza. Our YouTube video below explores these wonderful foods.

 

– George J Febish

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Assisi, Bars, Beaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Capri, Cave Restaurant, Cheese, cornetto, Dolce, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Fish, Florence, Food, Fruit, Gelato, General Travel, Grotta Palazzese, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Lemoncello, Limoncello, Marina Casal Velino, Naples, Palinuro, Pasta, Pastry, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Pizza, Positano, Prosecco, Puglia, Regions of Italy, Risotto, Ristorante, San Gimignano, Southern Italy, Sweets, Traveling without a tour, Trottoria, Truffles, Umbria, Vegetables, VLOG, White Truffles, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Rome Tour – Day 2

OK you walked around Trevi, the Spanish Steps and Villa Borghese yesterday. You had a good dinner and slept well. Now we are ready for more walking around the eternal city. Today, as each day, we start at the Trevi Fountain. Facing the fountain we will exit the piazza to the left on Via delle Muratte. This is a pedestrian and scooter street only. Some small cars will go on it for local deliveries. You will cross a major street, Via del Corso. Look to your left and you will see the Victor Emmanuel II building known in Rome as the Wedding Cake.VVictor Emanuel Building

Victor Emmanuel II Building

Continue on the road which has now changed names to Via di Pietra. In the small square ahead is a Murano glass jewelry store, bear to the left on Via del Pastini. There are many shops and restaurants along this road. Some of the restaurants are tourist type and the food is not the best. Continue into Piazza della Rotonda and the Pantheon. There is a beautiful fountain in front of the Pantheon. Enjoy this piazza and take in life around you.

Enter the Pantheon and look up. This is the first floating dome building built by the early Romans. It has a hole in the center to let in light. Even on a hot humid summer day, it is cool in here.

IMG_5022a

Pantheon

It was originally commissioned to be built around 27 BC but the current building was built around 118 AD. The Italian painter Raphael is buried here.

Outside in front of the Pantheon facing the fountain, look slightly to your right. There is a restaurant on the corner. It is usually very crowded and touristy but the food is good. In the fall they serve dishes with white truffles. Sit outside at a table with a good view of the Pantheon. Observe the people around you, the fashion, the smiles and enjoy your meal or drink.

Now we will proceed to the Coliseum and Old Rome. These are paid admissions but there is usually one day a week that admission is free. This walk is about 20 minutes and 1.8 km. At the opposite end of the piazza from the Pantheon head left on Via della Minerva. Then continue on Via del Seminario. Cross Piazza di Sant’Ignazio to Via del Caravita. Turn right at end of street onto Via del Corso. Turn slight left onto Piazza Venezia. At the other end of the Piazza take the road to the left, Piazza della Madonna di Loreto. Turn slightly right onto Via dei Fori Imperiali. Old Rome will be to your right, Continue straight ahead to the Coliseum.

IMG_5134 - Colosseo

Enter the Coliseum first. What a marvelous structure. You are sitting with early Romans watching Gladiators fight. Look at the columns around you. The marble facade of this building is long gone. It was taken by the Vatican to build Saint Peters Cathedral. As you leave the Coliseum, head across the street to the entrance of Old Rome. There are no building left standing but there are arches, cobblestone streets and foundations. You are walking the same streets as the early Roman citizens and the Roman Army did.

IMG_5072 e 5

The Roman Forum is part of Old Rome. What a wonderful place to walk, meditate and think about history. As you leave look for a gelato store or a bar and cool down. There are also many restaurants near by. You are not far from the Vatican but that is another day.

George

Categories: Coliseum, Europe, Food, Forum, Gelato, Italy, Rome, Traveling without a tour, Truffles, White Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tartufo Bianco

White truffles are a treasure from the Piedmont area of Italy. They are known for their therapeutic an aphrodisiac properties derived from the god Jupiter. In the Middle Ages, the discovery of white truffles was associated with the dance of witches. It was not until 1831 that the botanist Carlo Vittadini scientifically described and classified truffles in his book, Monographia tuberacearum. Alba is the best known city for these delicacies. Until you have eaten a white truffle you have not lived. No, you don’t eaten them by themselves but they are shaved or grated on eggs, pasta, risotto, meats, etc. They add flavor to a dish as a spice would. They are the second most expensive food in the world. Saffron is the most expensive by weight. Thank God you only need a small one and they do not weigh much.

To get one Fed Ex’ed to America will cost you around $100. They will last for a few days to a week at most. Italians use them on their dishes while they are fresh and store them in a jar full of risotto rice. The rice will eventually rob the truffle of its flavor. The good news is you now have a wonderful flavored rice to make risotto from.

