Friday, July 1, 2016

Pasta and Pizza and Gelato.... and Caffé and possibly some Vino

I did something yesterday evening that I rarely do and that is fall asleep on the couch.  This is an occurrence of note as I had 5 text messages when I woke up  to stumble to my bed and I did not hear any of them.  For this girl- that is significant because a. I don't usually fall that soundly asleep that fast and b. the phone was literally right next to my face.  I feel a little bleary this morning, but the disorientation is not there.  YAY!  On the coffee front, I still have a few grounds in my coffee this morning, meaning that I did not totally get that mess cleaned up from  yesterday.  This is  no huge surprise considering I could barely find my closet, let alone clean out the entire coffee maker.  I was going to say- another thing to add to the list- but seriously, after my pre-trip frenzy, lists and I have broken up for now.


So, I woke up this morning in the mood for writing and then I realized that I have not one single picture edited from my camera.....  oy.  But I took no food photos with my Canon, but I did with my phone- so food wins!!! I will start downloading and editing today I think.

When I landed in the United States after this amazing journey, I was wondering how on earth I could ever eat here again.  There is something different over there.  I touched on the fact that I ate no packaged foods over there, other than a few of these strange/tasty chip/cracker things we got at the "gas station" on the way to Verona- the ubiquitous Autogrill.  Now apparently Autogrill has some really good food, but the time we were there was literally the first time we ate ANYTHING in that country and neither Rose nor I felt at all comfortable enough to order there.  It was crowded and we had no idea what to do, though Daniela told us it wouldn't be hard at all.  Well the thing about my sister and I is that we are alike enough that we sometimes do NOT bolster each other's confidence and so we wimped out and ate food from off the shelf.  Lol.  It was the best we could do at the time, so don't judge me.
And this is called chocolate salami- it was ridiculously good

Ok, so let me give you an outline of what our food was like for this trip.  We always had breakfast at the hotel- and that was always some form of brioche/bread, cheese/meat, fruit, yogurt and these packaged biscuity things that I never had.  And the makings for cappuccino.  A discussion of that comes later.  Usually lunch was on our own in a city- not always, but usually and then we had supper together somewhere.  Either at the hotel or at a restaurant.  The together meals were meant to give the students an idea of what local food was like, but geared towards the tastes of teenagers.  So that meant that the food was so/so.  I was wishing to order off the menu most of the time, but ah well.  there was the wine.  Haha, again more on that to come.

I don't think we had the same shaped pasta during the entire trip!


We had a lot of pasta over that 12 days!  So after reading a little on the diets of the Italian people, it sounds like they have a little pasta frequently.  And it is some good stuff!  Simply made with flour and eggs, it is quite delicious.  They also have a tomato sauce that is really intriguing.  It is almost creamy- like it has butter in it, but I think I may have mentioned (yes?  no?) that apparently they don't usually use butter in their cooking there.
Hello vegetarian pasta of awesomeness!  I had never seen pasta like this before- it was SO good

Anyway, it is light- or the sauces we had were- and not at all like the pasta sauce that is thought of here.  Even the ragu- which I did not have- was lighter looking and not that dark dark red that we have here.  Interesting.  And the different pasta shapes was so much fun.  We had at least one shape that I never saw before- and then there was the gnocchi....  Blew. Me. Away.

The gnocchi was just amazing as was the wine

Tortellini that was just sublime- one of my favorite meals.

I had a delicious tortellini in Florence that was filled with a soft cheese and mushrooms and it was divine. We stopped between Florence and Assisi to have a pasta making demonstration at a little place that I think is a restaurant, but it had no name.  It was a couple's house, actually, but they had a large dining area and they literally had their own house wine.  Daniela found them somehow- you don't just stop there unless you know about it- and the grandma demonstrated how to make fresh pasta.  It was so fun, she took volunteers and some of our group went up there and did some kneading and rolling and all.  Of all the demonstrations we had- that one was worth the stop.

Cailyn learning how to work with the dough

Daniela rolling out the pasta

The fresh pasta lunch we had!  Plus wine PLUS a shot of Limoncello 

Pizza al fresco- first pizza was a good one!!
 Everyone raves about pizza in Italy for good reason.  The crust is simple and thin, with a nice chewy crust and a crunchy bottom.  Pizza Margherita  was the original type- thin crust with tomato sauce and basil- red, white and green- the three colors of the Italian flag.  If you get a good one- that is the most delectable combination.  It is amazing how many Pizza Margheritas have no basil- which is like half the fun of it.  Oh well.  I began my foray into Italian Pizza finally in Venice when we randomly chose a place that was inside and air conditioned.  With all of those restaurants tucked into all of those store fronts and some in little alleys, there are people standing out in front of their establishments trying to coax people into their place.  It was actually quite entertaining to see how the men and a few women, would try to entice, cajole and flirt to get you to come in.

