White 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

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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.

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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

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

Lombard Cooking

All over Italy you can find good Italian food but the north and the south differ in styles and foods. In the south we have what we think of as Italian Cooking. Red sauces, meatballs, pizza and lots of fish. In the north you have veal, white sauces, pizza and more meat. The north also has white truffles! These are a favorite of ours. Black truffles (Italy and France) are good but can’t stand next to a white truffle. They are rare, hard to get and expensive. second in cost only to saffron. Like saffron, you use it as a seasoning. So a small truffle goes a long way.

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

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

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
  6. The bars have the best Panini in all of Italy at lunch time. They also have great pastries and coffee for breakfast.
  7. Great crusty bread
  8. Great Wines
  9. Chocolate and
  10. GELATO!

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 We 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. See the sales first in Milan. Walk the stores and enjoy the fashion. This is Milan.

Milan is also home to a great Leonardo Da Vinci museum, Duomo, the Opera House, the Galleria and the original Da Vinci’s Last Supper in the small church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Don’t miss these great attractions.

Last Supper Leonardp da vinci

George & Jo Ann

 

Categories: Bars, Bread, Coffee, Cooking, Duomo, Espresso, Europe, Food, Italy, Lakes of Italy, Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci, Lombardy, Milan, Pastry, Risotto, Santa Maria delle Grazie, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Italy

Italy is a country that stretches from France, Switzerland and Austria in the north to almost Africa in the south. It is bounded on three sides by seas. The country is very mountainous and can be rugged in some places. Italy has a great system of roads called autostradas. They link all major cities and the north to the south. The train system works! Trains usually run on schedule. You have very fast trains that link major Italian cities with the rest of Europe and local trains that go to many smaller cities.

Italian Flag Italy Map

The currency is the Euro and the Capital of Italy is Rome. The language is Italian but many areas speak a dialect.

Escape Here lists 10 interesting facts about Italy. Some are very interesting like:

  1. It is the fourth most populated country in Europe because of high birth rates and low death rates. Italians must be doing something right!
  2. Italy has some of the highest mountains in Europe (the Alps).
  3. More than 50 million tourists visit each year. Most of them only see the major cities. Italy has so much more to offer the educated tourists.
  4. Pasta with tomato sauce wasn’t eaten here until the 1600’s. The food we mostly associate with Italy is relatively new to Italians.

Of course We would add:

  1. Great food & wine
  2. Gelato
  3. Chocolate
  4. Bread
  5. White Truffles – our all time favorite Italian food
  6. Mountain and seaport towns
  7. The language itself is so musical
  8. Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s

Whatever your taste, there is something in Italy for you. Get off the couch and go! Enjoy life the way it was meant to be lived.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Autostrada, Bread, Chocolate, Dolce, Eating Italian, Euro, Europe, Gelato, Italian Facts, Italian language, Italy, Mountain Towns, Small Towns, Trains, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Italian Wine

Yesterday we spoke about White Truffles. What goes great with truffles? Wine of course. Italy has many wine regions. In fact the whole country is divided into wine regions. Everyone drinks and enjoys wine in Italy. Wine Folly lists these regions and the wines that come from each.

Italy-Wine-Map-wine-folly

Everyone has heard of Chianti but Italy produces other great wines. The Brunello is one of the great wines from Italy. It can be expensive but is among the best wines in the world.

Here are some of the wines and regions (see map above) with wines you might have tried:

  1. Valpolicella from Veneto
  2. Super Tuscan, Chianti, Barolo, Brunello and Sangiovese from Tuscany
  3. Orvieto from Umbria
  4. Cabernet Sauvignon from Abruzzo
  5. Chardonnay from Puglia

Chianti is by far the most popular Italian wine. If you choose a Chianti, look for one with a Black Cock on the neck of the bottle. This is the sign of the best Chianti in Italy. Producers  have to follow strict standards to be able to display the black cock.

Have a fun wine tasting party. Select 2 or 3 wines from a region. Cover each bottle and label it A, B, C etc. Have your guests taste each and vote on their favorite. This is a great way to taste related wines blindly and see what you enjoy.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, Italy, Regions of Italy, Truffles, Tuscany, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Northern Italy Cuisine

Northern Italy and southern Italy have two very different cuisines. The south was influenced by sunny weather and Greeks and Arabs while the north had influences from France, Germany and Switzerland. The north has a cold climate so the food was more “stick to the ribs” type food. The north uses more butter and dairy than the south. It has great foods like white truffles and polenta.

White Truffles – Are from the mushroom family but taste nothing like a mushroom. They seem to stink to those that have never had them but the smell can build appetite to those that know these little delicacies. Truffles are the second most expensive food by weight (second only to saffron). They can be $5,000 a pound but a pound of truffles can season food for a small army. You can get a small to medium truffle for around $100. It is grated over pasta, eggs or risotto to add flavor and very thinly (paper-thin) sliced over veal. If you haven’t tried a white truffle you need to go to northern Italy around October to November. No other region in the world has been successful in cultivating these small wonders. France and southern Italy have black truffles which are good but not as good as the white ones.

Polenta – Corn meal that can be made in a pot and served like a thick soup or stew or it can then be poured into a baking disk and cooked into a bread consistency. Then you slice it into small squares. At the base of the alps it is served in all the local bars. After a day on the slopes or walking around in the snow, a drink and slice or two of polenta will warm you up.

Each region in the north has its own local cuisine. Italians make simple but delicious foods. They will only use fresh ingredients to cook their dishes. Time is still spent making wonderful regional dishes the same way their grandma or  great-great grandma did.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Polenta, Regions of Italy, White Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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