Many countries, including America has tried to grow these wonders without much success. They grow like a mushroom on the roots of special Oak Trees. Since they are underground they are hard to find. Italians have used pigs to find them but pigs love them and usually win the fight. They now use special trained dogs to find them The dogs will not eat them leaving the farmer with his treasures.

Black truffles grow in more places and are the truffle used most in France. The white truffle is stronger and more of a treasure. To a person that has never tasted one, the smell is not a pleasant one. After you have eaten them the smell becomes an attraction. Don’t let your nose spoil a wonderful dish for you. Manga il tartufo bianco!

George

 

Categories: Alba, Cooking, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fast Food when you Travel? Really?

International Cuisine is not fast food!. Many travelers look for McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and other American fast food chains when they travel. I have news for you, Fast Food is NOT cuisine! If you go to a foreign country and eat American Fast Food, you are missing out on the true gems of that country. Countries like Italy have unbelievably good food. It is NOT the same as Italian food in America. It is soooo much better. Go, see, experience and enjoy the food and wine.

American Fast Food

Fruits & vegetables in these countries are so fresh and ripe. You can smell them and the taste is so delicious. Fish is wild caught and meats are raised and fed properly. Everything tastes great the way it was intended to taste.

In addition to the raw ingredients, the recipes are old and delicious. In Italy you don’t find heavy sauces or a dish with 17 different ingredients. Dishes are simple and stand on the taste of the one or two main ingredients.

I suggest that you try different things when traveling in Italy. Even if you don’t think you like it. This is how you expand your taste buds. There is no better place in the world to do this than Italy.

My memories are of the bread, coffee, gelato, pasta, pastries, pizza, fish, truffles, buffalo mozzarella and wine of Italy.

Mangia … Mangia!

George

 

Categories: Bread, Buffalo Mozzarella, Coffee, Espresso, Europe, Fast Food, Fish, Food, Fruit, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Sweets, Truffles, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How I Fell in Love with Italy

I had a company that did programming and consulting in IT for large corporations. We were hired by a subdivision of Olivetti in Italy. I can remember my first trip with my business partner. It was my first trip to Italy. It was exciting and a little scary. What would we find? Would doing consulting there be the same as in the states? As we landed and cleared customs we were met by the President of the Olivetti subdivision that hired us. He was a real Renaissance man. I knew right away that this was going to be a fun engagement.

We were in Milan and the city was marvelous. The fashion was exquisit. We worked hard each day and partied harder each evening. Sleep didn’t exist. I could sleep all I wanted when I got home. Everyone we met was friendly and as interested in us and USA as we were in them and Italy. It was like being in a crash course on Italy. Each dinner brought new culinary experiences. The food and wines were perfect. I had never tasted anything like this. My idea of Italian food was being re-written!

They took us to do the mandatory touristic things like Duomo, La Scala (the Opera House), the Galleria and Sforza Castle. Milan was both a modern and ancient city. We soon learned and enjoyed the customs of Italian cafè and light tasty breakfasts at a stand or a bar. I was introduced to the biggest secret of all … the Italian white truffle! OMG my taste buds were on fire. I wanted more. Even the price did not deter me from my truffle quest. To this day I try to visit Italy during truffle season and order truffles flown in overnight.

We were there for several weeks and the time went fast. As we left we shed a tear. We had totally fallen in love with Italy, Italians and Milan. This romantic place had its teeth into me forever. I would have 50+ more trips to this beloved country. It would shape who I was and what I did in my life. Even this BLOG is a result of those early trips.

We all need to lower stress, live happier and acquaint ourselves with taste. Italians do this better than anyone I have ever met.

George

 

Categories: Bars, Duomo, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Milan, Pastry, Romance, Traveling without a tour, Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Where to Eat in Italy

French wines are usually made to accompany food.

French wines are usually made to accompany food. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People that have been to Italy often ask us what is the difference between the types of restaurants in Italy? It can be confusing so we give you this guide.

Italy has fantastic food everywhere. We even stopped at an “Auto Grill” on the autostrada (highway) and had a great espresso and pastry. Other times we will get a Panini at the Auto Grill. Not like our turnpike rest areas. In Italy there are several common types of places to eat and a few others in certain areas.

