I’ve taken a looooong hiatus but I’m back to make you drool at your screen again. Yay!
I recently went on a wonderful holiday with friends to Italy and France. Yes, I saw all the sights, but you’ll know I was there mainly for the food 😀
Both countries had incredible food, so I’m dedicating the next two posts (this one and the next) to share some of my favs so that you know what to stuff your face with when you visit!
First, a little bit about Italy – all the different cities we visited (Rome, Florence, Venice, the Amalfi coast) had their own distinct characteristics. The common thread was that in every place, we had a sense of walking through history – in Rome it was magnificent, in Florence, artistic; in Venice, crumbling: and in Amalfi, breathtaking.
The food was incredible, and my list isn’t city-specific. Most of the items mentioned are available all over Italy quite easily, but will obviously vary depending on where you choose to eat.
So here’s my Top 10 things to eat in Italy!
1.Caprese salad – If you’ve only ever eaten mozzarella that’s been imported or came out of a box/packet, please eat this in Italy. It’s such a simple dish, but it’s the freshness of both the mozzarella and the tomatoes that make it an instant winner!
2.Carciofi alla Romana (Braised artichokes)- I know it looks ugglesome, but trust me on this. So tender, so flavorful and so delicious! It’s the quality of olive oil that makes the difference.
3.Cacio e pepe -Literally translates to: cheese and pepper. This pasta dish usually uses long thin spaghetti-type pasta, fresh cracked black pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese. Sinfully cheesy!
4.Assorted cured meats and cheese – While we ate a lot of pasta and pizza throughout our trip, there were days when I didn’t want the heaviness of carbs. Most restaurants offer beautiful antipasti platters that come with delicious salami, soppressata, prosciutto, as well as a variety of cheeses. This is a fantastic light meal, or appetizer to share. Wash down with lots of wine!
5.Pizza – Like pasta, we ate pizza almost in every city, but there was one clear winner. A small but immensely popular joint in Naples called Pizzeria Da Michele. Despite their super efficient pizza-making (I think they make one every minute or so!), there were long lines and no seats when we showed up ravenous one evening. We literally begged them to give us our order to go, which we then proceeded to inhale standing around the back of our car. Seriously guys, BEST margherita pizza ever.
6.Risotto – Creamy rice? How can anyone say no? The difference between the risottos I’ve eaten before and the ones from their birthplace is that the rice has more bite and the sauce is loaded with flavor. This seafood one in particular, was insane. Like you needed a legit nap after eating this.
7.Crema di Caffe – This delicious coffee dessert masquerading as a drink was my guilty pleasure throughout the trip. Like a soft-serve, it’s a cold blend of espresso, milk, cream and sugar. And only because my friends will kill me, I have to add that regular espresso (caffe) in Italy was outstanding and totally recommended as well.
8.Spritz – When in Venice, please try this delightful orange-colored drink. A mix of wine, a bitter liqueur (like Aperol or Select) and sparkling water, it’s usually served as an aperitif , garnished with a slice of orange.
9.Tiramisu – While I make a pretty decent Tiramisu myself, it was such fun trying the different renditions of Italy’s most popular dessert in all its different cities. Although presented differently, they all had that unmistakable creamy coffee flavor we know and love.
10.Gelato – Did you honestly think a list of things to eat in Italy would be complete without Gelato? Like Tiramisu, this was something we ate everywhere and it did not disappoint. My favorite flavor was Nocciola (hazelnut). Stay away from the shops in the touristy places – they look great but are often 5 times the price! The smaller gelaterias are just as good and very reasonably-priced.
While those are my top 10 general things to eat in Italy, I want to add two specific recommendations.
1. In Venice, I ate my favourite meal of the trip. It was lamb-shank with potatoes and salad, but the meat was so tender and flavorful, I devoured it and remember it fondly. The restaurant is called Enoiteca Mascareta – the food is amazing, the Tiramisu is even better, you can buy bottles of wine to take home AND the owner is a gin connoisseur so if you love gin, this place can’t be missed!
2. If you are ever in Florence, and want a romantic restaurant with a rooftop view and fantastic service, please head to La Scaletta. It’s a hotel with an amazing rooftop restaurant. The food is great but what makes this place amazing is the view and the service. In particular, our server Rafael, made our night immensely memorable with his charming, funny manner. Here is the bill he gave us as a joke at the end of the night.
Italy was incredibly memorable and even more delicious. Plan a holiday soon! 🙂
Now, Halloween is coming up and I wanted to share something I made because I can’t get over how adorable they look!
These too-cute-to-eat Halloween monsters are the perfect sweet treat for this holiday! They’re good for you too – I used almond butter and almond flour to make them.
Take a look inside! The candy eyeballs make all the difference, and I got them here.
Almond butter monsters
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: None! But needs about 1 hour to set
Makes: About 20
225g/ 1 cup almond butter
200g/ 1 cup almond flour
75ml/ 1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g/ 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
edible candy eye-balls
- Line a tray with parchment paper or foil. In a large bowl, mix the almond butter, almond flour, honey and vanilla extract together. The mixture will be quite sticky but use your hands to mix it thoroughly.
- Form small balls by rolling the mixture between your palms and place on the tray.
- Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 15 second blasts and stir between each blast, until smooth and melted.
- Using a spoon, dip each ball into the melted chocolate and coat well. Place on the tray and top with two candy eye-balls. Allow to set in the refrigerator for at least one hour before eating.
Boo! Happy halloween 🙂