Our pizza Margherita- one basil leaf- lol

That is how we found that place in Venice- as we were trying to figure out the menu in front of the door.  My very first pizza was undoubtedly the best- a pizza al fresco- with tomato and I think escarole.  It was our first chance to order on our own, and we hit that one out of the park.
And even more pizza

After Venice, we got a lot of pizza as part of the menu at night.  Lots.  of.  pizza.  I won't be eating pizza for a while.  And I certainly will never be able to EVER eat a frozen pizza again. I will have to start making my own. I did not know that Italy ruins all food for you forever.  Except for Indian and Mediterranean/Greek food.  That can never be ruined for me. Lol.
Another outstanding one!  When I could choose my toppings, that is when the pizza was the best

apparently I only took one gelato photo- I was too busy scarfing it down.  This is Rose's chocolate dairy free gelato

SO many people had mentioned gelato before I went overseas, so so many, and I was skeptical about how different it could actually be from ice cream.  Well, I am a believer.  We had gelato every day- of course, like the pizza and pasta- of varying quality.  I have a feeling buying it from a street vendor after supper or during a hot midday might have something to do with the charm of it, but it was so very good.  The differences are hard to describe, but it is creamier at the least.  And who doesn't want to eat their gelato in a little cup with a tiny little spoon while strolling through a city where you barely understand anything that is being said around you.....  ah the ambience.

We did find at one point in Florence a gelato that was dairy free (so probably not an actual gelato, but still) so my sister could enjoy it as well.  I felt a little disloyal indulging in gelato when she could not, but it had to happen.  THAT might be my next post- about that little trip- as no photo editing is necessary.
AAAAND on the island of Capri- the most intensely lemon flavor I have ever had- a lemon slush that  I will never forget. SO SO good.  I can't even begin to tell you how ridiculous the price was- but sitting down and eating it out of glass and  people watching was worth every Euro!

So being vegetarian ended up being a blessing in many respects during this trip, as I did not eat what most of the rest of the group did.  (Yes, I many times had better, fresher food)  It was interesting to see what different chefs/cooks did to honor my needs- I got a small frittata a couple times- one had a large amount of lightly cooked greens in it and that one was divine!

Isn't that sweet?  A smilie face

I also got some cheese and grilled veggies a few times as well as Caprese salad - which is fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and topped with olive oil.  Most of the time I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat- I know there were a few times when I was hungry 45 minutes after I ate, and oddly I don't have pictures of those meals.  haha. I had a request to post my food, which I did, but missed some when I ran out of data.  Did not photograph the boring food I guess.

Caprese salad- fresh mozzarella is amazing

Eggs and greens- great vegetarian option

One of the best meals I had- in Roma.  Cold roasted veg, pepper and olive salad, bruschetta and fresh mozzarella
Another note about the general state of food in Italy and apparently in Europe.  Nothing is as sweet as it is here in the US, except perhaps the gelato.  Nothing.  And wow do you ever notice it when you get back.

By mid week, we were a little desperate for fresh food- the pasta and pizza got to be a bit much= this was a divine salad

Pecorino cheese, salad and grilled veg! 

Caffé and Vino-

Good morning amazing Italian cappuccino 

I am really REALLY missing Italian coffee- in the morning- espresso and thick, hot, creamy milk poured together in the cup- swirling into a rich, strong cappuccino that is apparently consumed only at breakfast and lunch.  I read that cappuccino is too heavy for drinking any later in the day- the rules of coffee is quite interesting.  Oh it was so good.  My coffee here is too weak- I have to figure out what to do.  Buy my coffee ground as espresso and have that for my first cup of the morning??

THIS was one of my favorite moments of the trip- says the girl with no favorites.  It will have its' own post.  

And finally- the wine of Italy.  There were 5 of us adult type people in our little subgroup, and we decided since we were getting slightly inferior suppers, we are grownups who can have wine if we want.  We got local/regional wine and it was all delicious.  DELICIOUS!!

Photos of several of the wines we had

Actually my favorite wine of the trip- a red, which is usually not my first choice.  More than one bottle may have been consumed- but that could be a rumor
The hotel LaRondine wins- for the hotel food, for the wine, for the morning coffee- and for the delightful service

Read this hilarious translation on the back of one of the wines we had- I think it was in Sorrento

This is the unnamed red house wine at the unnamed restaurant we stopped at on our way to Assisi
We drank our way across Italy, until we got to Roma, and then it was just too hot for most of us to drink.  Seriously hot.  And that was fine.  
And finish with a shot of limoncello 
I touched on so many things here- it brought so  many amazing memories to mind.  I had such a great time - Rose and I spent a lot of time with our group leader- Paula- and she had great instincts for finding CUTE little restaurants off the main squares.  I highly recommend.  We had great food when we ferreted out something a block or two away from the busy centers.  I am SO GLAD that I am one of those take photos of my food people.  Mock me if you will, but I just relived several meals that I had totally forgotten about.  I will never regret recording the amazing moments that I had, will never be apologetic for what I do.  It helped me recount my joys of those 12 days. Ciao ciao!

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