Types of Restaurants in Italy:

  1. Bar – A place to eat or drink. In the morning you go here for coffee and pastry, at lunch you go for sandwiches (Panini). In the evening you go for a drink and a snack. Many bars also serve gelato. Bars are cheapest if you stand and eat. Sitting at a table costs more but allows you to relax and observe Italy and its great people.
  2. Tratteria – these are small private owned eating cafes with great food at reasonable costs. Lunch and dinner are great. Usually Italian favorites as well as local dishes are served. The atmosphere is simple but comfortable. A version of these are Pizzeria Trattoria. These include pizzas along other dishes. Some have outside and inside seating available.
  3. Ristorante – These are for lunch or dinner and are nice but expensive. The atmosphere is classic and the food is great. You can also find Pizzeria Ristorante’s. The wine lists are more extensive and the atmosphere is more formal.
  4. Osteria  – These are places that usually serve wine and simple food with limited menus.
  5. Enotecca – Small wine bars that allow tasting local wines (for a charge) and serve small dishes or sandwiches or Tapas like foods. These are a great way to get to know local wines.
  6. Rotisserie – Small restaurants that specialize in roasting meats on a spit.
  7. Agritourism – Usually a farm-based establishment with a B&B type hotel and food grown or raised on their farm. They sometimes have stores to buy products and take home. One near our home in Italy has a vegetable and fruit market as well.

Pizza is everywhere! You can have it in Trattoria’s or Ristorante’s. The bread in Italy is great. It is crusty on the outside but soft or airy inside. Always stay away from touristy places serving hamburgers and hot dogs. The food won’t be good and prices will be high. Enjoy your trip, taste Italy’s great food & wines. Sit back and smile as you watch the Italians strolling with family at lunch time or in the evening. Lunch usually ranges from 12 noon to 3 pm (shorter in the north) and dinner from 6 pm (for tourists) to 11 pm. The south of Italy eats much later than the north. The south also serves more fish than the north. If you happen to be in the north of Italy in the fall, DO NOT MISS the truffles.

Remember Italy is the land of romance. Sit back and enjoy yourself. Stay away from the American Fast Food places. You are in Italy enjoy its great foods and wines. Save the fast food for when you get home. Do NOT go into eating establishments in Italy and be in a hurry! Use a bar if you have to eat fast. Good food takes time to prepare and serve properly.

George & Jo

Categories: Agriturismo, Auto Grills, Autostrada, B&Bs, Bars, Bread, Cooking, Enoteca, Fast Food, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Pastry, Pizza, Ristorante, Romance, Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lombard Region Cooking

The Lombardy region of Italy is in the north and contains Milan, Largo Guarda and Largo Como. It contains the most people and has a diverse cooking style. Some of the foods known in this region are:

  1. Veal
  2. Risotto
  3. Polenta
  4. Cow’s milk cheeses
  5. White Truffles

Most American’s think of this area as heavy creamy sauces but those are for the tourists. Milano has great pizzas, meat dishes, vegetables and cheeses. During the end of the year is truffle season and you can get fantastic pasta or veal with white truffles. These are expensive but worth a try. Milan is often overlooked as a tourist destination but I think it’s a great city. It is the fashion capital f the world. It has well dressed people and fashion is everywhere. Sit and try a pizza or a pasta. Visit the Duomo (cathedral), Galleria, and Opera House. Become a Milanese and enjoy life with a glass of wine.

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba - Italy....

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba – Italy. photo by Simone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The north & south go Italy are very different cultures and people. Both have a lot to offer. Enjoy your visit.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Cooking, Duomo, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Lombardy, Milan, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Top Ten things to Eat in Italy

Italy is all about food! Each region has its specialties. Don’t miss out on any of it. The north is about truffles, Tuscany is all about meat, Naples is about pasta and pizza and the south is about fish and seafood. Try local wines with whatever you eat. Italian food in Italy is very different (much better) than Italian food in America. It is fresher, no GMOs, cooked to perfection and slightly seasoned (never with heavy sauces). Fetticini Alfredo is not Italian! It was invented by a Roman for Americans. You can find it in Italy in tourist restaurants but most Italians would never eat it.

Here are our top ten foods:

  1. White Truffles – In the north around the Alba area you get this wonderful treat. It is available in the fall. It is served on eggs, veal, pasta and pizza.
  2. Pizza – In the north (Milan) it is Pizza Quattro Stagioni (4 seasons) and in the south it is Pizza Margarita (preferably from Naples).
  3. Pasta – All types with simple red sauce to fish or vegetables. Done Al Dente and flavorful. Risotto is a wonderful Italian rice dish mostly done in the north.
  4. Fresh Fish & Seafood – Especially in the south. It is locally caught and served hours (not days or weeks after it is caught and never frozen). Shell fish is especially great in Italy. Mussels, clams, calamari, octopus, etc. Clams in the south are tiny but so flavorful.
  5. Vitello Milanese – Veal Milan style. When George was a meat eater, he loved this dish. It is a pounded flat cutlet with a bone in one end. Fried lightly.
  6. Happy Hour – In bars all around Italy you have a happy hour in the early evening. You order a drink and they serve you small plates of food for free. Italians do not like to drink without eating something. Each bar has different dishes.
  7. Gelato – Everyone reading this BLOG knows our love of Gelato. A more flavorful, less fat filled ice cream served soft. There are so many flavors you will have to make more trips to Italy to try all of them. Every town has Gelato shops.
  8. Chocolate – Italian chocolate comes in dark and milk but is much less sweet and more flavorful than our chocolates. You can find small shops in each town that make the chocolate right there. It is not commercialized. Try it plain, with fruit or nuts.
  9. Bread – Italian bread is every bit as good as French bread. They use whole grain non GMO flours and bake it to perfection in a very hot oven. It comes out soft on the inside but hard and crispy on the outside.
  10. Pastries – Italian pastries like French pastries are made with real ingredients and butter (never substitutes). The result is flaky crispy crusts with fresh fruits or nuts.

Experience Italian food in non tourist restaurants with a glass of local wine. Don’t eat desert in the restaurant but walk a little and find a pastry shop or Gelato shop and enjoy!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Chocolate, Dolce, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Naples, Pastry, Pizza, Risotto, Sweets, Truffles, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Favorite Things we Love about Italy

Italy has so many things to love and be enjoyed. It has been the number one place many people want to go or have gone. It is a land of romance, beauty and healthy good food. It is a country that actually likes Americans. When you put it all together, what place could be better to spend your vacation?

We enjoy getting into the culture. We always meet new local people in our travels. We try the local foods and wines. We feel relaxed and happy when in Italy. Here are some of our favorite things to do:

  1. Meet and watch the local people. You can learn so much about a country that way.
  2. Eat local foods at non touristy restaurants. A Trattoria is our favorite place to eat but we also enjoy a good Enoteca.
  3. Gelato!!! Eat all you can get while in Italy. It is less fat than normal ice cream but tastes so much better.
  4. Drink the wine. Italians enjoy their wines. They don’t get drunk but enjoy a glass or two with dinner or at happy hour with the free food that is served.
  5. Swim at the beaches! We love the southern Italy beaches that are sandy (not the rocky ones). These are among the cleanest and nicest beaches in the world.
  6. Visit the big cities and major attractions but get out into the Italian countryside and visit small towns and mountain towns.
  7. Stay at small family run hotels, B&Bs or a Agriturismo.
  8. Eat the great crusty Italian bread and pastries. They are less sweet than our sweets but so flavorful.
  9. No trip to Italy is complete without COFFEE! Italians love their coffee (espresso).
  10. If you happen to be lucky enough to be in northern Italy in the fall … Eat the white truffles. These are unique to Italy. Other countries have the less flavorful black truffles but not the white ones.

If this appeals to you, visit Italy soon. Be happy! Be Romantic!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Agriturismo, B&Bs, Coffee, Enoteca, Espresso, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Hotels, Italy, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Sweets, Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Italian Dark Chocolate

OK, we have our white truffles and wine but there are two other great desserts (dolce) to taste in Italy. The first is fine chocolate and the second Italian Gelato. Today we will focus on the fine chocolate. Most Americans know about Perugina Baci. These are the Italian version of a chocolate kiss. They are made with real dark chocolate and hazelnuts. Inside the wrapper with the chocolate kiss is a paper with a proverb on it. We have always enjoyed Perugina. If you are in Tuscany near Assisi where Saint Frances’ Cathedral is located, stop in Perugia. Perugia is home to Perugina chocolates. It is located just outside the city and has a tour of the factory. You can, of course, taste the chocolates. Perugia is a great small town to visit as well.

Baci

As you travel the Italian countryside, you will find small towns with chocolate shops. These shops have people who make their own homemade chocolates. Most will give you a sample to try. This chocolate is totally fresh and without preservatives. Pop one into your mouth. Hold it on your tongue and let the rich dark chocolate melt. The sensation is very sensual. Now chew it and enjoy the tastes. Dark chocolate is healthy and enjoyable.

Europeans use much less sugar than we do here in the States. Our sweets have become too sweet. Sugar is addictive and the food industry knows it. In Italy things have a little sugar but it’s not overpowering. Enjoy the other flavors in the candy. We find that American milk chocolate actually hurts your teeth because of the sugar content. The Italian chocolate never hurts.

Now you know how to enjoy a day. Start by having a meal with white truffles (in season). Maybe a pasta dish. Enjoy the flavors with a glass of local wine. Stop by at a chocolate shop and enjoy a small piece of chocolate. Tomorrow we will cap the day off with some gelato.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Chocolate, Dolce, Europe, Gelato, Italy, Perugia, Sweets, Truffles, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: